Why are fiddlers happy people? … Because they are fretless!
Ok – Not the funniest joke in the world. It would fly right over a non-player’s head, but I’m sure you get it.
It’s been a few days since I removed my Don’t Fret from my fiddle and become fretless. The first day I felt pretty confident and rather pleased with my intonation without the use of this visual aide. I wasn’t perfect, but when I missed a note, I was able to guide my finger a bit up or down and hit the right note. Luckily, I have a good ear for pitch.
I missed my practice on Tuesday, and when I picked up my fiddle for practice on Wednesday, things did not go so well in the beginning. All of a sudden I wondered if I had done the right thing removing the Don’t Fret. However, after I relaxed a bit, my fingering and intonation improved.
The song I am currently working on requires the use of my 4th finger, and this is rather new to me. Try as I might, I could not quite get it right. The pitch was way off. Even looking at the finger board I could not visualize where my pinky should go, or what it should look like in relation to my third finger. I decided that it might help to put just a piece of tape at the fourth finger position.
I began looking around the house, and while I found all kinds of tape, there were none I wanted to risk sticking onto my finger board. I figured painter’s tape might do the trick, but I had none. I decided to check the internet and see what types of tape can be used without leaving a gooey or hard-to-remove residue on the finger board. After reading a few articles, I found graphic chart tape mentioned a few times, so I looked it up.
I decided on a product that received 96% five star reviews for ease of placement and removal, but most importantly for not leaving any type of permanent mark on the finger board. I ordered these tapes and had them within 24 hours…fast!
The next thing I did was look up the measurements for placing tapes. I found a very good article and accompanying video on StringClub called Learn How To Put Fingerboard Tapes On Your Violin. You can read the article, complete with illustrations, by clicking the link above. Here’s the video.
I followed Todd’s instructions meticulously. I even made a template on a piece of card stock that I could hold against my finger board eliminating any chance of scratching it with a ruler. I placed the template on my finger board up against the nut, made a mark with a pencil at 4 and 1/8 inches, and placed a piece of tape over the mark. Easy peasy!
Armed with my 4th finger helper, I began playing. When I got to that 4th finger on the E string, and what should have been a B, a strange, unrecognizable note emitted from my fiddle. I tried again, same awful note. I double checked my template measurements. They looked correct. I wondered what was wrong when it dawned on me that I had placed the template on my finger board backwards! So, I I held the template against the nut, this time in the correct position, and relocated the tape. Quite a difference! With the help of that tape I was able to hit the B with my pinky.
I guess I will leave that tape on until I can hit that fourth position on a regular basis. I am happy now, but I am still not fretless, except for that one tape.