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Fiddle Lovers Online


Nov 24, 2022 - 4:43:10 PM
35 posts since 6/20/2022

I got started with fretted instruments, and now playing fiddle I have trouble placing my finger directly on that 5th position. Often the note is a bit flat! I know it's cheating but I wanted to mark the right location so I used some neon electrical tape & cut a little fret marker. This was great till I found that tiny elevation of like 1 micro millimeter of the tape, was interfering with the slightly lower note! (It also gets dislodged if I do a slide.) I thought about marking it with nail polish. That might either wear off...or not ever wear off & later look like crap.
Advice?

Nov 24, 2022 - 6:16:34 PM

14146 posts since 9/23/2009

You could maybe try putting something like a tape you could feel on the bottom or top or even back of the fingerboard, in some location where you could feel it and tell where your finger needs to stop the string. Anyway, if you do find something that works, you'll probably only need it temporarily.

I'm hope I'm following what you mean...do you mean where the pinky goes in 1st position to sound the unison note with the string below? Or do you mean sliding way up to the 5th position? Or do you mean something else...? Not sure I'm following you, but my first thought was that you were talking about the pinky finding its spot from the hand's 1st position.

Nov 24, 2022 - 7:17:47 PM
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2875 posts since 10/22/2007

A - I hear with my fingers. i can't really see my fingerboard while I play.
B - It's anyone's guess if the strings are in tune for that far up the neck.
Look at a fretted instrument's bridge. The compensation is added to the bridge. On a fretless instrument the compensation is addressed by you. Same reason a "how to tune a fiddle" thread are three pages long.

Nov 24, 2022 - 9:03:33 PM
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2157 posts since 12/11/2008

Not that I do the Fifth Position Shift flawlessly yet, but I gauge it by the way the pinkie side of my left hand presses/bangs into the edge of the fiddle. For me at least, it's a matter of getting used to the proper amount of pressure my hand must exert.

Nov 25, 2022 - 12:50:05 AM

10750 posts since 3/19/2009

Daily practice, Slowly, listening, and over time you will get it. Just another hand/brain thingy that you can and will do.. TIME...

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 11/25/2022 00:50:41

Nov 25, 2022 - 2:01:10 AM

banjopaolo

Italy

257 posts since 9/14/2010

It is not clear what you mean with 'fifth position' usually fifth postion means to place the index finger up the neck on the E note on the G string and so on... on the 1st string you will play C,D, E and F, it is a position that needs an advanced player.... Is this what you are talkin about?

Nov 25, 2022 - 4:39:32 AM

538 posts since 9/1/2010

For me, it was just a matter of practice and using my ears, the adjacent string, or even a tuner to know when it was right. If you feel the need to mark it, maybe a little dot of "white-out" would do the trick.

Nov 25, 2022 - 6:06:55 AM
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2496 posts since 10/1/2008

Mark it on the thumb side of the fingerboard. A small painted dot. About the time the paint wears of you will know how to find it.

Nov 25, 2022 - 6:19:46 AM
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35 posts since 6/20/2022

quote:



I'm hope I'm following what you mean...do you mean where the pinky goes in 1st position to sound the unison note with the string below?

on the D string it would be g. on the A string it would be d. 
It would correspond to the 5th fret on a mandolin. 

I don't do any sliding of the entire hand, as in 'a bar chord'. I'm not that advanced.

For some reason I get the feeling any sort of position marker is frowned upon; at least I never see others with it. When I bought my fiddle the vendor  gave me a fret marker decal, but based on hearing me play to test out the fiddle, she told me I 'didn't need it'. Well, that's flattering, but that was at a festival when I was good & warmed up. When I try to practice at home alone, my playing is about 3 levels less good.

Edited by - woodswalker on 11/25/2022 06:23:42

Nov 25, 2022 - 6:40:09 AM

14146 posts since 9/23/2009

Some people do need the fret markers to get going...I've never tried...because it seems it would break my neck trying to play and see the fiddle neck at the same time...lol. Anyhow, from what i've seen just in online discussion...it is helpful for some people.

If you're new to fretless...it can seem like you'll get lost without feeling those frets with your fingers or even seeing them as you play...but if you just rely on your ears more, you'll eventually get it. One thing I've had to do in the beginning (I've been fiddling for about 14 years now but had played guitar and banjo my whole life) was to just slow it all down, as slow as necessary, to get used to having that finger where it needed to be. Here lately I've been workin' on Gardenia Waltz again...lots of double stops and double stop slides...oh my gosh...it's hard to play that too slow, but I still have to slow it down a lot to just get those double stops sounding on pitch. But anyway, back to the unison finger...just familiarity alone and taking things slow will get you in tune. I have put a small sliver of masking tape on the back of my cello neck, back a few years ago when I was trying to learn that...lol...(I gave up on cello, finally), so that my hand could feel that and sense where in the heck my fingers had to be to get near enough to pitch that it didn't just make me cringe to hear it...lol...that helped me a little...but cello turned out to be so hard for me I just gave up on it...lol. Anyhow...you might wanna mark it somehow or just give yourself time, you'll get it.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 11/25/2022 06:41:33

Nov 25, 2022 - 6:52:28 AM
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10750 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by woodswalker
quote:



I'm hope I'm following what you mean...do you mean where the pinky goes in 1st position to sound the unison note with the string below?

on the D string it would be g. on the A string it would be d. 
It would correspond to the 5th fret on a mandolin. 

I don't do any sliding of the entire hand, as in 'a bar chord'. I'm not that advanced.

For some reason I get the feeling any sort of position marker is frowned upon; at least I never see others with it. When I bought my fiddle the vendor  gave me a fret marker decal, but based on hearing me play to test out the fiddle, she told me I 'didn't need it'. Well, that's flattering, but that was at a festival when I was good & warmed up. When I try to practice at home alone, my playing is about 3 levels less good.


I once put markers on a fretless banjo, but after just a day, realized that  my ears were all I needed..Don't underestimate how quickly you'll learn by ear.

Nov 25, 2022 - 10:14 AM
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3223 posts since 9/13/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by woodswalker
quote:



I'm hope I'm following what you mean...do you mean where the pinky goes in 1st position to sound the unison note with the string below?

on the D string it would be g. on the A string it would be d. 
It would correspond to the 5th fret on a mandolin. 
 


One way to teach your finger is use the using and comparing against the adjacent open string below; which is an octave, easy to listen to if it's in tune. For example the g on the D string; with the open G string. 

Can practice that, or warm up with that... and pretty soon becomes second nature.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/25/2022 10:15:48

Nov 25, 2022 - 2:05:25 PM
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doryman

USA

403 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by woodswalker
quote:



I'm hope I'm following what you mean...do you mean where the pinky goes in 1st position to sound the unison note with the string below?

on the D string it would be g. on the A string it would be d. 
It would correspond to the 5th fret on a mandolin. 

I don't do any sliding of the entire hand, as in 'a bar chord'. I'm not that advanced.

For some reason I get the feeling any sort of position marker is frowned upon; at least I never see others with it. When I bought my fiddle the vendor  gave me a fret marker decal, but based on hearing me play to test out the fiddle, she told me I 'didn't need it'. Well, that's flattering, but that was at a festival when I was good & warmed up. When I try to practice at home alone, my playing is about 3 levels less good.


Ok, so what you are talking about is not the "5th position" that others are thinking about it.   When violin and fiddle players talk about the fifth position, the entire hand is slid waaaay up the neck, it's something else entirely. 

As far as position marking and it being frowned upon.  I play the piano, guitar, banjo, ukulele, harmonica, accordion, and upright bass.  I've been playing some combination of those instruments for fifty years.  I state this to say that I know a thing or two about learning and playing instruments.  

I've been playing fiddle now for a little less that three years and mostly during the covids with no face to face instruction.  I put tape on my fret board in the beginning and I found it immensely  useful.  Within a few of months, the tape wore off and I never replaced it but, I think it sped up my learning by months and months.  I had no teacher to tell me if I was in the right position and having that tape there gave me great feedback.  

Others think it's a crutch, I think of it as a tool.  As an analogy, I know when to shift a manual transmission by listening to the engine.  But when I was learning to drive, it was sure great to be able to look at the tachometer. 

Nov 25, 2022 - 3:19:54 PM

2157 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by banjopaolo

It is not clear what you mean with 'fifth position' usually fifth postion means to place the index finger up the neck on the E note on the G string and so on... on the 1st string you will play C,D, E and F, it is a position that needs an advanced player.... Is this what you are talkin about?


I think of Left Hand Position this way...  First position is the spot on the neck where, when you put your left hand on the neck, your index finger will naturally raise the pitch of an open string by a single whole step.  In other words, your index finger will raise the pitch of the open G string to A.  Second Position is where you put your left hand so that your index finger will naturally press the G string down to make a B.  Third Position is where you put your left hand so that the index finger will naturally hit the C.  etc., etc.

Nov 25, 2022 - 3:44:40 PM
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693 posts since 7/30/2021

Along with doryman...
many players use tapes starting out, they are only on for a few months and serve as a visual/physical marker kind of like rough frets to mark the pitch. So do not in any way feel like you can't use tapes if you like to! I say "rough" because there are still minute adjustments of fingers which your ears will guide, to sound "in tune" but the tape marker gets your fingers roughly into the right "landing zone" when starting out. :-)

To check the intonation, checking it against the open string to the right is a good way! If every time you use your pinky, you pause briefly and check that and fix it necessary...you'll have trained yourself to play in tune quickly. If you can already hear that you're a bit flat, that's 90% of the battle! :-)

Nov 25, 2022 - 3:51:55 PM

Swing

USA

2242 posts since 6/26/2007

Playing scales without an open string is the most assured way of hitting the next notes in a scale...once you learn that than half steps really are an easy adjustment but you have to use your ears..... I strongly suggest playing scales in half steps or minors to learn where thing are... there are a bunch of videos on YouTube that can help you going in that direction....once you learn how to learn, then it opens up a great new door.

Play Happy

Swing

Nov 25, 2022 - 4:43:33 PM
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972 posts since 3/1/2020

It sounds to me like the OP’s “fifth position” is the interval, so she’s talking about hitting the fourth finger accurately. This is something that’s difficult for new players as they develop finger independence and dexterity as well as spatial awareness.

Tapes are often used for beginners to reinforce the finger positions. One can learn without them, but they’re a popular way to check intonation without a teacher present (in theory). Thin architect’s drafting tape can work fairly well. There are finger tapes available commercially that are popular with Suzuki teachers. Tape can cause issues in playability, as the strings can buzz against it or it can prevent an adjacent finger from properly stopping a note. Thinner tape is better.

One of my customers who teaches a lot of beginning students had his fingerboard inlaid with rosewood “frets” all the way up the board. The frets are flush with the board, so they’re really just a visual aid. He lends the violin out to students periodically so they can learn with it, then return it once they’ve developed the muscle memory.

Nov 26, 2022 - 8:56:10 AM

83 posts since 12/26/2021

Try using a tuner app. You can put your phone up on your music stand and look at that while you play, rather than looking at the fingerboard. You shouldn't need a marker for 5th position, it starts right where the neck meets the body. Look for a video on 5th position, your thumb has to go under the neck, the left hand position is different. youtube.com/watch?v=DJoNKRjGUaQ

Never really understood why 5th is normally taught after 3rd position, 4th seems more intuitive to me. 3rd position you can check by droning the open string octave, 4th by hitting the unison. Nice and fiddly! Maybe because you can just move your hand up until you smack into the bout and there you are?

Nov 26, 2022 - 3:58:07 PM

2399 posts since 8/23/2008

It would correspond to the 5th fret on a mandolin.

I'm glad you clarified that. So, this is the octave above the adjacent string and is one of the easiest intervals to tune in. Since you have experience playing the mandolin you will know the sound of this interval; I would encourage you to replicate this interval on the fiddle....without any 'finger markings'.

Never press your fingers on the string too hard, just light enough to make a full tone. Pressing too hard will not allow you to move the finger to find good intonation, but always try to play in-tune on the first attempt. And always try to hear the interval before you play it. 

Next, try the fourth finger unison with the adjacent string above.  After you have learned the open string arpeggios you will have other intervals to tune-in all the other fingered notes in first position. 

Nov 26, 2022 - 4:44:52 PM

972 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by crunchie812

Never really understood why 5th is normally taught after 3rd position, 4th seems more intuitive to me. 3rd position you can check by droning the open string octave, 4th by hitting the unison. Nice and fiddly! Maybe because you can just move your hand up until you smack into the bout and there you are?


Fifth position is taught earlier than fourth because it is more intuitive to learn. The fingers are in the same order as first position on the next string. It's very easy to check accuracy. Fourth is a lot more like second, in that it falls between the more familiar positions and requires one to use a first finger on a note that would be played with a fourth in first position on the next string. When you're starting out, first position is like a home base for playing, and the other positions are often understood in relation to that home. Over time it becomes more natural to play in different positions in order to focus more on voicing and clean articulation. 

Nov 26, 2022 - 6:04:54 PM

2399 posts since 8/23/2008

Never really understood why 5th is normally taught after 3rd position,

I thought this was to facilitate with reading, due to the fact that the first and third fingers play the line notes as they do in 1st and 3rd positions, and when we get to 5th position the same fingers are playing the notes as they do in 1st position, but on a lower string. 

Nov 27, 2022 - 7:18:20 AM

83 posts since 12/26/2021

Interesting. I was taught up to 5th position but only ever really used 3rd in pieces we played in the school orchestra. Almost a year back into playing and I've only just gotten into positions. Never gave any thought to one being more "intuitive" than the the other. I just kind of staggered into positions playing two octave scales and arpeggios in D(3rd) and E(4th). I guess I could use 2nd for C instead of doing the ol' pinky stretch.

Nov 27, 2022 - 8:08:56 AM
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972 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by crunchie812

Interesting. I was taught up to 5th position but only ever really used 3rd in pieces we played in the school orchestra. Almost a year back into playing and I've only just gotten into positions. Never gave any thought to one being more "intuitive" than the the other. I just kind of staggered into positions playing two octave scales and arpeggios in D(3rd) and E(4th). I guess I could use 2nd for C instead of doing the ol' pinky stretch.


It's good to develop your second position through practice. The same is true with fourth position. Those two are positions many people struggle with much more. I think second is hard for a lot of players because there's less of a shift. As you make a larger shift your hand changes position on the neck more and in a way it's easier to adjust to the change mentally.

When you're playing something that allows for a move into second, the decision to do it comes down to the amount of use it will get in a passage. If the only reason to shift is for a note just above the fourth finger, it's generally better to just extend the fourth finger for practicality. However, just as a challenge, you can try playing things in a position you don't normally use. For fiddle tunes this can make it awkward, because they tend to be solidly rooted in first position, but it will keep you on your toes.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 11/27/2022 08:10:13

Nov 27, 2022 - 12:54:49 PM
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2399 posts since 8/23/2008

Never gave any thought to one being more "intuitive" than the the other. 

I don't understand this either; if you've got the two octave scale and arpeggio patterns down in 1st position without open strings, you can play them literally anywhere along the fingerboard, and you could be completely oblivious of exactly which position they're in. 

Nov 28, 2022 - 7:08:20 PM
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38 posts since 5/18/2009

I think there is a bit of confusion here and mixing of terms. I was wondering as I read why someone just starting and playing fiddle would care about fifth position. I believe after she mentioned the tapes that she is referring to finger positions in first position. The position you learn after first is third position which means you shift your index finger to where your third finger would be in first position—fifth fret on a mandolin or, say, the G note on the D string or the D note on the A string. Fourth position would be starting the index finger on the A note of the D string and fifth position would be starting the index finger on the B note on the D string. I highly doubt that too many traditional fiddlers would have any need for fifth position and those of us mortals probably wouldn't be able to intonate properly without hours of practice.

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