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To press down or not to press down that is the question.

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Apr 15, 2020 - 12:43:34 PM

Peghead

USA

1600 posts since 1/21/2009

The string is so much more responsive to vibrato if its not touching the fingerboard.

May 20, 2020 - 6:32:15 PM

513 posts since 9/4/2007

A string DOES NOT need to touch string to sound pure..Many years ago I was doing a gig at local college when a women came up to me after show laughing and grinning.She was concertmaster of local symphony. Asked me if she could help me with my left hand..She had me play scales without pushing string all the way down as a warm up excersize.. It makes you play relaxed and better..I play a quick scale on A and E strings before a gig. Then when I play normally, my touch is light..Heavy fingers and heavy bows do not make MORE VOLUME..

May 21, 2020 - 7:15:40 AM
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1879 posts since 8/27/2008

I'm surprised by all this. I can't get a clear tone without pressing the string to the fingerboard. It only has to be light pressure, but if I bow a note and slowly raise my left finger the clear tone disappears when the string leaves the wood, unless I'm at a harmonic (which would be another problem). I agree about avoiding too much tension but don't get it otherwise.

May 21, 2020 - 1:39:28 PM

1489 posts since 4/6/2014

Maybe a low action, guitar callouses, bow sounding point, bow weight, or some other setup difference, is stopping it happening for you. But i definitely don't have to press the string down to the wood to get a clear note, ( i would need to press it down with my fingernail to make sure it was right down to the wood anyways). When i played steel guitar a lot, as well as fiddle, i would have had problems with doing this as well. But fiddle pads are much softer than guitar pads. And i prefer a slightly higher action than most on my fiddle. Even when i am on a harmonic i can get a clear note, then realease a bit more pressure and the harmonic sounds rather than the note. Then i can switch back and forth between the note and the harmonic by adding or releasing pressure.

As always, different strokes for different folks....

May 21, 2020 - 3:46:18 PM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by pete_fiddle

Maybe a low action, ...


Perhaps it's my low action setup. I don't really have far to push down. I set up all my fiddles quite low. Classical setups seem higher. Your higher action may have something to do with it. Interesting.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/21/2020 15:46:56

May 21, 2020 - 5:29:41 PM

2262 posts since 8/23/2008

Unless the finger tip callous is so hard that there be lack of indentation of the finger tip from pressing the string, or the finger pressure is like a vise, then I would think it not possible to press the string all the way to the fingerboard. As stated before; the string causes an indentation on the finger tip, when the finger touches the board the pressure is restrained and thus the string lies within the indentation but not touching the board. There are varying degrees of pressure depending on circumstances, but the idea is to be aware of excessive pressure by using 'minimal viable pressure'....

May 21, 2020 - 6:20:12 PM

367 posts since 3/1/2020

If you look at a fingerboard that’s been used regularly for a few months, you’ll see that there are metal deposits on the board beneath the strings from them wearing against the board during playing.

The strings do come in contact with the board. You tend to see less metal higher up the fingerboard because the higher positions don’t get as much use as the lower ones. However, if you play a lot in the higher positions, you’ll see some deposits there as well.

Also, the strings wear grooves into the fingerboard from contact over time. Your fingers will make depressions in the board, but the strings tend to make grooves first.

May 21, 2020 - 7:55:56 PM

2262 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful



Also, the strings wear grooves into the fingerboard from contact over time. Your fingers will make depressions in the board, but the strings tend to make grooves first.


I have seen this on 'a' violin, but I've had my violin for 48 years, and I've played 'it' for that long, can't see any grooves from fingers or strings...?

May 21, 2020 - 8:45:48 PM

1774 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

If you look at a fingerboard that’s been used regularly for a few months, you’ll see that there are metal deposits on the board beneath the strings from them wearing against the board during playing.

The strings do come in contact with the board. You tend to see less metal higher up the fingerboard because the higher positions don’t get as much use as the lower ones. However, if you play a lot in the higher positions, you’ll see some deposits there as well.

Also, the strings wear grooves into the fingerboard from contact over time. Your fingers will make depressions in the board, but the strings tend to make grooves first.


My fiddle fingerboards are littered with metal deposits.  Proof of the pudding.  I also get a kick out the fingernail pits I've made in my guitar fingerboards, not to mention all the fret grooves.  As long as I can still get tone, though, I'm okay with it.

May 22, 2020 - 7:38 AM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

I definitaly push the strings to the wood, it's really hard trying not to. But that's in first position. I can get a sense of what's being talked about in the higher positions because the strings are further off the ebony.

May 22, 2020 - 1:09:25 PM
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1489 posts since 4/6/2014

Think i've said it before but,  i think that fiddle "Tone" is a balance between LH finger pressure and bow weight, pressure and bow placement...( And strings/setup and stuff that are personal preferences). If there is a physical barrier in the way IE: The finger board or a "Fret"... (perish the thought), my tonal spectrum is much reduced.

i can feel the string vibration in my LH finger ...And through the bow into my right hand. Couple that with the actual audio sound of the note, and i am starting to be in control of the sound i am producing. And amazingly somehow, i can minutely adjust each parameter to produce an approximation of my desired sound.

The more i play the more subtle things become

May 22, 2020 - 8:35:19 PM

2262 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

I definitaly push the strings to the wood, it's really hard trying not to. But that's in first position. 


I've experimented with both extremes of string heights, and if the strings are very low it is difficult to not press down to  the fingerboard. 

When I became aware of this 'minimum pressure concept' I needed to do some very focused practice, it took awhile to unlearn the bad habit and for this concept to become automatic.  

May 23, 2020 - 3:33:31 PM
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224 posts since 6/3/2016

It would be difficult to play half steps if you press down very hard. For example, Cincinnati Rag starts with four descending half steps on the E string. Here is a Kenny Baker recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdr_T7bgnS0 . The tune starts out with four descending half steps on the E string (G-F#-F-E) using two fingers. Even going from G to F#, the stopped middle finger is about to be in the way of the index finger, so you have to move the middle finger a little to make room for the index finger. And then going from F# to F you have to inaudibly slide the index finger. Good luck doing that with lots of pressure on the fingerboard.

May 23, 2020 - 11:39:48 PM

1489 posts since 4/6/2014

@ RinconMtnErnie

"The tune starts out with four descending half steps on the E string (G-F#-F-E) using two fingers. "

Although i'm not averse to shifting back and playing those little chromatic runs with three or even four fingers myself rather than sliding, i can never get that to sound clean especially when slurred. Although i know players who can....Usually they have a very light touch ,rubber fingers and started young. :o)

May 24, 2020 - 12:06:33 AM

1489 posts since 4/6/2014

Reminds me of a tune i attempted years ago...i never could get anywhere near it still can't. But a violinist friend played it straight off the dots in "fiddlers fakebook", and it sounded almost perfect to me..

Highflyer Stomp
 

Jun 1, 2020 - 7:03:19 AM
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5851 posts since 8/7/2009

I don't know what to say to those who have trouble with getting good tone without pressing the string to the fingerboard - except - it is possible. Perhaps I'm fooling myself but - for me - I haven't had any problems.

Having said that - I know that I do press the string to the board in certain situations: usually when a note has a longer duration. And I will sometimes catch myself doing it when I am working / playing through a more difficult passage (counter productive). But neither of those demand anything more than a little touch.

My intention / goal is to use as little pressure as necessary to sound the note. I recognize it as a useful technique. It hasn't required a conscious focused effort (no specific exercises to master it). I was made aware of it, started reminding my self "lighter touch", and now I have become used to doing it. I've never had any issues with it. In fact, I could stand to lighten up some more. Its pretty amazing how little pressure it really takes... for me anyway.

No problem with different opinions. Play on.

Jun 1, 2020 - 4:27:04 PM
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5096 posts since 9/26/2008
Online Now

Tony!

Great to hear from you!

Jun 2, 2020 - 7:57:48 AM

5851 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

Tony!

Great to hear from you!


blush... thanks Billy.  I'm not sure how active I will be - but... I'll try to participate more often.

Edited by - tonyelder on 06/02/2020 08:01:28

Jun 2, 2020 - 12:48:16 PM
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9037 posts since 3/19/2009

Have any Hangout members tried to record their sound comparing a light touch to a heavy touch?

Jun 2, 2020 - 6:52:34 PM

2262 posts since 8/23/2008

Since this discussion I've tried to press the string 'right' down to the fingerboard. I only did it a few times because it actually hurt, and my strings are not very high. So, a heavy touch must need thick callous to protect the nerves in the finger tips and with thick callous the finger tips are less sensitive to the light touch . And, thick callous must need considerable amount of 'heavy touch' practice to develop, likewise considerable 'light touch' practice will produce softer finger tips, not to mention the different techniques each touch would require, and the cross over techniques: 'heavy touch + soft pads', and 'light touch + thick callous'.....
Every ones touch is different, it depends on many factors. The idea is to be aware of 'excessive' pressure which can cause physical damage, prevent the player from playing fast and effect intonation.

Jun 2, 2020 - 9:42:28 PM

1774 posts since 12/11/2008

Because it's easy to do, I relentlessly experiment with pressing to the fingerboard and floating above to see how the notes sound. And true, there are several notes that sound just as well for me whether I push the string down to the fingerboard or not. This especially true when I'm on the E string, though it's still not true all the time. The A string has its moments of either/or, too, but the D and G strings are another matter entirely. It's only when I'm doing a harmonic that a note rings true on those strings when I'm not pressing down. Otherwise it's buzzy-fuzzy city.

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