play a good fiddle

LV4-26

Senior Member
Hello again,

1. I seem to remember you can say such a thing as :
He could play/he played a good fiddle.
meaning he was clever at it (and not necessarily meaning that his instrument was a good one)

Or can you? Now I'm no longer sure.

2. Based on that assumption, I chanced the following sentence in my previous thread.
You could play as good a fiddle as him. (or as he did?)
Is that possible or is it definitely wrong?
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    I think this is usually rendered nowadays as "he could play a pretty mean fiddle".
    I don't see a problem with "He could play a (modifying adverb) good fiddle". I think the modifier is needed to distinguish, as you mention, the "good" of the playing from the "good" of the instrument.

    I think 2 is possible - and the playing/instrument isn't an issue here. The first he is as competent as the second he - whether in skill or ability with a fine instrument.
    The usual format I would hear in this sort of comparison is "He could play a X as well as anyone/him/the next man".
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think that in context there should be any confusion between the quality of the playing and the quality of the instrument, but in isolation, the risk of confusion seems to vary depending on the sentence structure:
    He could play a good fiddle.
    He played a good fiddle.
    He was playing a good fiddle.
    He can play a good fiddle.
    He plays a good fiddle.
    He is playing a good fiddle.

    Curious.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks Panj.
    I suppose the use of can leaves no doubt that we're referring to the player's skills.
    In isolation, as you said.
    In context, we could very well have :
    He lent me his Gibson and I was pleased I could play a good guitar for once.
    Couldn't we?
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    LV4-26 said:
    Thanks Panj.
    I suppose the use of can leaves no doubt that we're referring to the player's skills.
    In isolation, as you said.
    In context, we could very well have :
    He lent me his Gibson Lowden and I was pleased I could play a good guitar for once.
    Couldn't we?
    Well, subject to the minor modification above, we certainly could;)
     
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