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Old 23-11-2019, 11:33   #1
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Question for Fiddle players

Hi All -

I moved aboard a 31-ft Tashiba sailboat about 3 years ago. I've also been learning to play the violin, picking it up 5 years ago. When I lived in an apartment I had the violin hanging from the wall. I found that with the violin out like that I would actually play more often.

On the boat space is limited and the violin in its case gets tucked away - out of sight out of mind! I'm thinking of hanging it up while in ports. I really like my fiddle, but it's nothing special - a Scott Cao model worth about $400.

I'm in the Puget Sound. Humidity on my boat ranges from 40 to 80% depending on the weather. My inside temps also vary from about 45 night to a typical temp of 62.

Now for the questions! Are there any liveaboards that have their fiddles out of the case all the time while aboard? If so, do you take any precautions?
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Old 23-11-2019, 12:08   #2
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

My wife plays the cello, but keeps it in the case when she's not playing. As for humidity, we have a diesel Refleks heater that keeps the humidity down and the temps around 70 or so all the time when we're buttoned up. I dont think she takes any other precautions except keeping it away from the grand kids. Wish I could give you more info, but I just listen, not play. Hers was made in China and she loves it. I'll ask her about it when she comes back.


John
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Old 23-11-2019, 12:31   #3
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

On the boat I keep my fiddle in its case. My boat fiddle is a $50 chinese VSO (Violin Shaped Object) which I don't care about if it suffers ... but I am beginning to dislike it a lot, so I am tempted to bring a more expensive instrument to the boat ... so I'm interested to hear any other replies too.

Leaving the instrument out is a risk I take at home since, like you, I really enjoy the convenience ... violins like a stable and moderately humid environment ... it's big changes in humidity that hurt them. I think my boat in BC will be a kinder environment than my house in Alberta.

I'm more concerned of the potential for damage by me being clumsy in the cabin since it is such a small space.

My boat's not too far away ... we should find a quiet anchorage, where there's nobody around to complain, and jam someday.
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Old 23-11-2019, 14:38   #4
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

FWIW Having made a couple of violins I can tell you that given that hide glue is used in these delicate contrivances and one should be aware that hide glue fails at low humidity.

One might reasonably conclude that keeping a violin on a high relative humidity boat trumps keeping one than in a low relative humidity centrally heated house, space permitting, so to speak.
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Old 23-11-2019, 20:27   #5
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Thumbs up Re: Question for Fiddle players

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelkara View Post
On the boat I keep my fiddle in its case. My boat fiddle is a $50 chinese VSO (Violin Shaped Object) which I don't care about if it suffers ... but I am beginning to dislike it a lot, so I am tempted to bring a more expensive instrument to the boat ... so I'm interested to hear any other replies too.

Leaving the instrument out is a risk I take at home since, like you, I really enjoy the convenience ... violins like a stable and moderately humid environment ... it's big changes in humidity that hurt them. I think my boat in BC will be a kinder environment than my house in Alberta.

I'm more concerned of the potential for damage by me being clumsy in the cabin since it is such a small space.

My boat's not too far away ... we should find a quiet anchorage, where there's nobody around to complain, and jam someday.



VSO!!! Love it!
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Old 24-11-2019, 10:13   #6
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

Faced with the exact same situation regarding my guitars, I opted for keeping an Ovation Custom Balladeer aboard the boat while my wood guitars are kept in a case in a safe place on land.
Ovation guitars are made from a combination of man-made synthetic material (the round back bouts/body) and wood sound board and neck). My Ovations travelled from air conditioned hotel rooms to inside the hot box of a truck, back into air conditioning and most of the time, all I had to do was tune a few strings. They are rugged and versatile. I have no affiliation with the company. I'm just a satisfied user.
I know Ovation makes mandolins. I don't know if they make violins, or if they do, the tone and timbre would be satisfactory for your requirements.
Ovation guitars, to me at least, have a definite sound to them vs all wood guitars.
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Old 24-11-2019, 10:23   #7
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

My wife bought an electric violin for use on the boat. Very rugged, sounds OK with a small battery-powered guitar amp. Wasn't very expensive, about US$150 on Amazon. No worries about humidity, and able to withstand a lot of mechanical abuse. She often practices without the amp, the volume is low but clearly audible.
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Old 24-11-2019, 10:28   #8
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

In 1973 I was in a music store looking around and an old man, much younger than I am now I think, was test driving an electric violin. It resembled Randy California's plexiglass Silverstone guitar to me at the time. He was playing it through an Echoplex, and I was tripped out. In retrospect I bet an electric violin would be less affected by moisture. When we lived aboard I bought a cheap Hofner electric travel guitar and a tiny Orange Crate battery powered amp. I would have preferred to take an acoustic resonator guitar but I was afraid for it and Mana is not overly large. I did have to switch to Ernie Ball stainless steel Slinky strings also. I also only played through headphones as I am a really terrible musician and I was hoping my wife would not bolt.
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Old 24-11-2019, 10:39   #9
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

Well, one course of action would be to acquire a carbon fiber mandolin for the boat. Wont be very helpful for your bowing, but double stops and leads will keep your fretting hand busy. Depending on the type of music that interests you, you can accomplish accompaniment with the mando that will be similar to what youd be doing on the violin. Youll still need to break out the fiddle to get that bowing arm working: Id say that even if your $400 instrument falls apart, youre ahead of the game for the pleasure its provided.
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Old 24-11-2019, 14:45   #10
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

Our oldest son lived in PT for several years. I lent him a guitar which had been in Spokane most of its life. The climates are quite different. When I got that instrument back it was unplayable--just from the temp and humidity change.

I had one of my good guitars on the boat (Seattle) for a bit and the changing temps and humidity freaked it out. I'm a working musician, so I can't have my gear going all wonky. Now I keep a Gretsch resonator guitar (inexpensive) on it. The woods are laminates; so far it has been indestructible.

My advice would be to get an inexpensive fiddle to keep aboard. Let it acclimate for a while, and then take it in for a setup. That should correct for your boat's typical conditions and lock in the action and tone.
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Old 24-11-2019, 16:58   #11
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

I am a retired professional cellist, having had to care for my instrument in air, sea and on the road touring for decades. The most useful ambience control gadget is called DAMPIT - looks a bit like a goose barnacle! - which you stuff down the f-hole and is supported there permanently. It controls extremes of humidity/air temperature.

Be aware that salt in the air will affect the un-treated wood on the inside of the instrument, and metal strings will be vulnerable. You will also most likely have peg box trouble with pegs either too loose or too tight.

In France the good luck call as you go on stage is 'Merde!'; good to have a music question on the Forum and so much interest!
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Old 25-11-2019, 14:12   #12
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

I am no pro in this and my situation is a bit different. I keep a banjo, guitar, ukulele, and kirar hanging in my living room across from my upright piano. My old house was terribly rebuilt so during the winter months it can drop into the 30s on the first floor. I've had this set up for 4 years now and never had any issues with any of the instruments though they are subject to nearly all the temp and humidity extremes of outdoors. I've tuned my piano twice in that time and occasionally have to tune the others. Question though: does keeping an instrument in its case really protect it from temp/humidity/salt? I would think that the case is really only for bumps and drops (and direct splashes). I like the concept of the DAMPIT device. Once I'm back on the water I'll probably look more in to that. Right now I'm still half a mile away .
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Old 25-11-2019, 14:55   #13
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

A modern instrument ought to be able to stand up to the circumstances you describe - I used to keep a double bass standing in the corner of my bedroom in NZ and at least twice a year I'd have to clean mould off the fingerboard - but the instrument never suffered. I keep a rather nice little guitar standing in my aft sleeping cabin - its been there 7-8 years - half the time it barely needs tuning when I pick it up.
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Old 03-12-2019, 15:49   #14
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Re: Question for Fiddle players

I'm not sure that there will be a huge difference in humidity inside and outside of the case.

My first guitar was an Art et Luthiere parlor with solid woods, after a couple of summers taking it cruising it had definitely suffered and has never been the same since.
This year I forked out for a secondhand carbon fibre guitar, which should be totally boat-proof. It wasn't cheap, and the sound is a bit plain, but I've got used to it now and it's a compromise I'm willing to live with.

I would second the suggestion of an electric violin. You can get carbon violins too but they are very expensive. However if you're happy with your existing instrument just see how things go with that.
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