View Full Version : silly  question about fretting (from a beginner)

Mar-03-2006, 4:45pm
Hi All,

This may seem like a stupid question, but here goes...
When fretting the D & G strings (& to a lesser extent the A) around the 2nd to 6th frets: if i fret the string such that it touches the fretoard (like I would playing the guitar) the note pitches out of tune (like it dosent on a guitar)
So - either (a) I'm a ham-fisted bugger and need to apply less pressure, or (b) there is something wrong with my mando. Someone sudgested I put heavier strings on, is this a good idea, or should I just learn to play properly?

In hope...


Jim Broyles
Mar-03-2006, 4:50pm
Do you mean when you press lightly, the note is in tune, but when you squeeze harder it goes out, or that it's out of tune all the time? Because in that case, your intonation is probably out of whack and you have to move the bridge to get it set up right.

Mar-03-2006, 4:58pm
Hi Jim,

Exactly right "when I press lightly, the note is in tune, but when I squeeze harder it goes out.
I've tried setting the intonation by ear and rekon it's pretty close - Waiting for my new tuner to set it up properly (old one just died), but I'm fairly sure that the intonation is not the problem...

Mar-03-2006, 5:02pm
You're not supposed to make it touch the fretboard, in either instrument. Just touching the fret is enough. You'll notice it more in the mandolin because of the shorter scale.

Jim Broyles
Mar-03-2006, 5:02pm
Well, it's hard for me to clamp down so hard on my mandolin that I sharpen the notes, but I can do it on my guitars. I guess I'd just say, lighten up your grip a little. Your fingers will probably feel better too. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Mar-03-2006, 5:13pm
ok.. so the answer was A
Thought that would probably be it.
My hand aches less already! :-)
(must be the bass player in me)
So regarding the heavier geague strings, what are the advantages / disadvantages?
I have 11->38's on there at the moment.


Jim Broyles
Mar-03-2006, 5:23pm
Depends on your instrument and what you want to do with it, but you will probably get better tone out of heavier strings. The J74's are 11-40 and sound terrific for bluegrass on my Eastman.

Mar-03-2006, 5:34pm
Thanks Jim!
What I want to do with it is make some music (that dosen't make my wife wince) - so now i'll go practice...
Al. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-06-2006, 3:18pm
You're not supposed to make it touch the fretboard, in either instrument. Just touching the fret is enough.
Let me just say thanks to whoever started this thread and a big thank you to everyone who responded! I have been pushing down until it touches the fretboard. But after reading this post and just letting it touch the fret, my sound is so much better and my fingers are thanking me!

I do have another question however. The finger I am fretting with seems to touch the strings bellow it. Causing those strings to be muted if I pick them while fretting the strings above. It doesn’t happen all the time, but enough to be a pain! Will this stop as my fingers become stronger and can stretch more? Or am I just doing something wrong?

Mar-07-2006, 3:33pm
It may be thet your wrist is in the wrong position i.e. rotated too far so that the fleshy 'pads' of your fingers keep damping the strings. If your thumb is too far round the neck (i.e warpped around the top edge of the neck) then try rotating it such that your thumb no longer curls round the top. Your finger tips will then become more like they are @ 90 Deg. to the fretboard... does that help?

Martin Jonas
Mar-12-2006, 2:44pm
Also make sure that you fret with the tips of the fingers, not the pads, and that the last finger joint points perpendicular down towards the fretboard. Having said this, you may not always be able to completely avoid touching other strings, so it's well worth thinking about which strings need to ring clearly and for which it doesn't matter. When playing single-line melody, you needn't worry too much anyway, as you're only playing one string at a time. When playing chords or double stops, keep your fingers away from adjacent strings that are fretted at a lower fret and push them towards the strings fretted higher. So, when playing an open G chord, the first finger fretting the B shouldn't touch the open D-string which needs to ring, but can touch the E-string, which is fretted at the G.