1920s German-made 4/4 Fretted GCEA-Tuned Violin

So, folks, this was a quirky project. It came in as a down-on-its-luck (loose neck, loose seams, needing all sorts of parts) fiddle and is leaving as a fretted fiddle tuned GCEA low to high like a low-G ukulele. This is per the owner's request. He sent me two violins and I picked this one out (even though it's more beat) for modification because I could tell that it would have it tonewise right off the bat -- the carve to the top and back is accurate and thin and the overall cut and build is better quality than a lot of old, unbranded fiddles that come through the shop.

The owner is a uke player and wants to use this as a quirky instrument for playing with a jug-style band, as I recall. To that capacity, it's got a K&K Twin Spot pickup installed with a carpenter jack to make it useful plugged-in (this sounds excellent).

I fretted it to the 12th because after that it's not all that useful to the average uke player to go higher. The tuning limits the range, anyhow. Besides -- one can simply slide to the higher notes easier than pressing-down into frets on the non-anchored extension over the body, anyway. My fretwork is just a hair off at the 10th fret on the bass side but is otherwise workmanly and it plays nicely in-tune up the neck. It's a bit of a chore to fret a board that's currently on a violin and with such a sharp radius. I have to use my Foredom (Dremel) to lightly slot the surface and then can use my normal saws to expand the slot a little deeper once I have a guideline. All the frets have to be glued-in to make sure they're stable.

Other work on this included a neck reset, seam repairs, a new bridge, fitting the pickup and wiring it to the jack with the right length of cable, an install of 4:1 geared Perfection Pegs (the best easy upgrade a violin can get in my opinion), a new chinrest, tailpiece, and soundpost, and a custom set of strings.

Said strings had to be odd gauges (and thus more expensive) than the $25 John Pearse Mezzo (Dominant copy) strings I usually put on to suit the ukulele-style tuning. I wound-up using all-wound strings from the D'Addario Zyex line:

G = light tension G
C = medium tension D
E = heavy tension A
A = light tension A

These sounds really good and full on this instrument.

Action, like on a mandolin, is 1/16" at the 12th fret. Satisfyingly, one can get vibrato techniques to work pretty well with a touch of practice.

A carpenter jack makes it easy to take the pickup on and off. Its sensors are simply held in place by string tension on the bridge.