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Don Rickert Musician Shop

Introducing the NEW Ranger Travel Violin by D. Rickert Musical Instruments

Posted by D. Rickert on

The Ranger Travel Violin by D. Rickert Musical Instruments is available now at the Don Rickert Musician Shop. This instrument is the best 4-string travel violin available anywhere. It is made entirely in the workshops of D. Rickert Musical instruments in Hiawassee, GA, USA. New 4-string pochette plan view final w Phanton chin rest

Since we stopped making the Adventurer IId Travel Violin on a regular production basis (you can still get us to make you one on a custom basis) several years ago, because it was crazy expensive for us to make and we could not charge enough for it to make anything like a profit, we have not had a 4-string travel – backpacker violin (fiddle) that compares to the sound of the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II. The bar is set high, as the Deep Body Custom actually sounds as good as many full-size instruments.

We have designed and prototyped a number of smaller 4-string travel violin contenders. Each design/prototyping effort takes several hundred hours. This is simply the nature of invention and innovation…the cost of doing business, as it were.

Just as tenacity ultimately paid off with the creation of the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II, we now have a 4-string instrument of the same caliber and price range. It is called the Ranger Travel Violin. While the Ranger shares some design features with the larger Deep Body Custom, the Ranger has its unique features of its own.

The Ranger Travel Violin: Basic Description

Body Shape

Superficially, the Ranger looks a very much like the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II. Both instruments have a front profile of the skinny oblong “Scottish” pochette type, which we first introduced with the Neil Gow Pochette quite a few years back. Both have sound holes that are a stylized version of the “C-holes” found on violas da gamba and a number of other 16th, 17th and 18th Century stringed instruments.

The Ranger, like its sibling, has a convex top. This type of bent soundboard adds internal air space. It also seems to vibrate in such as manner as to increase volume and deepen the timbre. It appears that the stiffness resulting from this type of bend on a flat soundboard plate is the reason.

New 4-string pochette side profile horizontal final

Unique Features

The Ranger is slightly narrower than the Deep Body Custom (3.25” vs. 3.5”) at the middle. The Ranger has a more dramatic taper at both ends, especially the neck end.

Unlike the convex bent plate back of the Deep Body Custom, the Ranger has a “dished” back, which is New Pochette Back finalcomprised of 5 tapered and beveled staves. This dished back is indeed rounded; however not so much as other stave-backed instruments such as an old-style mandolin, lute or Greek bouzouki. The dished stave back is much stronger than a carved arch back would be.

In addition to being quite beautiful to look at, the “dished” stave back adds considerable internal air space to the Ranger’s body.

Key Dimensions

Overall length: 23” (58.42cm)

Body length: 14” (35.56cm)

Nut width: 24mm – 25mm

Width at middle: 3.25” (82.5mm)

Rib height (at ends): 1.2” (30mm)

Rib height (middle): 1.575” (39.5mm)

Peak (highest point) of dished back: .625” (15.87mm)


Note: all dimensions have been carefully worked out so that the Ranger, with chin rest attached (and, of course, the shoulder rest removed) fits perfectly into our 4” diameter well-padded case (Globetrotter Travel and Backpacker Violin Case 4” Diameter)

  • There is also room to spare for your bow.
  • The length of the case can be adjusted (permanently) to match the length of bow you will be using.

Playing Characteristics and Sound

With its custom center-mounted chin rest and the Phantom Shoulder Rest in place, holding and playing the Ranger feels pretty much like playing a regular violin. The only difference you might sense, if you are not already using a center-mount chin rest, is that the instrument sits a bit higher on the shoulder (just like a regular violin with a center-mount chin rest).

The Ranger emits about the same volume as a regular violin. The timbre is amazingly close to a full-size instrument. It is full-bodied and focused. In fact, it sounds pretty much like a Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II.

We will have some video and audio of the Ranger available in September 2015, when our next recording sessions are scheduled.

Special Features:

  • 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 Stradivari 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 Ranger Travel Violin perfectly. Unlike some our earlier instruments, this chin rest does not require removal in order to fit the instrument into its case
  • Tailpiece
    • The tailpiece is a “Harp” compensated tailpiece by Dov Schmidt. We use a slightly longer version for a small viola in order to accommodate our favorite strings (Infeld-Thomastik Vision Stark). These strings are quite short (we consider this a design flaw), which is a problem for the lower two strings when a violin size Harp tailpiece is used, hence the use of the longer viola version of the tailpiece.
  • Special stringing method
    • We reverse the attachment of the lower two strings (G and D). In other words, the “balls” are on the top side of the tailpiece and the strings feed out from the bottom. This results in a much sharper angle of the bass strings vis-à-vis the bridge. This relates to more tension and a much “bigger” sound.
  • Phantom Shoulder Rest
    • The Phantom Shoulder Rest attaches in a very clever manner to the end pin. The shoulder rest is easy to put on and take off, and it stays put. This shoulder rest clears the arch of the dished back of the instrument perfectly.


The standard case is a 31"x4" tubular case. See Related Items.

(Globetrotter Travel and Backpacker Violin Case 4” Diameter)

  • There is also room to spare for your bow.
  • The length of the case can be adjusted (permanently) to match the length of bow you will be using.


The size of bow you use depends on how long of a case that you can work with. 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 32” long case. Note that the cases need to a bit longer than the bow length in order have storage space for the removable shoulder rest.

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.

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