Please suggest a unique and wonderful gift(s) for a fiddler
May 12, 2014 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Subject is a mature lady who about four years ago took up the violin and has progressed into fiddling. Probably at the early intermediate stage of expertise. Birthday coming up and I'd like to surprise her with unique and wonderful gift(s) that go along with her joy of fiddling. Violins/fiddles are out as are bows. Thank you and I'll return the favor when the question comes up for something I'm qualified to provide an opinion.
posted by KneeDeep to Shopping (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe some fancy bow resin? There's also cleaner and cloths.
posted by foxfirefey at 8:43 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Amazon suggestions for fiddle books. Surely she doesn't have all of them.
posted by blob at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2014

A shoulder rest, perhaps? I'm sure someone who knows more about fiddling can tell whether those Bon Musica ones are really the best or not.
posted by axiom at 8:52 PM on May 12, 2014

Fiddler here. I wouldn't get her any books containing sheet music since fiddling is traditionally learned by ear. How about taking her to see some live fiddle music in your area?
posted by Sal and Richard at 8:57 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Fiddler here as well... Some ideas:

1. Pay (or help pay) for a sojourn to fiddle camp or a festival. Depending what style she likes to play and where you live, this might not be too expensive.

2. Tickets to see a favorite fiddler in concert or in a master class.

3. Books and/or CDs of tunes. While many fiddlers do learn by ear, many (including yrs. truly) also use sheet music. I learn a lot of my tunes from sheet music or use it to supplement or refresh my memory. I'm a huge fan of the Fiddler's Fakebook by David Brody, which is about as close to a comprehensive collection of traditional fiddle tunes as you'll find, especially when paired with the Portland Collection or the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

4. A handheld audio recorder to capture what she hears at jams and such.

5. A nice violin case. Bobelock makes good ones in a range of prices, styles, and colors.

6. Does she like stickers? I have this one of a fiddling rat on my violin case.
posted by underthehat at 9:05 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

I came in to suggest a nice case, so I will second that.
posted by trip and a half at 9:29 PM on May 12, 2014

Maybe there's a magazine that's all about fiddling and fiddlers? A subscription would make a nice gift.
posted by aryma at 10:03 PM on May 12, 2014

I probably wouldn't go with a shoulder rest, as that's a pretty personal choice (and a surprising-to-me amount of fiddlers don't use them). The Bon Musica is nice and extra-adjustable, though.

My go-to small gift for violin students lately has been Magic Rosin. So pretty! So many colors!

Either that, or if there is a sheet music store slash luthier slash music gift emporium in your town, a gift certificate there is a good call. $50 will get a bow rehaired, get a set of new strings, or buy some sheet music plus a CD of a local fiddler at mine.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:29 PM on May 12, 2014

I wonder if there's a coffeetable book about the history of fiddling, how and when it developed, cultures/subcultures that feature it. I'd totally read that book.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 11:11 PM on May 12, 2014

For magazine subscriptions, I can recommend Fiddler and Old Time Herald.

For books that aren't just sheet music collections: Music in the Air Somewhere, Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, and Play Me Something Quick and Devilish are all good. For books that are sheet music collections, in addition to underthehat's recommendations, a great one is the Milliner-Koken Collection.

Portable digital recorder: the Zoom H1n is tiny, records for a really long time on a single AA battery, and has way better sound quality than something just shy of $100 ought to have. I have better and more feature-packed recorders at my disposal, and this is the one I take to jams.

These magazine/book recommendations are biased towards "old-time" style fiddling. If she's into, say, Irish fiddling, the recommendations would probably change. (Although if she doesn't have Brody's Fakebook, that'd be a good choice regardless. And what would make it an extra special gift is if you took it to a copy shop and had them cut off the terrible binding that recent printings come with and re-bind it with a spiral or comb binding, like the earlier editions had.)
posted by hades at 2:13 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if she is interested in source recordings of early American fiddlers and string bands, HeaHeah's "Roots of American Fiddle Music" is a real bargain. (Probably all the individual tracks in that archive are available on youtube, but it's worth the $20 not to have to try to track them all down and rip them yourself.)
posted by hades at 2:19 AM on May 13, 2014

Another fiddler here. I just bought Hot Licks for Bluegrass Fiddle for myself and it's pretty great — it has material for players of every level and even has a whole chapter on playing Orange Blossom Special! I will agree with answers above that learning old time/fiddle/bluegrass tunes from sheet music can be problematic but being able to come into a jam with another dozen tunes you're familiar with can be great.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2014

This artist makes amazing custom silk violin covers and will do commissions.
posted by Poldo at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you very much, all suggestions are great. I'll appear to be very insightful thanks to everyone. I'll return the favor.
posted by KneeDeep at 7:18 PM on May 14, 2014

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