The fiddle I learned how to play on was the victim of an unfortunate disaster. It is a Roth, that at one point in its career had a whole the size of a silver dollar punched into the back. My brother worked at the time as an insurance adjustor, and when the owner came to settle the claim, the fiddle was slated for destruction. My brother rescued it. It hung on a nail in his room for about two years, and I asked him if he'd lost his temper with his favorite fiddle. He told me the story and gave me the fiddle. I committed the unforgivable sin of trying to patch the back, but the hole got larger. Finally in a bit of pissed off frustration, I cut a piece of laminated counter top material and glued it over the hole. It is perfectly servicable, and plays quite well, just sounds a little muted. I keep it in my office and use it at moments when no one is around, just to keep my sanity.
If my brother had not given me the fiddle, I probably would never have learned how to play.