Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

I Won a Fiddle (On Auction)

Posted on October 2, 2019

I’m excited because I won a fiddle from an auction last night! Let me talk about that a bit. 

3/4 Violin Curiosity

I still really enjoy my current fiddle, and feel that it’s completely fine for what I’ve been trying to learn and play. However, I’m a small person with very small hands, and this was a fact that I’ve struggled with since I’ve started trying to learn to play.

After doing some research for quite a while, I know that there are some small adults who successfully play the 3/4 violins more comfortably than the 4/4. Granted, the instrument may not be as resonate as a full-sized violin, but I’ve been curious if the size is a better fit for me.

Not so curious as to put a whole lot of cash just to try a smaller violin. I don’t have a violin shop in the area to try instruments out, nor do I know of a place that rents them out around here. So, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a decent used violin that’s not going to break the bank to just test and try.

Fiddle Auctions

I discovered not too long ago that Goodwill actually has online auctions, including auctions for violins. I’ve been passively watching these auctions – you see everything from cheap student violins, to violins without a branding, to fiddles only good for parts, to possible antiques, to things that are different and interesting. Sometimes a violin will shoot up in cost if it seems like its something special, though most of the time, they sell under the $50 range.

I know purchasing a fiddle from an auction is a risk, and the site warns you that these instruments aren’t tested and may need setup. I knew to stay away from fiddles that were either missing the bridge or had the bridge detached due to concern that the sound post would have shifted, be missing or be loose. I also knew to stay away from anything with cracks or warping.

So when this cute C. Becker fiddle appeared on the auction list at a 3/4 size, I took the risk. I like the color, the instrument looks like it’s in tact and not too worn, everything appears to be there, and in researching the brand, it seems the model 9000 violin tends to sell from $250+ in other places. This is about the price range of the fiddle I have now, so I’m hoping this indicates a decent quality.

The only thing of note was that the bow was warped, which is fine. I have two working bows and don’t really need another. I’ll probably have to restring the fiddle, depending on how the strings look when it arrives.

In the end, I won the auction for $30, plus shipping/handling. Worth giving it a shot. I’m really pleased!

I wish I’d known about Goodwill auctions back when I was shopping for a cheap violin in the beginning – I could have come away with a much better deal for about the same price as the cheap VSO I bought (and regret) last year. I’m probably going to take that to the local Goodwill eventually. Maybe someone can get it setup properly for actual use.

Anyhow, I won’t really know what my $30 bought until it gets here. But here’s some hopeful pictures from the auction site:

I’ll update when it arrives to let you know if I’m happy with the instrument and if the 3/4 violin is for me.

Leave Your Thoughts!

Archived Comments

Jim Guinn - Thursday, October 3, 2019

Nice find! Looks like it is in good shape. I'll now have to keep my eye on these auctions. I wouldn't mind having a second fiddle. What's nice is you didn't have to spend a lot of money, and it will give you an idea if a 3/4 suits you better.

Aywren - Thursday, October 3, 2019

That's exactly what I was hoping to find. I'm really excited to see what this little fiddle will be like once I get it.

The 4/4s often go for a lot more, but even then, they tend to be a lot less than what you'd pay other places. Of course, there's some risk to buying from online auctions, but there's also just the fun of watching auctions and seeing what's out there. If you have a luthier nearby for checkup and setup, then plunking $20-$30 on a Goodwill fiddle might be a good way to pick up a second. Never know what you can get!