The Ranger C3 Travel Violin by D. Rickert
The Ranger C2 Travel Violin, designed by Dr. Don Rickert and made by D. Rickert Musical Instruments, is the best sounding 4-string travel violin we have ever produced. This makes it the best sounding such instrument in the world (we are open to any and all challenges to this claim). The Ranger C2 is only for seriously committed musicians requiring a compact travel instrument, as it is not cheap (but it is worth every penny of its price).
For the longest time, we had never heard a 4-string travel – backpacker violin (fiddle) that sounded quite as good as our Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II. The bar is set high, as the Deep Body Custom actually sounds as good or better than many full-size instruments.
We designed and prototyped a number of 4-string travel violin contenders that were smaller than the Deep Body Custom. 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 original Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II, we now have a 4-string instrument of the same caliber and price range, only more sleek and smaller in girth--more streamlined, as it were. It is called the Ranger C2 Travel Violin. The “C” in its name stands for “curved”, as both the top and back are, like the Deep Body Custom II, slightly curved longitudinally (from neck joint to tail). This curving of the plates does two things:
1) Adds more internal air space
2) Adds incredible strength to the plates, thus allowing us to plane the top much thinner than we otherwise could. The thinner top vibrates more.
While the Ranger shares some design features with the larger Deep Body Custom II, the Ranger C2 has its unique features of its own.
How is the Ranger C3 different from the Ranger C2?
While the new Ranger C3 is essentially the same instrument as its predecessor, the Ranger C2, the Ranger C3 fits into a slimmer and lighter 4" diameter case. The Ranger C2 ALMOST fit into a 4" diameter case; thus a 5" diameter case was necessary. A 5" case is noticeably larger than a 4" case, and is about 2 lbs. heavier. With the Ranger C3, we made some subtle changes in the shape, shaving off a few millimeters here and a few millimeters there. These changes cause no appreciable difference in sound. If anything the new Ranger C3 sounds a bit better!
The Ranger C3 is an incremental improvement of the Ranger C.
The sound holes of the Ranger C2 have been re-designed so that there is more distance between the sound post and the edge of the sound hole. This results in a better sound and lessens the likelihood of the sound post becoming dislodged.
The top of the Ranger C2 is made from “Torrified” (aka “tempered” or "roasted") spruce rather than normal musical instrument spruce. The process of Torification involves “baking” the wood at just the right temperature in an oxegen-free chamber. The process polymerizes the wood, thus “aging” it by many decades. Torrified spruce is extremely dense and is quite stiff. It is also darker in color. The improvement in acoustic properties is astounding!
The Ranger Travel Violin: Basic Description
Superficially, the Ranger C3 looks very much like the Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II. Both instruments have a plan 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 C3, 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. Our theory (many of the rules of traditional violin making do not apply very well to small instruments like pochettes and travel violins) the stiffness resulting from this type of bend on a flat soundboard plate is the reason.
The Ranger C3 is slightly narrower than the Deep Body Custom (3.3” vs. 3.5”) at the middle. The Ranger C3 has a more dramatic taper in the body shape at the neck end.
The neck is angled back (i.e. “tapered”) slightly less than a typical violin. The angle of 3.5 degrees is the same as many Baroque violins. The rise of the neck from the body is about 8mm rather than the typical 6mm for a modern violin. These two changes result in placing the tuning pegs in a position such as to afford the use of the narrowest possible case.
The Shoulder Rest
The Ranger C3 uses a new Velcro-attached adjustable dense foam shoulder rest. The shoulder rest is easily removable for stowing the instrument in its case.
Overall length: 23” (58.42 cm)
Body length: 14” (35.56 cm)
Nut width: 24 mm – 25 mm
Width at middle: 3.2” (81.28mm)
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 Ranger C3, with chin rest attached (and, of course, the shoulder rest removed) fits perfectly into our 4” diameter case.
- There is also room to spare 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 Sound
With its custom center-mounted chin rest and the adjustable shoulder rest in place, holding and playing the Ranger feels pretty much like playing a regular violin.
The Ranger emits about the same volume as a regular violin. The timbre is amazingly close to a high quality full-size instrument. It is full-bodied and focused. In fact, it sounds pretty much like earlier versions Deep Body Custom Travel Violin-Viola II.
We will have some video and audio of the Ranger available as soon as possible.
- 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 Ranger C2 Travel Violin perfectly. Unlike some our earlier instruments, this chin rest does not require removal in order to fit the instrument into a 5” diameter case. Chin rest removal is necessary if using a 4” diameter case.
- 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.
- Now with a simple but very effective adjustable shoulder rest
- Our first Ranger C2s used a modified Wittner ISNY adjustable shoulder rest. The new shoulder rest, attached with industrial strength Velcro, is much simpler to use and is actually more comfortable.
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.
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 31” long case.
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.
Optional Built-In Pickup
Many customers opt to have a pickup installed. There are many pickup options. Please contact us if you wish to add a pickup.