Would adding frets to a violin make learning faster? posted by Desiree D'amico
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|I've played guitar for almost 6 years now, self taught. A few of my friends are starting a new indie experimental band and need a violinist (guitar slots filled up fast!) I'm dying to be in a band again, but the only hitch? I don't know how to play the violin. At all.
The thing i've heard that is the most difficult is finger placement. it's easy on guitar because there are frets. well i found this fretted decal online. (http://www.frettedfiddle.com).
My question is, would these frets really work in helping me apply what i know from guitar to the violin? I'm not looking to learn the "proper" way, i just want to be able to add some sound to the band.
any input would be greatly appreciated!
I don't see where the problem can be: frets are often added with simple colored tape on the violin fingerboard to teach children.
I would say: go for them and enjoy your violin as soon as possible!
you need a teascher to teach you the details as the violin is the most difficult instrument to start with and you need long time to fix your hand in the correct position.
the violin board has to be clean
I played guitar for years and then started to play the cello and later violin. Playing without frets was difficult at first - I realized that with a string instrument the frets have to be in your head. Later I started to teach, mainly late starter string players - most of them had not played an instrument before and some of them had no musical concept of the semi-tone division of the fingerboard. So there were two problems here (actually more) - their intonation (tuning) was awful, their geography (knowledge of where the notes are) was dreadful. Also. because of the way the violin is held (under the chin). the left hand was, most of the time, stressed, in a state of tension.
As a late starter you need to take a completely different approach to learning. Teaching also - a teacher cannot just regurgitate what their teacher told them when they were learning as a child and expect a late starter to copy what they do like a child would. A late starter (as a broad bench mark - someone who is not a kid) has lost much of their ability to parrot and needs to rely on 1. spacial awareness, 2, intellect.
Most purist would kill me for what I am going to say now - putting frets on a violin (I will tell you how to do this cheaply later) gives the student a. a concept of the semi-tone division of the fingerboard - the geography is memorized quickly. b. a concept of good tuning.
If you buy a cheap violin and ask a violin maker (luthier) to fret it like a viola de gamba ie using gut or nylon it will not be expensive. The violins I have seen that are fretted have been electric and quite expensive.
Later, when you have got used to the geography and tuning you can take them off. There will be a period of readjustment because the fingers play on the fret position rather than behind it.
Another tip - rather than playing the violin under you chin - play it on your knee - like a small cello or small viola de gamba - upright rather horizontal - this is how I play it. If you have played guitar for a long time this position will be much more natural to your left hand and you can achieve a good sound quicker.
The bow is completely alien to a guitar player and needs alot of attention. Playing in this way (upright) it is best to learn a baroque cello bow hold. This seem to work best for me. It is different to a violin bow hold - the fingers are more at right angles to the bow rather that angled as with a violin bow hold.
Another small problem - the violin is tuned in 5ths and not 4ths (and one third). Don't try to tune the violin in 4ths - the string tension will be all over the place. Tune it as it is meant to be tuned and deal with the geography - it won't take long
I would encourage you to take the frets off later (like taking off the stableizer (cant spell it) wheels off your kids bike) - the beautiful sound of a violin is, in part, due to its fretless nature.
Hope this is helpful
If you want to check out my website jameshesford dot com - you can hear the violin played as I have described above.
Kind regards and good luck
On August 26, 2009 Desiree D'amico wrote:
as a violin teacher in popular music I can tell you that it really makes sence for unskilled players to learn violin with frets. Coincidantely a friend of mine who lives in France is a violin builder who develloped violins with frets and builds them as well. If you are intersted, see his page: http://www.violin-neolin.com/?language=en&id=1
I tried his "Neolin" myself and found it perfect for people like you, who want to have a quick access to the instrument!
All the best,
All that I can say is WOW!!!
AWESOME INPUT!!! Thank you all so much!
I got a few posts from people on a yahoo answers site telling me that my experience with guitar would not help me at all, and some even said DON'T BOTHER TRYING TO LEARN!!!
Thanks so much for your sound and detailed advise! I was really discouraged... but now I am determined that my ear for tone can help me learn this instrument, and that fretting would be a good idea. Although I'm certain it will take much practice... I'm very ready! Thanks again!!!
|Dear Desiree, you are most than welcome!
Enjoy your violin!
I am a violin/viola teacher. I use the sticky paper that comes in between postage stamps because they are the right size. Or, the sticky ends of bumper stickers. You don't want bandaids because they slip out of place. Anyway, I can them fake frets.
The most important thing is to have them in the correct place. A violin teacher/good violinist should put them on for you because if they are in the wrong place, it will be out of tune and more importantly, you wil train your fingers to be in the wrong place. Try not to use them for more than 6-9 months. Train you finger muscles to know where to go as soon as possible. Hope this helps.
I am a bassist & occasionally tried some other instruments like Sarod, Violin, Upright bass etc. I have tried some customization on my cello as I've installed frets as I am comfortable playing vibrato technique on frets rather than detache bowing. Basically intonation crisis or tonal geography on fretless instruments can be overcome by practice & paying attention & time but you know, playing comfort is a different thing. As a bassist or a guitarist (that I have been playing for 23 years) I am using certain techniques & moves with which I am really comfortable & I am eager to get that comfort on trying any instrument that I get & I don't want to be frustrated after trying. Yes, those frets helped me. I have tuned my strings as G,D,A,E instead of A,D,G,C usual cello tune as I am a Bassist & I am comfortable moving on that tune & geography. Well, D remains same, so no problem with that. A drops down to G, G goes 2 notes higher & the challenging part is C goes E. Now, no forum could solve my problem when I asked. I thought the string tension will be so high that the string won't last or the fingerboard might develop torsion as it has no truss rod inside. So, I tried a jazz guitar flat wound D string & tuned into E. Trust me, it sounds horrible while bowing on it. So, I tuned the C string up to D, waited for a couple of days, tuned 1 note higher, waited again then its E now. It is smooth, creating no problem at all! Planning to buy 1 set Presto black nylon wound string, I hope the result will go even better. The only thing that you should care is the tune goes up & down for the respective strings & you should vary you pressure on bow accordingly. Well, it's a matter of practice. You may try it as well. You may watch the video of my playing on my customized cello on a casual jam with a violin, acoustic guitar & a fretless bass. You may search youtube with the track title - Blindfold Birds' Ballad on the youtube channel - ShironamhinTV . Here is the link. Some more jammimg videos & demonstration on customizing coming up. Please subscribe & leave your feedback if it helps.
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