Playing Clean? My Fingers Are Accidentally Plucking at Lift Off
September 23, 2020 at 12:41 PM #86061
Hi all. I have been trying to figure what I’m doing wrong. I can usually get to a note and play it when I’m supposed to, but when I leave that string to go to another, there’s a little after-sound that’s made as I lift. It’s not a loud sound as if I were doing a pull off. But it’s unwanted and it throws the tune off — at least to my ear.
Anybody know what I can do to not have that happen? I think this is one of those bad habits that come from being self taught.
Thanks.September 23, 2020 at 12:56 PM #86063cricketParticipant
mine do that too. i dont know if its totally avoidable or not, or if somehow we just gradually learn to either lift off easier or learn to ignore it, but seems mine hasnt bothered me so much lately…so, like so many other things, seems it just gets better with time.September 24, 2020 at 1:26 PM #86071CaroleParticipant
I have noticed that when I do that I have been pressing down on the strings so hard that they are making indentations in my fingertips. I am used to playing a big, heavy viola with those thicker strings, so that noise helps me to remember that the violin doesn’t require more than a very light touch of the fingers on the strings.
If you think this might be what is happening in your playing, try doing some exercises where you are playing notes—start with just a scale—with the very lightest touch you can possibly use to produce a sound. Any kind of sound. Do a few scales that way. Then experiment to find what is the very lightest pressure you need to use to get a good sound from each note. See if that keeps you from making those unwanted sounds. If that seems to stop those noises, begin your practice sessions by warming up with this little exercise and you will find it disappears.
I’ll be interested to hear if this was helpful for you.
CaroleSeptember 24, 2020 at 8:18 PM #86077cricketParticipant
that makes god sense, carole…being a guitarist, i know i press too hard on fiddle.September 25, 2020 at 1:11 AM #86083
Tomorrow morning I will absolutely give that test a try. Thanks, Carol. Like Cricket, I’m thoroughly a hard presser on the steel string acoustic guitar. I had indented callouses for years. Interestingly I never noticed it on the viola, perhaps because you have to play harder on it and I was not listening so carefully and I tended to play it slower than the fiddle. You’re absolutely right about all that you guys.
Okay then. A light touch is the order of the day tomorrow. I would cross my fingers for luck but it would likely skew the experiment.September 25, 2020 at 3:20 PM #86092
Yes. Helpful. Upon a cursory attempt it seems I’m not hearing the problem. I’m wondering whether my fingers get sweaty or I somehow get sticky rosin up near the nut. I use a rag that I wipe the rosin off the strings and body of the fiddle between the neck and bridge. And I have used the same rag as a pad against the velcro strap holding the neck in my violin case. And that poor cloth has gotten stiff from all the rosin on it. I’m wondering whether the rosin microscopically gets onto the strings up there by being pressed against it — summer heat and all. I definitely need a new rag whether that’s a problem or not. It can’t be good.
But even at that, I tried first thing when it was cool in the morning and I didn’t hear a sound. Maybe it happens after I’ve been playing some heating it up again. Anyway, at this report, I played lighter, and believe me, I noticed my natural way was to press hard. So I’m having to retrain myself to touch lighter. I think that will work to my advantage for any number of reasons: Speed, finesse, vibrato, slides. . .
What a great thing to be aware of. Thanks Carol!September 28, 2020 at 9:31 PM #86142John (BGD)Keymaster
Good advice, Carole.September 29, 2020 at 7:01 AM #86144Nancy ParkerParticipant
Try this. 😊 It may help.September 30, 2020 at 9:35 AM #86173
Wow. You folks are great. Thank you Nancy Parker!
For this first year of learning I was just thrilled if I could get notes to fall when they’re supposed to, and avoiding big mistakes that distracted from the tune. But this first year it’s been in broad brush strokes. I hear a song I want to play and I play what I hear and I call it success. If I’m unaware of a technique it doesn’t get included consciously. By and by I’m getting to where I can see more and this problem suddenly appeared one day recently.
I also can’t discount the idea I’ve made it harder than it needs be because of the addition of guilty hand wringing while I’m trying to play. 😀
Thanks again. I’ll be adding this exercise for sure to see how it works for me. I anticipate good things at the very least in being more aware when playing.October 3, 2020 at 7:53 PM #86224Nancy ParkerParticipant
Below is one more exercise to add to your practice regime ⬇️
Check it out!October 5, 2020 at 11:33 PM #86254
Aha! I was beginning to wonder if it was a kind of Brer Rabbit effect with the spirit in my fiddle wailing, “You’re just a sweaty beginner! Please oh please don’t play me so fast!” which of course I can’t help my excitable self when I’m really getting carried away.
This is terrific! You bet I’m going to do this regimen until it’s under control. Plus it has the additional benefit of speedy digits, which will satisfy that part of me that needs to know there’s an added perk.
Much obliged, Nancy 😀October 6, 2020 at 10:29 AM #86255jazzstudentParticipant
I am not sure we are talking about the same thing, but as a guitar player learning fiddle, this problem with getting clean, articulated notes is an on-going issue. What I have determined is that the issue lies in the coordination between the bow and the finger-action. On the guitar, precise noting requires that the finger is perfectly sync’d with the pick strike. On the fiddle, there is no consistently definable moment when the note is sounded. That means, for me, that I have to completely change my relationship to the device that sounds the note (the ‘legato’ bow, not the ‘percussive’ pick) and the finger on the string.
For me, running scales and scale patterns with short separated bow strokes has gone a long way to solving this issue, but long bow strokes still cause coordination issues. I find that it is far more important, on the fiddle, to have a clear idea of the rhythm and musical shape of the melody than it was on guitar. If I have these elements clear in my mind, I am much less likely to get errant notes, or partial notes, as I play.
October 8, 2020 at 9:54 AM #86294
- This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by jazzstudent.
Thanks, Bill, for bringing my attention to that part of the process! Catch it early and get the muscle memory locked in right. You bet. 🙂
Interesting comparison between guitar playing and fiddle. Do you think it’s more critical on the fiddle because unlike the guitar the fiddle should only make a sound when being bowed? Seems coordination between the bow and fingers might be the trick.
I do notice the guitar can hide a world of technique sins especially since sustain is often a big part of it.
Where I am now is I’m just passing the point of merely getting the notes where they belong, whether in a scale or tune, so finesse is becoming a bigger issue. And timing the bow and fingers is a big part of that. I love the fiddle, I must say. I do love melody lines and want to do them justice.October 8, 2020 at 10:42 AM #86296jazzstudentParticipant
Interesting comparison between guitar playing and fiddle. Do you think it’s more critical on the fiddle because unlike the guitar the fiddle should only make a sound when being bowed?
It might be interesting for fiddle player learning to play guitar to weigh in on this.
From my point of view, the fiddle presents a number of ‘finger coordination’ issues that don’t appear on the guitar. I play a lot of blues, and there is a blues guitar technique where you strike the note before the beat, and then hammer so that the hammered note sounds on the beat. For many guitarists, this is a very difficult skill to master. You face this kind of timing issue on the fiddle regularly.
Part of my daily practice on fiddle is to run scales and arpeggios ‘very slowly’ and try to get the timing between the bowing and the ‘finger strike’ perfectly in sync. In my mind, this is a much simpler process on guitar, mandolin and banjo.
BillOctober 11, 2020 at 2:54 AM #86342JanelParticipant
Wow, I just joined Bluegrass Daddy and checked out the forum. This is a problem that I’ve been having, and after trying some of the tips, I immediately noticed an improvement. Thanks!
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