Fiddling Around

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dave's old fiddle

I was about 10 years old and had been taking classical violin lessons for a year when my dad bought me an old used full-sized violin to replace my little one.

The violin was in terrible condition so dad had it reconditioned and that's when we found out that it was a fine old German violin made by Kopf.

Later when I was a teenager the neck broke where it connected to the violin. After repeated attempts to glue it back it continued to break under the strain of the strings and finally the old violin was laid to rest in it's case for the next 54 years. In the meantime I learned to play melodies on a mandolin because of its similarity to a violin.

In the year 2000 I joined an amateur music group that became know as the "Pickin and Grinin" group that plays every Friday evening from 7-9 PM at the Belk circle in the Twin Rivers Mall in New Bern, NC. I played my mandolin but since we were always short a fiddle player for the bluegrass and country tunes I decided in 2003 to try once again to repair my old violin, only this time I reinforced the glue joint with wooden pegs and it worked. The violin was a mess after being in an attic or basement for 54 years so I sanded it down and completely refinished it which my wife thought was a terrible thing to do if in fact it was a rare antique. From now on it was a "fiddle" to play bluegrass and country music.

I didn't dare show up at the music group with my fiddle for a few months until I was sure I could still play it. I was pretty bad and squeeky at first but gradually got a little better and showed up at our music jam. The nicest thing I heard from a member was to bring the fiddle in the future and leave the mandolin home. I took it as a compliment but it could have meant that I played my mandolin worse.

I now bring both instruments to our Friday night sessions in the Mall. The mandolin has been replaced with a banjolin which is a mandolin that looks and sounds like a banjo. But my favorite is the old fiddle that I had as a child when I was 10 years old. I'm almost 75 now.

Dave Wallace - River Bend NC.
Pickin and Grinin Group