So, you’re traveling around the place, but still want to capture CD quality audio tracks? Here’s my solution. The key is in the choice of technology. If you have the right gear, you don’t need much of it. Essentially, you need:

  • a means to collect sound at the highest quality;
  • a means to get the sound from audio to digital to get clean sound; and
  • a computer platform with good audio editing software, and be able to burn the results to CD

In my case, that means a studio-quality condenser microphone – The Tascam LD-74 is excellent and relatively inexpensive. This is connected to a Tascam US-122L audio/midi interface which connects by USB2 to a macbook running OSX (10.5 Leopard) and Tracktion 3.0 mixing and audio production software. The US-122L is powered by the same USB cable that connects it, so you only need one lead from the mic to the US-122L. Compact eh?

travel studio

The combined system is compact and works very well. The 122L provides clean (no hum) digital sound from the analogue mic, and the macbook is sufficiently quiet that there are no dramas having it in the same room as you are recording.

travel studio

You then just need the pochette so that the whole studio can travel in the same backpack as the fiddle!

Cheers
Jerry

Many of you will have followed the making of my pochette fiddle, or backpacker fiddle and I have had a number of questions about how I might use a shoulder rest with it. This post is about my solution to that problem. As I built it, I had made no real provision for a shoulder rest, figuring I could get away with a small cushion or bean bag. But having traveled with it I found that I really needed a decent shoulder rest to avoid fatigue in my left hand.

So I thought about it and decided a simple solution would be best. I had some pine left over from making the ribs, and I figured that if I attached a rectangular plate with a small bolt and wing nut it would be able to swivel out of the way for traveling, but be quick to deploy for playing – and at the same time provide a really secure method of holding the instrument.

I also considered different people playing the instrument, so I wanted it easily adjustable.

I cut a piece of timber 200mm x 45mm x 5mm and rounded the corners with a sander. Then I selected a 3/8″ bolt and found a washer, a rubber washer, a spring washer and a wing nut and put them aside.

I held the wooden slat with a shoulder rest attached up beneath the pochette in playing position and marked a central location 55mm from the end of the fiddle and drilled a 3/8″ hole in the back of the pochette ready to receive the bolt.

I put the rubber washer on the bolt and carefully inserted it through a sound hole and into the drilled hole in the back, so that the head of the bolt was inside the fiddle.

I then drilled two 3/8″ holes in the slat at 60mm and 90mm from one end and used a fret saw to join the two holes so there was now a 30mm slot in the slat.

pochette - shoulder rest

I then attached it to the fiddle by gently holding the bolt, inserting the wooden slat and then fitting a plain washer and then the spring washer then the wing nut and tightened the slat in place. I then tried the shoulder rest. It was a big improvement, but I wanted more adjustment, so I ran a second slot perpendicular to one end of the slot to provide some lateral adjustment.

pochette - shoulder rest

The principle is simple enough to see from the photos that I felt it didn’t require detailed construction photos.

pochette - shoulder rest

At some later point I may replace the wing nut with a brass knurled finger nut. Let me know what you think of this modification

Cheers
Jerry

I like to think of Don Rickert’s Adventurer pochette as the one I inspired :-) But hear what they’ve done with it. The internal construction is way different from mine, and the sound is huge for such a small instrument. I would like to hear a comparison side by side of this instrument with a decent violin, so you can hear both the volume and sweetness of tone that comes through from the pochette.

And if you want a bargain – try the Travelmaster fiddle – another pochette of their design. They’ve just announced that they will stay in production – for the time being, but really unless more people get bitten by the pochette bug, this will be a limited opportunity – so get in there and buy one while you can!

Many of you will have followed my own adventures with making a pochette fiddle from scratch, so you know I can tell you that a well made pochette puts out plenty of sound for sessions, while being small enough to fit in a backpack or in your carry-on baggage on the plane.

Rickert and Ringholz make the best sounding pochettes of the lot – which makes them great value as instruments for the travelling fiddler

Cheers
Jerry

Problems with tuning pegs slipping or sticking? It may be that the peg holes are out of round.

In my case, after I finished building the pochette I realised I had made a mistake in using a standard woodworkers reamer for the peg holes – but I was impatient and needed to take the fiddle travelling with me. Now, in slower time I can rectify that issue with the arrival from Pilgrim’s Projects of a well made violin peg hole reamer and adjustable peg shaper to achieve the proper 30:1 taper. Pilgrim’s Projects is a luthier suppliers based in Michigan USA.

Peg reamer

I need to do a bit more work on the pochette anyhow, so this seems like a good opportunity to correct the other build problem.

Cheers
Jerry

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