Finger callouses and violin tone

Finger callouses and violin tone

As a long time violin player, just learning guitar, I’m finding the tips of my fingers getting hard callouses. Playing the fiddle now is strange as I can’t really feel my fingers n the strings. I’m worried this will affect my nice warm tone on the fiddle!! Anyone else notice this or have any advice?
Thanks

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

i’ve had this as well. it does feel a little odd for a while, but it shouldn’t affect your sound at all; tone in particular comes from the right hand (the bow) rather than the left, so i wouldn’t worry about that. if you play outside first position, you may need to be careful you don’t press the string down too hard (into the fingerboard) in higher positions due to not being able to feel the pressure so well.

after a while i got used to it and the sensation of not being able to feel the strings went away.

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Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

Good to hear. I was about to give it up! I do think soft fleshy finger tips make for a right tone though, but have no expertise in this area whatsoever!

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

I think there was a discussion on this fairly recently?
If you play strings, as in guitar banjo and what effa, ye get calluses on yer finger tips.
Accept them and play on.
Alex.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

Like ft said - don’t worry. I play both instruments and there are no ill effects.

Just don’t try to put a capo on.

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Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

in all the time i’ve been playing fiddle, i’ve never heard anyone (amateur or professional, folk or classical or anything else) suggest that fingertip calluses would have any effect on your tone, either positive or negative, and neither have i noticed it myself.

even so, i can’t say for sure that they have no effect at all, and i’m not even sure how you’d go about proving it one way or the other… but if there any effect then i think it must be pretty tiny in comparison to pretty much anything else: player skill, bow control, contact point, instrument, strings, rosin, bow …

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Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

Ok i guess I’m just being precious! Will carry on with guitar. However i did come across the following quote:

Carl Flesch says in “The Art of Violin Playing - Book One”:
"The violinist must take the greatest care of his finger-tips. Callouses, in consequence of the lack of a soft fat-cushion, impair the tone quality in the highest degree, and too deep indentations are often followed by nervous irritation.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

I don’t think you’re being precious. It’s quite a shock to the fingers to move from fiddle to a guitar with steel strings. I did the opposite. After playing guitar for many years I could hardly believe how comfortable it was to finger the fiddle, which more than made up for the lack of frets, and I’m able to play the fiddle for far longer at a time than guitar. I would say that if you have a choice, go for fiddle and forget the guitar. For ITM, fiddle gives you melody, which guitar won’t unless you are really gifted. And if you need accompaniment, guitar players are ten a penny.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

“. . . if you need accompaniment, guitar players are ten a penny”. Hmmm. Not the good ones, I’m thinking.

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Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

//"The violinist must take the greatest care of his finger-tips. Callouses, in consequence of the lack of a soft fat-cushion, impair the tone quality in the highest degree, and too deep indentations are often followed by nervous irritation.//

I think there’s an element of truth in that. I can remember from the days when I played guitar, when I picked up the fiddle just after a session on guitar, I’d still have the little grooves in my toughened-up fingertips, and it did have an effect on the tone.

There’s also the issue of pressing too hard on the fiddle strings too, and that does affect the tone slightly, but I doubt that it would be perceptible to a listener.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

You might try light gauge strings on the guitar. You won’t get the volume, but they also won’t tear your fingers up as much. My primary instrument is the fiddle, followed by mandolin and guitar. The only time I have a problem is when the callouses start to fray. I have less of that with the light gauge strings.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

Thank you. I will replace the strings anyway and see if that helps. I’m a teacher and want the guitar for accompanying children singing, the fiddle isn’t so great for that. Otherwise, i wouldn’t go near the guitar… Fiddle is the love of my life!!!!

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

Some have spoken about using too much finger pressure on the fiddle. I might add that it is often the case that many guitar players use too much pressure on the fretboard. Enough to properly fret the string is enough. Of course the louder and “harder” you play has some bearing on that, but enough is enough. We can learn to use the least pressure required with a little left hand technique practice. By the way it also results in faster, more accurate fingering. Too often, those rock-hard callouses are not needed at all and just get in the way. Try it, back off on the finger pressure, play slow and clean till you find our where “enough” is. Too, has your guitar been set up by a good luthier? That makes all the difference.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

I play bass guitar and cello as well as fiddle, and as a female , I hardly even have proper “fingerprints” on my left hand. (If police ever wanted to fingerprint me I’m in deep trouble!) You can get an awareness of your left hand fiddle strings by alternating between your instruments each day. A bit of one, and then a bit of the other. You will soon see that youCAN feel the fiddle strings, but all of a sudden they are much more subtle. This can be a good thing, as you begin to feel the strength and dexterity of your left hand improves. The lovely ting about the guitar is you can sing to it. Few fiddlers sing along - try it! it’s’ a great laugh.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

I think my guitar playing probably contributes to the frequency with which I wear out violin a strings, and also to the tapping sound on the fingerboard when the microphone is mounted on the fiddle… could be the calluses, but I think I’m one of those players that ross was talking about that put far too much pressure on the guitar strings, and it transfers to the other instruments.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

For callouses: staple a piece of 150 grit sand paper to a short piece of 3/4" square stock.
Sand your callouses until they blend in with the surrounding flesh. Callouses not only foil
good intonation but contribute to the premature breaking of the winding. Oh, keep it in
your case! I can’t believe no one offered this simple solution.

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Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

I have stopped playing mandolin and my fingertips have gone soft. As a result they now spread out and foul the neighbouring strings on the fiddle, making double-stopping difficult. I was considering getting a new mandolin to help my fiddling. Perhaps I should reconsider.

Re: Finger callouses and violin tone

//I will replace the strings anyway and see if that helps. I’m a teacher and want the guitar for accompanying children singing, the fiddle isn’t so great for that. Otherwise, i wouldn’t go near the guitar… Fiddle is the love of my life!!!!// Beatles, look into a different guitar. A 14-fret, dreadnought, set up with medium gauge strings is a lot rougher on the fingers than a 12-fret, 24.5" SL, grand concert, set up with lights or medium-lights. Also, some of the smaller bodied guitars (Martin O, OO, Parlor, or Taylor Big Baby/Baby) sound great, would be perfect for what you want to do and are decent on your fingers. I been playing a Taylor 810 since ’87 and although I love the sound and play ability of the guitar I’m looking for something smaller - shopping for my daughters guitar (Parlor size Eastman) has opened my eyes to smaller guitars.