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need help; playing with large fingers
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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 3:39 pm
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I'd very much appreciate suggestions on how to play the violin with very large hands/fingers.  I've posted a couple times before and received valuable help, so I thought I'd go to the well again.  I've just been playing/learning violin for 9 weeks; I have extra large hands and fingers and my fingers, no matter how tightly I squeeze them together, won't fit where they should unless I lift one or the other fingers.

My teacher keeps suggesting I switch to the viola; I played his for several days and it is clearly much easier for me, but it's a very sad/melancholy sound, and I really want to play the violin.  I know there are very talented violinists with large fingers and I'd very much like to know how they do/did it.  Is it merely by not keeping two fingers next to each other at the same time; how do they play double stops where one finger is on one string and the other string is open (my fingers can't just touch one string at a time).  To be clear, I don't have Shrek hands, but clearly they don't fit the violin easily.

What should I be doing/focusing on?  Any tips to make it easier to find the right location without using immediate proximity of another finger?  Thanks!

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springer
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March 11, 2012 - 3:47 pm
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I wonder how changing the strings on a Viola to Violin strings would work?  A 15 inch Viola is not that much larger than a 4/4 Violin.dunno

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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 3:54 pm
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Springer - that's an interesting idea.  But my problem isn't with the size of the strings as much as it is about size of the fingerboard and how close the half-steps are to one another.  I only have this problem when playing half-steps.

And the viola I borrowed was 16.5" (significantly larger than the 4/4 violin); the viola fingerboard was a perfect fit for me.

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myguitarnow
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March 11, 2012 - 4:31 pm
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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 4:39 pm
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MYGUITARNOW - thank you so much!  When I first went to the link I started laughing at the picture of fat franks on the bbq,  and thinking you were just being funny.  Fortunately, before I left the site I glanced at the header and saw this is actually a site/forum topic that addresses my question.  Can't wait to read through it; thanks again!!!

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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 5:09 pm
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myguitarnow - just read the entire link you ref'd and watched the vids; great solutions; I've been incorporating about half the suggestions and will shortly try the other suggestions.  This link was a HUGE help; thanks again!

In my opinion, this site is spectacular; Pierre seems to be boundless in his desire to help the fiddle community and the site members are so responsive and willing to help; the resources of this site are incredible!  I'm so glad I found this site and am a member. <img class="spSmiley" title="dancing" onclick="spjEdInsertSmiley('dancing.gif', 'dancing', 'http://fiddlerman.com/wp-content/forum-smileys/', 'dancing');" src="/wp-content/forum-smileys/dancing.gif" alt="dancing" />

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springer
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March 11, 2012 - 5:10 pm
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Fred! The notes are farther apart on the larger violas, even 15", so you should be able to get a finger board that is long enough, if you like the sound. That is the reason for changing strings.

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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 5:33 pm
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ahhhh, now I get it Springer; change strings on a viola (which fits my hand better) to violin strings to get more of a violin sound..... did I get that right?  Sorry, didn't follow you exactly at first.

I'm getting  a viola on Monday and after I'm comfortable with it, I will actually try swapping the strings to violin strings to see if the viola then sounds a little brighter.  That's a great idea, I'll try it!

My violin is a Scott Cao and I LOVE it; biggest bang for the buck I believe.  And the viola that is coming is also a Cao and I'm dying to hear it.

Thanks Springer; great "outside the box" idea.

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springer
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March 11, 2012 - 5:37 pm
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You'r welcome Fred. You may have some trouble finding an E string for the Viola. Ask FM he should know.thumbs-up

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Fiddlerman
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March 11, 2012 - 8:42 pm
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Actually that is a great idea and great point as well.
The distance from where the string attaches on the tailpiece to the nut is about 15" on a violin and a 16.5" viola will have about a 16.5" length. This means that the E string needs to be 1.5 inches longer. Maybe a regular E string has that length to spare. I don't know of any specially made E strings for this purpose but I can talk to the new products guy at D'Addario. This could be very interesting. The instrument would obviously sound deeper and darker. The tension would probably need to be high to make up for the extra length.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 8:47 pm
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That sounds very cool!  If I could get the playability of a viola and a sound closer to the violin,,, man, best of both worlds, with maybe a bit warmer sound.  Can't wait to try it out!  Thanks everyone!

FM, I look forward to finding out if there's a violin E string that works on a viola.  Wait though,,,, I don't know much yet about the viola, but what do I use as a C string???

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ftufc
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March 11, 2012 - 8:49 pm
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Forget my last remark; the viola would be strung as a violin,,, no C string, duh.

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Fiddlerman
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March 11, 2012 - 10:19 pm
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smile

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ftufc
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March 13, 2012 - 3:33 pm
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FM, I have searched hours for a 16+" E string for my new viola; and have finally located what I think is the right product and a source.

It's the D'Addario Helicore Viola "E" string Heavy, model H415 LM

Found it at musicpartsplus1.com for $12.98 including shipping

When I get the string I'll re-setup as a violin and let you know how it works.

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myguitarnow
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March 13, 2012 - 4:47 pm
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ftufc, for sure let us know how this sounds... I'm curious.

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Fiddlerman
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March 14, 2012 - 8:49 am
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I figured if anyone made one it would be D'Addario. I would stock them but how many could I really sell??????

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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ftufc
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March 25, 2012 - 2:55 pm
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Well, my viola 'E' string arrived last week!  I re-strung the viola (16.5") as a violin, and it seemed to work fine and it sounded pretty nice, but not a viola and not a violin (or any that I'd heard before, lol).  But after a week of playing it, I decided to re-focus on the violin, and am much happier/comfortable with it.

I was going to vid/record it and upload it so you could hear it, but I was so disappointed in the outcome I forgot to do it before I returned my viola to the shop.  I don't know if it's because I'm so new to the violin and too inexperienced and was just not ready for the "experiment", or if because I'm so new, I just feel a strong connection/comfort with my violin, despite the fingering accommodations I have to make for it to work.

Anyway, it was an experience!dazed

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TerryT
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March 25, 2012 - 4:01 pm
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Great that you tried it to see if would work.
My fat fingers don't seem quite so fat now after 3 months of practicing, or maybe I have learnt how to make small adjustmentsviolin-student

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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cdennyb
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March 25, 2012 - 5:08 pm
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@Terry...

After 3 long grueling months of backbreaking sleepless night practicing I'm sure your fat fingers have just lost weight.

rofloldancingdancing 

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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ftufc
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March 25, 2012 - 5:08 pm
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I think that's EXACTLY it Terry; making small adjustments to make it work!  My hands/fingers/knuckles have been broken so many times, I'm lucky I can feed myself with a fork, no less find notes on a doll-sized instrument roflol

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