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Classical, Folk, and Fiddle Setup
In years of setting up instruments, I've developed what I consider three main
types of setup, with variations.  I can put these setups on any of our
instruments, or other instruments for that matter.  These all involve slightly
different fingerboard relief, bridge cut, string choice, and tuning options.  I'll
sometimes work the soundpost size and position to emphasize an aspect
desirable in a particular genre.

Classical Setup:  The Standard Violin

Our standard full classical setup supports strong, high-vibrato, playing.  I
work at achieving a neutral but rich tone, brilliant top end, and excellent core
to the sound.  The action and relief are fairly high.  I model my bridges after
the modern Chicago school of bridge cutting.  I almost always use Perlon
strings with this setup, inexpensive D'Addario ProArte on less expensive
instruments and fine professional strings on the more expensive ones.

Folk Setup:  Easy Playing for Amateurs

The folk setup is simply a less intense version of the classical setup, with an
emphasis on warmth and fullness at the expense of penetrating brilliance.  
The folk setup aims for the typical amateur's desire for a "dark" sounding
instrument that is easy to play, forgiving, and gives satisfying warmth with a
certain mellow charm.  I'll fit either warmer sounding perlon strings (e.g.,
Warchal Karneol) or good quality steel strings (e.g., D'Addario Helicore).  

Fiddle Setup: Fast Response, Woody Penetration

Fiddle setup varies a good deal.  Many fiddlers simply use a classical setup.  
My usual fiddle setup uses almost no relief in the fingerboard, a low action, a
bridge cut emphasizing a woody low end, and a longer radius to the top of the
bridge, allowing rapid string crossings and easy alternation of double stops.  
This contest fiddle setup seems a reasonable compromise.  Easy action and
sizzling power usually come in handy in contests!  

I can also emphasize a more squeeky top end and gritty bottom end for old
time fiddlers.  This setup uses a nearly flat bridge and less curve to the

Fiddle setups always used to rely on steel strings.  I'm getting more requests
for warm sounding, rich perlon strings.  Modern violins generally respond
quickly enough that perlon strings work for fiddle music.

I can set any of our violins as either fiddles or classical violins.  I used to
attempt to aim specific instruments at specific groups.  But players insist that
many of our classically oriented instruments make great fiddles and vice
versa.  For example, our Gypsy Girl mostly attracts classical players wanting
a big, warm sound.  

Be sure to
email or call with any questions.

Stephen Perry
Gianna Violins  Maker and seller violin, viola, fiddle, violin case, violin bow, accessories, support, appraisal, restoration, Eastman
mandolins & guitars.

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