Friday, April 15, 2011

Fred Craig, Twin Falls maker



First time I've heard of this maker, but a quick Internet search shows that he was involved with the Arizona builders group. This label appears to be a return-address label, showing that the instrument was made in 1978 and was the 125(?)th instrument Mr. Craig had made.

A shot in through the end-pin hole, using the macro focus on my inexpensive camera. Just a glimpse of the neck-block (in the distance), linings, and some of the bass bar (at about the 11 o'clock position).



The instrument was in for an obvious repair.






A pretty back, the varnish has suffered some over the years. Apparently stored in a warm, then cold, attic for a few years. The varnish on one rib was terribly crumpled, as if exposed to some sort of chemical. Once back together, it had a decent sound.

12 comments:

  1. Nice looking fiddle Ken. Years of violin work in Idaho, and I've never heard of this maker either, but the varnish and wood kind of reminds me of some of Sam Daniels fiddles. Sam worked in Jerome, not far from Twin Falls, so they probably knew each other. It is always nice to see things like this Ken. Keep up the pictures and posts!

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Josh. It is strange that we haven't heard of him, since it appears he made over 100 of them.

    One of my Facebook friends posted this: "I've played music with Fred and Hattie! He was very influential in John Perfect's development as a luthier/fiddlemaker."

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  3. I know a lot about Fred Craig. He was my dad's cousin and a talented old-time fiddle player. He was a judge at the National O.T. Fiddlers contest in Weiser ID in 1964. Member of and writer of a column for the International Violin Makers Association of Az. He gave me a fiddle when I was about 10 and helped me make a violin one summer (I was 13 or 14)at his home at 155 Van Buren in Twin Falls ID. He started making violins in his 50's as therapy for his arthritis. He was at the VA Hospital in Boise for treatment and a nurse found out he had done a lot of violin work and repairs over the years and told him he should make violins, so he did. He had been a carpenter so had worked with wood most of his life.

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    1. Hi, I knew Fred too, can you get me in touch with his family? My grandma Arlene Burgoyne lived across the street 448 Van Buren St. in Idaho...Id greatly appreciate it! I play fiddle now too, and would LOVE to buy one of his fiddles, it would mean a lot to me and my grandma to hear more about your stories. thanks, Lynda

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    2. I also own one of Fred Craig's instruments. It was commissioned by my mother as a gift for my dad. The violin is serial number 27 and has a date of 1964. Mom and Dad knew Fred from the old time fiddle contests in Weiser, and Mom surprised Dad with the fiddle; it was the only time I ever saw that man cry.

      I have tried to get the hang of playing the fiddle but have resigned to the fact that my fingers and hands are just too squat, I do much better on the flattop. I would consider selling this instrument for the right price, to the right person.

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    3. I also own a Fred Craig violin. My mother had it commissioned for my dad. They knew Fred from the Old Time fiddle contests in Weiser. This fiddle is #27 and has a date of 1964.
      I am re-posting this under my original Google account (sorry about the duplicate).

      I have tried unsuccessfully for years to play it but have resigned myself to the notion that I should go back to guitar. I might be willing to sell for the right price and to the right person.

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  4. Thank you, Kerry. I appreciate you taking the time to shed some light on Fred Craig.

    If I remember correctly, this fiddle is 'living' in Wisconsin now.

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  5. Did you take any pictures of the finished violin? If so It would be nice to see the "after". The violin looks a lot like the one Fred gave me. I have always wished that all violins would come with the stories of who owned the instruments. I look at an old violin and I want to ask, "Where the heck have you been?" I guess that is why I loved the story of the movie "The Red Violin". Would you mind saying how much you sold Fred's violin for?

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  6. Hi Kerry,

    I looked through my photos, but don't seem to have any 'after' photos.

    It was a customer's instrument, so I was not involved in selling it. It was repaired for a daughter or granddaughter (don't remember who was paying the repair bill), who took lessons from me over the summer while on vacation out here in Idaho. It sounded nice to me.

    Seeing an older violin, particularly a handmade one, does set your imagination to work, wondering about its life story.

    I liked "The Red Violin," too.

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    1. Just wanted to reply that I found this blog as I was searching for information on Fred Craig. I own one of his violins and have had it since the 80's. It is made of myrtle wood and I was told that the neck was made smaller to accomodate a girl with tendonitis. I play on another instrument now but still have held on to my Craig violin. Let me know if you would like any more information.
      Sincerely,
      Laurie McFaul, MN
      laurie.mcfaul@gmail.com

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  7. Thanks for the comment, Laurie. Interesting choice of wood. My mother spent the last several years of her life living near Coos Bay, Oregon, where a lot of the myrtle wood we see comes from.

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  8. Hi I knew Fred Craig personally. He lived across from My Grandma Arlene Burgoyne in Twin Falls. He had an awesome basement workshop. He and Hattie were very nice to me but I was young and didn't appreciate it all until I learned fiddle in 2001. I'd like to think he influenced my choice in instruments but his arthritis was too bad to have ever heard him play. He was in his 80 then. RIP Fred and Hattie-

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