Just a New Hobby — Restoring a Fiddle or Two

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    Having recently retired I was looking around for some stuff to do. And since I got bit by the fiddle bug, and not knowing a thing about sound quality in fiddles, on the internet all you could really go by is looks and reviews about makes and models. As usually happens with me, I was going for cheap. In the cheap price range you had the Asian ones, but there were also the category of used ones and those being advertised for restoration or parts. I thought to myself, how bad could it be to get a decently regarded old violin with good old wood but with split seams and missing parts.

    So that’s one of my pet projects. I’ve got a couple instruments with good old seasoned wood and I’ve been assembling clamps out of bolts and wingnuts and washers and whatnot to do the deed. If I screw up, I’m out some money and had some fun tinkering about. But if I can get it working right, I could have some really great fiddles. (and by ‘really great’ I mean for the price and sound good.) I do love a good clear sound as I’ve been listening a whole lot longer than I’ve been playing so my ear’s well ahead of my fingers at this point.

    So that’s just what I’m into these days. It’s fun. Some guys get into restoring old cars. This is my garage time in between practicing.


    that sounds like a very fun project.  keep us updated on your progress.

    AvatarGerald Schofield

    Hi goneworkin: I too was bit by the fiddle bug and ordered up some wood and a few other tools and set out to build me what i thought would put Stradivari to shame. Well after a few months and alot of learning i found out it isn’t as easy as one might think. It seems my scrap wood pile was getting larger and larger as i went along. A slip with a razor sharp gouge and bang (or should i say DANG) another  nice  aged piece of wood is useless. After a while you learn to take your time! Well three years later and i have four beautiful nice sounding violins i can call my own. They all sound different and have there own personalities. I am now one my third guitar and just enjoy the hobby so much that i don’t think there is anything more enjoyable than creating something out of a bunch of wood. Enjoy your new found hobby, have fun.


    Oh boy, Gerald, that sounds like you’ve done it right. Thanks for the encouragement. Four fiddles plus two and a half guitars? You must be an old hand by this point. I think the forests will forgive you for spoiling a few planks of tone wood in the interest of fashioning better musical instruments. I mean, even the old master fiddle makers had to have screwed a few up. Hey, I saw the movie The Red Violin!

    Anyway, I’m not yet where you are where it sounds like you made yours from scratch. I’m starting easy and just doing some minor fixes and working my way up. I want to see if I can even split a violin open without busting it.

    I can only imagine what it must have been like for you finally putting some strings on and playing for the first time on your very own fiddle once you got it right. Inspiring.



    I worked under an older violin maker for a couple of years and he reference several books and resources in building and restoration.

    This was his and several others number one reference: https://www.amazon.com/Art-Violin-Making-Chris-Johnson/dp/0709058764

    It’s a little pricey for a book but it is the best one out there on the subject. Mine cost me over $100.00 when i bought it.

    Take pictures along the way to journal your first restoration. It is addictive.




    Thanks Eddie!

    Yeah, other buyers seem to have left excellent reviews of this book. And you’ve actually done the deed, so I take your advice to heart. A great idea to take pictures along the way. It’s not exactly like hitting the [Undo] button in a paint program (sadly), but I imagine it’s good for tracking my skills and a reminder I had some fun.

    I’m still not at that stage of photos though. Now I have to lock away some decent blocks of time for myself to really dive in. I guess I’m facing the perennial dilemma for people trying to be suddenly creative in a new venture — discipline and courage to take the leap.  🙂

    I’ve got most all the materials, many of the tools, the space to work. . . I just have to remember those Apache fellas names to holler as I jump! I think it was Jerry n’ Moe. . . no. . . it’s more like Larry n’ Moe n’ Curly. . .

    This book sounds like it’s like having a master to consult like you did for real. I’m a bit jealous, haha. Good on ya, though. And thanks for the tip.

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