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DreamingPanther

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Reply with quote  #1 
This is something I trip over.

I can get my pinky under the main strings, but the nail is at the wrong angle to make anything but a muffled noise. It just comes out a mess.

I've heard some say they put a mizrab on their pinky, but mine gets caught in the main strings when I try it. I tried twisting a mizrab to get it to cleanly pluck one string at a time, but that was even clunkier.

I've tried Alaska Picks, but it's about the same effect as the bare nail.

I'm thinking of building up the pinky nail with superglue so there's a little ridge, but that seems goofy.

What do ya'll do? Do you wear a mizrab on your pinky? special nail filing techniques? Hidden tape player under the cushion?

I don't have anyone to show me, so pictures/videos/illustrations would be nice.

Thanks in advance...

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chrisitar

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Reply with quote  #2 
I put a banjo pick on my pinky. It's perfect. I tried growing out my pinky nail, but no.
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #3 
I carry fingerpicks that anchor under your nail for this very purpose, they work great and are cheap......


Lars

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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #4 
Your situation may be a result of the way the sitar is set up. If the neck is bent up, that forces the bottom strings to come up dangerously close to the underside of the frets. Compensation for the main bridge requires lowering it from its fresh from the sweat shop spec. Getting the top strings to approx. 10mm. for proper playing action by lowering that main bridge has now reduced the vertical space between the top and bottom strings - so much so that getting your pinky down in there, "nailing" those taraf strings with your pointy pinky at a clean angle of attack is impossible. A sitar I have next to me has 7/8" clearance between the two string banks. If your sitar matches that, check your pinky motion. If the measurement is less than that, the instrument most likely needs adjustment.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #5 
I was totally confused for a second...you mean right hand don't you? I was thinking you meant left hand, and for left hand pinky strikes of the tarab I just use the pad of the finger, which is more than enough to get a good strike.

For right hand, I've tried a few different things since I am personally very intolerant of long fingernails. One was to put a mizrab on sideways (striking section parallel with nail) with a very loosely tightened rubber band holding it in place, not tight enough to cut off circulation or anything. That worked well but I never bothered to do it every time. The finger picks sold by Lars and others don't work great for me since, as mentioned, I trim my fingernails rather aggressively and they anchor underneath an existing nail. Banjo picks, though, that might be the ticket, ultimately. I need some finger picks for playing hawaiian lap steel, soon, anyway (I am a sucker for instruments with a profound gayaki ang...).
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DreamingPanther

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Reply with quote  #6 
Well, I don't have the instrument in my hands but as far as adjustment I spent a good deal of time on these distances about a month ago when I worked on the main bridge height and strobed out the proper position for the main bridge. Get ready for TMI. Full disclosure here...

The main bridge was installed at the fractur-y (sweatshop) a good inch too far back toward the endpins. Ugh. It wouldn't strobe right in that position without moving frets somewhere into the taraf hole area up around the 12/13 frets I think. Moving the bridge to the proper string length solved it and the frets now lie in the right neighborhoods with a little room for backward/forward adjustment depending on the temperament I choose.

Why was the main bridge put on the wrong spot? Most probably it was assembled quickly, dropping it down in the wrong spot on wet shellac... which orangepeeled under the bridge feet... which (now dry) flaked off the tabli as soon as I moved it. Awesome. Someday I get to figure out how to repair that. (There are also telltale fret thread marks into the shellac on the back of the neck indicating quick assembly but there's naught to be done for that.)

I chalk these things up to internet luck and my first learner sitar, but by no means my first instrument. I can coax even the most challenged instruments to sing the best they can. I'd rather get things in the right place to play in tune first then worry about those 'character' cosmetics later, right?

I adjusted/angled the main bridge legs to leave between 9mm-10mm from the top of the last fret for strings 1, 2, and (gingerly fretted) 3. This allows them to fret true without pulling out of tune, but plenty of height for clear meend on the 1 string. The low SA is just too slack to successfully fret isn't it?

Anyway, the neck seems fairly straight, not bent up thank goodness. Fretting at the first fret and at the last fret leaves just about 2mm hairline of air between the string and the top of the midpoint fret.

The top surface of the taraf bridge is possibly 6mm from the tabli face, and the little taraf eyelets project about 2mm above the dand. So there is a gradual rise from the eyelet to the surface of the taraf bridge from 2mm-6mm. That seems acceptable.

Now, what the measurement is between the tarafs and the main string is I'm not sure. I do have room to put my whole pinky under there, but not enough room to create enough break angle to get clear note definition. I actually have large puppy hands I've never grown into, and guess I have slightly convex nails, rather than concave or fully straight. What I get mostly is the meat of the first joint knuckle meeting the string, and it gets all muffly from there.

I've taken to poking my pinky between the first and second string, which gives me a little better break angle, but it's a workaround and I can't get a full stroke.

Anyways, that's my story. The banjo pick AND the alaska pick I've tried. The awful twisted mizrab sounded promising, but was too hard to position. I may need to go ahead and put the tape player under the cushion.

Sigh.

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david scott

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Reply with quote  #7 
...hello...i dont know if this will help, and i imagine it may depend on the size of ones fingers, but i play the sympathetic strings with my middle fingernail instead of the pinky or ring.as long as the nail is grown it has worked beautifully...however as i get older my nail seems a little more brittle and less easy to cultivate(ive been told it could have something to do w/ my diet)...best of luck in finding a solution-cheers&peace...
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DreamingPanther

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Reply with quote  #8 
Well I'm thinking of doing a hybrid, combining a modified mizrab with a bit of Sugru (http://www.sugru.com) to form a sort of custom thimble with just enough nib on it.

Sure it will look stupid, but I've looked stupid all my life. Why stop now?

Sugru is amazing stuff if you've never tried it. It's like silicone playdoh that hardens in about 30 minutes.

My first fix with it was to create a nice flat, steady foot for my round bone manka beads... I dropped each one in a little blob of red sugru and let it cure. The result is nice and non-slip, but then I read that silicone is bad for french polish/shellac based varnishes. A little dot of leather glued to the bottom of the silicone foot and it looks like a hundred bucks.

My other sugru fix was a pair of amazing in-ear monitors made from old iphone earbuds that never fit my ears. I took a 5g pack, split it and formed two balls. Then I lined each ear with a little vaseline, put the earbuds in comfortably, and smashed the sugru in around it to form a flat, sealed surface.

I let that cure about 1 hour (listened to an Ustad Shujaat Khan album) and as I did noticed I needed only 20% of the volume from before, and every nuance was crystal clear.
00Earbuds - Copy.JPG Once cured, I pulled them out and let them finish curing overnight. The result is soft, comfortable, very durable sounds GREAT and pops in like tupperware. It's not TOTAL isolation, but it's much better than what I had before and I don't have to turn it up full blast to hear each detail.


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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "DreamingPanther"
This is something I trip over.

I can get my pinky under the main strings, but the nail is at the wrong angle to make anything but a muffled noise. It just comes out a mess.

I've heard some say they put a mizrab on their pinky, but mine gets caught in the main strings when I try it. I tried twisting a mizrab to get it to cleanly pluck one string at a time, but that was even clunkier.

I've tried Alaska Picks, but it's about the same effect as the bare nail.

I'm thinking of building up the pinky nail with superglue so there's a little ridge, but that seems goofy.

What do ya'll do? Do you wear a mizrab on your pinky? special nail filing techniques? Hidden tape player under the cushion?

I don't have anyone to show me, so pictures/videos/illustrations would be nice.

Thanks in advance...


I've given this considerable thought and I may have some thing for you try. It will take a bit of 'splainin', but hopefully I can express it properly enough to make sense.

I don't know if our situations are similar, but I've got short, stubby fat fingers. It's difficult for me to stop playing the baj string, and reach under the main strings and hit all of the tarafs. With all due respect to putting picks on the pinky, it doesn't work for me.

I've grown my pinky claw out more or less about 1/4th of an inch, despite having everyone ask me, " Hey man, what's with the long nail?" I just ought to have business cards made up with the answer .

In any case, even with the nail extended 1/4", my pinky simply does not have the strength...most times it simply glances over the strings and as you say, "muffles" more often than not.

Here is what I've just tried: If your right hand is in the proper playing position already, in what many of us call the "baby-wave", you'll notice that all four finger tips, in this position, are near equal length--- as opposed to the open hand, where the pinky is way short---by at least one inch.

Approach your symps/tarafs with this "baby-wave", as opposed to just concentrating only your pinky-nail, to stroke the tarafs. If you can also just raise the pinky slightly ( wish I had a photo) and stabilize it next to the fourth finger, you will find playing the symps with authority becomes easier and more controlling. If not, one may have the tendency to spray all of the fingers out and when that happens, the pinky becomes shorter.

I sure hope I've explained it well enough to help you.

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barend

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
Your situation may be a result of the way the sitar is set up. If the neck is bent up, that forces the bottom strings to come up dangerously close to the underside of the frets.
Yes, that is what I experience too. On one of my sitars the taraf string are a bit higher from body and it's harder to play the tarafs with your right hand pinky because of that. Tony, what will be the appropriate height from body to tarafs? (measured halfway from taraf bridge to Ma fret). Will lowering the taraf bridge influence the sound and sustain of the tarafs much? And are there any 'risks' or 'things not to do' when filing/sanding the foots of the taraf bridge?
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DreamingPanther

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Reply with quote  #11 
I think I get it! I will try the Baby Wave technique tonight. It might take me a while to get it... I broke my right hand pinky and ring fingers recently and they're more uncooperative than usual right now, but I think I understand the concept for when things heal up properly. Thanks for the advice!
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DreamingPanther

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Reply with quote  #12 
I tried the "Baby Wave" last night, using my ring finger to support my pinky. Needs practice, but I got the clearest, most controlled version I've done yet. Thank you!
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Greg

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
despite having everyone ask me, " Hey man, what's with the long nail?"
I tell people it's for picking my nose..that shut's them up..!...

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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "DreamingPanther"
I tried the "Baby Wave" last night, using my ring finger to support my pinky. Needs practice, but I got the clearest, most controlled version I've done yet. Thank you!
I'm glad that it worked for you! Keep on pecking at it!

Greg: "...I tell people it's for picking my nose..that shut's them up..!..."

I thought of saying that, but then I knew you were going to, so I divert all the credit to you!

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