Modern builders?

This topic contains 41 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Gunnar Salyer Gunnar Salyer 2 days ago.

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  • #72944
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    So I’ve noticed, in the mandolin community, there’s a dozen different modern builders mostly one person shops that everyone knows about, and you frequently see their work being played. In the guitar world, there’s a bunch of manufacturers whose work is widely used. On the banjo side, there’s also plenty of people (and comparatively more factories) building banjos. My question is this, are there any widely kn fiddle builders still active? Unfortunately the fiddle is the one instrument (not counting bass) where you can’t tell the manufacturer just by looking at it. And it seems like most performers are playing vintage European instruments, or old American ones. So, do y’all know of any modern builders whose work is well respected and played by anyone on a (relatively) famous band?

    #72947
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    I know a couple up around here, but their main customers are in Orchestras…

    #72951
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    And they really don’t want fame knocking on their door because they already have an impossible backlog…

    #72953
    Frederick
    Frederick
    Participant

    I know one fiddler, fiddle builder in eastern Tennessee that has built over 60 fiddles. He sells the 4 stringers for $3,000.00 and the 5 stringers for $3,500.00. Here’s my webpage of his fiddle works:

    https://www.frederickwarner.com/keith-williams-fiddle-maker.html

    #72973
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    How come a bunch of replies disappeared from this thread? Fred, (since your name change, I will now call you Frederique!) That’s the kind of folks i wanted to hear about, I’ll check him out

    #72984
    Avatar
    John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Hi Gunnar, sorry if some replies disappeared, GoDaddy did a restore of the site and some things were lost. I tried to reinstate all the replies but some may have gotten away.

    Bob Kogut is a great builder that lives nearby, a lot of pro fiddlers have his instruments. His prices are reasonable.

    https://www.blueridgeheritage.com/artist/bob-kogut/

    There are some well-known modern violin builders, but they mostly sell higher-end instruments starting around $15,000.

    #73001
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    Ok cool, I’ve seen Bob’s name a couple times, I’ll check him out

    #73006
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    I have a Bob Kogut 5 String as well. Angelica

    #73008
    Avatar
    Angela
    Participant

    Wow Eddie. Beautiful. Tell us about it.

    #73011
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    It was Finished December 2017. The original owner had it two months and put it up for sale. She couldn’t get used to a 5 string. I had seen it original advertised on YouTube by Bob and loved it. Once I saw it advertised on fiddle hangout I bought it.

    #73012
    Avatar
    Angela
    Participant

    Eddie, that’s great. I’d love to hear it if you’d feel comfortable putting up a video on Lion’s den.

    #73017
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    That’s a beautiful fiddle!

    #73023
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Angela / Gunnar,</p>
    A, I will figure something to put on there.

    G, thanks man!

    #73025
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Eddie….congrats on owning that beautiful piece of work!  I would love to hear it one day.

    As to the disappearing threads…I almost remembered the guy’s name in this area right…remembered it right later, as I figured I would.  His name is Patrick Higgins…and his shop in right on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River in Bellevue, KY.  I’m surprised I even remembered this much info, because it was years ago…not that long ago, but a few years back when I had gotten that old fiddle for 50 bucks from my friend who didn’t play at allbut used it as decoration right up near her fireplace.   Patrick Higgins glued it back together and cut a bridge, put a soundpost in…I think that’s about all…I think he charged me 130 for that…not sure how great a price or if it was bad or good price, since it was the first time I’d ever gotten any work done by any kind of luthier…since then, my husband put in the geared tuner pegs and re-carved the bridge to fit my playing better…I’d like to move the soundpost around a little, but I’m terrified of soundpost setting, so I’ll just leave that alone.  Husband also put in a new tailpiece…last time I changed strings I noticed a huge crack going along the tailpiece…it mighta been there all along, I don’t know…but now it has a new tailpiece too.

    While I was in Patrick Higgins’ shop I noticed those 10,000 dollar price tags on fiddles hanging on the wall…so…lol…I knew then I was in the wrong neighborhood…wrong side of the tracks, so to speak…for me.  We can barely afford all the house insurances, taxes, medicare payments, etc., etc., etc.  No 10,000 instruments for me…mine all together wouldn’t be worth that much…all those guitars, fiddles, viola, cello, dulcmers, etc.  Probably together worth a couple thousand, if  luck would help me out.  Maybe a little more…no more than 3,000 for sure.  But anyway…happy to at least have the instruments I do have now…waited most of my life to get them.  But don’t know how good or who or what or whatever about Patrick Higgins…but he’s there…pretty close to us.  I hope I don’t need luthiers again…but if I ever do…I guess I’ll go back to him.

    #73033
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    Jonathan Cooper is another one

    #73034
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Eddie, that looks like big leaf maple.  I was given a bunch of big leaf maple once, by a fellow that got it from Gibson’s supplier in British Columbia.  I ended up giving it back, because I consider all the work involved in carving plates to be such that one might as well stick with the established practice of conventional maple for the back plate.  I know good results have been gotten from alternative wood for sure though.

    Just wondered what your comparison of the sound with this fiddle is compared with conventional fiddles…??  Darker? Brighter?  Response & overtones?

    #73037
    Frederick
    Frederick
    Participant

    I like the root-beer-colored satin varnish. Also, the points on the side bouts are interesting in the way they do not form sharp joints. Hard to imagine how it would sound just by looking at it, but I suppose if the graduations of top and bottom plates are properly cut…all other things being well done, it should have a beautiful tone.

    #73039
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    I will try to post something soon on the site where Angela mentioned. Roger, it is big leaf curly maple. Without writing a book I will tell you that I have adjusted this fiddle every way you can to figure out what changes the tone and everything else. No kidding…

    i have the fortune of having a great friend that is an awesome luthier and custom guitar maker and he has been doing it forever. He has  taught me how to do everything but build a fiddle at this point and I have a kit from stew Mac that I will do sometime in the future. This thing has an incredible sound. Very deep low C string that is strong and powerful, and depending on the bridge shape, thickness, and soundpost position the A and E string can be so bright that it is strident and irritating or it can be warm and sweet.

    I just found the perfect combo for me recently when my friend gave me a viola bridge and challenged me to cut it down to a Hybrid size slightly larger than a violin bridge, but much smaller than a viola.

    his theory is that a good 5 string fiddle ain’t a violin and it ain’t a viola. I put the ain’t s in out of respect for my old friend. He was absolutely right and I told him that I thought he was full of baloney before I did it. I just read yesterday for the first time that John has a 5 string Kogut. I would think his is engleman spruce top and big leaf maple backs and sides as well.

    #73040
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    After saying all that, I think as long as a violin is graduated right. Most of the tone and color is going to be in the setup. Bridge, sound-post, the after length from bridge to tailpiece, and a few other things.😉

    oh and Gunnar, I dream of a jonathan cooper 5 string. He is

    my hero. I will never have one unless the good Lord has someone give me one. His base model is $15,000

    #73041
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Fred, I think those corners are very typical of old time mountain luthiers  of the Appalachians.  But I really have no extensive knowledge of it…just some observations….Also the varnish with somewhat walnut flavor is also…

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by rodger rodger.
    #73045
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I guess those luthiers have to make a living…but sheesh…who can afford to be a customer…lol?

    #73052
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    I guess people who spend 10k for a fiddle and drive a $500 car, as opposed to paying $500 for a fiddle and 10k for a car…..: )

    Actually, it really makes sense, because, in years to come the car will be junk, but the fiddle will always hold it’s value, or in some cases increase it’s value.  What else can you spend money on to enjoy and not lose it’s value for hundreds of years?

    #73059
    Frederick
    Frederick
    Participant

    You’re probably right, Rodger. I’ve only met a handful of actual fiddle builders here in the South. I have met a whole armload of fiddle repair persons, though. It seems to me that now that you mention it, I have noticed these duller-sided bouts before.

    #73063
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Rodger…you’re right.  I hate it that we need cars…pieces of polluting junk that lose their value immediately.  I remember when we lived right in town in Williamsburg, before they blew up all the surrounding mountains and destroyed the town with a Super Walmart.  You could walk anywhere and didn’t need a car.  I could walk to two libraries, the dentist or doctor (even though we didn’t have insurance or not usually enough money to go to those guys), the county health department (free vaccinations for poor kids!), several small shops…small beautiful little stores with Mayberry style doors, creaking wooden floors, and most of them had a mina bird there inthe store.  It was really charming to shop for small items, like a dish scrubber or wind up toy for your child, while the minah bird (ok, I give up…computer says I can’t spell that) yelling out weird and funny comments while you shop…hearing through the two or three small aisles a few other people’s feet creeking on the floors or a child talking about a toy…etc.  It was so nice and peaceful to shop in the stores.  The owners of the shops were friendly with everybody.  There were probably about 10 stores along the street…the court house was in the middle…full of men with overalls and pipes, discussing stuff while the wives bought groceries or whatever.  You could just walk to any of it…then you could take a longer walk, but still within resonable walking distance to my favorite…Bailey’s Country Store…they had guitars, stove pipe, hoes and saws, frying pans, blue jeans (I bought my Duck Head women’s farmer jeans for 2 dollars and they lasted me for years), sewing stuff, etc., and the second oldest radio show in the U.S. right there in their store.  They came on the air at 5 a m…always the same way…”Git Up…Git outta bayed!”  Nobody needed a car.  I loved living there in town…then…you could just walk a few steps and be in the woods beside the river…we fished there all the time and ate plenty of catfish when we lived there….I’d sometimes take daughter down to the bank and build me a little fire…drink coffee and she’d play with an old can and spoon in the sand on the bank while we waited for a train to go over the trestle overhead…the excitment of the day.  Then she’d get sleepy and cuddle up in my lap as I sat in the sand by the fire…wonderful way to spend an sleepy fall afternoon…listening to nothing but the gentle river going along, even though we were a few steps out of town…you could hear nothing but birds and river.  Of course it’s all ruined now…ghost town of ruins, with all the moutains and ridges blown apart, roads straightened, ancient trees bulldozed…superwalmart to replace all the stores…I mean…it’s gone now.  What was I saying, though?  Oh yeah… you gotta have a car…we can’t do anything without a car…I hate that.  I hate to drive, hate the traffic…hate the pollution…etc.  Yes, I’d rather spend that kinda money on somehting I love, like a fiddle…not some unfortunate necessity of modern life.

    #73067
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Dad lived on top of one of the highest mountains in the east, and it was a nine mile walk down the mountain to town.  I’ve walked that mountain and it was like climbing a cliff more than walking.  They would walk into town for stuff and walk home without thinking nothing about it all the time.  Most of us mt folks were small & nimble and would run around the mountains like squirrels.  I could jump the fences and just keep going….that was my joy growing up, was running the mountains….I just loved it…I did it all life also up here in the Rockies, but now I have a bad knee : (

    #73076
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Looking forward to hearing Eddies fiddle play in the lions Den !

    #73085
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I’ve lived way out in the boonies too…long walk to town, but we didn’t do it much because the road was pretty dangerous…no shoulder, no guard rail, and plenty of coal trucks flying around the curves.  But I sure do miss living inside the town of Williamsburg, before they blew it all up and rearranged it and got the walmart in there and all that.

    Steve is getting us back on topic, hurray!…yes, hope Eddie can play some for us soon. I always look forward to hearing what musical and fiddley stuff everybody’s up to. Makes my day, especially since I just don’t know anybody around me who plays or anything…gotta rely on my online community!  Play me something!

    #73102
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    Can I post a video directly to the lions den or do they have to be linked to some host site? I am about to reach my two year mark so be nice.😳

    #73103
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Host site.

     

    #73104
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    You have to use a file sharing site (usually dropbox, Google drive, YouTube or vimeo) if you want to use YouTube but don’t want it to be “out there” you can upload it as unlisted, and then only people with a link can see it. I look forward to seeing and hearing you play! And don’t worry about time, I’ve only been playing a year and a half. We’re all super encouraging

    #73106
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    This is the first time I have ever tried to post on YouTube.

    does it normally take forever?

    #73116
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    Well thanks to Fiddlewood it is posted. I dont know how he did it…

    #73120
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Getting a youtube up can take a really long time if you use a cell phone.  When you post them from acomputer, it goes a lot faster.  Don’t know why, but that’s my experience.  I’ve made a few on my cell phone and had time to do all kinds of stuff waiting for it to get on there.  When I do them from the computer, it’s about 15 seconds and it’s there…maybe 30 seconds…but it’s taken an hour sometimes by my cell phone.  I’m glad you got your youtube up and shared it with us!  Hurray…it’s like our little fiddling club here…lol.

    #73290
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    President Trump takes West Virginia fiddle to Japan! (super size fiddle anyway)  He bought it in Arkansas, but it was made in West Virginia!

    https://www.thestrad.com/news/trump-gifts-viola-to-new-japanese-emperor/8994.article

    Pretty prestigious award for a mountain made instrument!

    #73291
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    That’s cool!

    #73294
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Did he give it to somebody over there?  I didn’t read the article because it wanted to give me cookies, and, as unbelievable as it sounds for me to be saying such a thing…I normally refuse cookies…lol.

    #73298
    Avatar
    Eddie
    Participant

    Wow. I just read it! The viola was beautiful.

    #73301
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    Yes, Cricket it was part of a diplomatic cultural gift exchange cuz the new Japanese emperor is a violist

    #73302
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Cool…I didnt know that.  Senator Byrd, the late Senator, was a fiddler…he always said the people in WV trusted a fiddler more than they would anybody else, which is why he kept getting elected…lol.

    #73305
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    Cool! Patrick Henry was a fiddler too

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