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View Full Version : Playing in the middle of the fret or to the nearest higher fretwire



PeteyHoudini
10-22-2015, 02:37 PM
Maybe this has been mentioned previously on UU but no search I did can find it.

Strange... I took many years of acoustic guitar lessons in my youth (did 8 method books) and my teacher never told me to play near the fretwire. Always in the middle of the fret.

I now have a ukulele student who has played guitar for many years and is having a bit of difficulty learning to play in the middle of the fret. The student learned to play near the higher fretwire.

I googled this issue and it seems you want to play close to the higher fretwire to avoid buzzing (for beginners maybe?) Personally, a uke or guitar should be set-up properly and not require that of the player, no?

Curious what your views are on this issue?

Petey

pritch
10-22-2015, 02:53 PM
My understanding from what I had read was that you played next to the fret wire. I need to practice now so don't have time to dive into the books - maybe later if an argument develops?

johnson430
10-22-2015, 03:00 PM
Petey,
I use a Piezo tuner to know how well I am fretting my notes when I practice and I find that I am "in the green" (true note tone) when I place the pad of my finger closer to the fret or closer to the fret than the middle.
I come from an acoustic guitar background and fret the guitar in a similar way.
:2cents:

coolkayaker1
10-22-2015, 03:21 PM
http://youtu.be/i67pbCPi8a8

Ms. Sandwich plays by the fret wire, so I follow her.

🐭🐭🐭🐭

Pueo
10-22-2015, 03:30 PM
I took classical guitar lessons when I was a kid and was taught to play as close to the higher fret wire as possible, so that's what I still do. Seems less critical on ukulele as the frets are (mostly) closer together though.

Bumgardner
10-22-2015, 03:44 PM
Playing closer to the fret also allows you to use less pressure. Playing with less pressure is ergonomically better for your hand and wrist.

wendellfiddler
10-22-2015, 03:59 PM
Sometime the shape of a chord makes it difficult to get every finger set in the exact right place in terms of absolutely best sound - and at other times, hammer on's and pull-offs are done more effectively from the middle of the fret space. I remember a dear friend who played with the flats of his fingers and super low action - he sounded great, very creative. By and large, Ukulele playing seems to me to be far less structured than classical guitar study - personally, I like it that way. Do what works for you!

duk

PeteyHoudini
10-22-2015, 04:02 PM
It seems most of you in this thread prefer this upper fret close-up business, but I have never done this so can you tell me by watching my plethora of videos how that will make my playing sound better if I'd played near the fretwire? Sorry, but I just don't see/hear it.

My (guitar) student felt obliged to play near the fretwire but is NOT producing quality notes or chords. The uke fret space is smaller... so does it really matter to hug the upper fret? When I tell the student to go the middle of the fret, the playing immediately improves, but the student is conflicted with past guitar techniques.

Funny, I've never felt less pressure in the middle finger or close to the fret. I wonder if the deal is because that lower end ukes just can't handle buzzing.

Trying to figure out the facts!

Petey

@wendellfiddler: I agree with U!

kissing
10-22-2015, 04:49 PM
I think it's pretty much a fact that the correct technique is to finger near the fret. Fretting at the middle is considered poor technique, as it can cause buzzing and intonation issue.

Though some may fret it in the middle intentionally to get buzz as part of a technique.

Brad Bordessa
10-22-2015, 05:01 PM
Playing closer to the fret also allows you to use less pressure. Playing with less pressure is ergonomically better for your hand and wrist.

This. 2/3 towards the higher fret will be easier and consistently get you a cleaner tone.

coolkayaker1
10-22-2015, 05:44 PM
When I finger mid-fret, I tend to bend the note slightly.

I've always been astonished by Petey, playing mid-fret to beat the band, yet with the clarity of a bell.

actadh
10-22-2015, 05:52 PM
I finger near the bottom fret, never realized to do it any other way. Wonder if I can rewire my muscle memory.

Rodney.
10-22-2015, 07:18 PM
My fingers are fat enough to do both at the same time on a soprano. On my bari I have to fret near the fret on the first few frets or it's out of tone.

koktung
10-22-2015, 10:16 PM
Advantage of playing near the fret
- Less finger strength needed yet can achieved the same tone compare to the middle fret with additional strength.

An experiment that you can do is place your finger on a fret and start to press on it from left position to right position , but ensure the same strength is being used.
Pay attention to the tone, then you will realize that the buzzing tone is more obvious on the left compare to the right (nearer to the fret)

sopher
10-23-2015, 12:24 AM
I practise with a tuner and put my finger tip where it makes the note closest to being in tune. Gets harder to do as you move up the fretboard.
In the first five frets you can play say Bb a little more flatter and A# a little higher so they are not sounding exactly enharmonic, if you want to. You don't have to hit exactly the same place in every tune or verse, your brain is powerful enough to help you move your finger tip inside the fretting space. With plastic strings as used on ukes, fretting pressure is not such a big deal, you don't need fingertips of steel to make a note ring. Try it now get out your uke and see how little pressure you need to fret properley, and then slide your fingertip around in the first five frets.

I agree with this - position does affect tuning more on a uke than on a steel-string guitar. I have a version of Wake Me When September Ends and I have to play the 1st string 6th fret as far away from the fret as possible to have it be in tune with the rest on my Pono bari

Rllink
10-23-2015, 04:06 AM
Sometime the shape of a chord makes it difficult to get every finger set in the exact right place in terms of absolutely best sound - and at other times, hammer on's and pull-offs are done more effectively from the middle of the fret space. I remember a dear friend who played with the flats of his fingers and super low action - he sounded great, very creative. By and large, Ukulele playing seems to me to be far less structured than classical guitar study - personally, I like it that way. Do what works for you!

dukI agree with this. I have enough to worry about when I'm jamming away, without adding exact finger placement between two frets to the mix. But some chords get a little muted, or buzz, if they aren't fretted in the right place, so I have learned which ones they are, and adjusted my technique accordingly, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. I find often times, that being obsessed with the insignificant tends to rob me of my focus, so I try to shy away from that. Not saying that fretting is insignificant, but it is after all, fretting.

70sSanO
10-23-2015, 04:17 AM
As others were taught on a guitar, I too fret as close the the fret as possible.

On a ukulele that may not be the case, as the width of a person's finger and the fret to fret distance may make fretting in the center and as close to the fret synonymous, especially on a soprano.

Playing too close to the fret will deaden the sound if any portion of the finger is brushing against the top of the fret.

John

Down Up Dick
10-23-2015, 05:44 AM
I've read in different places to fret both ways. I usually fret where ever my fingers land, but, if I fret in the middle or a bit further back, I sometimes get thunks.

When playing different sized Ukes, it's difficult to fret them in the "correct" place without watching one's fingers. :old:

PeteyHoudini
10-23-2015, 05:54 AM
Thanks everyone. Very interesting comments. I guess playing a soprano could be more forgiving due to the small fretboard real estate.

Recstar24
10-23-2015, 06:10 AM
Regardless of where you stand and what you find to be effective, I would recommend letting the student continue to fret as close to the fretwire. At minimum, that is definitely the placement that requires the least amount of pressure to fret a note cleanly. It is definitely standard pedagogy for guitar, and you don't want to create a situation where it becomes you vs. his former teacher, as a teacher myself, that can be a source for students going in a different direction.

Kayak Jim
10-23-2015, 09:20 AM
I find I really have to pay attention and get close to that higher fret wire on barre chords. Guess it's matter of not being able to exert enough or uniform pressure in the middle.

wayfarer75
10-23-2015, 10:22 AM
Thanks everyone. Very interesting comments. I guess playing a soprano could be more forgiving due to the small fretboard real estate.

Could be, especially for you fellas with bigger fingers. I get more buzzing in the middle of the fret than close to it, but my fingers and hands are pretty small. It's definitely more noticeable at frets 1-7.

PeteyHoudini
10-23-2015, 12:08 PM
Regardless of where you stand and what you find to be effective, I would recommend letting the student continue to fret as close to the fretwire. At minimum, that is definitely the placement that requires the least amount of pressure to fret a note cleanly. It is definitely standard pedagogy for guitar, and you don't want to create a situation where it becomes you vs. his former teacher, as a teacher myself, that can be a source for students going in a different direction.

Great advice. Thanks!

Petey

Nickie
10-23-2015, 05:28 PM
I play right next to the higher fret. If I buzz I know I'm too far away. If I thud, I know I'm too close.

PeteyHoudini
10-24-2015, 01:01 PM
I had another new student today and she was playing in the middle of frets on her concert uke and had no problems at all with buzzing on chords. She had never played guitar before.

Petey