Fiddles  -  Bows  -  Strings

 

I currently play one of two fiddles:

One is a recent purchase - a Rod Ward violin, No. 99, which I bought from Rod when I visited him in his workshop recently. It is absolutely gorgeous, has a clear, bright, and full sound, and is a joy to play. 

To find out more about Rod Ward and the string instruments he makes, see his website:  http://www.wardviolins.com/.

Violin by Rod Ward, Cambridge. No. 99
Violin by Rod Ward, Cambridge. No. 99

My other fiddle is a French fiddle, probably made in the late 19th Century in Mirecourt, possibly from the JTL business. It is stamped inside 'NICOLAS DUCHENE A LA VILLE DE PADOUE", in a triangular shape.  Whatever, it is a lovely fiddle, on the loud side whilst still maintaining a good tone across the range.

Violin 19th Century Mirecourt Duchene
Violin 19th Century Mirecourt Duchene
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Duchene%20label_edited.jpg
 

I have four bows which I use most often. My main bow, and most recent purchase, is a 4* silver mounted bow by Alfred Knoll from Germany. This is a Pernambuco stick with a fully mounted ebony and sterling silver frog. The stick has an hexagonal profile which I quite like, and the bow weighs 61.21. I find this bow gives a good clear and pure tone across all the strings, and is very easy to handle at all dynamics. Really enjoyable to play with.

Alfred Knoll 1
Alfred Knoll 1

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Alfred Knoll 2
Alfred Knoll 2

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Alfred Knoll 3
Alfred Knoll 3

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Alfred Knoll 1
Alfred Knoll 1

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My next bow was made by E. Dorfler, Germany. It is again made of Pernambuco wood and again with a hexagonal profile. This one weighs 61.15g. I've had this bow the longest of the three and it was probably my favourite until I bought the Alfred Knoll above.  This shows as, unfortunately, the Dorfler's name engraving above the frog has worn away.

Dorfler Bow Frog
Dorfler Bow Frog

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IMG_2379

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IMG_2397

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Dorfler Bow Frog
Dorfler Bow Frog

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My third bow is again another German bow, made by C. Mulhans. This is also, I believe, of Pernambuco wood. This bow has a round profile.  It is a little lighter than the Knoll and Dorfler bows at 57.35g. It perhaps gives a slightly softer sound.   The maker's name is showing some wear but is still legible.

Mulhans bow frog
Mulhans bow frog

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IMG_2372

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IMG_2407

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Mulhans bow frog
Mulhans bow frog

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Finally is my Coda fibreglass bow, specifically one of their LUMA bows.  I bought this from the violin maker Tim Phillips from his stall at FolkEast a few years ago and used it at an English String Band gig at the Festival that evening.  It was a real joy to play with it that night, and still is. Its weight is 58.21g

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IMG_2375

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IMG_2413

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IMG_2412

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IMG_2375

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Strings:  As with most fiddlers and violinists, I have tried a number of different type of strings, For many years I used Zyex by D'Addario and I still like them. I little while back I moved on to Larsen's Virtuoso strings, which again I found very satisfactory.  Then Rod Ward introduced me Warchel's new Timbre range.  I had already been using Warchel's Amber E string on the recommendation of a another friend - an excellent E string, but I now use Warchel's Timbre across all strings.  Not the cheapest of strings but I find them a really good set of strings.  However, of course what is best for any one player depends on the fiddle, bow and the player.  Update February 2021:  After a few more months of playing, I have now gone to using Warchel's Amber strings  I was finding that the Timbre G string was not working 100% for me, giving an unbalanced sound when moving between the G string and the D string in faster passages.  The Amber are, for me and for my fiddles, more balanced.  I may try the Timbre again now I have the Alfred Knoll bow.