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What’s Old is New

I’ve been ever-so-slowly learning old time fiddle on an old German fiddle my Grandpa gave to my older brother back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I’ve learned enough to know it is time to upgrade my instrument.

I know a good deal about banjos but fiddles are another story. First, there is an insane price range from under $100 up to $16 million for the most expensive violin in the world. Now I was pretty certain I didn’t need to spend $16 million on an instrument but it is puzzling figuring out what you get for $500 vs $1000 vs $5000 vs $10000 in any kind of tangible terms. As well I’m sure there is a significant difference in the attributes a good violin has vs a good fiddle.

The other challenge is that the better you can play, the clearer it is just what you like and need and want and also what pitfalls or limitations an instrument might have.

The next question is, new vs old. I learned that like with button accordions these days there is good value in moderate priced instruments coming from Chinese workshops and set up locally. On the other hand, older instruments have a lot of character, including sound character. I decided to look for a restored older instrument.

I bought this Vuillaume a Paris fiddle the other day, made in France likely in the late 1800s. It has been fully restored with a new fingerboard, tailpiece, pegs and bridge, set up for fiddling. It has a beautiful, rich sound with a great low end and it was at a price I could afford. Now I need to bear down and get a lot better at playing this thing.

1 Comment so far

  1. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Many folks ask ‘what is the difference between a violin and a fiddle?’ The answer is pretty simple: a violin has strings while a fiddle has strangs.

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