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TITLE
Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (11 of 17)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DONALDRIDDLE_11
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Donald Riddell
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1925
KEYWORDS
fiddles
violins
violin
craft
crafts
audio

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The late, great, Donald Riddell BEM, from Kirkhill near Inverness, was a fiddler, composer, and fiddle maker. He was also a Pipe Major in the Lovat Scouts. His pupils include Duncan Chisholm, Bruce MacGregor and Iain MacFarlane.

In this audio extract, Donald considers the best types of wood for fiddle making. The image shows some of Donald's workshop tools.

'The best woods for the back and sides and the neck is good maple, you see. And the front is best of - they call it pine - but the best thing is spruce and Scots spruce is excellent. But good fiddles, as I've shown you there, can be made using local wood, like local sycamore. Some of the fiddles you've seen me with just now were sycamore that came from Dochfour Sawmill but it'll be seasoned about fifty years. It has to be seasoned a minimum of ten years before it's any good. Then another wood I've often used - well, not often but when I could get it - is what we call bog fir and the age of that - have you an idea? Approximately ten thousand years! That trees grew and were felled at the time of the coming of the ice age, which was a catastrophic thing, and they were buried in ice - instantly. Later on, when the ice melted, deposits of peat formed and the acid in the peat killed all bacteria and it shut off all air and arrested decay. Wood, that kind of wood - if you get it - it's got first class tonal properties'

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Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (11 of 17)

1980s; 1990s

fiddles; violins; violin; craft; crafts; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Donald Riddell

The late, great, Donald Riddell BEM, from Kirkhill near Inverness, was a fiddler, composer, and fiddle maker. He was also a Pipe Major in the Lovat Scouts. His pupils include Duncan Chisholm, Bruce MacGregor and Iain MacFarlane.<br /> <br /> In this audio extract, Donald considers the best types of wood for fiddle making. The image shows some of Donald's workshop tools.<br /> <br /> 'The best woods for the back and sides and the neck is good maple, you see. And the front is best of - they call it pine - but the best thing is spruce and Scots spruce is excellent. But good fiddles, as I've shown you there, can be made using local wood, like local sycamore. Some of the fiddles you've seen me with just now were sycamore that came from Dochfour Sawmill but it'll be seasoned about fifty years. It has to be seasoned a minimum of ten years before it's any good. Then another wood I've often used - well, not often but when I could get it - is what we call bog fir and the age of that - have you an idea? Approximately ten thousand years! That trees grew and were felled at the time of the coming of the ice age, which was a catastrophic thing, and they were buried in ice - instantly. Later on, when the ice melted, deposits of peat formed and the acid in the peat killed all bacteria and it shut off all air and arrested decay. Wood, that kind of wood - if you get it - it's got first class tonal properties'