minstrel: Rebecs

Barbara Webb bwebb at inf.ed.ac.uk
Thu Jun 9 03:44:58 PDT 2005


> Anyone ever played a Rebec?

My husband has made and played a rebec (see www.gaita.co,uk), I'm sure
he'd be happy to discuss it if you wish (email link from that page).

> It looks like it is similar to a violin only with three strings.

The main difference is the curved back, from one piece of wood, rather
than a box construction. But from the point of view of playing, yes, it is
much the same, in that most fiddle players would find their technique
transfers. The main differences are 1. the tuning (most likely to be
fifth+fourth, i.e. the outside strings an octave apart, and the middle
string the fifth, 2. a flatter bridge, so that you are usually playing
more than one string at once, often all three. Hence the consonant tuning.
Depending on the fiddle music you play, this may be more or less easy
to get used to. It works well for medieval tunes.

> There are several on EBAY for $150 to $300, made in Pakestan I think.
> As a fiddle player, I'm looking for something similar to take on 
campouts.

This is certainly very cheap for a rebec. I notice this is the Early Music
Shop selling them off. Given that they are by no means noted for their
bargain prices, I would be a bit worried about the possible 'minor
defects'. Also, I've heard some of the rebecs they sell played before (not
necessarily this model) and they were rather pathetically weedy - no
volume and unpleasant tone. If these were similar, I doubt you'd enjoy
playing them, and they wouldn't be heard more than a few feet away at a
campout. Also, the bows pictured don't look like the right kind of bow.

On the good side, the Early Music Shop will usually send out instruments
on trial, so if you can get one to try it out, you _might_ find it is the
bargain it appears. 

Good luck,

Caitlin





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