I’ve been learning to play fiddle (self-taught) since I bought my first fiddle in December of 2018. Actual practice began in earnest in January 2019, however. I’ve learned a lot about the instruments and equipment a beginner should have through experimentation over the past few years.
Below is a list of what I found works for me. Keep in mind that everyone’s fiddle is different, so while this is what I use, you may need something different to make your instrument sing.
I own two fiddles, one from Kennedy Violins and one from the Fiddlershop.
Bunnel Premier Student Violin 4/4
I purchased this in February 2019 as a clearance model from the Kennedy Violins Amazon shop. Clearance models display some sort of minor blemish or defect that do no alter the quality of the sound. Mine, for example had a small imprint on the front that’s hardly noticeable… but the cost was significantly cheaper than the non-clearance model.
This is mostly my back-up fiddle as it’s a full 4/4. It’s got a nice mellow tone to it, which I really like.
Fiddlerman Master 7/8
I purchased this fiddle in October of 2019 from the Fiddlershop. I wanted to try a 7/8 sized violin, which is slightly smaller than the 4/4, since I have small hands and I heard sometimes going down to a 7/8 is a help for that.
The Master is considered to be more on the intermediate side, I do believe, and is not actually a beginner fiddle. I was able to snag mine before the prices in the Fiddlershop rose, so I feel like I got a really good deal on this!
I loved the tone of the Master from all the trial videos I watched, and finally just decided to put some money into what I hope will be my long-term fiddle. I haven’t been violin shopping since thanks to this beautiful instrument!
I own a couple of carbon fiber bows – one that came with my Bunnel – and one wood bow. There’s only two that I use consistently, however.
Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Bow
I received the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Bow as a Christmas gift when I first was starting out. It’s a great bow, especially for the price! For a beginner, this is all you’d really need.
Holstein Yellow Sandalwood Bow
Another purchase from the Fiddlershop when it was on holiday sale in 2019. I’m not sure if this exact bow is still for sale, or if it just got a different name? Anyhow, for the cost, it’s been nice to try out a wood bow, and I really like it!
I know sometimes when I have bowing issues, I’ll go back and forth between this and the carbon fiber just to test things. So it’s nice to have a second bow to compare things with.
I’m honestly still on the hunt for the right strings for both of my fiddles. I’ll update here when I find some that I adore.
I do know that I like the Hill Special E string, however. I tend to buy partial string sets for my Master now since I prefer the Hill E.
I’m also still on the fence about the kind of rosin I prefer. I’ve tried several different brands over the past couple years.
The one brand I like most at this point is this Jade Rosin. It just seems smoother and less nasaly on my Master.
After trying several different options, I’ve settled on the Wolf Forte Secondo shoulder rest. I really like how it feels and how flexible it is in terms of lowering or raising the rest to meet your needs (I tend to need a pretty low shoulder rest).
I currently have two of these, one for each fiddle!
Just like the shoulder rest, I also need a pretty low chin rest. After trying several kinds, I’ve settled on the WAVE Da Cappo. These are specially made and a bit pricier than some that you might find, but for me the comfort is worth it!