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Don Rickert Musician Shop

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New International Explorer Travel Violin by D. Rickert (Don Rickert Musician Shop)

Posted by Don Rickert on

The New International Explorer Travel Violin by D. Rickert  Mountaineer International front final

The newest instrument by D. Rickert Musical instruments is the International Explorer Travel Violin. It is available at the Don Rickert Musician Shop.

Like its larger-bodied sibling, the International Travel Violin, this new travel violin was designed for violinists and fiddlers wishing to travel without worry with their instruments by air:

  • To destinations outside of the U.S., especially Europe
  • From one European region to another or from one country to another
  • On any small plane (< 50 seats), regardless of destination, within the U.S. or abroad


  • Desire an all wood, luthier-built instrument with a 4/4 playable string length,


  • Require an instrument with the sonority and timbre as close to that of a full-size instrument as possible for a small instrument.

As with its predecessors, the Mountaineer series (I through VIII), the International Explorer Travel Violin is the instrument of choice for adventurer-musicians for whom any of the following apply:

  • Willing to sacrifice the full-size violin sound of the International Travel Violin or the Ranger C3 (but still sounds pretty good) in favor of considerably greater durability. The new International Explorer Travel Violin is ideally suited for outdoor adventure, where weather, rough conditions, rough treatment (e.g. being dropped onto the ground or into water) etc. are part of the deal.
  • Are seeking a travel violin that is less expensive than either the International Travel Violin or the Ranger C3. Indeed, the International Explores is hardly cheap, with a sell price of more than $1400; however, it costs about $700 less than its more expensive siblings.

Introduction and Summary

This completely new instrument has a full-size playable string length of 12.75 inches. The cool thing about the International Explorer Travel Violin is that it has a body length of approximately 13 inches (normal 4/4 violin has a 14” body) and a cleverly shortened “scroll-less” pegbox. The result is a full-size instrument with a total length of only 20”! This allows the use of a case that is a mere 21” in length. It will fit into many TSA-certified 22” (height) carry-on roller bags! We will be happy to give you recommendations for our favorite carry-on bags.

FREE Test Fitting!: If you wish, we will send you a heavy-duty 4” x 21” craft tube for a test fitting with your carry-on baggage. Let us know if you would like to do this before we start building your instrument.

If you already have, or wish to use a slightly smaller carry-on bag, the International Travel Violin can be made even shorter than 20” on a custom basis, often at no extra charge.

You can, of course, take this instrument as your carry-on item in one of our available cases. In most air travel scenarios, you can also take a bow tube for a full-size bow along as well.

The bottom line is that you can take our International Explorer Traveler Violin as a carry-on item on most airlines anywhere in the world without worry, provided that you are not flying on what would be classified as a small plane (< 50 seats). Then, it is a crap-shoot. Also, regional flights throughout Europe and elsewhere often do not allow carry-on baggage of any kind, except for small electronic devices (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.), which always MUST be carried on the plane as a “personal item” (i.e. these items cannot be checked baggage).

If you ever would have to check-in your instrument for the cargo hold, our cases are strong enough to protect it.

See carry-on baggage size and weight limits for a good sampling of airlines all over the world.

Note: For the U.S. airlines on the list (see the above link) and, indeed, any U.S. airline, the carry-on baggage limits do not generally apply to small musical instruments, per U.S. law and associated FAA policies (FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012, Section 713).

Detailed Description

The new International Explorer Travel Violin by D. Rickert looks essentially like a slightly shorter (but still a full 4/4 playable scale!) and wider at the middle version (with a truncated pegbox) of its renowned predecessor. Because we compensated for the shorter body length by making it wider, the International Explorer has a sound that is virtually identical to the Mountaineer Backpacker Fiddles.


  • Overall length: 20” (50.8 cm)
  • Body length: 13” (33.02 cm)
  • Nut width: 24 mm
  • Width at middle: 2.8” (71.12 mm)
  • Rib height (at ends): 1.18” (30 mm)
  • Rib height (middle): 1.53” (39 mm)

Note: all dimensions have been carefully worked out so that the International Explorer, with chin rest attached (and, of course, the shoulder rest removed) fits perfectly into our 4” diameter case. In fact, since there would be room to spare, and in keeping with the theme of use in extreme conditions, we add some extra padding in the case when ordered with this instrument.

There is also room for your bow and the detachable shoulder rest.

The case can be made to match the length of bow you will be using.

Playing Characteristics and Ergonomics

With its custom center-mounted chin rest and the adjustable shoulder rest in place, holding and playing the International Explorer Travel Violin feels pretty much like playing a regular violin. The Velcro-attached adjustable dense foam shoulder rest is easily removable for stowing the instrument in its case. The shoulder rest is actually more comfortable than many rests for regular violins.


The International Explorer Travel Violin sounds pretty good for a fiddle of its size. While such a small instrument could not possibly sound as powerful and full-bodied as a good full-size violin (those pesky laws of physics), The International Explorer Travel Violin has a surprisingly big and warm sound. In other words, it is rather sonorous. It is plenty loud enough to jam with other musicians.

See the demo videos at the end of this listing.


  • Wittner FineTune internally-geared tuning pegs
    • These incredible tuning pegs have a gear system in the buttons. The gearing ratio is a very respectable 8.5:1. A cylinder in the middle of the peg shaft turns in response to turning the button. The pegs are celebrated for their kindness to the peg box. They are held in by friction. Some top violinists have even installed them on priceless antique violins. They look pretty much like ebony.
  • Custom-made chin rest
    • The chin rest is a “flat Flesch” type of rest, which we carve and re-shape to fit the tail of the International Travel Violin perfectly.
  • Tailpiece
    • The default tailpiece is an ebony “Hill” style. If a pickup volume control is installed, the tailpiece is a special poly-carbonate tailpiece by Wittner.
  • Adjustable shoulder rest
    • The new shoulder rest, attached with industrial strength Velcro, is much simpler to use and is actually more comfortable than any of its predecessors.


  • A case is included with purchase of the instrument.
  • As described above, there are a number of case options, including a plethora of colors and lengths. We have Super Duty and Ultra-lite cases.
  • Order the case separately. See the related products at the end of this product listing. You will NOT be charged for the case.


The size of bow you will use depends on how long of a case that you can work with. If you intend to use a 21” case, you will need to use either a take-apart bow, carry your bow(s) in a separate bow tube or use an Incredibow. A ¼ size bow only requires a 24-25” long case. A ½ size bow requires about 27” in case length. A full-size bow requires a 31” long case. Incredibows are actually a very good option. These unique bows look something like Baroque bows. They are very populate among fiddlers; not so much with classical violinists. Incredibows are available in a variety of lengths, including a 19.25" size, which will fit into our short 21" cases. They are also available in various weights and tensions, which is quite helpful in compensating for short length. You should check out Incredibows. We have a lot of experience with them and can help you select the best size, weight and tension for your needs. Feel free to contact us.

Those of you who know us are aware that we really discourage the use of lousy bows. We also believe strongly that a bow for a travel violin should NOT be wooden.

See the Bows section of the Don Rickert Musician Shop.

Optional Built-In Pickup

As with all of our travel violins, we expect that many customers will opt to have a pickup installed. There are many pickup options. Please contact us if you wish to add a pickup.

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