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Jan 20, 2022 - 6:02:28 AM
9 posts since 6/26/2007

I have an issue getting double stops on adjacent strings to play in tune.
For example when playing an E on the D string and a B on the A string either the D is sharp or the B is flat.
I have been playing guitar for 53 years so my natural inclination is to barre the strings. But when I lay my finger down, there's no way to keep it perpendicular to the strings. The fret on the guitar (and mandolin) neck makes that work fine.
Is there a trick? I have tried using the tip of my finger on both strings. That works sometimes. Is that the right approach?
Thanks in advance for any advice.

Jan 20, 2022 - 7:21:36 AM
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722 posts since 3/1/2020

Without seeing what you’re doing, it’s hard to diagnose your issues with exactness, but there are a couple possibilities of that can cause them.

First, the question about finger position. If your fingers aren’t perpendicular to the strings, your hand/elbow/arm position may be the problem. Keep the left arm tucked under the violin and the inner surface of the palm facing the neck of the violin, not your face. The fingers should always be held just over the strings and at right angles so that they can simply drop down onto the strings with the most economical effort. Getting into this position is difficult for adult beginners because it requires a good deal of flexibility, but with plenty of practice, stretching, and determination, it’s possible to achieve. Getting this right will take your intonation to a new level.

The other thing to be aware of is the fingerboard itself. If your fingers are in the right positions and your strings are properly in tune and parallel fifths are still out of tune, the fingerboard almost certainly has an issue. A poorly shaped or heavily worn fingerboard will make good intonation impossible. If you can’t play parallel fifths (and you’ve made sure your posture is good), a trip to a good luthier is a must.

Edit:

Make sure the string spacing at the nut is appropriate as well. If it's too wide, you'll struggle to hit double stops. The finger tips should have provide plenty of coverage for two strings. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 01/20/2022 07:26:19

Jan 20, 2022 - 9:28:53 AM
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2962 posts since 9/13/2009

The barre like on a guitar would be difficult, as it would be difficult to get wrist and hand in position to to that.

I have tried using the tip of my finger on both strings. That works sometimes. Is that the right approach?

That's sort of how I do it, I put the tip more between the strings. Pay attention to contact point on finger to each string; creating parallel contact to nut. Takes experimenting, finding the sweet spot, and practice.

Jan 20, 2022 - 10:02:04 AM
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wilford

USA

264 posts since 6/26/2007

A great tune to practice this type of double stop on is "Back Up and Push" in the key of C. The beginning notes lead down to the middle finger double stopping the 3rd string F and 2nd string C. Later on in the piece when the shuffle begins these two strings stopped at the F and C notes appear again. The way I play it, later in the last part of the shuffle during the C chord, I stop the E string at the G and the A string at the C, too.

Similar double stops are found in Kenny Baker's version of "Smoky Mountain Breakdown" in the key of F.

Jan 20, 2022 - 10:25:48 AM
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13160 posts since 9/23/2009

One thing to remember...it's just hard to play double stops in tune...lol.

Jan 20, 2022 - 10:41:45 AM
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Swing

USA

2116 posts since 6/26/2007

My only suggestion is try to anchor one finger first that will be in tune, then add the second string/finger... if you are off on both strings then you really cannot learn the double stops... once you are hearing the second string come into tune then you are set... this does take (slow) practice and and repetition... I also suggest learning to play a scale on double stops, since it is a repeating pattern you then can apply it to other scales..

Play Happy

Swing

Jan 20, 2022 - 10:46:40 AM
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388 posts since 7/30/2021

To play E on D string and B on A string -
I was taught to play a doublestop like that with one finger on both strings simultaneously. Try putting your first finger down on both strings at once, in that position, and play the doublestop?

Whoops I see that you already tried that - yes, I think that's the common way to play it! 

Edited by - NCnotes on 01/20/2022 10:47:18

Jan 20, 2022 - 11:16:29 AM
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2001 posts since 12/11/2008

I'd never thought about double-stopping a fiddle with the same finger until I came across a couple of Irish tunes in the O'Neill's that pretty much required it (don't ask me to track them down right now!). Luckily, I found they were easy to do. I just lay down my index finger lengthwise across the two strings and fiddle away. If you play guitar, it's like doing a cheater four string version of an F chord.

Jan 20, 2022 - 3:36:25 PM
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2601 posts since 10/22/2007

To play E on D string and B on A string, etc.
I play a doublestop like that with one finger on both strings simultaneously. This exactly how I play in the key of E, by using this "finger capo."
Here's a trick that may help: The only string tuned precisely is the A (440).
G is a few cents flat. Then my D is tuned by ear to the G. And my E is tuned to my A string. When I play in E, I have to listen to the accompaniment and slide into pitch. The IV, and V, double stops take a bit of practice to nail them on pitch repeatedly. But if you can do it, you're on your way to playing in any key.

Jan 20, 2022 - 4:36:36 PM
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5804 posts since 9/26/2008

As said above, you have to figure out the sweet spot. When I do it, I tend to not have my fingertip (only one) exactly in-between the strings. Once you find the spot, lift and back down over and over until you have the muscle memory built.

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Jan 20, 2022 - 9:09:48 PM
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548 posts since 6/11/2019

I give another vote for lateral fingertip placement.

Exactly in the middle may not work. You may have to go a little left of center (from a right-handed player's eyeball) to equalize both string stops.

But, you know what? A 1/5 chord is the fiddle version of a guitar 'power' chord, intending to command attention. So, if it's a little off, I don't fret about it much. The only time I try to get it right is in concluding an Irish set of tunes with a long bow.

Jan 20, 2022 - 9:53:20 PM
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2346 posts since 8/23/2008

If the E is sharp and the B flat, then that tells you which way to turn your forearm.
As already stated, face the palm more to the violin neck.
Some one already said find the sweet spot by experimenting,
but use 'minimal finger pressure' while experimenting so the 'micro adjustments' are easily achieved.

Jan 21, 2022 - 6:37:30 AM
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boxbow

USA

2711 posts since 2/3/2011

It gets harder to do the harder I try to press. It distorts the fingertip more. And too little pressure muffles the double stop. It was easiest to learn with my ring finger on the D and E to make a G/D double stop.

Jan 21, 2022 - 7:27:09 AM
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132 posts since 1/21/2017

quote:
Originally posted by dalevancleef

I have tried using the tip of my finger on both strings. That works sometimes. Is that the right approach?
 


Well, I use the pad of my finger, not the tip, but yeah. I don't know any way that you could play those side by side notes with 2 fingers.You would have to have tiny hands, or super wide string spacing.

Edited by - coryobert on 01/21/2022 07:28:06

Jan 21, 2022 - 7:33:01 AM
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132 posts since 1/21/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

But, you know what? A 1/5 chord is the fiddle version of a guitar 'power' chord, intending to command attention. So, if it's a little off, I don't fret about it much.


Exactly.

Jan 21, 2022 - 7:34:07 AM
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9 posts since 6/26/2007

Thank you all for the great information!
It looks like I'm on the right track... just a little impatient.
I'll definitely spend some time in the woodshed this weekend.
Thanks again!

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