Photos courtesy of Wayne Martin
Types of Artistry
Sparta, NC (Alleghany County)
The Reeves family of Alleghany County claim kinship to Homer and Cleo, the Reeves Brothers, and Nashville star Del Reeves. Though Floyd Reeves does not carry on the family tradition as a performing musician, he has made a name for himself making fiddles and doing repair work for many of the area's musicians. Since the early 1980s, Floyd has made more than 50 fiddles, and he continues to repair fiddles and other instruments and re-hair bows at his home in Sparta.
Floyd grew up hearing traditional mountain music. His mother and brother both played guitar, and he had several uncles who played music. One uncle was particularly adept on the fiddle. "He knew music through and through," Floyd says. "That's what got me interested in the fiddle." Just as he began to play, he went into the military. "That's what messed up my playing," he says. "I don't play very much fiddle anymore."
Floyd kept his interest in the instrument, however. His friend Tom Barr from Galax, Virginia, was making fiddles and convinced Floyd to try his hand at making one. "Tom and I got together," Floyd recalls, "And I got to fooling with it." With Tom's help, Floyd made his first fiddle, and he was hooked. "I just kept doing it," he says.
Floyd continued working on his craft, making more and more fiddles. He made most of his instruments after retiring from the Department of Transportation in the 1980s. "I gave some away, sold some, and I've still got some," he says. Floyd models his fiddles after Guarneri violins. He notes, "People say my fiddles have a strong bass side." He has sold fiddles to people as far away as Maryland and Florida, and his instruments are also played by local musicians. Jeff Michael of Big Country Bluegrass and the Elkville String Band has several of Floyd's fiddles.
Floyd no longer makes fiddles himself because health issues require him to avoid dust. "I still repair some and hair a lot of bows," he says. "A lot of [musicians] depend on me to hair their bows." Floyd also does repair work on other instruments, making adjustments and set-ups and carving bone saddles. He keeps the craft going by helping others. Joe Sweeney of Galax got his start making fiddles from Floyd, and now, "Joe makes a fine instrument," Floyd says.
Floyd is available to do repair work on fiddles and re-hair bows. He is also happy to talk with interested craftspeople about making fiddles.