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Fiddle players: help please

jonm 05 Mar 06 - 02:39 PM
greg stephens 05 Mar 06 - 02:44 PM
Sorcha 05 Mar 06 - 02:48 PM
jonm 05 Mar 06 - 05:05 PM
Sorcha 05 Mar 06 - 05:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Mar 06 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Nathan Esden 05 Mar 06 - 06:40 PM
fiddler 05 Mar 06 - 07:17 PM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Mar 06 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 05 Mar 06 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 05 Mar 06 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,thurg 06 Mar 06 - 12:08 AM
jonm 06 Mar 06 - 02:01 AM
Pauline L 06 Mar 06 - 04:17 AM
JohnInKansas 06 Mar 06 - 05:49 AM
LilyFestre 06 Mar 06 - 03:12 PM
jonm 06 Mar 06 - 04:46 PM
Sorcha 06 Mar 06 - 05:15 PM
Pauline L 07 Mar 06 - 12:01 AM
jonm 07 Mar 06 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Nathan Esden 08 Mar 06 - 07:21 AM
Sorcha 08 Mar 06 - 10:54 AM
Pauline L 08 Mar 06 - 11:51 PM
JohnInKansas 09 Mar 06 - 05:02 AM
fiddler 09 Mar 06 - 05:10 AM
Scoville 09 Mar 06 - 12:46 PM
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Subject: Fiddle players: help please
From: jonm
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 02:39 PM

I recently bought a relatively inexpensive violin for my better half to learn on. When we got it, it wouldn't stay in tune but a little peg paste on the pegs sorted that out. We restrung it yesterday as part of the peg-paste operation and tuned it up to pitch, and it was just about holding pitch as the strings stretched in. However, today it is breaking strings - the high E went at the peg on initial tune-up, then the replacement snapped at the saddle (?) end before ever reaching pitch.

Is this a common problem? I'm aware of the usual issues as a guitar and mandolin player and there do not seem to be any rough edges on the peg or fine tuner saddle. Is there a trick I need to know, is there an underlying problem....

All help gratefully received.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 02:44 PM

Welcome to the world of fiddles. Now, I live with a fiddler but she's out, so I can't raise this with her. But I would say, do you know any fiddlers near where you live? Because they are friendly helpful people, and the first port of call on a little problem like this should be the person round the corner who can get the thing in their hands and take a look.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Sorcha
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 02:48 PM

Ball end or loop? Could be a rough spot on the fine tuner or bridge....and, where at the peg end did it break? Sometimes the nut is too high...or, a rough spot on the peg....if it broke where the string was actually ON the peg....I'm assuming fine tuner on the E. What kind of strings? And, there IS such a thing as a defective string.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: jonm
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 05:05 PM

Thanks.

Ball end, but what is the likelihood of a problem with both nut and fine tuner, or two defective strings?


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Sorcha
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 05:16 PM

No, the first one was likely old....what kind of strings?


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 05:23 PM

Rub a little graphite (from a pencil lead, say) into the notches in the nut and anywhere else where strings may be catching. You might also use the little tubes or pads that you'll often find attached to strings; they are intended to ensure the string's easy passage over the bridge.

A string breaking between peg and nut is likely catching at the nut; the slot may be too tight or not deep enough, but I'd try graphite for lubrication before anything else.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: GUEST,Nathan Esden
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 06:40 PM

Common problem. Never try to sharpen the e string (using the peg) without slackening it off significantly first, then tune it up in a long smooth swoop from semi-slack to concert pitch. Also applies to a strings. Takes a bit of getting used to. Get some fine-tuners!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: fiddler
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 07:17 PM

Apart from all teh stuff listed above there is no reason. Defective strings are a rarity too.

Wiht the higher strings (E & A) tune very gently sudden changes in tension can be counter productive. More expensive strings don't usually need too much stretching in. If you're worried then tune it a semi tone low and play it like that for a while - it will sound strange but what the hell!

What are you using to tune it with - chromatic Electronic - is it set to C? I accidentally set mine to A once and nearly did damage.

The best bet is talk to another fiddler. Where are you there are probably some of us near you might be able to help out or know someone who can.

Andy


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 07:58 PM

I was visiting a guy who ran a shop with sales and instrument repair section. He was a very goos string player himself, having spent years in Symphony Orchestras. He was restringing a viola.

As he tightened the string, it would snap just above the nut. After the second one, I asked him whether the string holder (can't think of the name) was too far away from the end. He looked, cursed, removed the strings and shortened the cord so it was closer to the end, thus having a longer length of the metal string available.

Of course, it seems that some good quality string for the viola are hardened, except for the area where the string is wound around the tuning peg.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 08:01 PM


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 05 Mar 06 - 08:03 PM

Lesson: Don't buy a cheap violin ................. it might be a fiddle!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 12:08 AM

It's rare to break a fiddle string - happened to me though, once, under similar circumstances - was tuning up me E string - realized after it snapped that I had been trying to tune it an octave too high -


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: jonm
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 02:01 AM

Thanks for all the advice. Will make further attempts to get it working.

PM me if you're anywhere near Warwickshire.

Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Pauline L
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 04:17 AM

Be careful when tuning strings, especially E, up (higher). The finer the string, the more sensitive it is to tightening. If you make the E string just a little too tight with the peg, it certainly will snap. Use fine tuners, especially on the E string. Loosen the string before tightening it to decrease the risk of snapping it. Since your trouble was especially bad after using peg dope, you may have used too much. It should be used sparingly. If you used too much, the peg would be hard to turn, you use force, and bingo-- the string snaps. Don't pull or yank on a string to increase its elasticity, as guitarists often do. Fiddle strings are very different from guitar strings. BTW, what kind of fiddle strings are you using? There are many kinds, all with very different physical properties. Fiddle is a complex instrument even though it only has four strings. They call it the devil's instrument for many good reasons. Tuning is a lot more complex than it looks. Be gentle with the fiddle. You really should get a teacher. Fiddle is a very technical instrument. You have to do a lot of things by learning how they feel. Verbal descriptions will not suffice. You need someone to watch what you're doing at frequent intervals (weekly). I can't overemphasize the importance of getting a good teacher.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 05:49 AM

Probably unlikely, but if this was an inexpensive fiddle, it may have been handled by inexperienced people. If the bridge is accidentally set just a little "back" (toward the tailpiece) from where it should be, the effective string length is longer, and more tension is required to bring it to pitch.

The F-holes should be notched to mark the proper position of the bridge, so just looking at whether the bridge lines up with the notches will give a quick indication. With an "unknown" instrument that's giving problems a tape measure on all of the major dimensions, with the measurements compared to a similar - and working - instrument will sometimes show "discrepancies" that don't jump out at you just by looking.

Even with the feet of the bridge correctly placed, the amount of "lean" of the bridge can make a fairly significant difference in effective string length, and in tension required to bring the strings to pitch. It can be a bit of a task, especially for an inexperienced player, to get just the right position and inclination of the bridge anytime more than one (maybe two) strings is loosened at the same time. Getting just the right bridge setup is another of those things where it helps to have a teacher to show you ... .

John


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: LilyFestre
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 03:12 PM

Before purchasing a nicer violin, my husband also purchased a cheaper violin for me on eBay. When it arrived, I took it to a local music shoppe where they did a proper set up (put the strings on, checked the bridge placement, etc). It cost me a little bit of money, but it was well worth it as I then had a fiddle I could play.

Michelle


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: jonm
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 04:46 PM

We've taken it to a local fiddler for a look tonight. Here's hoping...


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 05:15 PM

Good...best thing to do


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Pauline L
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 12:01 AM

Some of the possible causes suggested here are rather esoteric. The most likely explanation is that you tightened the string too much. A lot of beginning students do that and break strings.

You may also have used too much peg dope. It should be used sparingly. If the peg doesn't turn smoothly, you may use an inordinate amount of force to tune it, and that would make breaking the string more probable.

I'm glad you took the fiddle to a luthier before breaking any more strings. I highly recommend fine tuners, especially for the E string.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: jonm
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 12:36 PM

'tis sorted. An expert fiddler has proved an expert twiddler. Right about the too much peg stuff, results in being a bit heavy-handed on the tuning up. Put graphite in all the slots too to be on the safe side. Plays lovely, time to get her ladyship a couple of lessons methinks....

Thanks to all for all your positive input, without too many "serves you right for buying a cheap one" comments - we cannot afford a good one on spec, will spend real coin once m'lady has mastered this one.

A much better response than a violin specialist shop locally, his response was "you would not have this problem if you had bought it from me." Not prepared to look at it or offer advice, apart from "take it back and buy one from me." Given that he was starting at seven times what I parted with, I guess with that attitude he doesn't sell many....


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: GUEST,Nathan Esden
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 07:21 AM

Jinky Wells was semi professional for years using a one-string fiddle made out of a sardine can. Expensive fiddles - don't believe the hype.

I once took a £100 bow to a posh fiddle shop hoping to get it re-haired. The guy visibly recoiled from what was obviously a stench of poverty exuding from the bow and I was practically ejected from the shop.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Sorcha
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 10:54 AM

Snobs. Can't stand em.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Pauline L
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 11:51 PM

Getting an expensive violin won't solve the problem. Learning how to tune it will. Be careful not to OD on the graphite like you did with the peg dope. Get a teacher who knows how to play and care for a violin.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:02 AM

"Violin shops with reputations" in most local markets of necessity do much of their business with schools, and hence with parents of young students. To be "successful" requires accepting and profiting from those parents who believe that spending an exhorbitant amount for a "fine instrument" proves how much they love their little monsters so that they can otherwise ignore (or abuse) them - or at least keep them so busy with "activities" that they don't have to deal with them.

An "attitude" doesn't necessarily mean that the proprietor or operator of such an establishment doesn't know and appreciate what makes a good fiddle, or how to fix problems. It's difficult to access such knowledge usefully, especially when you appear with a "lesser instrument," if they've become driven by sales numbers, and making sales is generally how they stay in business.

If you go to a "selling place" for repairs, you've gone to the wrong kind of shop, even if the place "does repairs" for enough buyers to keep the sales going.

Unless you're a customer through having purchased an overpriced instrument from them, you'll frequently have difficulty getting assistance, although you may get sympathy and a sales pitch.

Good "service shops" are difficult to find, and even there an "artisan" craftsman qualified to work on valuable instruments probably is too busy with repairs that less skilled persons can't do to take "odd jobs."

One may, with luck, find a journeyman who can do the kinds of fixits needed with more ordinary instruments owned by more ordinary players (and may do them with great skill and at fair prices) but it can be a difficult search. He/she will probably be old, and will retire within six months of your first dealings, or will be young and will leave to tour with a rock band while your repair is half done.

Reasons why learning to care for, and adjust, your own instrument and to perform the simple repairs for yourself, is a necessity. Since everyone must learn to do simple repairs, this of course drives the useful repairers into retirement or out on the road with a rock group, since they can't get enough business to keep the shop open.

John


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: fiddler
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:10 AM

John, u r (quite rightly) a cycnic!

But to give a glimmer of light - a pal of mine took a fiddle to be valued, just a verbal valuation no perperwork or anything. They asked him to come back in a couple of hours whcih he duly did, they gave him the valuation and when he asked for the fee they refused on the grounds it was both part of their service and a pleasure to handle such an instrument.

So it's not all doom and gloom there are some good guys left in the world, apart form catters that is.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle players: help please
From: Scoville
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 12:46 PM

re: Nathan Edsen

Ha ha--I have an old (1900-1930) mail-order catalog type fiddle. The glue dried out and the fingerboard fell off. This is not a fine instrument but it's the only one I have and has served me well otherwise (stays in tune, etc.), so I called a friend who was a "real" fiddler and asked him where to get it fixed. He gave me the name of what he considered to be the best place in town that wasn't a one-man, long-wait-list operation. They fixed the fingerboard but failed to notice that, when they tuned it back up, the metal thing that holds the strings at the bottom (what is that called, anyway?) had come loose, so I ended up having to take it back. The guy pretty much blew me off.

I actually thought it was kind of funny. You know the joke about:

Q) What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle?

A) Nobody cares if you spill beer on a fiddle.

--that's what mine looks like. All of the leather rotted off the hard case decades ago and, to date, it has cost a grand total of $34 (plus 35 cents for the case). But it has character and, if it's only worth its replacement value, it sounds better than any new, bright-orange learner fiddle so who cares what that guy thought.


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