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Not pushing the string all the way down to the fingerboard

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Oct 27, 2019 - 5:11:18 AM

gapbob

USA

690 posts since 4/20/2008

I read once that if action is too low, it is difficult to play the first finger low notes in tune.

Oct 27, 2019 - 8:14:10 AM
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bsed

USA

4071 posts since 6/23/2007

What I don't get is if you're not pressing your fingers all the way to the fingerboard, you're not fully stopping the string, so you won't (as far as I can figure) produce a clear note.

Oct 27, 2019 - 9:22:16 AM

Jimbeaux

Germany

348 posts since 5/24/2016

quote:
Originally posted by bsed

What I don't get is if you're not pressing your fingers all the way to the fingerboard, you're not fully stopping the string, so you won't (as far as I can figure) produce a clear note.


Depends on your setup. It doesn't work on all 3 of my fiddles on all 4 strings.

But like I said, my classically trained teacher said it's commonly used by advanced players in fast pieces. 

Of course I could ask why you don't try it but maybe you have and it really doesn't work on your fiddle. 

Oct 27, 2019 - 11:30:58 AM
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bsed

USA

4071 posts since 6/23/2007

I just tried it, and got the result I expected. Not pressing the string down to the fingerboard, I did not get a clean note. I played Fisher's Hornpipe, which is often played fast (sometimes TOO fast). Maybe I'd have to see you do it.

The only time you don't press all the way down is when you're playing harmonics. And then you barely touch the string.

Oct 27, 2019 - 4:37:06 PM

gapbob

USA

690 posts since 4/20/2008

Sometimes, when playing fast, i have tried it and it does work, though it feels uncentered or something like it.

Oct 27, 2019 - 10:28:49 PM
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2170 posts since 8/23/2008

Have a look at this video, it's about classical playing but it's still a violin...

youtube.com/watch?v=SC4oO9l8P-8

The reason you are not getting a clean note maybe due to the set up. If the string action is too low ( which old-time fiddling requires ) there will be much less string tension to counter the finger weight thus it will be very difficult to find the 'minimum pressure' because the degrees between zero pressure and maximum pressure are microscopic.
Or perhaps... After pressing the string down to the finger board for years thick callus may have formed thus rendering the finger tip insensitive to changes in pressure. In my case the tips of my fingers don't have much callus so I find it difficult to press the strings to the fingerboard, but I still achieve a 'clean note'.
Or maybe it's because you are not used to 'minimal pressure', it takes time to change habits and learn new techniques.

Oct 28, 2019 - 4:34:21 AM
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2526 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Jimbeaux
quote:
Originally posted by bsed

What I don't get is if you're not pressing your fingers all the way to the fingerboard, you're not fully stopping the string, so you won't (as far as I can figure) produce a clear note.


Depends on your setup. It doesn't work on all 3 of my fiddles on all 4 strings.

But like I said, my classically trained teacher said it's commonly used by advanced players in fast pieces. 

Of course I could ask why you don't try it but maybe you have and it really doesn't work on your fiddle. 


I think folks are perhaps missing the point. IMO the point is more about just having a light efficient touch; that the fingers don't need to strongly "push" the string into the fingerboard, nor bang down, or hold down, death grip or such. Certainly, understanding that the string doesn't actually have to touch the fingerboard is helpful to therefore can use a much lighter touch. While the extreme tendency of heavy fingering aspects can cause tension and perhaps speed issues; but that the finger or string lightly touches the fingerboard with natural  weight of fingers or not, should not be any issue; certainly none with speed.

A few other thoughts:

Perhaps the difficulty folks are having is in "trying" not to have the finger contact the fingerboard? Might not be easily noticeable or possible. First, your finger will likely contact the fingerboard before the string does. The reason you might not be able to do it is because the amount of pressure you need to "stop" the string cleanly, might not occur before your finger would contact the fingerboard; or even before the string itself. Especially note clearance as gets closer to the nut. So might be near impossible to not touch fingerboard. Upper positions might be easier to notice.

While the fingerboard is not necessary to produce a clear note; that string being stopped on the fingerboard might actually be a bit faster, might be slightly less finger pressure. It is also very efficient at creating a clean note allowing for under more various bow pressure control. (the other difficulty with achieving no fingerboard stop is right bow control). Should note that the "no fingerboard" approach also has to a bit increase control to take into account intonation with slight change of pressure.

As far as set-up - many things will affect this, esp. the string type and tension. That said, there is no advantage to raising the string height, nut, bridge or action specifically for this purpose as such of not having the fingers or string touch the fingerboard. 

Trying to incorporate some control or avoidance of something that is unnecessary, might actually introduce negative issues, worry, tension. 

For regular fiddling; while heavy hand, death grip can cause issues; beyond that I think (as with most instruments) most speed issues are not that the LH fingers can't physically move sufficiently fast; but brain processing.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 10/28/2019 04:50:57

Dec 4, 2019 - 7:59:02 AM
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4260 posts since 6/23/2007

On Youtube a violin instructor discusses this subject. I followed his suggestions and was surprised by how little finger pressure is really needed. More and more I am beginning to realize that on the fiddle, "less is more". For example, maintaining a very loose relaxed bowing wrist/fingers allows the hand to function better, and in addition, the tone improves.

Dec 4, 2019 - 8:20:22 AM
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4725 posts since 9/26/2008

The fingerboard gives you a consistent depth and the finger does indeed touch, while you aim for no more pressure than that, in other words, you don't press the string to the fingerboard. Otherwise, I imagine we'd call it a stringboard.

Ever played an instrument that is fingerboardless? Koto and sytar (that spelling looks suspect) come to mind,though both have frets which muddy the water. If the fingerboard was not there, one would struggle to not push the string out of tune via too much pressure.

Dec 4, 2019 - 9:30:59 AM

Jimbeaux

Germany

348 posts since 5/24/2016

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

The fingerboard gives you a consistent depth and the finger does indeed touch, while you aim for no more pressure than that, in other words, you don't press the string to the fingerboard. Otherwise, I imagine we'd call it a stringboard.

Ever played an instrument that is fingerboardless? Koto and sytar (that spelling looks suspect) come to mind,though both have frets which muddy the water. If the fingerboard was not there, one would struggle to not push the string out of tune via too much pressure.


The Cretan lyre is basically a three string fiddle that you play upright on your lap and you note the strings using the top (back?) of your fingernails. I've messed around with that on my fiddle and it works but I don't like the tone.

Dec 4, 2019 - 11:05:58 AM
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DougD

USA

9676 posts since 12/2/2007

While in Saigon in 1967 I learned to play the dan tranh, which is the Vietnamese version of the koto, a little bit. It does not have frets, and is an entirely different system. There are 13 movable bridges, one for each string. They are approximately at the midpoint of the string, and you tune the instrument by moving the bridges. You pluck the strings with the thumb and two fingers of your right hand, to the right of the bridges. Then with the fingers of your left hand you press the strings to create vibrato or the wide "bends" characteristic of this music. So the whole point is to be able to "push the string out of tune via too much pressure." Its what provides the musical expression.

Dec 4, 2019 - 11:11:41 AM

11038 posts since 9/23/2009

I've seen a homemade version of something similar to what Doug describes by a friend I used to have from Russia. But anyway, having played guitar most of my life, I think I hopelessly press hard on the strings. I've tried barely mashing them or going easy, etc., as described here, but i can't seem to understand it...instead I probably use more pressure than necessary. It's the way I play any instrument and seems I can't change how I do it...so i continue on in that way.

Dec 4, 2019 - 11:12:22 AM

Old Scratch

Canada

581 posts since 6/22/2016

The 'Chinese violin' - the ar-hu - is played by touching or pressing the string - but not down to the 'fingerboard'.

Dec 4, 2019 - 11:17:52 AM

1393 posts since 4/6/2014

i have an Erhu and it has no fingerboard, Then there are other bowed instruments like this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YkVhGhIWXA

double stops and all...The string doesn't have to be pressed to the fingerboard

Dec 4, 2019 - 2:33:10 PM
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Peghead

USA

1565 posts since 1/21/2009

play the string!

Dec 10, 2019 - 5:08:13 AM

0yh80w5nje

Finland

24 posts since 7/3/2018

Pizzicato?

Jan 6, 2020 - 6:37:38 PM

fidlpat

USA

574 posts since 5/11/2009

My only real thought about this is that I don't think I have the time to be thinking about it when I'm playing. I understand what's being said, though,(makes sense) and Kato Havas may have said something about it. I have a couple of her books.

Jan 6, 2020 - 6:46:22 PM
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513 posts since 9/4/2007

I ALWAYS warm up by doing scales WITHOUT TOUCHING THE FINGERBOARD. It sets a light touch. We don't need to strangle the fiddle or beat it to death. Light touch,light bow...Your bow and violin are making love. They should not be at war each with the other.

Jan 7, 2020 - 12:08:22 PM
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gapbob

USA

690 posts since 4/20/2008

Making love always has a little war in it...

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