Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Improving My Cheap Fiddle

Posted on January 28, 2019

It took about a week of practice before I started to pick out things about the cheap fiddle I bought that I felt required fixing or changing. There was actually quite a bit I needed to tweak… but rather than kick the little $30 kit to the curb, I decided to take some time to try to improve it.

While I already had a sense of what was wrong, this video helped confirm things I could do to improve my experience:

I talked about some of this last week, but here’s a list of all the improvements I made to my violin:

  • New shoulder rest
  • New chin rest
  • Replaced all strings
  • Replaced the bridge
  • Applied peg compound & graphite to nut

While I’d ordered the new self-adjustable bridge last week through Amazon, it wasn’t available for Prime. I expected it to arrive today (Monday), but instead, I was excited to discover that it came earlier on Saturday. So I spent some time on Sunday learning how to replace the strings and bridge. I didn’t buy anything expensive when it came to strings at this point, just a set of Preludes. These already seem a good deal better than the strings that came with the violin originally.

Since I was taking the strings off anyhow, I took the opportunity to apply some Peg Compound to the pegs in hopes it will help keep the instrument in tune longer. I do have trouble with the E string in particular constantly going flat (and I’m concerned to apply too much pressure to it because it always seems to be stretched enough as it is!). We’ll see if this helps — the strings are still so new, it’s hard to tell right at this point.

I’ll talk more about the actual process and resources I used for all of this later. I’m glad I messed around with it, though — I learned a lot about replacing parts and restringing my instrument. As much as I’m beginning to doubt the wisdom of buying a cheap violin at this point (the new bridge I bought cost more than the violin!), I do have to say that I’ve been able to learn a lot because I’m not very worried about messing it up.

If nothing else, I can always use the chin and shoulder rest on any new instrument I buy (I’ve determined this is really the right chin rest for me!). And the bridge can always be transferred to a new violin or serve as a backup. Knowing how to change the strings is just something I should be able to do by default, in my opinion. If I own an instrument, I should understand how to maintain it.

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