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Recently shopped around for vintage fiddles. I eventually wound up with an older German one that had good tone and I found to have good playability.
One thing that stuck out to me was that none of these fiddles were perfect though they all had their own character. Some were far worse in their flaws than others and some of the amateur repair work stood out like a sore thumb.
This particular violin I acquired only seems to have one flaw and that's in the way the fingerboard is set. It's flatter than what I've seen on many violins. The fingerboard itself is without dips or divots though I can see the occasional tiny gap when I hold it up to light. The fingerboard however is secure when I push firmly and pull firmly on its end. The bridge is carved well in accordance to the fingerboard orientation and the neck seems normal.
I like the way it sounds and plays and with my interest more in old time and bluegrass, I like the low action.
My question to the more experienced violinists/fiddlers is that should I be concerned? How much variance is acceptable? Is it personal? I know that with a full out service it would be shimmed and a new bridge carved. The way this fiddle is now I'm in no hurry for that though.
Since you mentioned bluegrass etc, flatter fingerboards and lower actions are common.
When fingerboard scoop is mentioned, everybody have their own preference, you can get different opinions from different luthiers as well. In my opinion the fingerboard scoop should relate to the player and their style.
As long as you feel ok, playing high up in the fingerboard is easy and there are no buzzes I would not worry about it.
After all, a luthier can modify the fingerboard, which needs occasional dressing etc. Also the fingerboard is considered a replaceable part of the instrument, so, everything alright with your new violin I guess
Hello Amateur (and others). Regarding the "flatness" of the fingerboard. Are you commenting on the relative curvature of the fingerboard or the distance between the end of the fingerboard and the top plate of the violin?
If it relates to its curve, obtaining a new ebony fingerboard on eBay is a realitively inexpensive purchase. Fitting it by a luthier is not that expensive either.
I suspect that you are referencing the space between the top of the fingerboard end and the top plate. It would be helpful if you provided a measurement in millimeters for reference. Correction (if too low) may be a simple matter of providing humidity in the case during storage.
Violins are generally assembled using hide glue. This glue returns to liquid when heated. The spaces between the fingerboard and the neck were likely caused by leaving the violin in a car on a hot day. If the neck was "reset" to a lower position by the action of the hot glue and string tension, this may also be the reason for the low spacing between the fingerboard and top plate. If so, a luther would need to loosen the neck from it existing position and reglue it in the proper position (and also make a new bridge).
What Irv is describing is called projection. Lay a ruler on edge on the fingerboard between the a and d strings, then shove it till it hits the bridge. Measure from the violin top plate to the bottom of the ruler at the bridge. That number should be 27mm. I have had one that was 22. What that does is it makes the strings stand too far from the fingerboard, making it hard to hit the right note and causing sore fingers. Unless you make your bridge shorter. And that has it's own issues, but if YOUR violins sounds good, that's all that matters.
I was referring to the projection but closer inspection has turned up more problems. Serious nut problems and suspect peg fitting. There's also an issue with the bridge being carved way too thin. Clearly this was worked on by someone who has no business doing so. I think I might've bought a wall hanger. On the plus side, I didn't spend much. I might have to bite the bullet and spend the money on a decent student grade instrument from a dealer.
Hi Amateur. The nut is a $5 item. You should just about put a credit card under the strings at the nut. If too low, you could raise up the slots with a mixture of baking soda and crazy glue (or replace nut and start over). If too high, it is easy to saw (or file) in deeper string slots.
I have a lot of ebony violin pegs because I generally replace them with Knilling perfection pegs. I would be happy to send you some. You would need a violin peg reamer (a $15 item on eBay). I do have a peg shaver and could adjust size if you told me the required diameter at the peg box (perhaps using a digital 6" caliper such as that sold by Harbor Freight).
If the bridge is thick enough to hold up the strings without bending, it is likely OK. A violin is at its best when it is on the brink of falling apart.
A few pictures on your part may be in order. The fiddle must have some redeeming qualities or you would not have purchased it to begin with.
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