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

After a great welcome at Brendan Mulvihill’s session on Monday I was recommended to try the Tuesday session at McGinty’s Pub - 911 Ellsworth Street Silver Spring. And I wasn’t disappointed. The place is easy to reach on the red metro line and the session runs from about 8.30pm.

McGinty's pub, Washington DC

The pub has Guinness on tap and about 18 other beers if Guinness is not to your taste. The session was in an alcove room around a long table – very close and intimate and away from the distractions of TV and much pf the pub noise.

McGinty's session

Again I was welcomed and introduced around, and there was a lot of curiosity about my pochette fiddle when I pulled it out from the backpack. Some tried to describe it as a cigar box fiddle, but I guess they hadn’t seen the real thing – my pochette is more shaped and has a sculpted belly, unlike the cigar box fiddles. Many commented on the surprising amount of volume I could get out of the instrument.

I’d had dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill and welcomed washing my food down with a pint of the good stuff at McGinty’s.

I knew about half of the tunes played and was pleased that they welcomed my starting a couple of tunes – some of which they didn’t know.

And all up I had a great time and even managed to navigate back to the metro station in time to catch the train back to Faragut about three blocks from my hotel. Once again, many thanks for the warm welcome – would that all sessions were as open as the ones I found on my travels this time :-)

Cheers
Jerry

1:00AM somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, just after crossing the Dateline at about 33,000 feet I put the pochette fiddle through its paces – with a mute. The aircraft – a Boeing 747-700 had plenty of room in the door bay by the galley for a few quiet tunes. I had no problems using the short ¼ size bow – even for slow airs. And the mute was very effective in ensuring the sound didn’t get over the ambient sound of the engines.

pochette fiddle on aircraft

The flight attendant was concerned that it may be noisy as the other passengers were asleep, but after the first few notes those concerns were quickly allayed. Perhaps this is the first ‘mile-high’ pochette? Maybe this will be the start of a new movement – let’s see how many unusual places become pochette fiddle moments :-)

The only difficulty I had was actually getting the thing back in my backpack afterwards – I dislodged the bridge and the sound-post fell over. It took me the best part of 45 minutes to re-seat it. Luckily the two sound holes were just big enough to get two fingers in to manipulate the sound-post. For future design modification I would enlarge these holes a little – my left index finger was rubbed raw. The alternative would be to provide struts like inside a mandolin, but the sound-post I think works better to carry the sound through to the back plate for extra volume.

Also, if I narrowed the body a little I could fit it inside a PVC tube thus ensuring there would be no knocking against the bridge.

With the scroll removed the overall fiddle length is now down to 22cm which just brings it within the international standard for a carry-on bag without sacrificing playable string length or the traditional placement of the tuning pegs.

At no time did I have any difficulty with Australian or US security checks on the bag – even with the tip of the fiddle poking out of the top of the bag.

My box-style pochette (travel fiddle) attracted quite a lot of attention when I took it to the National Folk Festival in Canberra. I’m still thinking through some further modifications, and no I’m not going into commercial production – others like Rickert and Ringholz already make fine box pochettes – but here is mine being played by Sydney fiddle player Tony Pryzakowski

Cheers
Jerry

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