Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I have picked up a cheapie violin and was curious how the fiddle players here generally tune the violin. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of info I am finding.

For the time being I am following Howes Violin without a Master and trying to get familiar with the strings and bow. The tuning used in this book sounds like a g modal banjo to me

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I havent really checked it out, but I'm assuming that there are lots of resources here https://www.fiddlehangout.com/pages/default.asp

My big beef with the fiddle is just trying to get it in tune. Why must it be so complicated!!!???

Contrary to the banjo though, there are a number of super talented fiddle players in my area. If I ever truly feel like jumping in, at least I can take some lessons from some actual pros

Yes, David Caron.  I agree.  That's why I'm not much interested in cross-tuning, etc.  Also, I hate to put on a new string.  When I tune it up with the small friction pegs, all the other ones give way.  But to be somewhat "authentic", I refrain from geared tuners.  It is, indeed, a PITA!

Hey at least fiddles usually have fine tuners, unlike most minstrel banjers.

I will admit the fine tuners are a very nice addition. I was very nervous tuning up last night, but it was easy with then lil guys

They help.  Not particularly "authentic" probably but I confess to having them.  Strum, I have never had any problem tuning my Hartel Sweeney (with friction pegs).  Somehow fiddles seem different.

Could it be that part of your tuning problems are with the strings?  Violins were gut string up to just befor WW1.  There was a shortage of strings and some pros started using a wire first.  This made it okay to use a wire first but the rest of the strings were still gut (the 4th was wound) up until the 1940s.  I only know this because my banjo string research had me lookin into the WW1 string shortage and violinists wrote more about this in magazines like “The Strad.”

Chin rest—- those are later too.  You just don’t see them before about 1900 or so.

Well the main issue was I tuned them in wrong order per Howes reversed diagram. So it sounds "good" now. I did order a new set of nicer strings.

I also tried with no chin rest or shoulder pad buts it's the only way I can keep it in place. Once Al mentioned it's not relaxing I was able to keep it in place fine with all rests attached.

Once I can keep the notes sounding purty I will venture into a real violin with guts and no frills. I do however feel due my size and sloped shoulders that I will always need the chin rest regardless of how authentic I wanna be.

Joel is correct on the chin rests.  Forgot to mention that.  Forgot about shoulder rests, too.  I use them both and would have an even harder time without them.  So, when I said it was not relaxing somehow helped you hold it in place?!?!  Didn't know those words could work magic!

I imagined it being more comfortable and something I could do loose but once you said it wasn't relaxing it clicked that I am holding an instrument in place with my face so it prolly won't be too comfy haha but I got it in place now, been practicing no fret hand to get it down. I am enjoying it tho.

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