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Thread: OM fingering

  1. #1
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    Default OM fingering

    I recently built a 22" scale guitar bodied OM, and am having a great time playing with it. I am finding however that the scale length is comfortable playing 1 fret per finger on tunes, but since many tunes go above A on the E string i find I am having to be creative on how to play them, basically switching to mandolin fingering for the E string. How do others deal with this? Forcing mandolin fingering on the other strings, while doable does not come out as clean.
    Thanks a lot
    Bob Schmidt

  2. #2
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM fingering

    My octave is just under 21" (530mm) and also one of my own builds. As you say, many tunes can be played with mandolin fingering, depending on the size and flexibility of your hand, but for those higher notes I shift my right hand up the neck from open position (1st finger plays at 1st fret, etc) into closed positions (as I do on guitar) and play across the strings in scale patterns. The tuning in 5ths makes this an easier exercise to do than it is on guitar as the patterns are repeatable across the strings. Closed position playing has the advantage that once you are comfortable with it you can then play a tune in different keys just by moving the patterns you have learned. You do then lose the open ringing strings that the octave loves, especially as drones.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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  4. #3

    Default Re: OM fingering

    When I started playing full fifths at a 25.5" scale length, I spent a *lot* of time mastering the exercises from "Getting into Jazz Mandolin" as written, visualizing the slow shift as "rolling" across the anchored-thumb pivot point.

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: OM fingering

    I had not heard of that book. I just found it on line and ordered it. Thanks.
    Thanks a lot
    Bob Schmidt

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    Default Re: OM fingering

    Mine is a short scale bouzouki which comes in at 660mm (just under 26"), and there's no way I could use mandolin fingering.

    It's index @1st/2nd fret, middle @3rd, ring @4th, pinky at 5th, move hand for 7th

  8. #6
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM fingering

    I play a 22" scale Weber OM, almost exclusively Irish and Scottish trad melody. I use mandolin fingering, which is a stretch, but I'm 6'2" tall with proportionate hand size so it's not too uncomfortable.

    The way I handle the high B note in a trad fiddle tune is with a quick hand shift up the neck to hit it with my pinky and then quickly back down. That's about the only time I'm out of first position and mandolin fingering, since almost everything except the occasional O'Carolan tune can be played in first position.

    One other thing that makes mandolin fingering on this scale length viable, is that I play mostly the slower tunes in my repertoire on the OM. I leave the fast stuff like dance tunes for mandolin or flute; instruments that are more nimble and speak more quickly than the slower response of the OM.

    Where the 22" scale OM excels is in long note sustain, and I can milk that sustain on the slower marches, metered airs, and "slow reels." If I wanted to play the fast tempo tunes on an OM, I think I'd prefer a 20" scale.

  9. #7
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    Default Re: OM fingering

    22" octaves but I also have 24.5 mandocello, I try not to use the pinky on the first 5 frets but sometimes it just wants to go there

    example C chord

    G -5 Pinky
    D- 2 index
    A- 3 middle
    E -0

    can't make the stretch with the ring finger in the G-5

    landing the pinky on the 5th fret with solid tone is challenging to say the least.

    I use my pinky on the mandolin on the E string a lot ( I know not classically proper) a habit from my guitar playing days, so I do it on the octave as well.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  10. #8
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    Default Re: OM fingering

    I picked up that book and it has some good stuff in it. I have been working with it on the mandolin. Both of my octaves are unstrung and taped up now waiting for some decent weather to spray the lacquer. I did try mandolin fingering on them but it will take some work since I am used to using my pinky on the 5th fret on my zouk.
    I will keep at it when I get them back in service.
    Thanks a lot
    Bob Schmidt

  11. #9

    Default Re: OM fingering

    Certainly wouldn't suggest my practice is a model for everybody, but on tenor banjo (similar scale length) I find that I use mandolin fingering unless:
    - The tune requires notes on first fret (e.g. tunes in Gm or Dm)
    - The tune requires not just a high B on the E string, but requires quick sequences of G, A, B

    For these special cases, I tend to I use the little finger for the highest fret reqd, the first finger for the lowest fret reqd, and the other fingers according to comfort. I say "tend to" because I generally find as I settle into playing a tune the fingering just happens and may not follow this model on every tune. There are a few tunes, of course, where the fingering doesn't just happen, it has to be worked out (off the top of my head, The Golden Eagle, The Moving Cloud).

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