Fiddlerman Master Has Arrived
Posted on October 16, 2019
My 7/8 Fiddlerman Master Violin arrived on Monday. As of this writing, I’ve had two full practice sessions with it, so this is still my very first impression of the instrument.
To start, I was surprised that it came with such a lovely case! When I ordered the fiddle, I noted that I really didn’t need the full outfit, and that all I wanted was the instrument only. This knocked off some of the cost of the outfit, and I really just expected to get some little shipping case or even for the instrument to be boxed differently.
Much to my surprise, when I opened the box, there was this lovely case… which is so much better looking than any of the cases that came with my previous violins. Look at this… just wow!
It also came with a little cover, a strap, and a soft violin bag inside the case. So even when ordering “instrument only” you get a nice bundle.
Now, on to the instrument itself. Goodness, it is beautiful! You know how you see folks posting pictures of the flaming on the back of their fiddles online. Well, now I have one to post!
Let me tell you that the photos don’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful golden brown and the lighter areas really have this glow where the light hits them.
Even I can tell that the bridge is high quality and is fitted to near perfection. The instrument came fully tuned, and maintained tuning even after being shipped around by FedEX a few days. I was a little nervous about only having one fine tuner, but for now, I don’t see that being a problem. When I go to change the strings, then I may have an adventure ahead of me!
The strings – I’m not sure what kind they used – sound really nice. The E might be a little too bright for my taste, but dang, does this fiddle project. I immediately saw a difference in the “loudness” between this and my Bunnel, even when I was bowing lightly.
Speaking of comparisons…
Master on the left, Bunnel on the right
It’s not the best picture, but you can see how the Master is a bit more glossy and golden brown compared to my Bunnel. It still doesn’t show up well, but there’s a bit of a glow to the golden areas.
Surprisingly, the 7/8 size violin wasn’t all that much smaller than the full sized. I’d expected a bit more of a size difference. There is one, but it’s not noticeable until you actually measure the instrument, or you go to put a 4/4 size shoulder rest on it. Thankfully, the shoulder rest that came with my Bunnel is fully adjustable with sliding legs. This let me fit it perfectly to the slightly smaller 7/8 frame.
The 7/8 also has trouble sitting in the little floor stand because it’s just slightly too small. I’ll have to look into adjustments to this, though it’s not really a huge deal.
This fiddle is in no way as small as the 3/4 I tried out. But I’m going to stick with it because any reduction in size is a help to me. I also know you can’t always find a 7/8 just anywhere readily. I feel like the better fiddle might be easier to play in the long run, so it might offset the trouble I was having — I’ll have to see as I practice with it.
I had a moment of confusion about the make of the fiddle when I saw that my Master didn’t have a one-piece back like I’d seen in the pictures and the videos. I went through and checked different videos online to determine if I was just confused about the whole thing, but no… they all had single-piece backs. So that, on top of the peg issue (which I talk about below) prompted some concern.
I wrote the Fiddlerman support folks with my question, and sent the picture of my fiddle’s back. They went out of their way to check their stock and explain that due to being a fractional size instrument, there’s sometimes a change in design due to the wood available. However, I was reassured that it shouldn’t change the sound or play-ability. Plus I really like how the back of the fiddle I was sent looked anyhow.
I was more concerned there’d been a mix up even if the label said it was a Master. Turned out that it was just me being overly scrutinizing. But even so, Support was great and responsive – they even tried to offer a discount due to the confusion, but I told them it wasn’t necessary. This was completely on me and my curiosity.
But the stories are true of the excellent Fiddlerman support. I feel like should I have any real issues, they’ll go out of their way to fix them, and I’m confident about my purchase.
The Master isn’t absolutely perfect, however. Aside from the two-piece back confusion, I did see a tiny little chip on the front of the pegbox when I did inspection. But that’s nothing I’m going to return the instrument for. It kinda gives it character, and wasn’t a chip in the varnish.
The one thing I did find (and I’ve heard about this from other reviews) is where the cork of the chin rest was connected to the wood, the finish is slightly textured. It’s as if the chin rest was put on before the varnish was completely done drying.
Note: I eventually found a fix to remove the cork!
Of course one of the first things I had to do was fit my own flatter chinrest to the new fiddle (which turned out very easy to do). Because it’s not the same shape as the previous chinrest, you can see the two rectangular places the old chinrest once sat, still marked in the finish. It’s very light, and it doesn’t stand out a whole lot, but I know it’s there. I tried washing it lightly with a damp rag, but it was pretty much part of the instrument.
This is a tiny bit of an annoyance for the cost of the instrument. However, it’s not a deal breaker for me. I know that the fiddle is probably going to see its share of nicks and scratches on down the line, even as careful as I’ll be with it. My Bunnel is actually in great condition for being in my hands as long as it has been, though.
The only other thing I can note is that the pegs that came with my fiddle were not the ones pictured. I don’t know if that’s also because of the 7/8 fit — most likely. But I was rather taken with the nice trim on the pegs as it was pictured on the store page, and a bit disappointed that mine were plain upon arrival. Again, not a deal breaker, but something to note.
If all I really found were some finish blemishes under where the chin rest sat and the tuning peg design, that’s not bad at all.
I’m pleased with the sound and the overall quality, and I intend to continue practicing with my new Master to see if the 7/8 is going to work as a good fit for me. I have a feeling it’ll be a keeper, though.