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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:

English Fiddle
English Fiddle

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.

English Fiddle
English Fiddle
English Fiddle
English Fiddle

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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