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use local and scrounged materials to build a fiddle. 
then,
learn to play the fiddle.

I built this functional folk fiddle from free materials.

the wood was salvaged from scraps
the strings and bow "hairs" are nylon monofilament fishing line

I am spending this summer at a small farming community in northeast missouri.  Almost all of the food we eat has been grown on the farm by the community.   I build things in my free time.

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Submitted by MITERS for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Proportions and Shape

I wanted my instrument to feel similar to a violin.  I found dimensions for a violin online, then made a silly looking sketch of a fiddle with some useful numbers on it.

all members of the viol family (violin, viola, cello, contrabass) are built similarly and function similarly.

I started the project planning to use an olive oil tin as a soundbox.  I didn't like how the tin sounded when I tapped on it, so I made a wooden box instead.

I didn't want my instrument to have as many curves as a traditional violin.  I had seen pictures of teardrop shaped folk fiddles in the Foxfire books, and I read about a famous trapezoid fiddle made by Felix Savart.  I decided to make my fiddle's box trapezoidal also.
<p>There is a book by Ronald Roberts that has 5 plans for violins and violas (3 and 2 IIRC) after the Savart design.<br><br>Savart used a diagonal bar and no soundpost. Roberts altered the design and reintroduced a soundpost.<br><br>The book is a little pricy at times...may be out of print in US.<br><br>I bought a copy at an unusually low price from England and it's somewhere between musty and mildewed...<br><br>Here is the book info if you want to look for one on ABEbooks or interlibrary loan, or whatever.<br><br>You could buy a violin for what the book price is some days.<br><br>http://www.find-more-books.com/book/isbn/0715369644.html</p>
<p>Hey, the last listing has one on Biblio for about $33 shipped in the US.<br><br>You are unlikely to do better than that for the Roberts book. 1975, hardbound and I think out of print.<br><br>I know someone very skilled in bass building who built a bass by scaling the proportions but wasn't satisfied with the results...he builds award-winning basses, so it might actually be good enough for the average user.<br><br>The only thing I've seen detailing a small bass in this style is here:<br><br>http://www.liutaiomottola.com/instruments/canotto.htm</p>
<p>Last comment...<br><br>a simpler concept for child-size<br><br>http://www.liutaiomottola.com/instruments/bassotto.htm</p>
Well, I fiiiiinally got around to finishing my fiddle! Maple sides and back, Baltic birch top (stuff I had on hand). It makes a nice sound, however I cannot umm make very nice sounds on it lol. It was fun though and I'll keep practicing. I did cheat and used a parts kit for the gizmos, but I did the body right with a soundpost and bass bar and all that good stuff. Thank you for the inspiration!
<p>looks great!</p>
I'm making mine,couldn't resist! On the top and bottom body pieces (the maple diamond shaped bottom and rectangle top) did you miter those ends where the sides meet them? What's that angle,or how could one figure it without a protractor? Thanks!
<p>How exactly do you play this? Like a violin or a guitar? </p>
I'm still figuring that one out. My answer: either.
wow nicely done
Congratulations!
Beautiful job! One thing to note, the fingerboard actually shouldn't be dead flat along the length of the string. Proper setup has it slightly concave. This allows the string to vibrate freely and finger esialy along it's whole length. If you set a ruler on the bass side of the fingerboard there should be about 1mm of clearance at tge center. .5mm on the treble side. Again, great work. As fine a folk fiddle as ever I've seen.
good to know, thanks! <br>what kind of tool do they use to do that repeatably? A plane that isn't planar?
It can be done by lowering the blade on a planer or by simply sanding. It's one of those things that doesn't have a simple jig and has to be done by feel/ frequent measurement. The easiest way to check is to hold down the string at the equivalent of the 2nd fret and the equivalent of the 14th fret and tap in the center between them. You want just enough movement to be noticeable, but not enough to be significant.
Nice!
Would it be extremely difficult to adjust the proportions to construct a Viola instead?
this is nice <br> <br>thanks for posting <br> <br>do you play it in public ? any recorded session (or on you tube ?&hellip;)
YES!! This is great! I bought a homemade cigar box guitar that I love.. voted!!
I am not a musician (I can only play the radio), but I am a woodworker, and your fiddle is a fine piece of workmanship. You have obviously done a lot of research and put much thought into this. Well done!
Whoa. Seriously impressive work. Well done!
Fantastic job! I looks and sounds great!<br><br>What I like most about reading your instructable is your determination and ingenuity to finish the project by coming up with alternative materials and by just staying with it. It's inspiring to see!<br><br>Well done!
Sweet! This is beautiful.
Really beautiful project - impressive!
Your fiddle is beautiful and sounds very well, congratulations. Very cretive and clever.
Awesome!
For a more accurate way of making holes and pegs I used Timandersons technique <br> <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Cookie-Tin-Banjo-Part-1--Make-a-Tuning-Peg-Hole-R/ <br> <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Cookie-Tin-Banjo-Part-2-Make-a-Tuning-Peg-Shaver/
Beautiful work. I am very inspired! Thank you for this. <br>DDC
awesome! Thanks!!! <br>
You've done a lovely job with this man, makes me wish I had some hard woods available to me like you do. Happy building.
Beautiful job! One thing to note, the fingerboard actually shouldn't be dead flat along the length of the string. Proper setup has it slightly concave. This allows the string to vibrate freely and finger esialy along it's whole length. If you set a ruler on the bass side of the fingerboard there should be about 1mm of clearance at tge center. .5mm on the treble side. Again, great work. As fine a folk fiddle as ever I've seen.
Well done!
Wow, fantastic work!
Hey buddy, that is just beautiful! Makes me want to try and make one, even though I don't play...I make native flutes however, so I do understand what you mean about wood and vibration. I have found that aromatic cedar has a great tone. Was happy to see cedar in yours.:) We can get African ebony here, so that could also be used for the tuning turns or inlay as well. Or even purple heart for the base to hold the strings, as it is very very hard wood and durable. Anyway, I am interested in making my own, even when I don't play it. I have seen a variation of this also in Africa...and with very very simple, materials. Most are made from gargage scraps. Some sound boxes are made from cigar boxes! A town in South America is making such instruments out of such scraps so the kids can learn music...! Thank you for sharing your gift and for giving me more ideas to use my own skills with. <br>Cheers <br>Tangski.
PS, was very sad to hear about black maple being used for firewood...whoa!! it is very expensive here, and a very beautiful wood! I have carved some flute mouth pieces out of it and used it for sound hole phipples as well. Love the stuff! Maybe they sould look to importing some of that great wood!! Just my Canadian two cents:) ooops, we no longer have a penny, K. 5 cents then!LOL <br>cheers <br>Tangski
one more comment...sorry, but having fun with your site..:) The instrument like this is also played without a bow. A plucking almost like a banjo....thought you might be interested in trying it that way too. You can use this instrument two ways then:) Who knew!LOL <br>T.
Very Nice. A creative use of local materials. You have definitely become a Folk artist (both as a craftsman and a musician). .
I've been playing the violin for about five years now, and I'm absolutely awestruck by the sound quality you managed with such basic materials. It speaks very highly to your workmanship. Excellent job!
Oh, and by the way, you need to enter this into the music contest. It has winner written all over it.
Great work, excellent details. I am really taken by the shape of your instrument. I'm also very impressed with the big sound you've achieved.
Awesome job!

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Bio: tinkerer, function before form, make it if you can, buy it if you must.
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