The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59947   Message #958327
Posted By: Zhenya
23-May-03 - 02:20 PM
Thread Name: Cheap fiddle, so what
Subject: RE: Cheap fiddle, so what
Mary (guest),
I'm curious where you got the fiddle. I know you said it was an internet fiddle, but what kind of site/business? There are differences.

I've played fiddle for several years, and actually started out by renting one for a year, which was fairly inexpensive. (c. $5/mo.) I got a fairly decent fiddle to work with too. I did this because I had never played a bowed instrument and wasn't sure if I would take to it or not. You may not need to do this is you played the cello. However, by the time I was ready to buy a fiddle, I had a better sense of what to look for, and how much I was willing to pay.

Before renting, I did think about buying an inexpensive student fiddle in one of the local music stores. But even to my non-luthier eye, they looked really poorly made. They were $200-$300, but the wood just looked cheap and everything about them just seemed unappealing. Sort of like a $39 guitar that you would find in Wal-Mart or some such. I knew a few people in my beginning fiddle class who bought these, and they had all kinds of trouble with them. Fine tuners not working, pegs not turning, high action. One person was tuning hers and the whole bridge fell off! (the teacher was able to do an emergency repair.)

After playing a while, I found an instrument I liked for about $700. Some time later, however, I decided to buy a second cheap instrument to use in "questionable" situations. (for example, on a boat, or another place it might be easily damaged.) I ended up getting one from a string instrument catalogue. I bought their cheapest student set up, and got the fiddle, bow, and a case for about $135. (at the time.) The only bad thing I can say about this instrument is it doesn't have much of a tone of any kind. (no richness to it.) However, the set-up is fine, it's easy to play and tune, the sound is even (if not striking) and it would have been find for a complete beginner to learn on. I could see that it was much better than the student instruments I had seen in the local stores.

So I'm not sure exactly what you have there. If it is a "real" fiddle, and you like the sound, then it's probably worth doing your own repairs or continuing to search for someone who can do them. However, if it's one of these really cheap student instruments, and you can return it, I would do that, and then check string instrument catalogues for a better quality inexpensive instrument. Here's a link to Shar music where I bought my inexpensive fiddle:

Shar Music

There are several other companies as well; if you need some others, I can check for the websites for you. Good luck with whatever you decide to do with this particular fiddle, and welcome to the ranks of fiddle players!