I need some help on Fisher's HP

  1. HonketyHank
    This tune, in the version I am bound and determined to play (even if at a snail's moseying pace) keeps getting me all crossed up. The tune is in F, and mostly on the E and A strings. So that means heavy use of the first finger on the first fret, second finger on the third fret, and third finger on the fifth fret. The problem with me is in the first half of the B part, where there is a high Bb - sixth fret on the E string. Conventional wisdom says that the third finger (ring finger) is responsible for the 5th and 6th frets. But that means I have to slide from 6th fret to the 5th in a couple of places when I play the phrase. Or do I fret that Bb using my 4th finger? The latter sounds easier but given my poor uncoordinated pinkie, it really isn't.

    Here is the phrase. What would you guys do?
  2. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Fourth finger!!!!

    This is a place where conventional wisdom is less than wise. Give each finger a note of the scale to cover: first on F, second on G, third gets A, and fourth plays the Bb, while feeling happy it isn't a B natural. If the piece was in some godforsaken key that used A#, like B major or F# major, you would play the cursed note with your third finger: first on F#, second on G#, third on A#, fourth gets B. Same finger pattern, moved up half a step. (You can live a long and happy life without playing anything in either of those keys.)

    It's still the sixth fret, but the notes on either side of it determine how you want to finger it. If this piece had some oddball chromatic stuff going on and threw an A# into the middle of this hornpipe you might need to consider playing it with your third finger. Here, the fingering for the first full measure would be 2-0-2-0-2-0-4-2, and the second full measure would be 3-1-2-1-3-1-4-3.
  3. Swimbob
    The way I would approach it would be to use the old ffcp, in other words slide up to second position and leave the open strings out of the equation. I have always played this song in D because it works so well with the open strings. But I just figured it out in F and find that if you just slide up the neck a bit and use all four fingers it's really not as hard to play as I thought it would be.

    Hope that helps Hank.
  4. HonketyHank
    Well, I think you are both right. But in either case, more work training my left hand pinkie finger seems to be in order.

    In watching the three videos in the FH thread I see three very different left hand anatomies. I have sometimes allowed myself to think that my pinkie finger is just shorter than normal and thus I should find a way to compensate for that handicap. But Dave Harvey's short, curled pinkie looks just like mine. He seems to have complete control over it. It looks like he might even be doing hammers and pulls with it. phb256's and Louise's fourth fingers are quite different from Dave's, yet they seem to use them with little or no extra effort. So I think the "short pinkie syndrome" is just an excuse for my general lazy nature.

    I need to find Mike Marshall's fingerbuster exercises and get to work. I know they are somewhere on my hard drive.
  5. phb256
    I mostly play bass, so I'm used to pinky work. Mandolins let you cover a lot of ground without the fourth finger, so I can see why it would be trouble. Finger exercises can be pretty boring, but if you mix them in with pinky tunes you will probably see the progress that makes it worthwhile.
  6. Swimbob
    Like phb I was a bass player too so I learned long ago to use my pinky. That being said I still don't use it enough playing the mando and I'm not saying that what I played sounded that good but it just seems to be the most logical approach to playing this song in F. For me anyway...

    I still play too much in first position but now that I've sorta figured out how to transpose this song to F I may add it to my practice routine.
  7. Southern Man
    Southern Man
    I'd use my third finger, personally, but I kind of stick to the 2 frets/finger pretty closely.
  8. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I like Louise’s answer. Remember when we were studying playing the Ab scale in MMC group, Hank? Same closed position fingering starting from first fret G string. No different from playing the first tetrachord of the F scale on E string.
  9. HonketyHank
    Thanks for all the comments! I have put in some old-fashioned, concerted, focused practice on this tune in the last week or thereabouts and it is beginning to pay me back. I think I will have a video by the 30th or 31st of this month.

    Really, the key part of my practice was playing it over and over slowly. Make a mistake and slow it down some more. I think it actually gets MORE difficult as you slow it down past a certain point. If you play it right a couple of times in a row, speed it up a notch. Make a mistake, slow it back down a notch. And just when you are sick to death of the tune, it begins to get easier and go faster.

    The neat thing to me is that if I am really focused on what I am doing and I finally give up for the day, the next day I am noticeably better when I start my practice again. Feeling and hearing and seeing that marginal improvement is a great incentive.
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