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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Double stop problem


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/53613

doryman - Posted - 06/12/2020:  15:32:20


I have great trouble playing a double in the very specific situation where the index finger is down on one string and an open string is called for on the next higher string. For example, a double stop where I play a B on the A string and the open E. Specifically, I can't get my index finger out of the way so that it's not muting the open string. I have short, fat fingers, but I don't know if that's an acceptable excuse. I just don't seem to be able to come down at an angle that prevents the index finger from touching the next highest string.

Incidentally, this is also causing me problems when I just want to leave the index finger in place because I'm coming right back to it after playing the higher open string...even if I'm not attempting a double stop.

Any hints or suggestions as to how to overcome this problem? Thanks.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 06/12/2020:  17:13:02


What is the string spacing from G to E in mm at the nut? If your strings are too close together, that could be the issue.

Woodcutter - Posted - 06/12/2020:  17:51:50


Try forcing your left elbow more to the right --- it's awkward, especially if you are just starting out. Also consider the position of your left thumb on the neck. Is it sticking up above the level of the fingerboard near the g-string? If so, try moving it instead to the bottom of the neck.


Edited by - Woodcutter on 06/12/2020 17:52:50

doryman - Posted - 06/12/2020:  18:09:08


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

What is the string spacing from G to E in mm at the nut? If your strings are too close together, that could be the issue.






From center of string to center of string, just shy of 6 mm. 

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 06/12/2020:  18:45:51


I've got Fat Finger Syndrome just like doryman. And just like doryman it made it so that, on one of my three fiddles, I couldn't cleanly play a stopped note on the D string without muting the open A as well. I took the fiddle to the place where I bought it, a snooty string instrument store, and sweet-talked them into cutting me another nut. I watched as their nonplussed luthier did the job. I whipped out my credit card. I'm a happy man.

doryman - Posted - 06/12/2020:  18:52:21


quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

I've got Fat Finger Syndrome just like doryman. And just like doryman it made it so that, on one of my three fiddles, I couldn't cleanly play a stopped note on the D string without muting the open A as well. I took the fiddle to the place where I bought it, a snooty string instrument store, and sweet-talked them into cutting me another nut. I watched as their nonplussed luthier did the job. I whipped out my credit card. I'm a happy man.






Interesting.  So the G and E strings are closer to the edge of the fingerboard now?  I've been trying to cheat it by coming in a little flat on the D string and bending it away from A with my index finger. 


Edited by - doryman on 06/12/2020 18:59:37

alaskafiddler - Posted - 06/12/2020:  20:06:16


Your finger doesn't need to be dead center on the string... that is, it can sit to one side or the other.



 

doryman - Posted - 06/12/2020:  21:12:15


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Your finger doesn't need to be dead center on the string... that is, it can sit to one side or the other.



 






Wow, that actually worked, it was easy, and I can't believe I didn't think of it. 

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 06/12/2020:  21:13:26


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

I've got Fat Finger Syndrome just like doryman. And just like doryman it made it so that, on one of my three fiddles, I couldn't cleanly play a stopped note on the D string without muting the open A as well. I took the fiddle to the place where I bought it, a snooty string instrument store, and sweet-talked them into cutting me another nut. I watched as their nonplussed luthier did the job. I whipped out my credit card. I'm a happy man.






Interesting.  So the G and E strings are closer to the edge of the fingerboard now?  I've been trying to cheat it by coming in a little flat on the D string and bending it away from A with my index finger. 






The luthier simply spaced the four nut grooves symmetrically, six mm apart across the nut, with the E string three mm from its edge and the G string  two mm from its edge.  If these numbers don't make sense to the bona fide luthiers in this thread, I'll just blame the inconsistency on my miserable close-up eyesight and my inability to simultaneously wield my ruler and magnifier.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 06/13/2020:  06:19:52


G to E spacing should be 16 - 16.3 mm, with each string laid out to be equally spaced. If your strings are all 6 mm apart, that would make them pretty wide.

WyoBob - Posted - 06/13/2020:  08:57:46


A bit wider spacing at the nut and low action at the nut and along the finger board are what some of us need to avoid hitting adjacent strings.  Older players who've worked with their hands all of their lives or who have arthritis or damaged hands due to accidents might have problems with conventional setups.  I sure did.



I started with a free fiddle that had wide spacing at the nut and got along pretty well with regard to not hitting adjacent strings when double stopping.  When I bought my first "good" fiddle, things went down hill quickly. Narrow, high and uneven spacing at the nut and a really deep scoop.



I ordered my second fiddle from the Bluegrass Shack and asked for wider string spacing and low action.   The strings are 18.5 mm, center to center at the nut and the action is low and the fiddle is very playable with no string interference when playing double stops.   I is a joy to play.



So, I decided to modify the nut on my first good fiddle and made the string width 17.5 mm.   The action at the scoop on this fiddle was 1.78 mm.  I think the recommended range is .5 to 1.0 mm.  I felt that was a long way for a finger tip to go to finger a note so I lowered the action to mimic the action on the Bluegrass Shack fiddle.  This makes it much easier to finger a clean note as you're not pushing your way between string(s) to where the wider part of your fingers interferes with an adjacent one.   Slight calluses on the finger tips also help, I think.  This fiddle is now very playable as well.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 06/13/2020:  18:04:16


I don’t understand your post. You said that you liked a low action, but also said you put 1.78 mm of scoop in the board, which is way deeper than normal. If that’s the case, then your action is only lower at the nut and bridge, but it’s way too high in the middle.

There are some cases where physical challenges make it better to alter setup, but for the average player, nothing is better than a proper setup.

WyoBob - Posted - 06/14/2020:  10:00:03


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I don’t understand your post. You said that you liked a low action, but also said you put 1.78 mm of scoop in the board, which is way deeper than normal. If that’s the case, then your action is only lower at the nut and bridge, but it’s way too high in the middle.






Sorry, Rich, that was a poorly worded post.



"The action at the scoop on this fiddle was 1.78 mm.  I think the recommended range is .5 to 1.0 mm.  I felt that was a long way for a finger tip to go to finger a note so I lowered the action to mimic the action on the Bluegrass Shack fiddle."



I should have added that the relief at the scoop on the neck I modified was .5 mm.



 



 

Fiddler65 - Posted - 02/06/2021:  05:43:21


My fingers are "fleshy" from the knuckle to the first joint, and I was having a lot of trouble when playing a stopped "A" string (using any finger) with an open "E" because the base of my finger would invariably impinge on the "E" string. I tried adjusting my hold and moving my elbow to the right, but the problem persisted.



I finally had my luthier recut my nut as has been mentioned in this thread to move my "E" away from the edge of the finger board. I had him move the "G" as close to the edge as possible while still affording a clean "pin" and then space the "D" and "A" strings evenly between them. I also had the action lowered to the minimum height possible without producing string "buzz". This has essentially solved the problem, although I still have to be careful with my hold.



I should mention that lowering the action has made my two fiddles much easier to play, especially on up tempo tunes. I also have my bridges cut to a 50 deg arc (standard is 42 deg) which makes it easier for me to move between string pairs when playing with drones or double stops.


Edited by - Fiddler65 on 02/06/2021 05:44:20

old cowboy - Posted - 02/06/2021:  11:49:40


Alaska toddler nailed it!

old cowboy - Posted - 02/06/2021:  11:51:05


quote:

Originally posted by old cowboy

Alaskafiddler nailed it !


bf - Posted - 02/06/2021:  15:12:24


Yes, I was prepared to offer Woodcutter & Alaskafiddler‘s advice before seeing it covered. Shifting the finger off center on the A string toward the D string in this case, and perhaps a bit of rotation from of the arm from your contact on the fingerboard, bringing the elbow forward creating a bit more space in your tunneling over the E string.

JWC - Posted - 02/10/2021:  16:30:42


I don't know if this will help the OP but I have found from teaching a bit of fiddle to my children that the position of the left wrist can be a big factor.



Let's call the scroll of the fiddle 12 o'clock for directional purposes. My kids used to play with the palm of their left hand facing 6 o'clock. In this position, there is very little rotation in the wrist so the widest part of the finger is almost perpendicular to the strings when it makes contact with a string (when pressing down with the index finger, the nail would be facing 6 o'clock). This position made it hard for them to avoid making contact with two strings when playing a note (e.g., playing an index finger the A string, it would also make contact with the open E string).



My solution was to have them rotate their left wrists in a clockwise direction until the palm of their left hands were facing roughly 7:30 on a clock (something like a 45 degree rotation). That meant that the width of their fingers was closer to parallel with a string that was being noted, instead of being at a right angle to the string.



That worked - they stopped hitting the higher string unintentionally. It took a few weeks to get used to the rotated wrist position but their double stops greatly improved, and it seemed to help also for intonation.


Edited by - JWC on 02/10/2021 16:31:05

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 02/10/2021:  19:12:53


Left hand position is very important for finger mobility.

When I was very little, I remember a teacher drawing a face on the front of my hand. If I could see the face when I was holding the violin, my posture was wrong. The wrist should be rotated so that all fingers are at right angles to the strings and held at a minimal distance above so that one may economize motion.

A very good exercise to establish a good left hand posture is what’s known as the Geminiani position: first finger on E, second finger on A, third finger on D, fourth finger on G. Putting all four fingers down at the same time forces the hand into the right position. If it’s an unfamiliar position, it will stretch your tendons, so the exercise should be done carefully to avoid straining.

The fingers should be just above the strings and ready to be put down instantaneously. One of the biggest amateur mistakes is to lift the left fingers too much and make more work than needed. Don’t approach the string at an oblique angle—drop the finger straight down from above the string.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 02/11/2021:  19:11:50


"Fun" exercise I get to do is to play octave double-stops.

Open G, g on the D string. A on the G string, a on the D string.
Open D, d on the A string. E on the D string, e on the A string.
Open A, a on the E string. B on the A string, b on the E string.

Super hard, sounds so horrible.

JWC - Posted - 02/11/2021:  21:35:51


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Left hand position is very important for finger mobility.



When I was very little, I remember a teacher drawing a face on the front of my hand. If I could see the face when I was holding the violin, my posture was wrong. The wrist should be rotated so that all fingers are at right angles to the strings and held at a minimal distance above so that one may economize motion.



A very good exercise to establish a good left hand posture is what’s known as the Geminiani position: first finger on E, second finger on A, third finger on D, fourth finger on G. Putting all four fingers down at the same time forces the hand into the right position. If it’s an unfamiliar position, it will stretch your tendons, so the exercise should be done carefully to avoid straining.



The fingers should be just above the strings and ready to be put down instantaneously. One of the biggest amateur mistakes is to lift the left fingers too much and make more work than needed. Don’t approach the string at an oblique angle—drop the finger straight down from above the string.






That's interesting - if you just switch the first and second finger, you have the Bill Monroe mandolin chop chord.  For a G chord, that would be 1st finger = B on A string, 2d finger = G on E string, third finger = G on D string, 4th finger = D on G string.



Now that I think about it, playing that chord on the mandolin probably helped me go back to the fiddle and learn to rotate my wrist better.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 02/11/2021:  21:48:22


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

"Fun" exercise I get to do is to play octave double-stops.



Open G, g on the D string. A on the G string, a on the D string.

Open D, d on the A string. E on the D string, e on the A string.

Open A, a on the E string. B on the A string, b on the E string.



Super hard, sounds so horrible.






Playing octaves, especially fingered octaves, is a good ear training practice. 

 



If you eventually start playing tenths, octaves will feel so easy in comparison!

WyoBob - Posted - 02/24/2021:  16:12:18


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Left hand position is very important for finger mobility.



When I was very little, I remember a teacher drawing a face on the front of my hand. If I could see the face when I was holding the violin, my posture was wrong. The wrist should be rotated so that all fingers are at right angles to the strings and held at a minimal distance above so that one may economize motion.



A very good exercise to establish a good left hand posture is what’s known as the Geminiani position: first finger on E, second finger on A, third finger on D, fourth finger on G. Putting all four fingers down at the same time forces the hand into the right position. If it’s an unfamiliar position, it will stretch your tendons, so the exercise should be done carefully to avoid straining.



The fingers should be just above the strings and ready to be put down instantaneously. One of the biggest amateur mistakes is to lift the left fingers too much and make more work than needed. Don’t approach the string at an oblique angle—drop the finger straight down from above the string.






I tried the Geminiani position --- with my right hand.   I rotated my shoulder rest and put the fiddle on my right shoulder and tried to do what you mentioned.  It was effortless!  Bingo, right on the money.   I could even note some strings pretty well.  Bowing was impossible with my left arm.   At just short of 74 years old and having only been playing for 1 1/2 years, I'm not going to do a "switch" but I found the exercise interesting.



With my damaged left hand, I can easily place my finger's on the E and A strings.   After that ---crash.   Remember, I'm the guy who, after two months of P.T. could finally tie my shoes again after the $40,000 repair job on my shattered left wrist and accompanying nerve disorder.  Not only does my left ring finger not always obey brain commands on where I want it to go, it's incapable of coming straight down on any string and that will always be the case according to my doctor.



My fiddle teacher tried to get me to play a chord shape, index on F# on the E string and third finger on the D string.  It was impossible and hurt like the dickens.   That's when I gave up taking lessons.  But, from then on, most every time I played over a period of weeks and months, I tried to make this cord shape and  I can finally do it without much pain.  But, it's not always "dead on".   I can also move the chord shape across the strings for different chords but --- it isn't very pretty.  Intonation is not good.  I'd pretty much say, that chord shape is not in my future.



I've resigned myself to playing double stops using an open string and one fingered note or just open double stops.   I'm not going to be able to play nearly as well as I'd like to, certainly not to the level of many of my favorite fiddle players.   Simple melody's with easy double stops are my future.  But, that's OK.  Since Covid, I've been playing in the basement, several hours a day, learning new tunes,  trying to improve on the ones I've learned and doing scales.   I don't know as I'll ever be able to play my fiddle with the great players I play my banjo with but, I'm entertaining myself, trying to get better and having a bunch of fun.



It seems to me, for my playing to be "less boring" than it is now, that I should concentrate on bettering my rhythm and bowing so that's what I intend to concentrate on.  If anyone has ideas or suggestions, for improving my playing, I'm all ears.??   (And, hopefully, those ears will do better if I can ever get to a place to get fitted with new hearing aids.  As I'll probably have to travel to Denver (seven hours south of where I live), Covid limits my options right now.)

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 02/24/2021:  19:07:12


Glad to hear you could see an immediate benefit to the Geminiani position, WyoBob . It’s a useful exercise that you can always have as a reference.

Sorry that you’re dealing with physical limitations from injury. When there’s been muscle or nerve damage like that, it’s not always possible to use a standard approach. If you can work toward a normal posture slowly, that’s great, but you may need to find alternative solutions. The last thing you want is to have playing add to your injuries.

I do think that focusing on your bow arm will help with nuance. The left hand part of fiddling is usually very simple; the style comes from good phrasing.

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