"Criddles" are Critter Fiddles!
Early on in waxing luthier, I wanted to do some animal carvings in place of the traditional scroll. I am definitely not the first person to do this, but I really try to make accurate representations of the animals I carve. To date, I have made a bear, cardinal, cat, cow, fox, rattlesnake, raccoon, two horses, and seven opossums. Of these, the opossums have always been the most difficult to recreate, and I'm happy to say the best sellers. To make these even more fun, I like to give each criddle a clever name like "The Sound of Moosic" or "The Opossumible Dream" (well, I think they're clever). Have a look.
"Carpe Didelphis" really came together well. It is of curly maple, White Top Mountain red spruce, and persimmon, with ebony pegs (long story). This creature also includes my new "soft ears" which are made of leather, and won't break if bumped into or mishandled. The tone and volume was powerful from the first draw of the bow, and it received good reviews from some new musician pals I started playing Irish music with. Priced at $2,000.00, contact me if you're interested. Oh, who are we kidding? Of course you're interested.
This is "Caballo Rojo", my second horse criddle. It was made with some curly maple purchased from a cabinet lumber supplier. The horse is a challenge to carve because of the long nose. I must get the most out of the block in order to maintain a good proportion between the head and neck. Horse heads have been a common head to carve on fiddles, and I'm sure I'll be making more as time goes. One inconvenience of the horse head is that the A string must be strung before the D string, with the D peg removed for access. $1,500.00.
"Hissy Fit" is a tribute to the longtime tradition of placing a rattlesnake rattle inside of a fiddle, perhaps to frighten mice from making a home, or maybe some sorta fiddlers mojo, but I do know that fiddlers who have a rattle inside their instrument are awfully proud and quick to point out the fact. The tongue is made out of flexible plastic, so it won't break during use or string changes. This criddle has great tone and volume, and is a good attention getter.
If you would like your favorite critter made into a criddle, contact me and I will discuss with you the possibilities. Not every animal may reproduce on a fiddle neck so easily because the proportions may simply not look right, but I will always do what I can to achieve success, and satisfaction is guaranteed.
"Opossum in a Pear Tree" is the 4th possum fiddle I've made. With each one I am trying to refine the head's details to achieve the best likeness of this magnificent animal. This violin features the last of the wonderfully figured maple I've been using since 2004, as well as a "White Top Mt." spruce top, a dogwood bridge, and pear wood accessories (hence the name). The maple finished very well, and there are some colored streaks in the spruce that really suit the theme of this instrument. The pear wood's grain and color add a real warmth to the overall appearance, and with the exception of the ebony fingerboard and nut, all of the wood of this violin is from Southwest Virginia. Oh, by the way, it plays and sounds GRRRREAT! $2,000.00. SOLD!!!
"Semper Didelphis" is the 5th of my opossum criddles, but most certainly won't be the last. As I said in a blog post, the color was a bit darker than I wanted, but these things happen, and everything turned out alright in the end. (If everything is not alright, it is not yet the end.) I think my possum head carving is about down, and I am very pleased with the tonal quality and playability of this instrument. I have decided to keep this as my own opossum fiddle for various reasons, not the least being that I need to promote one of my most unique products' personally.
This criddle was constructed with curly maple from my friend, Bill, and with White Top Mountain red spruce, ebony accessories, and one of my exclusive dogwood bridges. If you can't entertain 'em with sweet melodies, you will with the styling of "Semper Didelphis", though if you have any playing skill at all you will certainly please the crowd on both levels.
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