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Thread: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

  1. #1
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    Smile OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Hi,

    I don't have an OM (yet). I've been experimenting on my GDAE tuned baritone uke (19.5" scale length) trying to decide if I want to get an OM or tenor guitar. Or just keep the baritone uke.

    I was gettin' on with "guitar" fingering, one finger per fret, with occasional pinky stretch. It was easier than I thought, but I do still get it mixed up with mandolin fingering. So then I started learning about "closed position" and I tried it on my baritone uke. I can't get the 4th with the pinky without "shifting" my whole hand up. Which is hard to do that if I need to go back down to get the 5th with the first finger. I found it very difficult. so I was googling about this and I didn't find much. So I'm curious do people play CBOM like this? I was also reading about FFCP and didn't find much discussion about it in this forum.

    If I try mandolin fingering, I can do it on the two high strings if I don't keep fingers down, but I can't do it at all on the two low strings.

    How is everyone playing up the neck?

    Also, a FFCP question: Why the 4 patterns? Why not just start with the index on the root?

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Regarding FFcP on a regular mandolin - I find that four patterns reduces the amount of shifting I have to do. For example, if the melody moves up into the second octave, I just use the FFcP for the way the finger the first octave ends on. Less shifting.


    I think I understand your predicament, an octave mandolin has been a mystery to me. Playing it one finger one fret, like a guitar, a hand span is about a forth, while the next strings is a fifth. So I have to shift more than I want. (Which is why guitars are tuned in fourths I imagine.) While playing it like a mandolin is really an uncomfortable stretch.

    I have a tenor guitar, and so far I mostly play chords and double stops, and very little melody, for the same reason.
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    The thing I found is that anything over about seventeen inches then it gets harder to play mando style fingering. I play 20.5 inches in mando style but it does take a lot of practice and I’m more comfortable with capo at fifth fret.
    If you have to shift your hand to use the pinky you can just as easily shift a bit further and land on third finger, or first for that matter, it’s like tremolo, needs a fair bit of practice.

    Along with tremolo, accurate and fast hand shifting is a valuable skill.

    -a fun exercise is to play a tune in G major on the bottom two strings of an octave mandolin and occasionally, at random, just shift up to first finger on fifth fret and towards the ground by one string and continue playing the tune on the second and first strings an octave above. And then back down an octave, call and response style.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Develop your own system based on what you know. An alternative like "ffcp" closed position, may get you out of a tough spot. But build on what you know. There is always a better fingering and there is no correct way for any fingering. Only machines have programming...
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    I have a 20 scale inch OM that I really like. It is a pinky workout, but much more doable for me than my previous 22.5 incher. That said, thereís no way for me to do 4 finger chop chord style chords on it. Iíll barre with my index finger, sure, but chop chords are a no go. I could play it with mando fingering with a bit of shifting but am making myself use OM fingering unless I capo at the 5th fret (to get cgda Mandela tuning), where mando fingering is very doable.

    I really love my OM and canít see me ever parting with it, but I donít think Iíll ever want it to be my only instrument. Just love mando and guitar too muchÖ

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    I did a lot of scale practice with FFCP but found that I played tunes mostly at the open position.

    One thing that encouraged me to make the jump between the two systems was shifting exercises (you have to be careful too, because if you get it wrong you can put a lot of lateral stress on your fingers).

    Another thing is that when playing tunes, although you’re making the physical connection with slides, you need to make the mental connection too. For example ‘now I’m sliding up to a D on the second string, and I’m going to continue to the end of the B part of this tune with FFCP’.
    -I don’t read notation so well but I imagine that reading notation and doing to transitions would be very helpful because you’re precisely naming the ‘anchor points’ with note names rather than just ‘up to the seventh fret’.

    On a 20.5 inch scale octave mando, FFCP starts to become really useful around the fifth fret mainly (personally speaking) because the pinky is the weak link at longer scale lengths.

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    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    I don't know if my own experience is of any help, but here it is. I've owned a number of tenor guitars and have usually sold them because of either frustration at the scale length or because they sound thin unless you play a lot of double stops and open strings (and I wasn't good enough and didn't put in the time). I did like them for playing rhythm. Only recently did I get an octave mandolin--a Regal Octofone. Immediately I realized that it had a fuller and richer sound because of the double courses and I didn't always need to play double stops or drones to make it sound good. So I now prefer an octave over a tenor. (That being said, I love the sound of a tenor played by a more talented musician than me.) I might also mention that I took someone else's suggestion and put mandola strings on it so that I could capo at the second fret and still tune it GDAE. This makes the scale length much more acceptable. Bit of sound loss but not much. (I did this on my tenor too.)
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    For most of us, whether or not to use a closed system like FFCP will depend on the genre of music you're playing, and whether you're playing melodies or backup for other instruments or singing.

    I play Irish and Scottish traditional music ("fiddle tunes") on my 22" scale OM. Only melody, no backing. I started with mandolin fingering which worked okay in first position because my hands are fairly large. But as I get older, my fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be. So lately, I'm using a hybrid approach; a mix of mandolin and guitar fingering with shifting where it's needed. Sometimes I'll shift my hand up the neck and play out of a closed chord shape for part of a tune, but it's not a "system" like FFCP.

    I will also cheat sometimes and use a capo at the 2nd fret for a tune in B Dorian, or capo at the 3rd fret for a tune in G Dorian to make the fingering easier. But the majority of the tunes I play on the OM are out of first position to take advantage of ringing open strings and the lower pitch. I figure the reason to play an OM in the first place is that deeper sound, that distinctive growl. So I try to minimize use of the capo.

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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    I mostly play Celtic, Old-Time and a bit of classical on my mandolin. I've been stuck at mediocre for my entire life and quite content. I used to go to old-time jams and I played a bit in a duet with a guitar player I know.

    I few years back, I bought the Eastman MDO-305 octave mandolin. I really didn't want to take it out, 'cause I couldn't play it up to jamming speed. During COVID, I have started playing it exclusively. I've never studied the closed positions. I do appreciate the limited approach to the 7th fret; however. Sometimes, I edit the tune, sometimes I move up a half position, sometimes I slide on up there! I think it has to do with context and where the other notes to come are located? I just can't imagine a rule?

    Highly recommend that octave mandolin; however! Endless entertainment and very durable box. I did swap out the strings for the D'Adderio mandolin set.

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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Quote Originally Posted by cunparis View Post
    Hi,

    I don't have an OM (yet). I've been experimenting on my GDAE tuned baritone uke (19.5" scale length) trying to decide if I want to get an OM or tenor guitar. Or just keep the baritone uke.

    I was gettin' on with "guitar" fingering, one finger per fret, with occasional pinky stretch. It was easier than I thought, but I do still get it mixed up with mandolin fingering. So then I started learning about "closed position" and I tried it on my baritone uke. I can't get the 4th with the pinky without "shifting" my whole hand up. Which is hard to do that if I need to go back down to get the 5th with the first finger. I found it very difficult. so I was googling about this and I didn't find much. So I'm curious do people play CBOM like this? I was also reading about FFCP and didn't find much discussion about it in this forum.

    If I try mandolin fingering, I can do it on the two high strings if I don't keep fingers down, but I can't do it at all on the two low strings.

    How is everyone playing up the neck?

    Also, a FFCP question: Why the 4 patterns? Why not just start with the index on the root?
    On amazon.com you can have a free look into John McGann's book on octave mandolin, where he describes and discusses two fingering schemes. (To me even mandola is too difficult; at an exhibition I tried one and had to clamp on a capo at the third fret to make it (almost) playable. But I don't like the response of these larger fifths-tuned instruments.) There are videos of Sierra Hull playing that instrument and I get the impression that she divides 1st position into two halves. I believe she has fairly small hands.

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  14. #11
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Thanks everyone for your replies, there were lots of suggestions to try and things to think about. I've been practicing daily and the finger stretches are getting easier. After an initial period of playing 1 finger per fret, I found that made switching back and forth with fiddle more difficult so I started using "mandolin fingerings". I only play 3 finger chords so for chords it's ok. Where I still have difficulty is on the G & D strings in 1st position. It's hard to get over there. I find myself positioning my hand more like I do on violin which may be a weird angle for mandolin players, but so far it's working ok. My wrist gets a little sore from the stretching some times.

    I also decided I didn't want to go with a longer scale length instrument, my baritone uke is 20". So I ruled out, for now, octave mandolin, tenor banjo & tenor guitar. I love playing the uke in GDAE. So I ordered a new Pono Baritone Uke from the Ukulele Site and they did the setup with the octave GDAE tuning. That should keep me busy for a while.

    Regarding my original question about FFCP.. the stretch is smaller up the neck and I think i'll be able to do it eventually. But I won't be able to keep my fingers down as I go up the scale for example. But that's ok so far. Lately I've been working more on pentatonic scales with the first finger on the root.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM closed position fingering and pinky and FFCP

    Try playing in the dark, and push the instrument so the face is aiming more towards the ground. That may help your wrist.

    Also try using more pressure from your pick forearm on the instrument.

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