Introduction: Building a Travel Fiddle
This is a fun fiddle to build and play.
This is NOT a toy. It is a full size 4/4 instrument that easily converts to a compact travel violin.
You can pack it in a suitcase,knapsack, it fits nicely in a tenor ukulele case. It even fits great in a full size violin case.
You will need the items shown in the first photo. I will leave some links to some places where you can get everything you need. These are not sponsored links, just some places where I found good quality at a fair price.You should be able to get everything you need to build this fiddle for under C$50.00.
You will need:
Neck, tailpiece (preferably one with fine tuners),fingerboard and nut,chin rest, strings ( cheap strings are fine,Preludes tend to be the cheapest),Tuning pegs and end pin, and a violin bridge or a small piece of birch or maple hardwood big enough to make a bridge (see video) You will need a peg hole reamer and some kind of anchor to attach the removable lower bout. And of course some wood.
This one is made from a piece of standard 2 x 8 spruce about 24 inches long.( I had it sitting behind my shop wood stove for about 4 or 5 weeks, so it was nice and dry.)
Pine works well also but spruce has a better tone and finishes better.
Maple is great but tends to be heavy and adds weight to the instrument.
The best sound on these small fiddles so far came from a spruce sides and back with a cedar top.
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Step 1: Some Options You Might Like.
If you want it can easily be electrified with a simple piezo rod pickup under the bridge and a 1/4 output jack.Check out the cbgitty link below for more on that. Cost under $15.00
Another option is to use a center mount chin rest and not bother with the removable bout.It will look similar to the one pictured.
Step 2: Getting Started
I started out with a piece of 2 x 8 spruce 20 inches long.
I cut and ripped these to 2 pieces, 1 piece 13 x 4 in and one piece approx 3 x 8 in
I re sawed the longer piece to 2 pieces approx 5/16 for the top and bottom. The rest will be for the body.
The 2 smaller pieces will later be used to make a removable lower bout.
I created a pattern for the body 13 inches long. the rounded end is approx 3 in wide and tapers to about 1 1/2 inches on the narrow end. This will make the body of the fiddle.
I traced the pattern to the body piece and cut the outside lines to form the main body. After sanding it smooth I then cut the inside section as shown in the photo. This forms the hollow body of the fiddle.
After gluing the access cut in the end I sanded the body flat and the top piece smooth.
I clamped them together and left to dry.
Step 3: Complete the Body
Once the glue dried I trimmed the excess from the top and ran it through my router table to even the edges.(A router is not necessary, the edges can be sanded even)
I then marked the sound hole so the center would be under the end of the fingerboard.
Once the sound hole was sanded I installed the back panel using the same method as the top. Glued in place,trimmed on the band saw and evened out on the router table.
With the body completed I mortised in a hardwood saddle and sanded everything smooth
Step 4: Attaching the Neck.
Before I started work on the neck I glued the nut to the fingerboard so it would have plenty of time to dry.
The next step was to square the end of the body where the neck attaches. I also squared the neck to match.This can take some time and should not be rushed. The center line from the end pin right up to the scroll at the top needs to be perfectly straight. I use laser level but a good straight edge will work as well.
I glued and clamped the neck using hide glue. Once set I drilled a pocket hole in the back and put a screw in to hold the neck securely.
I glued a pocket hole plug in place and sanded everything smooth once it was all dried.
I applied 3 coats of finish before going any further.
Step 5: Making the Removable Bout
I spent some time making the removable bout.
There is no set pattern for this but it should be approx 8 inches wide to accept a standard shoulder rest if desired.
The pattern was traced on to the 2 pieces cut from the short piece of wood at the beginning. After sanding smooth I made a block to attach for the chin rest.
This block is the same height as the body and about 2 1/2 inches wide. It needs to be just wide enough for the chin rest to fasten to.
Step 6: Nearly Done. OK Done. Time for a Tune!
I glued on the fingerboard using hide glue and spent some time shaping and fitting the tuning pegs and end pin.
I installed the strings and spaced them on the nut and bridge. I made the bridge from a scrap of birch left over in the shop. You can use a standard bridge but the bottom will need to be sanded flat for the flat top fiddle.I prefer to make my own.These fiddle are built for travel and the standard bridges tend to be flimsy and will bend easy. I lose a small bit of volume but make it up in mellower tone.
You should be prepared to spend considerable time spacing and filing the grooves for the nut and bridge.
Time for tune.
I hope you enjoyed my travel fiddle build.
If you have comments or questions or want to build one of these I'll help if I can.
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