Instruments & Gear: Vintage Vault

19th-Century German Fiddle

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Peghead Nation Irish Fiddle instructor demonstrates his favorite instrument and his Christopher English bow.

by Teja Gerken
May 18, 2018

Peghead Nation Irish Fiddle instructor Dale Russ doesn’t know the exact origins of his violin, but he loves the instrument for its tone and playability. “I’ve had two different shops look at it, and neither could figure out exactly what it was,” he says. What the experts do agree is that the instrument was most-likely made in the famous violin-making center of Mittenwald, Germany, around 1850, and that it was probably made or assembled by one person. Dale says that the fiddle is distinguished by two things: a relatively low arch of the top and a slightly smaller overall size, making it around ⅞ or ¹⁵/₁₆ of a standard-size violin.

In this video, Dale demonstrates the instrument by playing the reel “Farewell to Ireland” and discusses his personal setup, which includes a very low nut (to help him play first-finger rolls), a tall chin rest, and a large shoulder rest. He also talks about some restoration work that has been done to the instrument, including steaming the top back to its original shape and resetting the neck. Dale also discusses his Christopher English bow, which has a light tip and the kind of balance that he prefers. “It makes me play more towards the frog. I want to have complete control of my whole bow, and it feels really good if the tip is a little bit lighter.”

To study fiddle with Dale, enroll in his Irish Fiddle course now!


Category: Instruments & Gear

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