Just read this article:
It's about how Stradivari made a shorter, lighter fingerboard and that it made a difference to the sound. Then, in the 19th century, somebody had an idea that violins should have longer, heavier fingerboards.
My question is, why is the fingerboard that long? I know some will say that virtuosic violin technique led to playing higher, but does anybody actually press all the way down to the fingerboard that high up? You can just touch the string if you are high up on the E string and it sounds. All the extra fingerboard does is encourage you to push too hard!
Nagyvary’s research is dubious. He has published several papers over the years claiming that he has unlocked stradivari’s secret. The thing is, he is also trying to sell instruments using his magical methods.
That aside, my question is: why do we need the extra length on the fingerboard if we can stop the note without pushing all the way down. Who of you are using that part and actually pushing all the way to the wood?
I do touch the fingerboard when stopping the note. I do not press hard, but there is contact. I find it helps with clarity of the note.
I suppose we should forgo electricity as well. Strad had none in his shop; obviously it makes a major contribution to the quality of the instruments he produced. I'll be all those microwaves cook the wood, reducing its the quantum integrity of its microfibres and impeding its resonance.
Well let me put it another way. I did have a violin with a short fingerboard for a while. It was about an inch shorter than normal for some reason. It didn't stop me from playing up that high. Not that you really do much. Let's face it, it's largely for comic effect up there!
Some film music and pop songs (at least before synthesizers took over) use the higher registers pretty extensively.
I mean like high A on the E string right at the top of the fingerboard or higher .End of the fingerboard is like ten leger lines I believe. Who has seen that in a score lately? My point though is that you don't need to press all the way down at that height. I'll repeat it again. My point here is that you don't need full pressure high up on the E string. Would anybody disagree? If so, I suggest you try it right now and play with no pressure high up - even past the fingerboard. Even try it lower down. You don't need that much pressure.
Is it just a coincidence that the bridge is the same distance from the corner of the C bout as the finger board is from the other corner of the C bout, and the end of the F hole is in the middle..? This is also true with viola and cello. And, pressing all the way down is not needed anywhere on the finger board.
I'll have to disagree with the above - try playing at the end of the fingerboard on the G and D strings. In order to properly be able to vibrate and maintain pitch, you need to touch the fingerboard. Maybe not press the string down tightly against it, but my fingertip does touch. Without the board the pitch is too unstable with the low tension. This is why the longer fingerboard was popularized during the time of Paganini. High g string playing is common, not comic, in orchestral music like Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, etc. Edited to also note that with lower tension gut e strings, the e might need the fingerboard's help more than with modern steel strings. This I'm not sure about.
The first time I was tasked with converting a modern violin to baroque I had questions regarding the proper length of the fingerboard. I called a friend who specializes in baroque and early instruments and asked how long the board should be. His reply :"What is the highest note in the repertoire that the player intends to play."
There are plenty of pieces that use that high a register. The fingerboard is useful, even if you do not need to fully press down the string. Remember that even at lower positions, fully pressing down the string is not always necessary, and some violin setups and high tension strings require you play a bit "over the string". The fingerboard still is essential, regardless.
Cellists practice scales that go out past the fingerboard, well before they reach the equivalent of the Bruch Level. My sense is that it feels weird to them, like walking on a glass bridge, Until they get used to it, even though the strings are pushed only part-way down long before they reach the end of the fingerboard.
I would not think that we'd miss an inch of fingerboard. Ok John, I tried playing up at the very top on the G string (I was mainly talking about higher strings but fair enough). My conclusion is that you can avoid touching the fingerboard on the higher strings but less and less so as the strings get thicker. In first position on the G string I find I'm just about touching the fingerboard but with some relaxation. Maybe a hair off the string but skin touching either side. On another instrument with higher action It's just about possible to sound without touching on wood. Higher up allows a certain break point but I would agree you are more likely to put your fingers all the way down on most of the G string. The very, very top end though - it's not pretty! Special effects territory perhaps. Please tell me what composers have written for playing right at the end of the fb on the G string - I need to have words!!!
It’s easy for folks to say “they got it right” in 18th century Cremona but think about how much even those instruments were altered over the years and still sound great today:
I do not think newer strings are a true "alteration"-just a modern trend. All those altered old violins can be played with gut strings just as well.
I agree it doesn't matter much and if it doesn't interest you then feel free to move on.
It's not necessary to have the string contact the fingerboard in the higher positions because the finger is what is stopping the string at that point, and not the fingerboard. Especially on the E string, pushing it down that hard near the end of the fingerboard just makes it horrendously out of tune.
Christopher, I think the only way for you to find out is to spend some money and have your luthier replace your current finger board with a shorter one and see what effect it has on the tone of your instrument, and whether it impedes or facilitates your playing. Or if you have two violins which are fairly similar in tone, have the shorter fingerboard installed on one of the instruments and then try playing (and recording with a good quality mic) the same passage on both instruments and see what you think about the result.
I've been trying to get some vibrato above top E without pressing down on the wood - huh..?
Despite making some of my fingerboards a little longer than "standard", I have never had anyone complain about one being too long.
I'm gauging the distance between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge while playing. If I want a softer sound, I'm playing closer to the fingerboard. I suppose I could the same with a shorter fingerboard but it would take some time to get used to.
Raymond, are you determining placement of the bow visually? If so, are you also determining placement of the left hand fingers visually?
Those are good questions. When practicing I think I am using the bridge and the fingerboard in determining placement (sound-point)and perhaps angle of the bow relative to the bridge. I've been taught that a slight angle (instead of being absolutely parallel to the bridge) is helpful in producing a larger sound (Does that have to with how strings are wound?). I look at my left hand when trying to figure out fingering (e.g. whether I want to do an extension or a shift). I only do this when not reading music (e.g. playing a scale from memory)
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