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Strings On the fiddle?

RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
I have a sudden yen to buy a cheap violin and learn to play it as a fiddle. Cheapest I've found is around the £40 mark. Three questions:
  1. Is there anything even cheaper?
  2. If there is, is it any good?
  3. Any general advice re. buying/playing (bearing in mind this may well turn out to be another five-minute wonder)?
 
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RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
Just don't.

(Where's the fingers in ears smiley when you need it?)

Give yourself 5 minutes, have a beer, you'll get over it.
:D Don't worry - one of my passions in life is to annoy the hell out of people in whatever way I can.

Unfortunately I'm trying to cut back on the alcohol a little at the moment in an attempt to be able to sleep through the night. It's what comes when ladies reach a certain age - which probably explains the daft idea in the first place. Besides which, hell hath no fury like a menopausal woman trying to teach herself the violin.;}
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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:D Don't worry - one of my passions in life is to annoy the hell out of people in whatever way I can.
Go for it then. Should have the desired effect.

In answer to your original question - less than 40 quid?! I could do you a nice cigar box and four elastic bands.

If you get a chance to actually handle it before you buy, check that the tuning pegs do what they're supposed to do (turn when you want them to, don't move when you don't - give the strings a surreptitious yank). Check the bow tightens properly. Try and find someone to play it to you. If you haven't already got a tuner, get one. Is the sound post in place? Don't forget rosin.

I gave up the damn things when I was 11. With a bit of luck someone who knows what they're talking about will be along soon.
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
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1,027
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Sunny Aberdeenshire
Its a bit like buying a sax - if you want to make a nice sound (and therefore enjoy playing!) you might be better to pay a bit more for a better quality, poss vintage, instrument. I picked one up on fleabay for about £70. Or better still, borrow one til you decide whether or not you like the noise, can put up with the aching arm and sore fingers!
Have fun!
Mandy
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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The Malverns, Worcs
Its a bit like buying a sax - if you want to make a nice sound (and therefore enjoy playing!) you might be better to pay a bit more for a better quality, poss vintage, instrument.
We have a violin maker in town who will happily "tweak" a cheap violin to make it sound far better. I took my daughter's violin to him as the pegs kept coming loose and it wouldn't stay in tune. His first question was "did you buy this on the internet?" He then set to with a long, long list of "issues". In my defence, I didn't but it at all - my daughter's dad did, and since his wife is a string musician, I had rather assumed they knew what they were doing! :shocked:
Anyway the violin maker pointed out little things like varnish was bridging over the thin cuts at the ends of those "S-shaped" holes cut in the belly, He told me they are like the "tweeters" in speakers, but with the varnish bridging the gap, there were no small sounds coming out. Then there were the pegs, which were not round, so wouldn't stay in the holes; the bridge which he felt was cello sized rather than violin sized, so she was having to push the strings down too far to get them to reach the neck.
The list went on and on. Still for £50 or so, he sorted it all out and it sounded far better.
When I checked with said daughter about the cost of the instrument, she told me her dad had paid about 400 euro for it.
TBH, I think the lovely purple glitter one I bought her for about £75 when she was 9 sounded just as good before the tweaks. :)
 
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RedBottom

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191
Think I'll go for the £40 quid jobby. If I decide I like it, I'll get the music shop to give it the once over and if it's useless then I'll rent one from them for a while - between £9 - £12 a month isn't bad and it's a decent shop. They daren't diddle me - I play in their wind band and I know too many of their other customers for them to do that.;}
 

JCUK

New Member
Messages
15
Location
London, UK
Funny, I had the same urge over the weekend, and so bought a cheapy violin from Fleabay. It should arrive in the next few days, and then the neighbours are going to really hate me! >:)

Fingers crossed it's not total junk. Let us know how you get on. :)
 

Clivey

Senior Member
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792
Location
Edinburgh/Hot Rock off African Coast
Got One last year Gear 4Music Deluxe model with flamed back. Very optimistic to begin with until I ran out of steam. I was doing about an hour a day and getting on well. Then I managed to get my tenor working perfectly thanks to Stephen Howards book and stopped playing the fiddle. Bang goes " The Lark ascending " .God I wish I had went to music college when I was younger. It`s so hard to keep up a handful of instruments.
I admire anyone who has the energy.


oops you really need to visit this site it`s very helpful.

www.stringsavvy.com
 
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Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I have a sudden yen to buy a cheap violin and learn to play it as a fiddle. Cheapest I've found is around the £40 mark. Three questions:
  1. Is there anything even cheaper?
  2. If there is, is it any good?
  3. Any general advice re. buying/playing (bearing in mind this may well turn out to be another five-minute wonder)?
First question: yes.
Second question: no.
Third question: at least half the orchestra plays some sort of string instrument, so where can the difficulty lie?
 

stefank

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368
Location
Hobart, Tasmania
Just bear in mind that it has a steeper learning curve than most other instruments.

Beginners tend to sound excruciating on the violin for longer than they do with most other things.
 
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RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
Couldn't sound any more excruciating than when the lad next door came home from air cadets with a bugle. We had three weeks of phaarrrp, phaarrrrpp and phaarrrrrppp before his mum made him take it back.

When he was sixteen he got a guitar for his birthday. We had to spend the entire summer listening to him twanging and plinking away in the garden until his parents drove him away to join the RAF. When he came back he could at least put a few recognisable chords together. Unfortunately we never got to learn what songs they were for, as his singing was almost as bad as his bugling!
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
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506
Location
Heaven
I see this thread is a bit aged, but I'm wondering if you ever got the fiddle and how you made out with it.

I have a fiddle story to tell. Actually I have quite a few fiddles, I could tell the story of each one, but I'll try not to get too carried away.

The first fiddle I bought cost $80 brand new with case and bow. Just for the record, it's still my favorite fiddle, even though I have since bought one that cost $200 used! I like the $80 fiddle better. I wish I would have never bought the more expensive one.

However, to be fair, I did a lot of re-work on the $80 fiddle, including installing new custom pegs, chin rest, tail piece, and bridge. I bought a peg hole reamer and peg shaver, and custom fit my own pegs. The reamer and peg shaver cost as much as the violin. But I was getting into working on violins. I actually have quite a few of them now. Some I built from a kit. I also got into reworking the bridge.

Another thing is that I found a company that gives away free $100 strings to anyone who simply wants to try them out! And they are really nice strings! This list retail for about $100 but you can actually buy them for about $50 usually. Fortunately I haven't broken a string yet and I've had it for over 5 years now.

When I first started to learn to play I couldn't make a decent sounding not for at least a full month. I almost gave up but I was determined to keep trying if I had to make horrible noise for the rest of my life. I was determined not to give up. It was crazy because it suddenly came to me and happened almost overnight. One day I was still making scratches and squeals, and the next day all of a sudden I was playing things that sounded like notes!

I started to really take off after that. My ambition was to learn to play the Bach Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin. Well, that was a pipe dream. Now I just play blues fiddle a little. (ha ha)

I still wouldn't call myself a "fiddle player". I just fiddle around with it. I probably know more about how to set violins up and restore them than I know about how to actually play them. I think a large part of what attracted me to the instrument was the idea of violin making. Playing it was more of a dream on the side.

So did you get one? How did you make out?
 
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RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
Thanks for asking. Yes, I did get one - the cheap £40 one I mentioned at the top of the thread. I've also acquired an electric fiddle that my husband found on a market stall for £12. He cleaned the pickups and it seems to work well.

I started to play back in the summer, but with one thing and another I haven't picked it up in a while, so I'm still very much at beginner stage. A very good friend of ours is a member of a Morris side and we followed them quite a bit through the summer. I managed to have a chat with their fiddle player, a retired music teacher, who has given me some good 'starting off' advice, namely to just learn to play scales on each string before trying to relate them to written notes, and not having to stick the instrument under my chin and play with my elbows in the air like a classical violinist.

Interestingly enough, for a sax player who constantly needs the crutch of written music, learning scales without it isn't so difficult. I'm hoping it'll rub off onto other things eventually.

I'm not a maker of resolutions, new year's or otherwise, but perhaps I should make a concerted effort to get fiddling this year.:)
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
506
Location
Heaven
I play a lot of different instruments. Or I guess I should say that I play around with a lot of different instruments. But one thing I found with the fiddle is that progress seems to be retained even when I put it away for a long period of time. When I get it back out I always seem to be better than before, even the to point where I feel like I've gotten better since the last time I played it even though I never practiced in the interim. It's really strange that way with the fiddle.

For example, something like the trumpet is the extreme opposite, put it away for a long time and you lose the embouchure skills. I'm not sure if it works that way with the sax yet because I haven't had it long enough to know.

But yeah, I agree with your music teacher, just fiddling around on the fiddle without looking at sheet music is probably one of the fastest ways to really get a handle on it. You can always catch-up on reading the sheet music later. Getting the sound under your fingers is more important in the early going.

I haven't played my fiddle in a few months. This spring I was starting to learn some Irish Fiddle Tunes using a book by Philip John Berthoud published by Mel Bay. It comes with 2 CDs. I was doing pretty good by then got distracted from it and never returned. I think I might go back to that and pick up where I left off. It has like 100 tunes in it. If I get through that whole book I'll be doing pretty good. I should make a new year's resolution to just learn two pieces a week. By the end of the year I'd have done them all. And two pieces a week wouldn't really be much and it wouldn't interfere with my sax, drum, and guitar playing.

I'm glad I read your thread. I'm going to work on setting up a little corner of my day for fiddle practice.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,406
Location
Daventry
Thanks for asking. Yes, I did get one - the cheap £40 one I mentioned at the top of the thread. I've also acquired an electric fiddle that my husband found on a market stall for £12. He cleaned the pickups and it seems to work well.

I started to play back in the summer, but with one thing and another I haven't picked it up in a while, so I'm still very much at beginner stage. A very good friend of ours is a member of a Morris side and we followed them quite a bit through the summer. I managed to have a chat with their fiddle player, a retired music teacher, who has given me some good 'starting off' advice, namely to just learn to play scales on each string before trying to relate them to written notes, and not having to stick the instrument under my chin and play with my elbows in the air like a classical violinist.

Interestingly enough, for a sax player who constantly needs the crutch of written music, learning scales without it isn't so difficult. I'm hoping it'll rub off onto other things eventually.

I'm not a maker of resolutions, new year's or otherwise, but perhaps I should make a concerted effort to get fiddling this year.:)
If I get anywhere with my newly aquired melodeon, we could start the first Cafesax Morris side.....
 
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RedBottom

Member
Messages
191
If I get anywhere with my newly aquired melodeon, we could start the first Cafesax Morris side.....
I have visions of Pete and several others in flower-trimmed hats, dancing around playing saxophones whilst you and I fiddle and melodeon away at the back.

Some members of the side worry about there not being enough younger men in morris. Maybe this could be a way of luring them in.;}
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
506
Location
Heaven
Well I got the fiddle out and dusted it off. The strings were all totally loose. I guess the pegs let go from the dehydration of winter. Fortunately I got it all tuned back up without breaking a string. The bow is really dry too, I need to re-hydrate it.

Anyway, here's an Irish Jig from my Irish Fiddle book. I played the guitar as a backing track. There's some scratches and squeals, and bad intonation. So I guess I really do need to just set this up as a daily exercise and go through this Irish Fiddle book. I just now devoted a little corner to do just that.

This was fun, even though it doesn't sound real great. I need to get back into this thing.

http://users.csonline.net/designer/ideas/Jig-1.mp3
 
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Filton

Member
Messages
244
Location
Hampshire, UK
Sounding good there SD !

Just like long notes is the key to perfecting Sax tone then long slow bows is the key to perfecting fiddle technique.

This is an interesting thread for me as I am, first and foremost, a fiddle player so If a fiddle player wannabe sax player can offer any help to you saxplayers wannabe fiddle players then I am happy to help you guys along a little if I can :)

For anyone interested this is my current axe of choice:

http://www.bridgeinstruments.co.uk/acatalog/Aquila_-_Electric_Four_String_Violin.html
 
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