Yesterday, the 3/4 fiddle I won from the Goodwill auction site arrived. It was very well packaged and came in just as good condition as the images the auction posted, so I was impressed by that.
The fiddle itself is an interesting conglomeration. While I’m no expert at violins, I know a lot more than I did when I made my first purchase. I feel like this was originally a basic quality student violin that someone made a number of modifications to try to improve.
I know that the bridge is not an original – it’s one of those adjustable feet bridges, like the one I bought a while back to try to improve my own cheap fiddle. I also feel that the tailpiece, chin rest and tuning pegs were replaced with a set very similar to something like this.
In fact, this might be the exact set that’s on here, just a slightly lighter color, or maybe faded with age:
I can see that there’s been glue repairs to where the neck attaches to the body, and the fingerboard is certainly not real ebony. I think at one time, it might have been black, but has faded with wear. Also, I can tell that the nut has been adjusted, especially the depth of the groves, probably to bring the action down to a playable level.
The strings looked suspiciously new, which made me really curious. The first thing I’d expected to need to do was replace corroded old strings. I still picked up a new set, which will arrive tomorrow, just because I want to see if I can improve the sound in any way. Because despite all these modifications, the fiddle still sounds kinda… toy-ish. I don’t have a better word for it.
Still, the sound post was in place. The tuning pegs required a bit of applier to catch and hold the tune well, and it really felt like I was breaking in new strings on this thing, because they finally did settle a bit after tuning several times.
But… what do you want for $30? The overall quality and setup of the instrument is better than the $30 Ebay VSO I bought last year. And messing around with it as I did yesterday, I learned exactly what I wanted to know.
The smaller 3/4 fiddle fits my arm and finger length far better than a full size.
I knew I was having trouble with the full size fiddle, but I thought that maybe over time, I’d work through those things. The major reason I bought this little fiddle was to see if there was enough of a difference between the sizes to warrant a smaller fiddle purchase when I decide to upgrade.
I still need to play with it a bit more, and see what it feels like for real practices. But as far as I can see, it was already much easier and more comfortable for me to handle.
So, now my curiosity lies with the 7/8 size violin. It’s a halfway between the full size and the 3/4 size, and might give me the sound I hope for with a more manageable size that makes playing comfortable.
I know that Fiddlerman offers fiddles in this size, even the Master Violin, which I dearly love the dark sound of. I have a feeling come the end of the year, I may be looking to go that direction once holiday bonuses and such come about!