fretting

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

fretting

Postby nctoni » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:53 pm

Y'all on Youtube and other videos look like you are hardly pressing the strings while fretting. I feel as if I must be pressing too hard because I have encountered sore hand. The joints above the index and middle fingers are quite sore and I even have a little bruise there. Can anyone tell me about fretting pressure? I am using a noter with the index finger on top mostly.
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Re: fretting

Postby kwl » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:12 pm

You do not need to press down hard on the strings. You need just enough pressure sound a clean note. Too much pressure in noter/drone playing creates extraneous noises when moving over the frets. Too much pressure also wears grooves in the frets. Are you near anyone who can show you how this done.

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Re: fretting

Postby Skip » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:32 pm

I'm not a noter player but pressure on the strings applies to any style. Start by plucking the string > place the noter on the string with no pressure then increase the pressure until you get a note. This is the minimum pressure needed to get a sound. You probably don't need but the tiniest bit more, if any, to get the sound you want without hurting.
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Re: fretting

Postby nctoni » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:22 am

Thanks you guys. There is no one that I know of that plays a dulcimer around here. Someone at the guitar shop advertises that they teach dulcimer but it's $25 for 30 minutes. Ouch! I am going to keep trying to lighten up. It could be arthritis coming in too! I want to keep it up (playing that is). Y'all just make it look so easy!
Thanks
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Re: fretting

Postby strumelia » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:55 pm

Hi there!
Folks have given great advice.
Additionally, it might help relax your left hand grip by padding your noter so your hand stays less clenched. I often call this making a 'corn dog' out of your noter (lol) and it's simple to do:
https://dulcimer-noter-drone.blogspot.com/search?q=corn+dog&max-results=20&by-date=false

I'd like to comment on the expense of live lessons-
Beginners with no teacher often have habits they are not aware of that create long term problems in their playing. I mean not only problems with physical pain while playing, but problems in technique that will hold your playing progress back ...and you may never be able to smoothly or at a normal speed. The longer they keep doing these habits, the harder is becomes to UNdo them. I cannot emphasize enough how a beginner can be completely unable to recognize some of these poor beginner playing habits that are pretty common.
That's why i recommend getting at least two live lessons if at all possible, with an experienced dulcimer player/teacher. If they are a decent music teacher they will spot these bad habits and point them out to you. This is well worth that initial expense, even if you stop the lessons after a couple times because they are hard to afford.
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Re: fretting

Postby philips » Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:15 pm

If a dulcimer has the strings too high off the fretboard, then the strings need more finger/noter pressure to press them down. Maybe you could get the guitar shop to have a quick look at the dulcimer, and if the strings need to be lowered they should be able to do that for you (it's an easy job to do).
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Re: fretting

Postby strumelia » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:36 pm

Phillips is absolutely right- do get your 'action'/string height checked too! Having someone check the 'action' for you should have been one of the first things mentioned here, to rule out its being the fault of the dulcimer's setup.
Less commonly but also happens sometimes: the action is fine but someone put extra heavy gauge strings on, resulting in very stiff tension... hard to push down and hard on the hands and fingers. The string gauge should be reasonably appropriate for the scale length and the tuning.
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Re: fretting

Postby nctoni » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:23 am

Thank you all for your replies.
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Re: fretting

Postby Grandpa Ron » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:55 am

I have a friend that plays the lead string pair with a wooded rod, sliding from note to note. I asked why and it was the way she was taught. Go figure, it works for her.
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Re: fretting

Postby KenH » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:04 pm

GrandpaRon -- that's called playing Noter & Drone style; it's almost as old of a playing style as fingerdancing on the melody string(s) and letting the other strings drone along... The Chord Melody, or 3-finger chord style is a modern invention of the 1960s and 70s.

I've been playing Noter & Drone for about 40 years and enjoy it very much. I can get certain musical "effects" that bare finger styles simply cannot do.
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Re: fretting

Postby strumelia » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:40 pm

Hey Ken- I sent you a private message... check your inbox.
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