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Fiddlerman 5-string Violin
This is my review of the Fiddlerman 5-string Violin, purchased at Fiddlershop.com
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ladyeclectic
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December 12, 2015 - 6:26 pm
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One of the things I really missed when it came to my violin was the reverberation of the low notes. Now, to be fair, most violin music I've found is in the higher ranges, I haven't been able to mess around much with the G string. 

Doesn't mean I haven't wanted to though. 🙂

I'd had very good luck with the FiddlerShop in the past (it's where I bought my Ming Jiang Zhu 905 {a 4/4 full size violin} as well as most of the goodies therein) so, after a lot of thought, I went ahead and purchased their FM 5-string violin. According to the website, it comes with the violin, a FM CF bow, case, and the FM shoulder rest. (or it does as if today, that could change so check the listing). Neither the bow or shoulder rest came with my order however, I've sent off an email asking about this.

First impressions on the violin: mama likey. 😛


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It's a little redder than I usually like (I prefer brown or neutral tone colors) but quality not looks is why I chose this violin. It seems solid and well made, and just as light as my MJZ 905. It is, however, bigger than my standard violin, both in length and width (I'll get to that in a minute).


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FM 5-string on the left, my MJZ 905 on the right. You can see that the FM violin is longer and wider than the standard.


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One of the things I noticed immediately with this violin is that the strings aren't cramped or crowded on the fingerboard. Neither does the neck feel at all bulky or have much extra width to worry about. Yes you do have to stretch a bit more for that C string, tucking your elbow just that extra degree or two in to reach it. However, it's not at all uncomfortable, just different.


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My MJZ 905 pegbox


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The FM 5-string violin pegbox

I'm not 100% sure I like how it's laid out re: the strings-to-what-peg, but I get it. Violins are shorter than their viola cousins, and you need to use a viola string for the 5-string violin. There are some companies that make strings for the 5-string specifically but, if you were to choose violin strings, you'd need a viola low string. Still, I'm personally not a fan of how the C string pushes against the pegbox wall and may move that string differently in the future. Doesn't seem to affect the sound at all however.

Measuring the string widths at the nut was surprising: from center-to-center, they were both the same at 5.5mm across. Different widths of string do eat into that measurement a bit (like, by tenths of a mm at most) but it seems to be the same as standard.

Now the length/width. This isn't your grandpa's fiddle, it's closer to a small viola in dimensions.


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The body is longer than the MJZ 905 standard by several milimeters; getting it out of the case it was shipped in was a bit tough. I think that a 14" viola case would fit better. I may have to look into that, but for now it will squeeze into a standard violin case, but just barely. Speaking of cases, I have to say I'm slightly impressed with the one they shipped this in; it can carry up to 4 bows, is light (not particularly impact resistant but easy to carry) and looks good. 


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My MJZ 905 regular violin


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The 5-string FM violin

As for the sound, well, lol, maybe in a few days I'll post a video or sound bite. I'm having to completely relearn how to bow with this violin; it's set up radically different (for me) in comparison to my MJZ. The bridge is well carved but a lower profile than my regular violin; again, that's not bad, just different. The E string in particular is only just above the fingerboard on this violin; nice when you're using steel strings and don't want them to bite into your finger. (Point of fact: this came with the FM strings and a Dominant low C)

Give me a few days to play around with it and post up my thoughts. This is just the first impressions I've gotten since receiving the violin. It was well packaged, and I was pleased to note that it was still almost perfectly in tune. (Pierre said this was probably the same one he played in the 5-string YouTube video). 

Any questions, just ask!!

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damfino
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December 12, 2015 - 6:34 pm
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Congratulations on your new violin!

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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ladyeclectic
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December 12, 2015 - 8:14 pm
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Thanks, I'm pretty stoked. 😀 I've spent the last half hour or so jamming on it, and I think it's going to open up very nicely. It has a really mellow tone, likely due to the wider dimensions, and just sounds incredible. Lol I might actually like it more than my MJZ which is pretty incredible considering the price difference. 😉 

Contrary to what I thought, it didn't take me too long to get accustomed to the new fiddle. I still nick some of the strings but, heh, I was doing that on my 4-string one too. I'll probably try my hand at the Christmas project song later, just to see what the difference is sound-wise between this puppy and my regular violin. And lol I'm already looking up accessories to make it "mine" down the road. 😛

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 13, 2015 - 9:18 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

Thanks for the review. I'll check with Michael on what happened with the bow and shoulder-rest. It might that you purchased it before we finalized the listing. In any case, I'll make sure that we satisfy you. 🙂

When we get the instruments the strings are laid out in a different way. You can easily change it back. I got used to the C string being way up on the port side from the Realist. The realist C string lies hard up against the inside of the peg box as well. Doesn't really seem to make much difference since there is less pressure on that string anyway.
I personally prefer it that way because violin strings are designed for that length and C strings tend to be longer. Other than that, it makes no difference.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ladyeclectic
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December 13, 2015 - 11:42 am
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Thanks FM I'd appreciate it. We'd discussed some confusion over what came with the violin (kit or no kit) and, as it's a fairly brand new listing, I'm assuming this was the first sold(?). It's not a huge worry since I have the other items already, but I would like them as backups (and I really did want to try that shoulder rest, lol was almost as excited about that as the violin itself). 😀

Yesterday I played around a LOT with the 5-string violin and I've got to say it has a very mellow tone compared to my regular violin. I'm sure strings would change up the sound a lot (there's a set of steel D'Addario Helicore strings made specifically for 5 string fiddles, they seem to get good reviews) but I'm pretty impressed with the FM strings. I'm having fun with the lower C string, find I don't use it much since most of my repertoire is violin-based and doesn't much go below D, but I moved a few things down half an octave or so. The violin really does come alive in the lower registers; it seems to like them more than the higher strings, which makes sense given the more viola dimensions. 

As I figure out more I'll post it. I just hadn't seen any reviews online for this violin so thought I'd post up one. 😉

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 13, 2015 - 2:46 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Do me a favor and send me a PM with your order ID.
I fear that I could otherwise neglect to handle this as we are SOOOO busy now.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ladyeclectic
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December 13, 2015 - 3:41 pm
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Lol yeah, I certainly picked the wrong time to get something shipped!! Had a bow shipped from China that took 3 weeks to get, I was chomping at the bit for it too (still evaluating that one). 😀

Anyway, PM sent. Now to figure out which violin to use for my Christmas FM project piece. 😉

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ladyeclectic
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December 13, 2015 - 11:40 pm
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Well, I had my first oopsie with the new violin. The E had gone curiously flat so I started peg tuning since it was out of E altogether and there's not much room beneath the fine tuner on the tailpiece. Started hearing the dreaded "tick-tick-tick" and cringed, waiting for it to happen. Sure enough, pop went the E string. 

🙁

Fortunately I have my electric violin that I rarely use and, since it's Sunday and no music stores are open, I robbed Peter to pay Paul and am back in business. 

I'm seriously thinking that a string upgrade is in order. The middle strings all sound very muddy for some reason; I'm thinking a set of Helicore steel strings might brighten up the violin a bit. Nothing against the FM strings and usually I prefer synthetics on my violins, but with the viola-ish body and extremely mellow sound (so much so on the lower strings the notes run together) it needs something to brighten it up a bit. 

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cdennyb
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December 14, 2015 - 3:11 am
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Congrats fellow 5 string fiddler~! It sure does get crowded up there at the nut for sure. That's one of the reasons I went with my geared tuners and the non-typical layout it had. Not a whole lot you can do with it honestly, as the E and C strings are naturally going to rub against the edge of the pegbox. It would be possible to fashion a tighter spaced nut but you'll have to really figure out string fingering all over again if you go too tight with it. Very common when using a 4/4 4string neck with a 5 string nut. My neck at the nut is a full 27.4mm wide and is noticeably wider when playing than any of the other violins I have.

If you used a closer peg you'd have a string cross over the top of another and that wouldn't be any better IMHO... but live with it and enjoy.

I usually back off all fine tuners at the tailpiece and then peg tune within 1/2 note or so and take up the rest of the pitch with the FT.

It took me about a wekk to get totally used to and comfortable with that extra string. LoL

As far as string seperationP3030119.JPGImage Enlarger spacing goes, it is very common to find both the nut and the bridge string spacing to be slightly more between the G & C strings mainly just because of the wider vibration wavelength of them. My G to C distance at the bridge is slightly over 10.7mm and the rest are right at 10.5mm apart c to c distance. At the nut it is also bigger between the C & G string but hardly noticeable.

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"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlerman
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December 14, 2015 - 8:37 am
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I'll send you an E string with the should rest and bow. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Zak
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December 15, 2015 - 6:44 am
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Very pretty violins, I have the same pegs you have on your MJZ.

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ladyeclectic
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December 15, 2015 - 12:05 pm
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Lol @Zak I didn't like boxwood fittings until I got that violin. Now I really like them, especially against darker finishes. Although I'm kind of testing out the look and feel of rosewood as I think that's pretty sexy too. :p

@cdennyb One of the reasons I really liked this violin was specifically because it was NOT electric. Lol so many (all? Most?) of the others I've seen were of the electric variety, or acoustic-electric, which wouldn't have been bad except that I don't want or need amplification personally. I'm also not a big fan of geared pegs; lol I'm a traditionalist that way. 😀 I have been reading your thread for a while though and can still appreciate what you've done with your own 5-string, nice work!

I have a set of 5-string Helicore steel strings in the mail, and think I'm going to take the violin to my semi-local luthier to have him check it out. Just want to be sure of something I noticed, plus while I know my way around a violin I'd prefer having a trained eye take a gander. 😉

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damfino
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December 15, 2015 - 12:11 pm
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I love the look of the boxwood fittings on my Ming, but I think my favorite is the look of rosewood fittings. 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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ladyeclectic
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December 16, 2015 - 1:21 pm
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@damfino The tough part about looking for accessories is that there isn't much for 5-strings, especially when it comes to tail pieces or finding one more peg to go with a 4-peg kit. 😛

Yesterday I put on the Helicore string set and, holy cow, what a difference!! The steel strings have brought this baby to freaking LIFE. I guess Helicores are very popular with viola players and I can see why, since this violin is closer in dimensions to a baby (3/4? 14"?) viola. 😛

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