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TITLE
Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (14 of 17)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DONALDRIDDLE_14
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Donald Riddell
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1929
KEYWORDS
fiddles
violins
violin
craft
crafts
carving
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 summarises the different processes in fiddle making. The image shows Donald playing one of Alexander Grant's round violins, known as the 'Rondello'.

'You can break it up into mainly four stages. You see, there's the making of the neck which is a separate piece, you see, and as I say, you can make necks, fit your pegs in, and lay that aside. The other stage then is the building of the ribs and that is quite a tedious job because you've to build these ribs round your mould with your corner blocks and end blocks. After it's removed from the mould you've got to shape these same blocks to the final shapes so as that you achieve a guitar shape, the inside shape is a guitar shape.

And then after that you've to fit what we call linings to the top and bottom of the ribs. This gives a bigger gluing area to hold the front and back onto, you see, and also it gives a certain stability to the resultant tone. A fiddle without corner blocks couldn't have a good tone - it lacks stability, you see? There's some very early cheap fiddles didn't have corner blocks at all. How can you get a tone from a thing like that?

And then the next thing you would make would be the back, you see, and the back is then glued to the ribs, and the last thing you would make is the front. You make the front, cut your 'F' holes, finalise your - more or less - the thicknesses, and then you fit the base bar, you see? And of course, the last thing that goes into the fiddle is the sound post. Of course, meantime you - in this 'D' shaped end block here - you've drilled a tapered hole to receive this end pin which takes the strain from the tail piece, you see'

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Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (14 of 17)

1980s; 1990s

fiddles; violins; violin; craft; crafts; carving; 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 summarises the different processes in fiddle making. The image shows Donald playing one of Alexander Grant's round violins, known as the 'Rondello'.<br /> <br /> 'You can break it up into mainly four stages. You see, there's the making of the neck which is a separate piece, you see, and as I say, you can make necks, fit your pegs in, and lay that aside. The other stage then is the building of the ribs and that is quite a tedious job because you've to build these ribs round your mould with your corner blocks and end blocks. After it's removed from the mould you've got to shape these same blocks to the final shapes so as that you achieve a guitar shape, the inside shape is a guitar shape. <br /> <br /> And then after that you've to fit what we call linings to the top and bottom of the ribs. This gives a bigger gluing area to hold the front and back onto, you see, and also it gives a certain stability to the resultant tone. A fiddle without corner blocks couldn't have a good tone - it lacks stability, you see? There's some very early cheap fiddles didn't have corner blocks at all. How can you get a tone from a thing like that? <br /> <br /> And then the next thing you would make would be the back, you see, and the back is then glued to the ribs, and the last thing you would make is the front. You make the front, cut your 'F' holes, finalise your - more or less - the thicknesses, and then you fit the base bar, you see? And of course, the last thing that goes into the fiddle is the sound post. Of course, meantime you - in this 'D' shaped end block here - you've drilled a tapered hole to receive this end pin which takes the strain from the tail piece, you see'