I began my musical journey when I was only 5 years old. My mother started me on the piano and by age 12 I had begun to learn the guitar. As the years went on, I followed after my dad's multi-fluency in fretted instruments - to include the mandolin, mountain dulcimer, some banjo and so on; but our family heirloom fiddle remained firmly out of reason as my Pap passed on before teaching any of us how to play it.
Determined to learn, I set out to teach myself how to tame the strings; but it was a slow and difficult task - as the lack of frets intimidated my instincts on this unforgiving instrument. Then one day while browsing the internet with the question, "Do fretted fiddles exist?" ... I found it! This neat little product by a Canadian inventor (Mr. Peter Stoney) opened the door I had been longing for. Now, 10 years later, I learned that a capo for the fiddle also exists!
So I've received a new set of frets and the capo to install and provide this review.
The Fiddle Fretter is sold in pairs of the stealth frets (without indication dots) and the standard classic frets. Each one has a peel-able adhesive back, and is installed directly to the fingerboard of the violin. (go to http://www.frettedfiddle.com/ for full installation instructions) // The installation process only took me less than 5 minutes, and then a minute or so to retune the strings. // The frets themselves are thin little contoured metal bars that can be felt by the fingers.
Once installed, the fretboard allows you to finger the fiddle like you would a mandolin (or any other fretted instrument) and land directly on note every time. And contrary to what some of my fellow fiddlers warned me - these frets DO NOT prohibit you from being able to "slide" into a note. (See my video demonstration below).
The capo is sold separately from the frets; and consists of a sturdy, flexible pin surrounded by a pliable rubber sheath. The end of the pin has a strong elastic ring attached, which is pulled around the back of the neck by the included hook - and then secured on the other side. (go to http://www.frettedfiddle.com/ for full installation instructions).
The installation of the capo takes less than a minute, and it can be used with or without the fretboard installed.
The fiddle frets allowed me to not only quickly train my fingers of their proper position on the fingerboard, but they also allowed me to jump right in with playing along with other musicians and during bluegrass jams. After a year of my first use, I was then able to remove them and play without.
I have, however, decided to keep a set on one of my newer fiddles; and enjoy the ease of play during our nights playing out at the old folks home. With the new capo included, I am now easily able to play along with several hymns and songs at church without needing to practice first!
I strongly recommend these frets to anyone who wants to learn to play the violin, especially if they already play another fretted instrument!
Disclosure: Work'n Man's Life received a sample capo from The Fiddle Fretter for this review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and have in no way been influenced by or reflect those of The Fiddle Fretter company.