Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just notes

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    359

    Default How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just notes

    Coming from fiddle to mando, I tend to think of the fingerboard/fretboard in terms of a matrix of note names. Playing Bluegrass tunes off the dots would seem to encourage that view, especially as lots are in 'open string' keys. Trouble is, if I need to busk something I'm usually looking for open strings as a 'comfort zone' - which isn't too great from Eb on

    However, I've noticed that some mandolin method books get to teaching closed patterns once they get past the beginning stages (like many guitarists). So, e.g. if you know chords and chops in D and you need to busk the tune/song in Eb, you can just move your finger patterns up a fret.

    Do you see the mando fretboard in finger patterns or note names - or both?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    For me, both. But patterns obviously arise due to the mandolin's tuning.

  3. The following members say thank you to randybrown for this post:

    maxr 

  4. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,338
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Well ... learning to hear the tonal relationships in a closed position allows you to move about the fingerboard more freely...... but those open strings sound so good.... ahh the conundrum.
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  5. The following members say thank you to UsuallyPickin for this post:

    maxr 

  6. #4
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    12,557
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    A bit of both, I expect. Two separate but related systems which overlap and interrelate. I think I think about note names a bit less than I do numbers as relating to the scale - not scale numbers either so much, but perhaps a bit more. But knowing where the scale patterns are helps to imagine where the "safe spots" are - that is, where fingers go in that key, and the other spots being errors, or where the clams live. Which is not to say some of them can't be useful, like blue notes for instance. But to stay within the lines, stick to the safe spots.

    So say, for the G scale, the safe spots look like this:

    -xx-x-x
    -xx-x-x
    -x-xx-x
    -x-xx-x

    I don't need to know what the names or numbers for those x's are; I just know those are in the plan. And i know this pattern can be shifted up the neck, or migrated up the strings.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    The big blowhard in his conch shell blowing championship form

  7. The following members say thank you to journeybear for this post:

    Tony S 

  8. #5
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    1,736

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    You need to know both to be really proficient. The note names/locations are absolute while the patterns are relative, ie, the intervals. But I find my pattern facility varies with the finger and scale interval I am starting from. I’m much better with patterns starting with my index finger on the root compared to my pinkie on the third of any scale. I think that phenomenon is shared reasonably widely.

    Practicing arpeggios starting from any finger, any scale tone, is quite useful.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Bill McCall For This Useful Post:

    gfurymaxr 

  10. #6
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Shutesbury, MA
    Posts
    555

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    All I know is that I look at the music (I play classical from sheet music) and my fingers know where to go. I don't really think of them as "notes by name" most of the time. It just happens. Practicing pretty much insures that it will be memorized. So I'm not sure I can actually answer the question!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin

  11. The following members say thank you to Tim Logan for this post:

    maxr 

  12. #7

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I try to learn note names, especially up to the seventh fret. That being said the ffcp (four finger closed position) scales are incredibly useful especially if playing in an unfamiliar key. They systematically cover the entire fretboard.

  13. The following members say thank you to CarlM for this post:

    maxr 

  14. #8

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I think in patterns mostly, but I always know what note I am playing.

    I am developing some ease in moving around and switching patterns, but feel like I need to learn more. I forgot about the FFCP stuff, might want to revisit that again.

    I can sight read at the nut in first position, but not so much up the neck, I guess I have a lot more to learn. :-)
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design).
    Eastman MD-604SB with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  15. The following members say thank you to kurth83 for this post:

    maxr 

  16. #9
    Economandolinist Amanda Gregg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Middlebury, VT
    Posts
    399

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I think in terms of strategies for each key, which includes positions, doubles stops, and open strings. Each key has its own library of "good stuff" on the mandolin.
    Amanda

    -2007 Duff F5
    -2001 Stiver F5
    -Blueridge BR-40T Tenor

  17. The following members say thank you to Amanda Gregg for this post:

    maxr 

  18. #10
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,209

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I'm like Tim Logan, I look at the music and my fingers are where they need to be. But that's how I learned to read music. You can't find patterns or look at your fingers on a flute, say, you look at the music. And that's the world I originally came from. In general, though, I'd think how you visualize the fretboard depends on what music you play. If you play chords, then you look at patterns. If you play single line melody, then you think in terms of notes. my 2 cents.
    --------------------------------
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
    1923 Gibson A-1 snakehead
    1952 Strad-o-lin
    1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
    2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
    2011 Eastman MD305

  19. The following members say thank you to Randi Gormley for this post:

    maxr 

  20. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    359

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    All I know is that I look at the music (I play classical from sheet music) and my fingers know where to go. I don't really think of them as "notes by name" most of the time. It just happens. Practicing pretty much insures that it will be memorized. So I'm not sure I can actually answer the question!
    I learned classical violin as a kid, and I did a lot of sight reading at home from orchestral exerpt books of famous symphonies etc. The result was I could sight and play e.g. notes with 5, maybe 6, leger lines above the treble clef - but I didn't know what they were called.

  21. #12
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,271

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I use both pretty much simultaneously,,it's not all that hard to know every note,,but I also think more in numbers also,,3,,b3,,,where's a 5 ,,etc..

  22. The following members say thank you to T.D.Nydn for this post:

    maxr 

  23. #13
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,117

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Nothing wrong with either; thinking both ways would be better than just one.

    However, you ought to strive to push past that, and not think with right-brain analytic thought (patterns or "names"), except for purpose of analyzing what you, or someone else played.

    When you are playing it you want to just sonically hear it. No names, no visual patterns, just pure audio.

    Now, there's gonna be some who'll say "that's too advanced to even talk about, I'm nowhere ready for that stuff." But you can start working towards that, now. It's not complicated.... just start vocalizing what you are playing while you are playing it. You can sing the note names, or sol-feg syllables, or the fret numbers, but CONNECT IT to the audio! You want to connect your ear to your fingers so that when you think a note sequence, your fingers almost automatically go there. And vocalizing the pitch sequence burns it into your brain far more effectively and deeply than just passively hearing it come out of the instrument.

    So, you can work at this at whatever level you are on: beginner, intermediate, advanced....

    But hey, I'm just a raving looney (and pawn in game of life); what do I know?

    Niles H

  24. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mandocrucian For This Useful Post:


  25. #14
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    I like Niles raving looney philosophy but I have always been a fan of his approach.

    I also play fiddle and guitar so I have the advantages of all three instruments. Plus I have been in many situations mostly in old time jam sessions when I play tunes I don't know. I generally hear the chords that need to be there and when playing mandolin or fiddle I do know the note names but they never get in the way of playing. I can usually know where the notes in the scale and the notes in the arpeggios are. In fact if I listen to a tune I find I can actually visualize my fingers playing it especially in the super-common keys that I am very comfortable with.

    Don't really understand the "matrix of note names" concept. I could just as easily see them as colors.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  26. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:

    maxr 

  27. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    359

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    ...However, you ought to strive to push past that, and not think with right-brain analytic thought (patterns or "names"), except for purpose of analyzing what you, or someone else played. When you are playing it you want to just sonically hear it. No names, no visual patterns, just pure audioNiles H
    I know where that's coming from, as we have someone in the house (our son age 25) who works that way. He started with classical violin lessons, but as soon as he picked up a guitar it was obvious he's a 'listen and play' guy. He can hear something and right away he knows where to find it on the fretboard, a bit later he's got it, unless there's some complex picking or chording going on. Maybe it helps that he's dyslexic - he seems to get the music straight out of the instrument with no intermediary, I'm not so quick at that (even allowing that he's 25).

  28. #16
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    1,736

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    ........When you are playing it you want to just sonically hear it. No names, no visual patterns, just pure audio.
    That would be the goal, just singing along with your instrument.

    Takes a bit to get there though
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  29. The following members say thank you to Bill McCall for this post:

    maxr 

  30. #17
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,595
    Blog Entries
    53

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Eventually you have to do it all. And eventually you will find yourself doing it all.

    I started in first position, (using open strings) because I was impatient to play some melody with others, and because I had the woodwind prejudice that there is one correct way to finger a note. That is the way I learned to read as well, in first position with open strings.

    It was not till I delved into the FFcP and violinistic position play, that I really got off the open strings.

    Playing up the neck, however you work it out, does have the advantage of learning tunes and riffs that are portable up the neck. But the big advantage I find is that in many cases there are much easier ways of achieving things up there, where going down a string and up the neck is much easier than that wicked reach with the pinky.

    I think there is great beauty and power in melodies with open strings, and also with closed position playing. I don't think there is a reason to be exclusive to either one.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  31. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:

    maxrTony S 

  32. #18
    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    The mando is tuned like the circle of fifths, study that and then start looking at your fingerboard.

  33. The following members say thank you to mmuussiiccaall for this post:

    maxr 

  34. #19
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,536

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Great question & thoughtful responses. My cop-out response:

    IT DEPENDS ... on what music I'm playing.

    For more casual stuff (rock, folk, BG, etc.), where I mostly think in terms of chords, progressions, & where the melody centers, AND in terms of listening to what others are playing, I mostly see "patterns" of what fits where & what sounds good, even if "what sounds good" is maybe not much sound at all.

    For orchestral playing, where the printed page defines all, and what others play may sound unrelated to my part (even if the specific piece IS actually rock, folk, etc.), then it has to be a case of "from the page to the finger", without worrying too much about what a given note is named. (For the uninitiated, meaning me 4-5 years ago, those pieces that change key several times, often unexpectedly, can REALLY tax your attention!)

    But I strongly agree that such flexibility takes time and, even having read notation at a basic level since day-one, it's been the past 5 years of orchestral playing that really honed that skill to some fair level of confidence.
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Mar-05-2021 at 12:40pm. Reason: spell!
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  35. The following members say thank you to EdHanrahan for this post:

    maxr 

  36. #20
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    near Boston, MA
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    For me it's neither, or both. I have no idea what I'm doin'. Seriously, I just play.

  37. The following members say thank you to Frankdolin for this post:

    maxr 

  38. #21
    Stop the chop!
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    europe
    Posts
    1,429
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    ... but those open strings sound so good.... ahh the conundrum.
    Do they? As a beginner I avoided them altogether -- following the only instruction I had on the mandolin. I still avoid leaving a string on an open note. Should that happen I find myself muting the string. And, of course, open strings are harder to control -- how do you slide into or away from an open string?


    I do use the as phrase turns, esp. in the keys of Eb and Bb, also there are special effects requiring their use, e.g., alternating between closed and open notes on one course. Take the second part of Brilliancy where the first two and a half bars are to be played on the e course: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	EXAMPLES.jpg 
Views:	17 
Size:	72.1 KB 
ID:	192811 (example A)

  39. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    359

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    -- how do you slide into or away from an open string?Click image for larger version. 

Name:	EXAMPLES.jpg 
Views:	17 
Size:	72.1 KB 
ID:	192811 (example A)
    Sliding into an open string - if it's a D A or E, slide to that note on the string pair below while picking the open string pair as well - I'm told Chuck Berry played that all the time on his mandolin . Or, slide to that note on the string below then pick the open string to get that ringing sound on the next note, if it happens to be the same note.

    Sliding away from an open string - pick both the open string and the same note on the course below, then slide down with the fretting finger.

    These may not be the effect you want of course...

  40. #23
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas
    Posts
    3,886

    Default Re: How do you think of the fretboard - closed patterns or just n

    Both
    WWW.MARKGUNTER.NET
    ----------------------------------
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    ----------------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  41. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:

    maxr 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •