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Fingerboard tape: Good or Bad
Lots of folks use tape on the fingerboard. Does anybody ever stop?
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Advanced member
October 17, 2019 - 12:54 pm
Member Since: July 13, 2019
Forum Posts: 54
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I'm curious about the use of tape on the fingerboard. When I learned as a kid, I never had it. I'm self-teaching now, and figured if I didn't need it as a kid, I don't need it now -- but I'm wondering if I'm making it harder on myself.  I'd like to hear people's experiences.

I'm guessing the use of tape makes it easier to play in tune more quickly.  I can certainly verify that it is slow going without it.  OTOH, I notice people who have been playing 3 or more years and still have tape on their fingerboards.

1)  Does it become a crutch?  Anybody who started with tape on the fingerboard who no longer uses tape?  How long did it take?  

2)  Anybody here who never used fingerboard tape who can play in tune?  How long did it take?

3)  Anybody who used fingerboard tape and wishes they did not, or vice versa?  What's your reason. 

I'd love to hear about all different kinds of experiences, both with a teacher and self-taught.  Thanks!

Gordon Shumway
London, England
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October 17, 2019 - 1:26 pm
Member Since: August 1, 2016
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It may be that for little kids training the fingers asap is most important, but adults need to train their ears as well as their fingers, and I think the best way to train both at the same time is to shun tape.


October 17, 2019 - 1:37 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 2651
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Ok, this is something that is up to the person learning. I took mine off too early, and to be honest it had to do a lot with reading how people say it is a crutch and it is a badge to remove them. I have since I put them back in. It is COMPLETELY up to the student, no matter how old the student is.

I cannot tell completely by sound if I am off. I need a starting point. The tapes help me. I am beginning to be able to hear the proper tone now and do have one violin without the tapes. I am finding that I am now beginning to hit my marks better, but I do need the tapes. It depends on whether you need them or not.

One argument is that the strings get out of tune, so then the tapes are not accurate. Tune the strings. Voila. If you need to adjust the tapes, re-tape.

You are going to be told they are crutches, you are going to be told they are not helpful by many. People either love them or don’t. Those that don’t are very set against them. Most who are dead set against them simply do not understand that some people need them. Not everyone learns the same way.

Some people need them simply because of the way THEY learn. If you need them, use them. There is nothing wrong with using them. 

I can feel where the fingers need to be much better now because I am hitting the mark accurately to begin with with the tapes. Not fumbling around to find the sweet spot makes me feel where they belong to begin with. I am beginning to know how it feels and how it sounds when on the mark.

I hope this helps. It is up to you.

Cello, Violin, and Viola Time! 

New member
October 17, 2019 - 1:41 pm
Member Since: October 17, 2019
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I learned the violin with tapes on the fingerboard as a child, but within a year or two all of the kids including myself would get the tapes taken off. As a short term thing it can be ok to get used to the finger positions but sooner or later they need to come off and most violin teachers will remove them. Do I wish I never had the tapes, no, and if a student finds it helpful that's fine. However, I find most people naturally don't use them anymore when they start sightreading properly since you can't read music at look at the tapes at the same time anyway, and people get used to the right finger positions anyway, just like touch typing on a keyboard.

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October 18, 2019 - 11:53 am
Member Since: July 13, 2019
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Thanks to @Gordon Shumway, @Mouse and @lsm for your replies.  Cid, I especially appreciated your sharing your personal experiences.  

October 18, 2019 - 12:15 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 2651
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@sf_bev You are more than welcome.

Cello, Violin, and Viola Time! 

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