crushing A/D strings… need advice

crushing A/D strings… need advice

Could someone recommend some habit forming exercises that will reduce the amount of strangulation I seem to be applying to my strings.
I seem to really try (not conciously tho’) to drive the A and D through the fingerboard, resulting in crushed string windings, which then, out of spite, shreds my fingertip if I dare perform a slide in the damaged area.

… or should I go for a drive, and snip off some fencing wire from somewhere.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

You haven’t mentioned what your thumb is doing when strangulating the fiddle-neck, but try playing without your thumb, ie., holding it away from the neck. This will definitely prevent squeezing.

Might be hell for a while, but the added bonus is, will give the rest of your fingers the workout they might be depending on the thumb for.

Cheers,

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

Do you use Dominants by any chance? Dominants are well known for unwinding very quickly, the A string in particular. If so, it might help to try a different brand of strings, I stick with the dominants despite this problem, but maybe others here will be able to offer advice on alternatives (if this is indeed the source of the problem).

Beir bua.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

did use dominants, then went to pirastro(sp?).

the prob is I tend to tense the hand greatly.. probably has something to do with my day job — work in mantenance in heavy industry, and if you don’t have a good grip on something, it can hurt if it misses the steel cap on the boots.

Will give thumbless a go. Sounds like a reasonable method to overcome this problem.

Cheers.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

experiment with finger pressure - to find out how little is needed to hold the string against the fingerboard. start with insufficient and rest the finger tip on the top of the string so you get a wild wizzy sound. then increase the pressure till you get a note. NB you’ll probably find you’re bowing goes weak and weedy when you go really light with your fingers, so make sure you bow really strongly throughout, or you’ll not hear the difference when you increase the finger pressure to sufficient. then go to excessive pressure and you’ll probably find that was the pressure you were applying. It’s good to feel that so you can compare it.

Also keep your nails short.

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Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

I was advised to imagine I’m holding a tiny mouse in my left hand that mustn’t be crushed.

I also do some slow playing - scales or whatever - with long strokes where I let the finger pressure off until I can *just* feel the string vibrations under the left fingertips. That helps ingrain the habit of a relaxed left hand, though having played guitar for many years before coming to fiddle, death grip was thankfully one issue I didn’t have. (Plenty other issues in its place, though!)

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Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

Hey philmoz:

Another good exercise to loosen up your left-hand:

Play through a tune you’re comfortable with at about 50-75% of the speed you normally would play it at.

Focus on relaxing your bow hand - and try to play with as little pressure as possilbe (almost pretending that the bow isn’t there).

I changed a bunch of things around last summer in terms of posture and how I hold my fiddle and bow - I started getting frequent numbness in the bottom three fingers on my left hand.

That went on for months until I started focusing on relaxing my hands. I quickly realized that the changes I made in my bow grip had much to do with the new tenseness. I was strangling my bow with my right hand.

Once I learned to relax there, the numbness stayed away. If I start getting numbness now, I immediately relax everything, and it stops.

The added bonus is that everything starts going *really* good with the fiddling when I’m physically so relaxed that I hardly feel the instrument in my hands. I feel much more on top of my tune, and in complete control of what’s happening with both hands.

All that said, I’ve found that the ‘fraying frequency’ seems to have more to do with the manufacture/make of the strings, and less to do with how much I play or how hard I hammer down on my strings. I would go through one A string a month due to fraying when I was playing on D’Addario Zyex core strings. Helicore and Pirastro seem to be holding up nicely.

Cheers.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

For the sake of clarity in the exercise:
bow hand = right hand.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

I always strangled the neck/fingerboard on my fiddle until my instructor took out a place a cork (from a wine bottle) in between my thumb and fore finger and play. This method will help you from "strangling" your fiddle while you are playing. Try playing easy tunes do get use to the feeling. I still use this method when I’m working on something really difficult which my hand automatically wants to grip the neck. The more familiar I am with the piece, the more relaxed my fingers are.

Re: crushing A/D strings… need advice

It might help to rub a very little fine talc into your fingertips, being careful to blow off any surplus. This should make for a very smooth contact between finger and string.
Another thing is to move your (left) thumb around a lot as you play.