The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59947   Message #958667
Posted By: wysiwyg
24-May-03 - 11:13 AM
Thread Name: Cheap fiddle, so what
Subject: RE: Cheap fiddle, so what
There have been some good threads about fiddle strings.

Supersensitives are often recommended for beginners, but I think this is because they sound so awful most of the time that when you make a mistake that it sounds even worse and it hurts your ears! A lot of new, cheap fiddles come set up with these-- but aversion therapy and music are bad companions, and they're cheap enough to replace right away-- don't wait till you wear them out. But if your fiddle sounds halfway decent when it's got cheap strings, it will sound wonderful with good strings.

And remember it always sounds different to the listener than it does to the player-- let a good player show you how your fiddle sounds, and trust that you can get that tone out of it too, tho you won't be able to hear it with your ear so close to the top. (I think this is more extreme with fiddles than it would be for cello.)

My husband has found that a full set of D'Addario strings give a nice tone, somewhere between scratchty bluegrass and fulltoned. They are widely available and a good start if you want to restring right away while thinking about other options to try later.

But-- a lot of players use one brand for three strings and a better, more warm-toned brand for the E. My husband's training was classical (piano), and he reads notes and plays for tone, vibrato, and phrasing, not speed. On the advice of the luthier, he tried and has stuck with Thomastik for the three, with a Pirastro E. You can get this setup affordably, through our luthier, by mail-- do a Net search for Jeffrey Judd in Williamsport, PA.

It's a good idea to ask for an extra E string since it's often the first to unwind on you....

Others use other brands in mixed sets.

Did you know you also can set it up as a chin-cello? Supersensitive makes an octave-lower set; add a heavy bow, and presto! You will get a great tone but less volume-- enough to fill a room, but not enough to compete with other instruments unless amplified.   The sound is unbelievable! If you upgrade to a better fiddle later, you might want to consider making the cheaper one into a chin-cello.

There are also affordable Chinese 5-string fiddles... you get a low C, which makes the lower 4 strings into viola tuning and viola range.

Opinions about bridges vary-- a flatter "bluegrass" bridge will make double-stops easier, and a rounded "orchestral" bridge will make it easier to play a clear, solo melody line. Some people shave their own bridges to get something in between. What you will want depends on what kind of music you plan to play.

Have fun, and don't forget to report back!