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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Finger placement for chords


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Crossroads - Posted - 10/28/2008:  15:31:59


I'm a beginner and one of the problems I have is setting my fingers on the strings to create chords. For example when I play C chord and I play some of the strings open my fingers are hitting them make it sound dead. Even when I try, for some reason I still touch other strings. I would love some needed help from someone.

Crossroads Construction & Restoration

JohnGP - Posted - 10/28/2008:  15:54:48


Doug - Welcome to the hangout. Beginning banjo players hit one of two problems, young people who have done little manual work will find the strings difficult to press while older folks with miscular hands will have your problem. I have two beginner students at the moment, both gentlemen in their sixties and they have both suffered the same problem as you. The one who has been playing the longest has got a helluva lot bettter over the last three months.

I bet you can guess what the answer is. Got it in one! Practice. Dont forget that you can allow the 2nd & 3rd fingers to overlap the edges of the fretboard a lot when playing a C. Practice.


A good friend who is a fine guitarist has worked as a carpenter for many years, he has fingers like tree trunks but practice and good technique mean that he plays cleanly.

Did I mention practice?

Enjoy the ride.

John
Actually - it does get better if you pick it.

Crossroads - Posted - 10/28/2008:  16:06:55


John,

I really appreciate your time and advice. I wil certainly continue to practice my chords, and yes I have those tree trunk fat fingers. LOL. I see you are with a Lama/alpaca. We have horses. Still too much money to keep up, but I love them. LOL.

Thanks & God Bless,
Doug

bigkrazypicker

Joe Larson - Posted - 10/28/2008:  16:45:52


Doug. Make sure you're posture and left hand position is correct. You should have a strap so that your banjo can be on your lap without the neck rotating towards the floor. This will free the left hand from having to hold the neck up. The neck should be more or less close to a 45 degree angle, and the banjo should be close to vertical leaning back only slightly. If it leans back too far you'll have difficulty making chords. Don't palm the neck, there should be space between your palm and the neck with your thumb close to the center of the back of the neck and your fingers should be nearly perpendicular to the fret board.

Hope this helps

j

I''d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.


Edited by - Joe Larson on 10/28/2008 16:48:15

Crossroads - Posted - 10/28/2008:  17:00:57


Joe,

I appreciate any advice I can get, and what you have said certainly makes sense. I do have a strap on, but I think it may need adjusting after hearing what you said. My left hand does tend to have tension on it holding up the neck. I also palm the neck, which I now know is wrong. Everything you have said not to do I am doing. I would like to thank you also, for the direction.

Thanks & God Bless
Doug

bigkrazypicker

pernicketylad - Posted - 10/28/2008:  17:54:48


I have a friend in his late fifties with the same problem.
Practice is definitely the answer and when you do start hitting clean chords the rewards are enormous....it'll inspire you to keep going at it.
I notice with my friend that it's only important that his big fingers don't get in the way of the strings that matter..the ones that have to be sounded cleanly.For example, if playing a D7 chord in G tuning where you are fretting the 2nd string at the first fret with your index finger and the 3rd string at the second fret with your middle finger, it doesn't matter if your index finger makes contact with the third string.......it will have no effect as it's being fretted at the second fret anyway(so all you have to worry about is not hitting the 1st string.I hope this makes sense.What I'm saying really is that you may have to find your own improvised way of fretting chords.
It definitely can be done as I've seen great fat-fingered mandolin players alot more dexterous than me and I've got weak, skinny fingers.If you've got chubby fingers they're probably strong and this is an advantage in some ways.
All the best.

There are three types of people in the world.....those who can count and those who can''t!

"King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O
Ki-Mo-Ke-Mo-Ki-Mo-Ke, Way down yonder in the hollow tree....."


Edited by - pernicketylad on 10/28/2008 17:56:50

Pjotor - Posted - 10/29/2008:  00:44:55


I had the same problem in the early beginning. The culprit was I didn't fret with the fingers at a right angle to the fretboard.

I solved the problem by arching my left wrist a bit more.

1four5 - Posted - 10/29/2008:  02:25:05


Your banjo can also aggrivate the situation. Some banjos just plain have gawdawfully narrow necks. When I went from a Rogue (borrowed from a friend) to a Gold Tone CC (my first banjo), the difference may not have seemed much on paper, but that little extra neck width seemed like miles, and my fingers could breathe and playing became much less frustrating.

Dean

Texasbanjo - Posted - 10/29/2008:  05:55:15


You might also try using the TIPS of your fingers to fret the strings. If you're trying to use the fleshy part of the fingers, that will also cause problems.

To elaborate on what Joe said: put the flreshy part of your thumb on the back of the banjo neck then arch your wrist over the fretboard (limp wrist arch). The fingers should be in about the correct position for a closed chord or whatever chord you want to make. Also, when making a chord, be sure the fingers are as close to the fret as possible without touching it. If your fingers are in between frets, it's much harder to make a clean, cleaer chord.

I've got a student who had about the same problem you do, except she has very small hands/fingers. i worked with her for about 30 minutes one day and now she's making almost perfect C and D7 chords, so it can be done.

Practice, practice, practice on what you've been told here and I'll bet in a few weeks the problem will resolve itself.

Let''s Pick!
Texas Banjo

steve davis - Posted - 10/29/2008:  05:57:10


Practice just holding a chord position and adjusting the position of your fretting fingers until the notes get clearer when you pick them.When you hear a dud note,try and identify where the unwanted contact is and adjust accordingly.
It should improve over time.

concerning gardens...weed ''em and reap

Joe Larson - Posted - 10/29/2008:  06:26:25


Dean just stated my pet peeve with most starter banjos. It sometimes seems that the reason they're so cheap is they save money on neck wood. I'm amazed some of my students ever learn to play some of these things, they bring them in and I can hardly chord them. On some models it's not the neck but the string spacing at the nut. You can have a new one cut at most any guitar repair shop.

j

I''d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

steve davis - Posted - 10/29/2008:  06:41:01


The Silvertone I learned on has a very narrow neck,but I learned to make clear sounding chords on it.When you can make good sounding chords on a narrow neck,you can make good chords on anything.

concerning gardens...weed ''em and reap

AZJerry - Posted - 10/29/2008:  09:04:03


Had the same problem a long time ago. Teacher kept telling me "drop your wrist". Finally it dawned on me that dropping my wrist arched my hand and then my fingertips could fret the strings without hitting the other strings. Practice, practice, practice!

AZJerry

Crossroads - Posted - 10/30/2008:  18:44:28


So far the consensus I've gathered is I should continue to practice my posture and hand placement. More than likely my high dollar Hondo II banjo may have a narrow neck. If this is the case I think I can still accomplish my proper chords, but it will be more difficult. Hopefully I can become good enough to justifuy a more expensive banjo later. I sincerly appreciate everyone's response. It has certainly sent me into the right direction and I'm always willing to listen and learn from someone who has been there.

Thanks & God Bless,
Doug

bigkrazypicker

roddymurdo - Posted - 11/07/2008:  10:03:19


I'm finding all the above discussion very helpful as I'm just starting out on the bluegrass banjo. I can make a D7 chord clearly so far but when I try to make a C chord, I'm still hitting other strings and it's very frustrating. The neck of the banjo, a "thomson" is only 3.2 centimetres wide at the first fret. Is this very narrow? I'll definately persevere though and hope that with plenty of practice it will get easier! When the going gets tough....

JohnGP - Posted - 11/07/2008:  10:23:04


quote:
Originally posted by roddymurdo

I'm finding all the above discussion very helpful as I'm just starting out on the bluegrass banjo. I can make a D7 chord clearly so far but when I try to make a C chord, I'm still hitting other strings and it's very frustrating. The neck of the banjo, a "thomson" is only 3.2 centimetres wide at the first fret. Is this very narrow? I'll definately persevere though and hope that with plenty of practice it will get easier! When the going gets tough....




That's the same as my Goldtone give or take a mm, pretty much average I would have said.

John
Actually - it does get better if you pick it.

ifish - Posted - 11/07/2008:  10:32:40


One thing that I would add is the amount of pressure you are putting on your fingers. When you press too hard, your finger really spreads. You don't need a lot of pressure for fretting.


Edited by - ifish on 11/07/2008 10:35:33



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