OTR-70 Fiddle/Banjo User Manual

This June, at the CBA Music Camp in Grass Valley, Mrs. Rambler and I will be teaching the old-time string band workshop each morning. (Mrs. Rambler is the former Masha Goodman Crawford. When we got married, we both changed our names in keeping with modern convention.) So we've started to talk about what tunes we'll teach and how to go about it. In the past, we've had students ask questions not just about the tunes, but about the instruments themselves--how to care for them, proper position for playing, that sort of thing. It occurred to us that a user's manual for fiddles and banjos might be helpful. To get some ideas, we looked over other user manuals we have at home, and here are some tips based on what we found.

Rambler & Rambler User Manual For Old-Time Fiddle And Banjo

1. Do not use near fire or flame. Fiddles and banjos have been known to spontaneously combust, particularly after being snatched from the hands of their owners and hurled into a campfire.

2. Use in a well-ventilated area. Others around you may ask you to "take it outside" when you are playing in a confined space. Do not be offended. They are thinking of your health.

3. Keep out of the reach of children. This applies to your instruments, but also to yourself. The further out of the reach of children, the less likely you are to spill your drink.

4. Do not immerse in water. This can be taken too far, however, if you think it applies to you personally and you put off bathing. (See #2.)

5. If you experience a ringing in your ears, reduce volume or discontinue use. You can also change your seat to get away from the guy with the air horn.

6. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle. The only exception is if you own one of those new Google driverless cars. They're priced at $150,000. What are you doing playing the banjo?

7. Do not operate with the door open. If your instrument has a door, you definitely misread the order form. If the door in question is in your house, and you wish to avoid a neighborhood anti-noise vigilante group, definitely do not operate with the door open.

8. Do not block air vents. Your fiddle's f-holes are where the music comes out, so they should not be blocked. If your banjo's head has holes in it, stop leaving it lying around at the rifle range.

9. Do not use outdoors or on wet surfaces. And if you're indoors and on a wet surface, you've locked yourself in the shower again.

10. Keep loose clothing away from moving parts. So often we tangle our cashmere neck scarves or condor-feather hair extensions in the tuning pegs when a string goes flat. Prudence should be shown. (Insert your own joke here.)

11. Always fasten your buckle and tighten your chin strap. Yes, whether you're a banjo player or a daredevil wing-walker, safety first. Prudence is critical. Oh, I already used that one.

12. Operate only on a solid, level, horizontal surface. Depending on what you're drinking, this may seem impossible to comply with. If you find yourself becoming horizontal, "solid" and "level" will probably follow, so problem solved.

13. Discontinue use if the unit emits smoke, an abnormal smell, or makes an unusual noise. Wait a second--we're talking banjo players here. What do you expect?

14. Avoid spilling liquids on the unit. Does it seem like an awful lot of these are aimed at that certain in-law of yours?

15. Do not immerse toaster in water, as in a bathtub. Unless that certain in-law gets hungry while performing his ablutions.

16. If this unit causes harmful interference to radio or television reception, increase the separation between the equipment and the receiver. Like many old-time musicians, looks like you're going to have to move to another neighborhood again.

17. Do not pick up anything that is burning or smoking. (Actual sentence from a vacuum cleaner manual, but applies elsewhere too, especially to hitchhikers.)

Well, I've reached my limit, and I sense that the dear reader has too. See you at Grass Valley!

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Posted By:  Geff Crawford

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