Tag Archives: Fiddle

How To Care For your Fiddle or Violin While Traveling

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From Montana, we drove to Austin, then we flew to Costa Rica. Then we flew back to Austin, then we flew to Portugal then Italy then Bali then Cambodia then Thailand and then Singapore then Australia then New Zealand then Canada then Peru.

While doing all of this travel my fiddle was in some of the strangest climates on Earth. We went from hot to cold, humid to dry, high-elevation to low elevation, and even a life at sea for a month.

After getting back to Montana I saw one of my favorite fiddle gurus on planet Earth whose name is Lisa Barrett. she judged the fiddle contests that my brother and I played in as kids and she is a world-renowned violin and instrument luthier.

Lisa took one look at my fiddle and could almost tell me exactly where I had been and what damage was done to my fiddle.

After hiring her to fix my fiddle by removing the top and adjusting the blocks, soundpost, bridge, strings, and everything in between, I implored her to tell me all about how to care for my fiddle going forward so that this doesn’t happen again.

Being a professional fiddle/violin player you would think that I would already know how to properly care for a violin but apparently I did not. In this post I’m going to share all that I learned and how to avoid an expensive repair bill after you travel around the world like we did. Let’s dive In.

What is an ok humidity range for my violin or fiddle?

Lisa told me to purchase a small humidity gauge that can live in my fiddle case and monitor the humidity to keep it between 40-60%.

In order to lower the humidity she had me purchased a bag of silica gel packs that reduce the humidity and are usually used to protect electronics etc during shipment.

Here’s the bag that I bought, they’re very cheap and useful and now I put them in my laptop sleeve, headphone case, studio case, pretty much everywhere I don’t want moisture ruining my gear.

What temperature is ok for my fiddle or violin?

This one wasn’t as much of a problem for me but you definitely want to keep your violin out of extreme heat and extreme cold. It’s made of wood and glue, and it’s under a high amount of tension.

This means too cold and it’ll get brittle and break, too hot and it’ll literally melt the glue that holds it together.

What to do when flying on an airplane with your fiddle or violin?

This one is pretty crucial, and Lisa told me that I need to loosen the strings whenever I fly, and give my violin a few days if possible in the new location before tightening it back up.

You don’t want to loosen the strings so much that the sound post falls out, just enough to relax the neck and body so there’s room for it to tighten up a little if it needs to.

I’ve really realized that these things are living and breathing like us, so you have to let it acclimate to all the changes in conditions, same as you would for your body.

Best music instrument insurance for travelers

Before we left to travel the world, I did a very wise thing, which was purchase instrument insurance from MusicPro.

After paying a hefty repair bill from the damage to my fiddle, I was able to submit it to MusicPro and they reimbursed the cost except for a $100 deductible.

I would highly recommend purchasing insurance through them and the good part is under the same policy, you can get all your gear insured.

I had my computer, my wife’s computer, my speakers, guitars, violins, recording input, microphone, keyboard, cameras, just about everything that helps me make music.

The insurance is cheap so there’s really no reason not to do it.

Conclusion

Ok I think that’s all I’ve got on this matter of caring for your violin. I learned a lot from letting my fiddle get out of hand and hopefully it will help you avoid my mistakes.

I’m not an expert by any means in this area, this post is simply meant to shine some light on the matter.

Please comment or reach out if I could improve this post or if you have any questions/comments.

Ross

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The Complete Guide To Buying A Violin Pickup And PreAmp

My first professional fiddle job was in Cody, Wyoming and we played an hour a night for 120 nights in a row for the tourists headed to Yellowstone National Park.

When I started back then I used a Fishman violin pickup that slid into the space in the bridge of the violin (I do not recommend this). It sounded harsh and wasn’t the best option.

My Favorite Piezo Violin Bridge Pickup And Pre-Amp Combo

After a few months of research and asking every fiddle player I knew, this is the best violin or fiddle pickup I could find. People are constantly asking me what I use, because it truly sounds amazing, so here I’ve written a guide on fiddle and violin pickups, and how I chose mine.

What I, and most of my fiddle playing friends in the alternative country music scene use for on-stage, is an L.R. Baggs bridge pickup.

I also run my signal through an L.R. Baggs pre-amp to get the smoothest and most natural tone.

With those two elements,  I’ve been able to successfully make my violin sound like a natural, clean, acoustic instrument when it used to sound harsh, thin, and fake.

However, you do need to take into account the violin you’re using. This makes a huge difference in your amplified sound. I am using a fairly new violin built in 2005 and has a deep, rich tone. It’s definitely not an antique, and in my opinion, sometimes the older violins can be harsher.

This fiddle pickup is road tested and after I had it installed on my violin, I’ve basically never touched it again. It always works, stays tight on the body of my fiddle, and always sounds great.

While researching for this post, I’ve also discovered that Sara Watkins, Mark O’Connor, and Lindsey Sterling all use the same setup.

Other Violin Pickup Options

If that setup isn’t what you’re looking for, you do have other options that might suit your situation better. I’ve jotted them down here for your reference.

The Band Violin Pickup – I’ve never used one of these styles and I’ve never known someone who has, but I believe they’re used more in the classical violin area. They may sound fine, but they definitely detract from the look of your violin.

Microphone Violin Pickup – This type of pickup is suited best for quiet environments for perhaps classical or bluegrass settings. I’ve seen a few people use these to get a very accurate sound from their instrument, but they do create issues with feedback in loud environments.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything here or if you have any questions about my setup. I’d love to chat!

To read more fiddle related articles like this, click here and to hear me play click here.

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