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Strings and Things

Posted by Sassafrassa on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hello, all. Some observations this week.  I have made some improvement with my scales--they sound much better and consistant--plus I'm playing them a bit faster.  I'm also not screeching as badly when I play them.  My intonation within music, however, is still giving me some problems. I tend to play my notes too sharp except for the E string, which always seems to sound flat to me--even when I have just tuned up using my tuner.  I, of course, do a better job of playing when I play slowly, but when I try to play up to speed with my practice CD, I'm ALL over the place. 

My E-string whistles something fierce.  I don't squeal as much, but it's tough to get a clean note out of her on the E unless I really bow with some force compared to the other strings.  I'm considering changing the E-string to a wound string as some have suggested on the boards, but am not sure if I should wait till I change out the strings completely to make a switch.  I haven't had her that long, and the strings were almost new when I bought her.  The luthier I bought her from said they were Dominants.  I've been pretty happy with the sound overall that I get from them...of course, being a newbie, I'm not sure WHAT I'm listening to!

I have two a fiberglass cheapie, and an inexpensive wood bow that came with my fiddle.  I really don't like the fiberglass one.  I've been switching back and forth between them as I've been learning, and I am using the fiberglass one less and less.  It's not at all resonant, and it feels heavy and clunky.  They only thing I do like about it is that it doesn't bounce on the strings as much as my wood one. My wooden one vibrates nicely, and though I really don't know much about bows, I think that it's pretty good for a beginner.  I still don't know much about variations in tension of the hair and how it affects the tone, but I'm sure I'll make a decision about it at some point.  I have found that angling my bow EVERY SO SLIGHTLY towards the peghead keeps me from squeaking quite so much.

I'm working on several songs now, and they are going well overall. They are very simple, slow versions of songs, but they actually do sound like songs now!   I have also been just noodling around a bit, trying to get as many different sounds and tones out of my girl as I can.  I really like the lower end, though her sound gets a little hollow on the really low notes, but only when I am noting on the fingerboard, so it might be my technique.  The upper end is quite piercing.  She is a LOUD fiddle when I put forth the effort to increase the volume.  I would love to have someone play her who knew what they were doing so I could hear what she can really do.  I haven't met anyone else who plays yet....I know I should find a jam, but I'm scared to death of playing in front of anyone at this point. If I'm scaring my dogs...what will I do to people!!

Thanks to all you kind folks for reading my ramblings, and even more for the comments and feedback.  I listen to all of your advice and apply it whenever appropriate.  It helps so much!

3 comments on “Strings and Things”

cheekee Says:
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @4:27:09 PM

i find that everyone tells me something different about the bow hair. i have had people tell to tighten it as far as it will go. and some others say that they prefer to play quite lax. i find that i tighten it enough so that when i apply pressure with my index finger, i won't rub the wood part of the bow on the hair.

as for the bouncing...i was told that is from being too tense in the bow arm or hand or wrist...or anyon one of the areas you could be tense in - and not so much about the bow itself. i was told that if i was bouncing all around, that i could loosen the hair just a little so the bow wouldn't respond so quick. it did work. i don't know if that's really a good strategy for learning tho.

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @5:01:14 PM

Cheekee's right about too-tight bowhair making the bow more nervous and jittery. Back off it a bit, and yes, just tight enough to keep the hair off the stick.

Though generally beginners will have more problems than experienced players, there is such a thing as a bow that is always nervous. I've got one, and only play with it when it's the only one that will keep tension due to high humidity, since it's my only carbon fiber stick. I can control it now, but it's just not as fun playing with it, since it makes me work harder to sound good.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, September 3, 2010 @10:51:09 PM

In time it gets a lot easier to intonate.

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