Why is my pizzicato dull?

April 29, 2018, 6:47 PM · It seems like my pizzacato sounds dull. Are my strings to low? Do I need to raise the bridge a bit? They appear to low...but not sure since I am a complete newbie.


Replies (10)

Edited: April 29, 2018, 6:54 PM · Are you anchoring your right hand when you pluck the string? Where on the string are you plucking?

I'm often surprised by how many violinists and violists I've met who don't know this: you should have your right thumb on the edge of the fingerboard, at or near the corner, to anchor your hand. And you should pluck the string not where you bow but over the fingerboard.

April 29, 2018, 7:17 PM · Andrew I will try those tips you shared...thank you!
April 29, 2018, 7:44 PM · Pizzicato can be played anchored or not anchored, and there is an appropriate time for each type.

I agree with the advice to pluck over the fingerboard instead of where one bows.

April 29, 2018, 7:55 PM · Make sure your left-hand fingers cleanly stop the string. You may hold down the string more firmly than you would normally. And vibrate the note after you pluck.

Edited: April 29, 2018, 8:23 PM · If he is a "total newbie" then vibrato might not yet be in his tool box.

If you are playing mostly in first position then you can try plucking over the fingerboard about 3/4 inch from the end. Make sure you are not pulling *up* on the string.

There's lots of things to experiment with pizzicato. Once I was playing in an orchestra and it was pianissimo so I wanted a really clean pizzicato. But the place where I wanted to pluck had some rosin dust and it makes the pluck very scratchy. I moistened my finger just a tiny bit by touching it to my tongue and that helped a lot. Not really recommending this as a standard practice, but it's just an example of what you can accomplish by experimentation.

April 30, 2018, 6:48 AM · Thank you all for the help. What triggered this issue was that I purchased a fingerboard guide the runs all the way up to the nut, under the strings. When I installed it the guide was flat and secure, but made a affect when played....made everything sound dull after the installation. Now I am just considering getting some fingerboard tape instead.

Then I was also practicing pizzicato and had almost the same kind of sound. But after anchoring my hand it does sound quite a bit better.

April 30, 2018, 10:23 AM · One problem that inexperienced string sections have is doing pizz. very soft and accurate. There are frequent accidents. What I do when I see pizz. & pp is pick up some rosin on my first finger, push straight down on the string to the fingerboard, then lift straight up at the proper time. Some classical guitar lessons will develop pizzicato technique very rapidly. Occasionally we see 4-note pizz. chords marked "alla guitarra" I have been known to use a guitar pick.
Edited: April 30, 2018, 10:38 AM · OMG get rid of that fingerboard guide! Sure, a few tapes if you feel you need them, but I would ask a teacher to help you position them and you should set a goal of having them off in a few months. Do the pieces in Suzuki Book 1 and that will help you learn where your fingers are supposed to go. Really, it will. You know what those simple tunes should sound like, and just don't let yourself get away with playing out of tune. That's really how all of us learned. Maybe with different pieces but I don't know anyone who says tapes really helped them that much in the end. (On the other hand I don't see the harm either, except that it kind of teaches you to find things visually, which is really not how you want to be doing it. You want to go by feel and sound.) If you want to help yourself with a visual cue, play in a full-length mirror and make sure you're drawing your bow straight and keeping your hands in the right places.
April 30, 2018, 12:09 PM · Thanks Paul and Joel....Great advice!
April 30, 2018, 1:50 PM · My advice is to experiment more. Experimentation, and the willingness to do it, is the root of almost all progress, particularly for someone who is who self-taught.

You MUST be willing to try and try and try before asking (unless you have a teacher, of course).

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