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Fiddle Lovers Online


Sep 21, 2022 - 8:36:48 PM
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JonD

USA

103 posts since 2/12/2021

So you pick up a friend's fiddle (or one you are considering acquiring) and you want to hear how it sounds and feels to play. Do you have a standard tune and/or progression, a 'schtick' that you start with? Or do you play the first thing that comes into your head?
This question was prompted by nothing more than idle curiosity, but it would be fun to hear the variety of answers.

Sep 22, 2022 - 4:30:40 AM
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2457 posts since 10/1/2008

Scales, then double stops.... then a fiddle tune in D then one in A then one in G. I will usually play something with sliding double stops... likely a Baker tune. R/

Sep 22, 2022 - 4:32:24 AM
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Erock77

USA

61 posts since 9/3/2022

Great question! I'm awaiting to get mine back from the Luthier this Sunday and I've racked my brain...what do you play first?
Ya know. To hear the sound, the volume, the string spacing, tone etc...I don't play violin, nor have I ever. But I can play Fiddle tune melodies on the mandolin so I know what I want to do, but what song?? Also, the guy working on it says "we're going to pick a little" and I said, "NO WAY lol"
For guitar it's always a G run Lick, followed by a full G Chord
Mandolin it's usually a D major run then a G minor.
Bass it's A minor
I imagine my go to Fiddle will be...pluck pluck pluck pluck "tuning check" then a lonesome fiddle drone double stop thingy.

Edited by - Erock77 on 09/22/2022 04:33:24

Sep 22, 2022 - 4:54:50 AM
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2756 posts since 10/22/2007

1, 4, 5, in high D, then, low D, then 1,4,5, in G. It shares some but you catch the C. Then I might, try the F. 1, 4, 5, in E is all my fault if it doesn't sound right, so probably not that. Like low A. But low A is valuable to hear the low side. It's nice to hear a good low end. I recon most any fiddle can get piercing high end tone. It doesn't impress me like a rich low end or midrange.

Sep 22, 2022 - 5:45:12 AM
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318 posts since 6/21/2007

Usually a D scale, followed by 4 versions of Soldiers Joy in increasing difficulty. Then a country blues tune, usually Dixon County or Natural Bridge, and then whatever early 'grass song pops in my head. 
 

On the banjo, I have a exercise of six versions of cripple Creek; both Scruggs and melodic,  I do as a warm-up since the 70s!

Edited by - stumpkicker on 09/22/2022 05:47:39

Sep 22, 2022 - 6:04:45 AM
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849 posts since 3/1/2020

Typically, a simple scale to test the response of the strings and their balance followed by a piece or two that cover a good deal of the fingerboard quickly. The opening of the Bruch concerto is common, as is the opening of a Mozart concerto. I like to play some of Ravel’s Tzigane to evaluate the ability of the violin to speak in the upper registers of the G string—this is something that separates good violins from acceptable ones quickly. Sometimes I’ll play something light like Intermezzo or Florian ZaBach’s Nocturne or sometimes a Paganini caprice (usually 13 or 14), since I tend to keep those under my belt.

Some players have a signature passage that they use. A few players I know are easy to identify from another room because only they play those particular sequences.

Sep 22, 2022 - 6:27:36 AM
Players Union Member

Earworm

USA

370 posts since 1/30/2018

A wise friend of mine said to play one tune you know well, and one tune you are struggling with. Use the same 2 tunes on any fiddles you are trying out at a given time.

Also, I sometimes see people tap the back of the fiddle while listening through the sound holes thoughtfully. So I try to tap the back while listening through the sound holes thoughtfully. I think I'm listening for general resonance, maybe that it's not just a dead box, or something like that.

Edited by - Earworm on 09/22/2022 06:30:21

Sep 22, 2022 - 9:56:32 AM
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519 posts since 7/30/2021

I'd wanna test the sound at the different registers, so probably scales, and spend some time way down low on G string and some time way up high on the E string.
Then wanna test the "poetry" of it, its voice...maybe by playing music I'm working on.

Mellow midtones, deep resonant low tones, clear sweet high tones...that would be the ideal "soundprint" for my next fiddle/violin...

One question is, how it sounds to YOUR Ear vs listeners.
My guitar sounds good to my ear, but from 3 feet away, it sounds much more beautiful, really different. There's a big difference between being behind the soundhole vs in front of the soundhole! I think this is true for violins as well. So it could be nice to bring a listener or two with you, to see what they think sounds nice...from a few feet away or across a room...

Sep 22, 2022 - 10:10:28 AM
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5947 posts since 9/26/2008

I play something that covers all of the strings, looking for even volume and tone. "Billy in the Lowground" is a good one for that.

Sep 22, 2022 - 10:47:08 AM
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Swing

USA

2169 posts since 6/26/2007

I would ask if you can take the fiddle for a few days... playing for a short bit of time doesn't really tell you anything... also, do you have different bows to use... that will make a difference as to how the fiddle may play and sound... besides looking to hear how the lows and highs are...how easily does it bow? How does it sound when you bear down on the bow.... play lots of different tunes... what strings are on the fiddle, are they old or new.. are they the strings that you normally use.... there are lots of questions regarding any new(used) fiddle...good luck

Play Happy

Swing

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Sep 22, 2022 - 11:01:06 AM
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Fiddler

USA

4202 posts since 6/22/2007

I play something that uses the full range of the instrument. "Twinkle, Twinkle" is my go-to tune. I also use Smith's Reel, Soldier's Joy, Big John McNeil, Miller's Reel, Margaret's Waltz. I listen for balance across the strings and various nuances in timbre and resonance. I like an aggressive, throaty lower end and a responsive, smooth higher end. I tap lightly on the body and feel and listen how the box responds. You should be able to feel the vibration and hear resonance.

Sep 22, 2022 - 12:08:34 PM
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JonD

USA

103 posts since 2/12/2021

Thanks for the replies. This really was just idle curiosity -- I'm not actually hunting for a new fiddle, and if I were, I'd certainly want to do more than play a couple tunes/scales before buying! But there is a thing in music shops where you can hear folks trying out one instrument after another and it's always interesting (and often impressive) to hear what they play. I don't have a 'schtick' for these situations and kinda wish I did... but then who am I trying to impress? :-)

Sep 22, 2022 - 12:53:03 PM
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doryman

USA

351 posts since 2/10/2020

If possible, I always like to hear what the instrument sounds like when I'm sitting in front of it and someone else plays it.

Sep 23, 2022 - 4:56:34 AM
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Erock77

USA

61 posts since 9/3/2022

Good news! My fiddle is ready but I'm off to camp with no way to pick it up so I'm waiting until Sunday to get it. I did hear it through a video which was pretty cool.

Sep 23, 2022 - 9:15:04 AM
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doryman

USA

351 posts since 2/10/2020

Trying out a new fiddle is especially painful for a newbie like myself. I'm obviously not going to rip out the opening of the Bruch concerto, so I'm left to awkwardly run through some scales while the seller stands there thinking, "Why is he even bothering, anyway."

I do have to give a shout out to my local violin shop, however (Quist Violin). The owner will help you select a few candidates for purchase and then kindly leads you back to a room where he lays the violins out on a table, closes the door, and lets you try them out without having to embarrass yourself in front of others.

Sep 23, 2022 - 9:15:33 AM

doryman

USA

351 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Erock77

Good news! My fiddle is ready but I'm off to camp with no way to pick it up so I'm waiting until Sunday to get it. I did hear it through a video which was pretty cool.


Exciting...but also torture!!!

Sep 23, 2022 - 9:27:22 AM

Erock77

USA

61 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by doryman
quote:
Originally posted by Erock77

Good news! My fiddle is ready but I'm off to camp with no way to pick it up so I'm waiting until Sunday to get it. I did hear it through a video which was pretty cool.


Exciting...but also torture!!!


Right..??? I'm stuck at work knowing it's 40 mins up the road (opposite direction) Ehhhh...posed to get down right chilly this weekend so maybe that's not the best environment to get acquainted. 

Sep 23, 2022 - 10:18:07 AM
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1521 posts since 5/13/2008

I often start with long, unfretted, slow bow draws on each string. That way I hear tone, not intonation. Then scales, ending with double stops and a touch of vibrato in a few keys. I usually know by then if I want to continue with a tune or two.

Sep 24, 2022 - 5:44:32 AM
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102 posts since 9/4/2007

Firs thing I check: play any tune I know that utilizes the G and D string. For instance; Big John McNeill, Jenny Lind Polka, the 4th part of Hangman's Reel, etc. etc.

I have found that the biggest difference in fiddles in my price range is the clarity and definition on the lower strings.

The upper two strings are checked afterwards, but if the G and D are OK I have generally found the A and E to work out fine.

Sep 24, 2022 - 7:08:15 PM
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2312 posts since 7/4/2007

When I try out a new fiddle I usually know within 30 seconds whether I like it or not. Usually faster. If I want to play a whole tune, I obviously like it.

Sep 25, 2022 - 1:46:13 AM
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1949 posts since 4/6/2014
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i have had to learn to live with a fiddle for a while before i discovered it's strong and weak points. Then i try to sort them out between the fiddle, the bow, myself and the luthier.... Or mostly, just me the bow and the fiddle.If we don't get along after a reasonable period i regrettably start thinking about changing the fiddle.

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