Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Hi I thought you might be interested in this website that I just happened to find - fuel for your/our medieval strings interests. Although we probably don't "need" any more fuel!

http://home.comcast.net/~meisterdru/trouvere/bowed%20instruments.htm

Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Thanks for those latest rebec-bits!

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

I can relate to all your points! Keep in mind that the bridge sholulkd be positioned to give you approx a 12" scale length- this will help p[revent breaking gut strings as well. It's a similar scale to a fiddle. I suggest cello rosin, to be a bit grippier.

Yay!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Hi

It arrived! Just as described. It's smaller than I expected! I have no rosin yet, so haven't' done more than plucked it. I'll pick some up next time I'm in "the big city". And I'll probably get the spare strings you recommend. No hurry - our garden planting is behind as are a bunch of other projects, but on the other hand, so looking forward to trying it out!! And sounding instantly medieval! haha. And THEN to find some music scores! I really haven't figured out the "secret" to finding time for everything. I'm never going to be a morning person, so that one's out! THANKS again for all the advice and ideas so far ... and those to come!

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Yay! I'm thrilled for you!

You should order several replacement gut strings in advance from the fellow I mentioned.

They are expensive, but some are actually twice the length you need, so may wind up giving you two string replacements if you are stingy when winding the peg.

You will be skipping the violin low G string. Order the equivalent of the gut violin e, a, and d strings. Order an extra e because that's the one at highest tension that will more likley break. Order the medium thickness type for each string (he gives choices of light, medium, etc.) Be SURE to check out his offerings in his SALE area- I saved good money that way! His gut strings are higher quality and won't break as easily as the rougher gut strings that come on it.

You will need to rosin the bow quite a bit at first.

If it's hard to hold, try a piece of that rubbery shelf liner stuff- on the part of your body you hold it against.

I strongly advise not tuning it all the way up to fiddle standard, at least for the first week. I keep mine tuned (low to high): CGd instead of DAe. I just read the music and pretend i am tuned higher. After a while you may get good at transposing tunes to better places on your rebec. Try out centering a tune so that the tonic note falls on an open string...that helps me often. i play alone so I don't have to worry so much about what key im in.

Be sure to start with a very very simple tune.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Well, I did it!

I ordered the blemished one,(that you mentioned in your last reply) after Middle-East Mnfg sent me two photos of the blemishes: one a scratch where the bridge had scaped the top a little, and the other - a slight dent on the outside of the bottom bowl. They classify the blemish as -2 which means it doesn't affect the sound quality of the instrument, so here's hoping!

Thanks again for all your advice!

On to the next learning curve while I'm still on several others at the same time. Fun though.

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Eileen, there is a Roosebeck soprano rebec just listed on Ebay which has a reduced price due to some cosmetic 'blemish':

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Roosebeck-23-3-String-Rebec-27-Bow-Hard-Cas...

There is also a new soprano unblemished one listed from the same folks i bought mine:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-UNIQUE-EMS-DESIGN-3-STRING-REBEC-GADULK...

Maybe you could contact the seller and ask to see a photo and description of the blemish, I wouldn't think that was an unreasonable request for an item which costs several hundred dollars. It cold be just a couple of scuff marks, which to me wouldn't matter and the discount could cover your shipping mostly. If it's a crack, or glue failure etc, i would pass on it. I would want to know exactly what and how significant the 'blemish' was before buying. Note that you can also make an offer on that auction- so you could maybe offer $260 or $270 and they might go for it.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Eileen, I got a nice hand-picked selection of gut strings from:

http://gamutmusic.squarespace.com/

The thing is, I spent a lot of time researching not only various sorurces for gut strings, but also reserached the exact gauges I would likely need to tune to various notes on my soprano rebec, with its particular scale. When you have ordered and are ready, I can put together a few suggestions of spare strings for you to order. I would say that unless you keep your tuning way lower, you have a good chance of breaking at least your high string when you first tune up your rebec- the gut strings that come on it are not great quality.

Also, the bridge feet are not very well fitted to the top of the instrument- some visible gaps there. I used a very fine sandpaper to gently sand the feet so they conformed better to the instrument top curve....but a real violin luthier would do a much better job than I could. Still, it was an improvement. Aside from those details, I found the rebec pretty sturdy and well made, and has a pleasing sound and feel, though not that loud of course due to the gut strings and no soundpost.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Yes, that's the one. It adds up to $580 (Cdn) ! and the EMS from the UK is $405 + $100 shipping, which adds to $505 (Cdn). And yes, I converted from B. pounds.

So I'll try contacting AAA and see what they say. Often ebay and amazon businesses just give over the shipping to another company and it's "out of their control". But, as you say, worth a try. Unfortunately, I'm close as the crow flies, but I'm on an island off an island, and so the distance by ferries in $$ is hefty. Lucky crows!

Strange that shipping is less (although still pretty darn expensive) from the UK than the from US or even within Canada. It cost way more to ship a recorder across Canada than to the UK. Grrrr!

And yes, still interested in where you got gut strings.

THANKS again

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Eileen, this is the one i would recommend buying:

http://www.amazon.com/Rebec-Rosewood-Trim-Hard-Case/dp/B000E2B3NW/r...

But likely it's what you are describing above with high shipping to Canada. Is there a way for you to have it shipped to a friend in the US who is within driving distance of you? Maybe even have it shipped to a business and give them a $30 tip for holding it there for you to come pick up? (then you would have to know how to deal with customs when you return over the border)

Perhaps you could send the seller a message and ask to have the shipping reduced to $100- no harm in asking! They may actually be unaware of how high it is to Canada.

Have you calculated what the shipping would be directly to you if you ordered from EMS in the UK? It might be less!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

I think I'm convinced to get the soprano.

I found 2 on amazon (from AAA). They had a nice price reduction, but the shipping and handling, even though advertised as free (within the USA) is $200 !! to Canada. Wow - and just a short distance beyond the border too, not that it matters apparently! This may prove quite the challenge to find one!

Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

I just came across this maker when looking for ebay and amazon rebecs that weren't in the uk. (I also saw one made by Paul Butler, but it had sold already!) Have you heard of this maker> http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/102658591/custom-built-rebec-with-bow?ref=shop_home_active_2&ga_search_query=rebec

Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Thanks and look forward to the next reply. I'm amazed that you take the time to reply so quickly and greatly appreciate it.

By the way, I didn't mean tune down to the key of C; it was just shorthand to tune down so the lowest open string is C.

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Eileen, I am not able to fully respond right now, but a couple quick responses, more later:

So you have basically tuned the soprano rebec to what the alto normally is?

I guess that's right, I didn't think about it much, I just tuned down one step from DAe.

So, if I went with the alto rebec, it would be tuned Cgd and it would be basically the same range as the C recorders (give or take an octave) i.e. lowest note C. So with either the soprano or alto rebec I could follow any of the ensemble lines

But remember if you are on the alto I assume it has a longer scale than the soprano, so again you'd have your gut strings at very high tension- possibly breaking more often. Gut strings are expensive, and a pain to obtain. Plus it';s not easy calculating what gauge you need, but I did it and can help you there.

But it doesn't the matter what key the group is playing in, does it? as long as one learns all the notes, including sharps and flats on the rebec? I THINK I'm beginning to get it!

With only three strings, tuned in 4ths like a violin, you have a more limited range. Once you get playing you will see that in certain keys you will run out of notes on either end of that key, high and low. It's like hitting a wall...lol. Thus, you quickly start favoring certain keys over others....keys that contain all their notes within your 3 strings plus the several notes higher or lower than your tonic note...which you will encounter in many songs.

I too love that medieval sound, and I've learned to LOVE my pear-wood (Huber) soprano recorder ( I never thought I would like the soprano), so maybe you've convinced me to just go with the soprano and tune it down to C.

I don't think of it as tuning it to the key of C. It's tuned in 4ths, not tuned to a key. Like a violin or cello. I simply lowered my range by one step all around. I can play in several keys, much depends on the tune and how high and low it goes.

And yes, let me know where to get the better gut strings. I shall re-start my looking on ebay and amazon. Do you recommend any particular amazon seller or source or are they all the same?

For the gut strings, or for the rebec? I can point you to the best sources for both, I had great expereince with them...but no time today sorry.

Here are two clips I really like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ0aqDBcrqE

Yes notice if you watch his fingers- the high string is tuned to d and the middle tuned to G! :) I wrote Eric- he said he had the same issue with breaking the gut when tuning to high e, thus he did the same thing I did. He is very helpful and kind.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

This is so helpful. Thanks!

I did suspect that the EMS was the same one but wasn't' sure. It sure looked the same.

So you have basically tuned the soprano rebec to what the alto normally is?

So, if I went with the alto rebec, it would be tuned Cgd and it would be basically the same range as the C recorders (give or take an octave) i.e. lowest note C. So with either the soprano or alto rebec I could follow any of the ensemble lines (soprano, alt, or tenor - I guess not the bass) without having to jump around playing up or down too much. (?)

But it doesn't the matter what key the group is playing in, does it? as long as one learns all the notes, including sharps and flats on the rebec? I THINK I'm beginning to get it!

I hadn't realized that one could tune them to something other than what Paul Butler had explained: i.e. the soprano to the top 3 violin strings, the alto to the bottom 3, etc.

I too love that medieval sound, and I've learned to LOVE my pear-wood (Huber) soprano recorder ( I never thought I would like the soprano), so maybe you've convinced me to just go with the soprano and tune it down to C.

And yes, let me know where to get the better gut strings. I shall re-start my looking on ebay and amazon. Do you recommend any particular amazon seller or source or are they all the same?

Thank so much again!

Here are two clips I really like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ0aqDBcrqE

Plus this one by the same musician (and this is the soprano, but tuned lower I now discovered, reading all the comments!)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWA6oTr0vnU

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

I have to admit that i was actually seeking the high nasally medieval "squeaky" sound you describe- similar to the sound of a medieval shawm. that's why I got the soprano Pakistani Roosebeck one from ebay. Did you know that EMS sells those pakastani ones as well? In fact, that may be the very ones you are looking at, the Alto version on EMS....made in Pakistan Roosebeck brand actually. You can get the SAME soprano one on Amazon or Ebay directly from U.S. dealers much much cheaper than from EMS. EMS also carries rebecs made by other luthiers that are likely better quality but way more expensive.

Did you listen to the youtube clips by that fellow who bought both the Roosebeck soprano and the low Tenor rebecs?- he has wonderful examples of playing both on youtube. That's why i ordered the soprano- because I WANTED that high piercing nasal tone like in his clips. You may not like that, everyone is different! I can certainly understand why you might want a mellower tone as in the alto.

The gut strings that come on the Pakistan/Roosebeck ones (whether bought from Amazon, Ebay, or EMS) are not quality gut strings, and my high string broke (twice) right off the bat when I tried to tune it to high E. I suspect nobody actually tunes them up to high e mostly. I wound up tuning DOWN 1 step and ordering better gut strings from a string maker in the US- I can give you suggestions if you like later. His strings seem way sturdier and smoother. Now I am tuned Cgd (bass to high) rather than DAe, to avoid the high tension and gut breakage. I can do that of course because I'm playing just by myself so it doesn't matter what key I'm actually playing it. I keep in mind my lowest note possible is that low C.

The gut strings means it's a fairly quiet instrument compared to what we are used to in a steel-strung violin.

I am playing it propped on my legs, like a tiny 'cello, and with an underhand bow grip...I find this way easier than contorting my wrist to wrap around the neck and play it like a violin. Also i had a very hard time keeping it from sliding around too much due to the bowl back, when trying to play against my arm like a low positioned fiddle.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,530 posts

Just a quick update here. I noticed that the Spanish Rabel link above is not longer valid. If you do a Google search on 'rabel' there are lots of sites with relevant information

Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Thanks for the reply! I was thinking of EMS (England) but the shipping is quite high too. I saw the Pakistan-made ones on ebay, and like you were, am a little wary of the quality. And yes I know about the tenor size, but that one is the same as the top strings of a viola, and viola music is written in alto clef - which I'm not up to learning. Keeping in mind treble and bass clef plus fingerings for C and F recorders AND learning tab for dulcimer is keeping my brain "exercised" enough these days. I'm not really good enough playing by ear to play along with the recorders. I'm pretty attached to written scores, unfortunately. So I think I would like to stick with either soprano or alto for now if I can find somewhere to buy a decent one for a reasonable price AND can find music that will work. Are you happy with the tone of your soprano - not too "squeaky" high?

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,838 posts

Where are you thinking of buying your rebec from?

You know there is also a tenor size rebec made.

Are you able to pick out tunes by ear rather than having to read from paper? That might make it easier if you are able to. Then you could adapt better to what the recorder is doing. The main thing is to find the right key to play together.




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Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Eileen
@eileen
3 years ago
20 posts

Hi I've been considering getting a rebec for a number of months now, so really glad to have found this thread. Could anyone tell me which (the soprano or the alto) would likely be easier to learn &

accompany a recorder ensemble for medieval and renaissance music? I like the lower tone of an alto, but looking at the range, I'm wondering if it would be easier to just go with a soprano? By "easier to learn" I'm thinking partly of being able to read from recorder SATB scores, as I sure have not found any written scores for rebec! I do know that the soprano is the top 3 strings of a violin, and the alto is the bottom 3. I haven't played any string instrument before (other than starting my dulcimer), so I'm starting from scratch. If we found violin music to accompany our recorders, would having just the 3 strings of the rebec make it too difficult to work with? Anyway, any and all ideas and advice would be wonderfully appreciated!

Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 years ago
904 posts
So glad for you, dear Strumelia! The bowed dulcimer hold along with the underhand bow hold are, to me, comfortable. Have all kinds of fun learning!


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 years ago
527 posts

That's wonderful news Lisa. Enjoy the rebec which it seems you are doing already.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Strumelia
@strumelia
4 years ago
1,838 posts

Woo-hooooo! Ok...My little soprano rebec arrived today and I love it!

I had some nagging worries about whether it would be even playable, considering it was made in Pakistan and I bought it from a big Ebay re-seller. But it arrived exactly as advertised, in a sturdy overbuilt hard latched case and seems halfway decently made for an entry-level rebec. Three gut strings, and a bow included.

Happily for me, rebecs are tuned in 5ths, just like violins, mandolins, cellos. And since I used to play the cello in middle school and high school for 6 years, this was not totally alien territory for me...though the last time I touched a cello was about FORTY TWO years ago. =8-o

At first I tried holding it in my elbow crook as is suggested for rebecs, but that was incredibly awkward with the bowlback. It just seemed sooo much like a tiny newborn cello to me that I simply propped it between my knees and tried playing it the same way as cellos and bowed dulcimers. Yay!- that felt immediately and totally right to me somehow, with an underhand bow grip. It has a dainty VSL scale length of 12 1/2"....which is 1/2" shorter than Brian's fiddle.

Fooling around on it, I was thrilled to find some of my creaky cello skills still not forgotten, and I somehow knew how to play a few rudimentary melody patterns on it from the start. This was very very different than my jouhikko experience, which has been a very steep learning curve.

I think i am going to take to this little rebec very well! My goal is to play some simple old folk and medieval/renaissance tunes on it.

It feels really, really good to have a bowed instrument again, especially one that I understand and seem to have a little head start on already!

Wheee!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Strumelia
@strumelia
4 years ago
1,838 posts

Well, I sold one of my two jouhikkos (to a fellow FOTMD member who was anxious to try one), and I used the money to order an entry-level rebec to try out. I've been wishing I could try out a rebec for years now. I hope the one coming is at least decently playable- we shall see in a few days when it arrives!

I hope to play some medieval and renaissance tunes on it, and perhaps some old hymns or shape-note melodies. I have not figured out how I will hold it yet- folks can variously play it under the chin like a violin, or against the shoulder, chest, or crook of the arm like a fiddler, or even in mini-cello position also like a bowed dulcimer.

Fun!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 years ago
1,530 posts
Robin; the fourth one down in the construction list on that site is Rabel de Calabaza, which is a gourd body. A teardrop shaped gourd would make a more medieval style, although the gourd they show looks pretty neat. Gourd and wood would be my bodies of choice; and gourd saves you a lot of hard work, even if with that internal framework.Toledo & Toledo have been sister cities for longer than I've been on the planet!Lisa; somehow rubber garden clogs just don't seem like they'd work....
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 years ago
1,838 posts
Ken, sadly, the closest thing I ever to wooden clogs were my old disco platform shoes....and some rubber gardening clogs that gave me blisters. LOL


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
7 years ago
904 posts
Those are cool. I wonder whether a decent one could be made from a gourd?Ken, I believe Toledo OH has a sister city relationship with Toledo Spain-- at least they used to.


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 years ago
1,530 posts
Very nice clip. I like the playing position she uses. Would be neater if her bow was the medieval arc type rather than a modern one. I know...picky...picky...Lisa - you got a spare pair of wooden clog laying around? I'll make us a pair of rebecs...If you look at the other Spanish styles, I may have to make the wine bottle shaped one from Toledo, since I'm from Toledo, OH!!
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 years ago
1,838 posts
I absolutely LOVE the sound of the rebec! (I also love the vielle)Here is my favorite little youtube rebec clip:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNvPJ2Fuzns


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 years ago
1,530 posts
After the enlightening discussion on ED about Spanish Rebecs, I'm considering building at least one.

here's a page in Spanish about them:
http://www.es-aqui.com/payno/rabel/menu.htm

The Rebec or Rabel is/was a small medieval "fiddle" of 1-3 strings, which pretty much died out when the violin came along. What I never new was that they have lingered on as a folk instrument in Spain and Spanish-influenced South America (Peru, Brasil, Chile, etc). The body is not usually made from four pieces of wood. It is usually carved out of a thick piece and then a soundboard is added; or made from something already dimensional like half of a large gourd. In one part of Spain they even use a wooden clog as the hollow body!!

To see a most beautiful medieval replica, check out this well researched project by Paul Butler (check out his other instruments too - they are fabulous!!

http://crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/rebec.html

updated by @ken-hulme: 06/11/15 07:23:52AM