A Card Carrying Fiddler

August 13, 2007

Well, not a ‘card’ so much as a fiddle. That’s right, I now own my very own fiddle. It’s very exciting. I no longer feel like a pretender, I now feel like an honest-to-god fiddler. I took some shoddy pictures this afternoon, but the sun light was not very good; I shall probably try to take more in the next day or two with better light. If a detailed recounting of my fiddle-quest does not interest you, I recommend you stop now and go read some comics.

Some weeks back, when Jessie was in town for a short period, she suggested to me that it was time to consider buying my own fiddle. I was quite excited by this suggestion because a) I’m always happy to add a new instrument to my collection and b) it felt like a serious vote of confidence from Jessie. She recommended a few places to look, and Mom and I dug up a couple more on the internet, but I did not begin looking straight away. It takes a little time to pick an instrument, especially one as sensitive as a fiddle—it is important, I think, to try many of them to find one that suits you, they are not as forgiving an instrument as a guitar. As such, I did not truly begin my search until last week.So near the end of last week I began looking for my own fiddle. I ended up at Reed Bernstein’s on Thursday, and he spent about two and a half hours with me looking at instruments. We began by looking at the fiddles themselves; using a very nice carbon fiber bow I tried four or five different instruments until I found one with which I was happy. I love both the sound and the feel of this instrument. Which is to say that not only does it sound great, but playing it feels completely natural to me.

Once I’d pretty well settled on the fiddle, we moved on to bows. We looked first at carbon fiber bows because Reed said that in my target price range they tended to be superior to wooden ones. I played probably six to eight different carbon fiber bows—including the $500 one I’d used to find the fiddle—and narrowed it down to one bow. Then, just to sate my curiosity, Reed brought out a few wooden bows. I played four or five of these and quickly narrowed this selection down to one as well. At this point it was very nearly a tough call: the carbon fiber or the wooden bow? I played both of them successively for probably five minutes. I suspect that some of the difficulty in this decision came from innate tendency to gravitate towards more “natural” materials. However, at the end of the day, the carbon fiber bow felt easier to use, so that ended up being my choice.

Now I had selected a fiddle and a bow; I was nearly set. The next step was to find a comfortable chin rest. Apparently, at least according to Reed, many shops don’t take this step. But Reed pulled out three or four different chin rests and had me try each one to see which I preferred. I tend to center my jaw on the body of the fiddle when I play, so I ended up with a chin rest that was centered on the violin, instead of being off-center towards the top of the instrument.

And last, but not least, I chose my beautiful case. Since my parents paid for the bow for my birthday, I decided it was worth the money to buy the higher quality case. Lined with a dark green velvet, and sporting a dial indicating the humidity in the case, I could not be much happier with it. Not to mention that it is very sturdy.

As though it weren’t enough that Reed had spent over two hours with me to help me find the right instrument, he offered to let me take the instrument home without purchasing it to play it over the weekend. A fortuitous turn of events for me, since I knew it was going to be hard to walk out of there without that fiddle, but I wanted to postpone the purchase on the off chance I found something I liked better. To make the rest of this long story a little shorter, I called a few places, visited another shop, but either they had no instruments in my price range, or I didn’t like the instruments they had. So today I drove back over to Reed’s, handed him my credit card, and walked out the proud owner of my very first fiddle.



  1. Awesome!

  2. Yay! That there sure is a shiny fiddle.

  3. ooooohhhh!

    Green. Very green. (Envy)

    Hey, no, wait… I have my own fiddle or two. Why am I so envious? *grins*

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