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A small change makes a big difference

Posted by bj on Monday, September 26, 2011

I've really been wanting to get the tension out of my left hand and finally figured out a way to do it. Instead of grasping the neck with the contact point on my thumb near the joint, I've moved the contact point so it's at the very tip of my thumb.

The result is amazing.

I can't GRASP the neck, not in the same way. I have enough of a hold so that the fiddle doesn't move, but now my neck hold is much more relaxed. And because there's no tension in the thumb, there is now no tension in my other fingers. I've already found that playing fast is easier. I imagine that once I get this ingrained as a habit (that's what I'm now working on) that I'll be able to play for longer periods and not experience as much fatigue and cramping.

In other news, I bought another instrument yesterday. It isn't a keeper, though some might argue it should be. It's an amazing german violin with a delicately carved scroll, a u shaped ebony inset on the button, masterful purfling, a ribbed e peg, and lovely, lovely wood with a really attractive golden blonde finish that's mellowed to the color of honey. This one was obviously made by a top craftsperson. Why isn't it a keeper? It's already told me it's a violin, not a fiddle, and in no uncertain terms. It doesn't sing my song.

If it doesn't sell at the market within a couple days, I'll most likely be posting it in a classified ad here on the hangout. The only thing it needs is a bass side saddle crack repair, and the setup done since the bridge that came with it is inappropriate, and the tailgut looks like it's a guitar string.



6 comments on “A small change makes a big difference”

Cyndy Says:
Monday, September 26, 2011 @5:51:10 AM

Very cool on both accounts.

bj Says:
Monday, September 26, 2011 @2:17:04 PM

Best news is I realized that this will allow me to use my pinkie much more effectively, maybe even to the point of using my pinkie on the A string while playing the e string in unison! It will still take a lot of work since my pinkie suffers from connective tissue damage and doesn't operate independently very well, but since I can now actually use the tip (if I practice and REMEMBER to use it that way!) I can develop the workarounds I need to allow that.

Bad news is I made the mistake of getting curious about how that new fiddle would sound with a better setup. I haven't been able to put it down much today. No, I'm not keeping it. No, I'm not keeping it. No, I'm not keeping it.

But maybe . . . NO, I'm NOT keeping it!

harwilli55 Says:
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 @3:11:06 PM

Don't keep it bj...really....don't...please....don't ....let it go....let go gently..

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 @2:38:00 AM

Yeah, about a month ago, I started experimenting with positioning of my left hand thumb, as opposed to just letting it go wherever it had a mind to, and I came up with the same answer. By bending the thumb joint and contacting the tip, there's much more relaxation and flexability in the fingers. I'm still at the point of forgetting about it, and then I'll notice and re-position.

bj Says:
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 @3:34:24 PM

I'm really trying to keep it on the thumb tip since it is making a difference, but yeah, it isn't totally ingrained yet. I had to rearrange my hand three or four times during our four hour jam last night.

Harlan, did you say "don't . . . let it go" ??? LOL!

eerohero Says:
Sunday, December 18, 2011 @2:02:09 PM

A good advice to follow, these small matters , we need more of them,bj, I will get going with this one for sure, it will surely give me more space for development of Vibrato, the famous Texas wide & slow, gentle Vibrato. Slides are getting easier to accomplish as well, thanxs,Lady, this is a Treasure !

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