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Guitar set-up for missing digits

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Dave Swan 15 Dec 08 - 06:43 AM
s&r 15 Dec 08 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 15 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,KP 15 Dec 08 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Dec 08 - 11:05 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 11:16 AM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 11:17 AM
Dave Swan 15 Dec 08 - 01:28 PM
s&r 15 Dec 08 - 01:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Dec 08 - 02:08 PM
PoppaGator 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,lox 15 Dec 08 - 03:17 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 04:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM
HiHo_Silver 15 Dec 08 - 07:21 PM
Piers Plowman 16 Dec 08 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,lox 16 Dec 08 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,lox 16 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Dec 08 - 04:46 PM
john f weldon 16 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM
PoppaGator 16 Dec 08 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,lox 16 Dec 08 - 05:23 PM
Bobert 16 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,lox 16 Dec 08 - 05:59 PM
Jim Lad 16 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM
PoppaGator 17 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM
Piers Plowman 17 Dec 08 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,lox 17 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,lox 17 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM
Dave Swan 17 Dec 08 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,lox 17 Dec 08 - 07:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 08 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,lox 17 Dec 08 - 08:59 PM
s&r 18 Dec 08 - 02:42 AM
Piers Plowman 18 Dec 08 - 05:05 AM
Piers Plowman 18 Dec 08 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,lox 18 Dec 08 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,lox 18 Dec 08 - 06:53 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 08 - 09:20 AM
s&r 18 Dec 08 - 01:52 PM
Mavis Enderby 18 Dec 08 - 04:10 PM
Piers Plowman 19 Dec 08 - 03:32 AM
Jim Lad 19 Dec 08 - 04:13 AM
Jim Lad 19 Dec 08 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 19 Dec 08 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,lox 19 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Bill 14 Sep 11 - 02:24 AM
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Subject: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Dave Swan
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:43 AM

A friend of mine is missing her left index finger, including the carpal bone and about half of her left thumb. She is right hand dominant.

She would like to learn to play guitar and asked me about set up. As guitar isn't an instrument I play, I thought I'd ask the 'cat.

Anyone?

Thanks,

D


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: s&r
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:01 AM

Setup no different. Chord shapes will need modifying (some at least) try guitars to see if the neck size allows her thumb fragment to provide pressure to the back of the neck. I have taught similarly handicapped people with no problem.

One guy with only a thumb ended up playing in open tuning.

Django Reinhardt had two fingers out of commission, and did OK.

Wish her luck

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM

if I understand correct, and she will be fretting with the impaired left hand.,
Then I'd seriously recomend aquiring a good quality 3/4 scale guitar
[usually marketed as an older child/young teens instrument]
remove the outer 2 strings, and tune the remaining middle 4 strings
to mandolin interval G-D-A-E
An experience guitar shop worker should be able to provide the correct gauge strings to achieve this tuning setup.
The reason I suggest this is that she would effectively be learning mandolin chords which for a large part require only 2 fingers
to play most common song patterns.
A good 3/4 guitar setup with lower action neck setup and lower gauge strings
would also require less pressure to hold down chords
than most standard guitars and mandolins.

just an idea , anyway....


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:50 AM

Interesting last post. I've had a problem with shoulder pain over the years, which sometimes goes right down into my fretting hand. Messing around with tunings to help I came up with DGDGAE. This has a lot of two fingered chords - Em C D G A7 and inversions. I thought it was an invention but found references to it on the net as 'Old Spanish tuning'.
cheers
KP


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:05 AM

I suggest your friend try the fretted dulcimer. She can play melody or chords and the missing fingers won't matter nearly so much.

I use a thumbpick on right hand. The thumb plays the melody and the other fingers are free to sound accompaniments.

I tune mine DAA, and almost all chords can be made with two fingers.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:16 AM

It may be better (if she is a complete beginner) to play left-handed - either with a left-handed instrument, or "upside down".


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:17 AM

Seems to me there is already a thread on this subject. Try a search playing with disability.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Dave Swan
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:28 PM

Thanks to everybody.

Richard, she has thought of learning to play left handed. Can you talk about that vs. upside down?

Thanks,

D


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: s&r
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:44 PM

Dave - LH playing opens a can of worms that no one will agree on.
Borrow an ordinary guitar and see how she gets on - go to a teacher and discuss alternatives.

If her level of operating disability is not too high she will play 'normally' without too much trouble.

You can reverse your handedness on the guitar (as most LH players do) but do spend a few weeks or even days trying with minimum modification.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:08 PM

If she's never played and is starting from scratch she'd probably do better to learn using the right hand for fretting the strings.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM

The usual left-handed adaptation (per, say, Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney) is to restring the guitar (low E where the high E is normally placed, etc.), and play in a mirror-image of "normal" right-handed playing. This seems sensible and "natural" to me.

The "upside down (and backwards)" approach, most famously used by Elizabeth Cotten, is to hold the intrument "left-handed" ~ right hand on fingerboard, left hand ready to strum or pick ~ and take it from there. All chord shapes will be reversed from the usual, which in most cases makes the chords harder to make, or so it seems to me. Also,if you want to fingerpick (as did Libba), you have to keep up the regaulr beat of the alternating bass wsith your index Finger while playing the melody and/or treble part with your thumb, which also seems counterintuitive to me. (Of course, I'm prejudiced, after years of playing right-handed in the usual manner.)

It should be noted that. for a natural righty playing in the conventional "right-handed" manner, the left hand is required to exercise at least as much dexterity as the right, if not more. For a person starting completely from scratch, it should be just about as easy to learn lefty as righty. Assuming that your friend has full use of all fingers on the right hand but limited use of the left, I would tend to set up a guitar left-handed and have her fret the strings with her good right hand and to strum (and perhaps eventually pick) with the less-abled left hand.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:45 PM

The usual 'cat expertise has beaten me to it!

But I'm not to sure that upside-down chords are so much harder. C/G Am F and G fall to hand pretty well.

E and A (and so B) likewise.

D is a bathmat.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:17 PM

The answer in my opinion is just to learn it in normal tuning.

Dadgad and other such tunings can limit the player to one key per song. Standard tuning allows for multiple key centres in succession.

But whatever about all that, here is the main argument

Django Reinhardt only had two fingers on his left hand. He is the middle guitarist and as you can see, his chords and his soloing are second to nobody's regardless of his 'disability'.

In fact, his lack of fingers resulted in significant innovations in guitar technique - but you can see he's good.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:07 PM

My daughter Andie was a southpaw and kept taking my guitar and trying to play it upside down. It was painful to watch.   Oddly enough she was figuring out how to make chords upside down and that was no mean feat because she had the shortest little fingers.

I ended up restringing it and giving it to her, just before I moved to UK.

Needless to say... if someone wants to play badly enough they will find a way.

That didn't sound right... play badly. Need to stop now.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM

But Django was a master guitarist already before he had the accident. Changing over to playing the other way is a whole different thing in such a case.

It's not just a matter of the hands learning new tricks, the brain's all set up for playing one way - and the better guitarist you are, I suspect the harder it might be for you to change over.

But for someone who has never learned to play, it really shouldn't make too much difference which hand you learn to use for fretting. It's hard either way (and trying to switch hands is a way of reminding ourselves how hard it was).


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: HiHo_Silver
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:21 PM

I have an acquaintance who is missing most of his thumb and all of his index finger on the left hand and does very well both with chord accompiment and melody in standard tuning. Just requires a little bit of refingering. Also, would suggest trying the famous strum stick which is very easy to master. I believe you will find several manufacturers for these on the internet.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 07:30 AM

I think learning to play left-handed would be the best approach, too.

I have a book of transcriptions of Django Reinhardt solos and the person who wrote it said he couldn't figure out how Reinhardt played them without the use of all of the fingers on his left hand. It's possible that he had some use of the remaining parts of his injured fingers.

I think it would be very difficult to play without being able to press the thumb against the back of the neck and the index finger is very important for fretting. Once could get along without it picking or strumming. Flatpicking is a very good technique, too.

Django Reinhardt was a very good guitarist; most people can't play as well as he did, even if they don't have injured hands.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:34 PM

If you want to see how reinhardt played, check him out on youtube and watch. He uses two fingers.

There are no short cuts to getting good at the guitar.

It is hard work however you do it.

There is a reason why left handers play left handed and right handers play right handed. If it wasn't easier and more practical to play the appropriate way, then we'd all play right handed as there would be no need to turn guitars around and restring them for left handers.

I generally play the hard stuff with 3 fingers as that is how I taught my self to do it many years ago and it stuck.

I also lost the tip of my middle finger on my right hand which has affected my finger picking.

Which begs the question, what style are we talking about learning here? if your friend wants to pick out the tune with the thumb strumming out a rhythm then playing left handed won't help (assuming it has the coordination in the first place being the wrong hand)

Messing with tunings and turning the guitar around and all that just closes doors.

Its just one finger - don't worry about it - use what you have and stay in standard tuning until you're good enough to mess around and stay right handed.

ok?

ok. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM

I should have added to this point;

"There is a reason why left handers play left handed and right handers play right handed. If it wasn't easier and more practical to play the appropriate way, then we'd all play right handed as there would be no need to turn guitars around and restring them for left hande"

That reason is that your right hand (if you are right handed) is the rhythmically stronger hand and will set the pace for your left to dance to (and vice versa if you are left handed).


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:46 PM

Some otherwise left-handed people do play right-handed. It's a matter of learning.

I've never heard of there being left handed pianos.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: john f weldon
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM

A lot of expertise here, but what do you want to achieve, virtuosity or a nice, rich chordal accompaniment?

If it's the second, just go for a nice open tuning. Richie Havens and eminent mudcatter Peace have managed to get a lot of mileage this way, emphasizing rhythm and tone, sounds great behind their voices.

For more intricacy, I've always loved my Mahalo guitar-uke. It's really just a small guitar, identical to a guitar capoed at the fifth fret, but very easy to play, requires very little strength. It only cost 50 bucks, and anything you learn on it can be transferred to a bigger machine later. It sounds better than you'd expect for 50 bucks.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:53 PM

Without knowing the extent to which the person's left thumb is disabled, it's impossible to know whether her left hand can hold down the strings tightly enough to play clearly. If that's a real problem, playing opposite-handed ("lefty") is the only real option, and would certainly trump the more subtle consideration that one's primary hand should play the relatively simple role of strummer/picker in order to "lead" the other hand through the rather demanding process of fretting..

Thanks to Kevin McGrath for informing us that Django learned to play the guitar before losing those fingers. I never knew that, all I had known was that he famously played without an intact left hand. That insight certainly explains a lot; I think that it's very unlikely that a person could become such a notable artist on the instrument had they suffered from such a limitation even when first learning to play.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 05:23 PM

Mcgrath, your point about the Piano is intersting but is answered as follows.

A piano can be played one handed and a guitar cannot.

To play one single note on a guitar, unless you play in the style of Stanley Jordan or any of his clones, you are required to strike te string with one hand and depress the string with the other.

The strong hand is the better rhythmically and that is why it is the preferred hand for striking the strings. It dominates the left so that when the left depresses the string to shorten or lengthen it, it does so with better rhythmic timing.

The other way around has the striking hand following the fretting hand, which creates big complications in terms of adaptation for the reverse guitarist. He would effectively have to train his dominant hand to be subordinate to his weaker hand - good luck!

As for the question of his already being a virtuoso, you say that explains a lot? would you mind expanding on that point?

And whilst doing so could you bear in mind stevie wonder, ray charles, Jeff Healy amongst numerous others all of whom became notble artists despite suffering bigger limitations "when first learning to play"


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Bobert
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM

Here's yet another concept...

Back in the lats 80's I broke my left thumb... That's when I discovered just how important one's thumb is in playing geetar and that's also when I learned to play geetar on my lap...

Slide or no slide, your friend my try it... It's really not all that hard...

B~


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 05:59 PM

I second boberts suggestion.

I'd also like to speculate that in his case, as in peaces and Richie Havens cases, they all strum/pick with their dominant hand and fret with their weaker side.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Jim Lad
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM

There's an Acadian up in Cheticamp, Cape Breton by the name of Jerry Aucoin if I remember right, who plays an open tuning with the guitar on his lap.
He is regarded as the heart and soul of the community although I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who regards his condition as a disability.
I'd suggest trying various open tunings, guitar, slide guitar and dulcimer techniques.
If it's what she wants, she'll find a way.
Give her my very best wishes in this regard.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM

Blindness is hardly a handicap for a musician. In fact, music is an ideal career choice for a sightless person, assuming that he/she has any musican instict or talent at all. It's absurd to contend that there is any parallel at all between lack or eyesight vs lack of a full complement of ten fingers as obstacles to be overcome when learning to play a stringed instrument.

Lox, I appreciate your explanation of why and how we use our primary hands to strum and our secondary hands to fret. I've been thinking about it for a couple of days now, and it's as good an explanation as I've even encountered for this phenomenon. (There must be some good reason for using our better hands for the aspect of playing that seems easier and simpler ~ and I think you've hit upon it.)

I agree, and I think just about anyone would agree, that playing in the usual/conventional right-handed manner ~ or for lefties, the opposite way 'round ~ is the way to go all things being equal. Those of us who have suggested that the person in question perhaps try the left-handed approach did so only because this is a case where all things are not equal. None of us has any idea of the extent to which this particular left hand is weakened; if it's bad enough, the best solution might be for the hands to switch roles.

"As for the question of his already being a virtuoso, you say that explains a lot? would you mind expanding on that point?"

My first thought is that if you truly can't see what difference prior learning and long-established muscle memory would make to a person learning to play after losing a couple of fingers, we might simply have to agree to disagree. It seems absolutely obvious to me that a virtuoso adapting to a newly acquired handicap is experiencing an entirely different learning process than a neophyte picking up an intrument for the first time ~ with or without a full set of fingers!

I'm at a loss to "expand" any further than that. Kevin?


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:53 PM

Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: PoppaGator - PM
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM

"Blindness is hardly a handicap for a musician. In fact, music is an ideal career choice for a sightless person, assuming that he/she has any musican instict or talent at all."

True, but it is nice to be able look when making large leaps. It is possible to learn to do it without looking, but I'm sure it's something blind musicians need to practice.

"Lox, I appreciate your explanation of why and how we use our primary hands to strum and our secondary hands to fret. I've been thinking about it for a couple of days now, and it's as good an explanation as I've even encountered for this phenomenon. (There must be some good reason for using our better hands for the aspect of playing that seems easier and simpler ~ and I think you've hit upon it.)"

Is there historical evidence of this? My guess would be that it's just a convention. On the face of it, I would have thought that the right hand, being more dexterous than the left, would have been used for fretting by right-handers. Perhaps earlier styles of playing the guitar, its ancestors and related instruments required more dexterity of the right hand. This seems plausible considering the Renaissance lute music I have. Easy pieces tend to stay down toward the lower frets, while the polyphony in moderately difficult pieces often requires good picking skills.

A lot of older music doesn't require that many different chords and Renaissance music isn't nearly as complex harmonically as Baroque music often is. By that time, the convention of fretting with the left hand was surely well-established. However, I'm not a music historian and this is just a hypothesis.

"I agree, and I think just about anyone would agree, that playing in the usual/conventional right-handed manner ~ or for lefties, the opposite way 'round ~ is the way to go all things being equal."

For lefties, I might even suggest trying to play right-handed, since it makes it easier to understand the existing instructional material.   

I think lap-style or slide were also good suggestions. A pedal-steel guitar might also be worth considering. (I'd love to have a pedal-steel guitar.)


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM

It isn't just true of guitars that the dominant hand is the rhythmically stronger.

The same "conventions" apply to hurdy gurdy, violin, er hu's, banjos, mandolins, bouzoukis, lutes, ouds, berimbaus and every other stringed instrument I can think of in every culture and country across the world.

The talking drum of west africa is a good extension of this practice, with the dominant hand beating out the rhythm while the weaker arm regulates the pitch.

If there were an exception to this rule in some small village in the amazon or somesuch, then we wouldd be on to something, but in the interim, the evidence, plus my own extensive experience as a guitarist and all round musician, combine to make a pretty compelling case.

On the subject of Django's virtuosity, music exists 85% - 90% in the advanced musicians head, with his main thoughts being occupied not with the physical, but with the abstract. In his case, with the relationships between key centres and deviations from keys on specific chords, and thinking ahead to the changes and trying to find smooth aesthetically pleasing ways through them.

He could have started playing piano and it would have been good too compared to any novice as his knowledge of music would have come out one way or another. But he loved gypsy guitar - it was in his blood.

So he reinvented his approach to the guitar from scratch.

In terms of technique, he had to unlearn a lot of instinctive muscle memory and that my friends is a massive challenge.

Everytime he heard a chord suggesting that he put his little finger on a high Bflat, he would have to remember that his finger wasn't there and he would have had to work out an alternative way of doing it.

At times like that, playing and thinking at speed, muscle memory would have definitely been a hindrance not a help, as it would have instinctively attempted to emply his useless little finger with entirely unsatisfactory results.

The mind boggles at how frustrating those moments were for him.

A lack of muscle memory in the case of the posters friend represents a clean slate.

To be as good as django, they would need his internal ear and rhythm and his theoretical knowledge and tonal experience.

That takes hard work and time no matter who you are.

With that knowledge, they would be no more disabled than he was.

Attempting to play left handed adds to the already difficult challenge of learning the guitar by requiring the dominant hand to be subordinate to the weak hand as I said in my post above.

It would be like an impatient dominatrix trying to be subordinate to a wimpy client. They could try their hardest, but in the end only one would ever be in charge and would always get their way, with the result that the striking hand would not be setting the pace but reacting to it and that is a recipe for some pretty messy playing.

Hendrix had a right handed guitar, but he was left handed, so he turned it upside down.

As for blindness, I am not blind so cannot really comment with any great authority and there is noone alive who has experienced learning music bpth as a sighted and as a blind person, so there is nobody arund who is able to compare experiences.

I do know that an essential part of understanding music is how it is visualized.

I used to see everything in my mind in terms of a guitar fretboard, now I understand things in relation to the stave and the keyboard too.

How does a blind musician visualize musical relationships and mechanics? Through feel? handshapes? do they remember the keyboard or the fretboard like they remember braille?

I don't know but I feel certain I have nailed it.

Without a doubt, if a blind person lost a finger it would have a far more signifcant impact than if a sighted person did.

I also know that there is no evidence of blind musicians hearing music better than seeing musicians, despite what popular culture would have us believe.

I used to know a blind guy who was tone deaf, and I have taught two blind kids, one of whom was indeed very musically talented - the other was as ordinary as any ordinary sighted kid.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM

The Bodhran is another example.

Just try playing this wrong handed and see how freely the rhythm rolls.

Instinctively, the new Bodhran player takes the stick in their dominant hand ....


.... and then plays too loudly ;-)


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Dave Swan
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:28 PM

Thanks again to everyone for the ongoing discussion. This reminds me of the best exchanges we've had on the 'cat. Of course I wish Fielding could put in his opinion.

I'm looking for a good teacher in my area, someone who can make a good evaluation of my friend's left hand, and help her make a good start. Any beginner needs a good teacher, right?

In the meantime, a good friend who is a hell of a player (known to many of you) has offered to put one of his guitars in her hands to see what's possible.

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks again,

D


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:52 PM

To add to my earlier point, if hearing were essential to the musician, beethoven would have been in trouble. This strengthens my view concerning the advanced musicians requiremant to visualize music clearly, whether through touch or sight.

But now that I'v beaten my opinion to death and bored everyone rigid ...

... if you really want to learn, slowly and painstakingly working out what someone else is doing is far from being the worst way to do it.

This looks right up your street ...


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:45 PM

Habits are hard to change, and that especially goes for habits that have been built into our brain by practice over years, which is what happens when we play musical instruments.

Changing playing hands is enormously difficult. But I don't think it's necessary to assume that learning the other way round should be rejected where there are reasons to try it.

I came across this site about left-handed music making, which is interesting in itself - and this passage leapt out at me: "If you look at any orchestra around the world, you'll notice that every violinist is playing right handed! Its been this way for hundreds of years. Right and left handed people alike customarily play the violin right handed. Violin teachers instruct all of their students to play right handed whether or not they are naturally right handed."

I think it is definitely worth trying in the circumstances.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:59 PM

Interesting point - well put.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: s&r
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 02:42 AM

French horn players all play left handed

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:05 AM

Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Dave Swan - PM
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:28 PM

"Any beginner needs a good teacher, right?"

I don't agree with this! I've had various kinds of music lessons over the years, some good, some terrible. A good teacher can be great, but a bad one is worse than useless. It's hard to tell when one is a beginner. If she doesn't want to teach herself, then I suggest she shop around and not stick to the first one she picks out of a sense of misplaced loyalty (I speak from experience). It is quite possible to teach oneself the guitar. I'm self-taught on the guitar, but I did have music lessons for other instruments before.

One of the worst pieces of advice I ever got was from one of my piano teachers when I was a young teenager: "Your ear's too good. Don't listen to your ear." He was teaching a method that involved visualization, which didn't suit me.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:25 AM

Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman - PM
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:05 AM

"He was teaching a method that involved visualization, which didn't suit me."

Besides it being complete rubbish.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:18 AM

Of course it is rubbish to tell someone to ignore their ear, but there isn't a single musician on the planet who does not have their own internal way of visualizing music based on their experience of it.

For a guiarist this will usually be based on the fretboards, whether based on a memory of sight or touch.

For a flautrist or a saxaphonist it will be more about touch.

But your ear cant play an instrument for you. It can hear mistakes and what sounds right but the hands or eyes or throat are where the memory is based that is required to reproduce sounds accurately so that we don't repeat the same mistakes over and over again.


To satisfy the ear, We develop a sophisticated system of visualizing music so that we can achieve the results the ear ill enjoy.

Comments like the following:

>>"He was teaching a method that involved visualization, which >>didn't suit me."
>>
>>Besides it being complete rubbish.

Demonstrate a stubborn refusal to learn that which you don't understand.

I'm not arguing a political point here, I'm giving you a glimpse of a type of understanding you could attain through hard work, but that you definiitely won't if you insist on calling it rubbish.

You clearly don't know what you're talking about.

And I wish you'd pay attention to your own post.

>>"Any beginner needs a good teacher, right?"
>>
>>I don't agree with this! I've had various kinds of music lessons >>over the years, some good, some terrible. A good teacher can be >>great, but a bad one is worse

So a beginner doesn't need a bad teacher then ... but a good teacher ... so you agree with the poster ...


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:53 AM

McGrath, the question of the Violin does indeed seem to throw a cat among the pigeons as regards my earlier assertions.

I've been reading a few testimonies ragrding left handed players and the quandary over whether to play left or right handed.

The standard approach seems to be that bowing with your left hand in an Orchestra is simply logistically impossible as it would cause collisins with the bows of other players - hence the uniformity of technique.

There also seem to be plenty of excellent violinists, professors in music departments etc who are left handed but bow with their right hand.

Interestingly, left handers are advised that they can play left handed but only if they are happy playing Jazz or Folk, so it is purely a metter of fitting into an orchestra that necessitates playing "wrong" handed for them.

While the obstacle of wrong handedness can be overcome and has been extremely succcessfully by some, accounts seem to differ on the success rate.

All left handers playing right handed have to work significantly harder on their bowing technique, but some of the fretboard work on a violin is considerably easier for them due to the extra strength in their left hand.

I wonder whether the more percussive role of the striking hand on the guitar is different enough from the equivalent bowing role on the violin to allow for a distinction to be drawn between them.

It could be argued that the violinists bowing action need not be quite as accurate at high speed as the guitarists plucking, and that the pizzicato element is different insofar as the violinist prepares his pluck a milisecond in advance of playing a note, while a guitarist strikes the string on the beat.

The difference in "attack" could be the "permissive" factor.

French horns are comparable to Pianos as you only need one hand to play each note (that and your breath).

However, Both MgGrath and stu have cast more than reasonable doubt on my assertion that playing wrong handed is a recipe for disaster.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 09:20 AM

All left handers playing right handed have to work significantly harder on their bowing technique...

And I rather think the same is true when it comes to playing fretted instruments, and using the "wrong" hand for fretting. But that would have to be set off against the difficulty to be overcome in fretting with fewer fingers using the "right" (ie the left) hand.

Good luck to her whichever she chooses - and either way there's no reason she can't becomes a good player.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: s&r
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 01:52 PM

Two hands for a note on aFrench Horn - ont (left) on the valves; one (right) in the bell

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:10 PM

I'd second recommendations for slide guitar. Played either lap-style or upright, I don't think the missing digits as you describe them should be too much of a disability. Slide guitar, usually played in open tunings can in my opinion be one of the most beautifully expressive forms of music and is adaptable to many styles.

I don't have a firm position on the left vs. right handed debate, but I would add I'm left handed and have played "right handed" from day one, on guitar, banjo and mandolin.

Good luck to your friend!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 03:32 AM

Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Burton Coggles - PM
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:10 PM

"Slide guitar, usually played in open tunings can in my opinion be one of the most beautifully expressive forms of music and is adaptable to many styles."

Including Indian classical music! I have a sampler including a guitar-mandoline duo where the musicians both played using slides --- sitting on the floor, with the instruments in front of them. Unfortunately, the sampler only contained short snippets from other CDs, but everything on it was good.

The only thing is, one really needs steel strings for a slide to sound good. A slide on nylon strings sounds pretty lousy. I do this occasionally for lack of a steel-string guitar.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Jim Lad
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:13 AM

"Right and left handed people alike customarily play the violin right handed. Violin teachers instruct all of their students to play right handed whether or not they are naturally right handed."

That's just not the case. Not saying that M.O.H. is wrong. He just quoted an article that clearly got it wrong. Could be that some orchestras only hire right handed fiddlers but there are plenty of left handed violinists around who play left handed. Ashley Macisaac comes to mind but there are plenty more.
I seriously doubt that there are many musicians capable of playing such an instrument with their non dominant hand. The fine motor skills required not just to play but to adorn the music, just aren't there.
It would certainly awaken the artistic side of the brain but the concentration required would seriously conflict.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: Jim Lad
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:22 AM

Just did a quick search there.
There seems to be a lot of southpaws playing right handed and finding it a constant struggle. Never quite feels right for many of them.
Best advice I saw in this regard was "Do what feels right for you." and don't even consider buying a left handed fiddle until your skills are developed to the point that you are aiming to get the best tone possible out of the instrument.
Other articles are all over the map but the biggest culprits that I can see are teachers who can't teach left handed. So they push the students to learn right handed.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:56 AM

Several years ago I scalded my left index finger quite badly, firstly I bought a Scott tuning capo which is almost like playing in DADGAD then I tuned the guitar to DADGAD itself, although a little clumsy at first I soon learnt to play using my other fingers


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM

Jim Lad,

I'm pretty strongly with you on the whole south paw playing right handed issue, but I cannot fairly ignore the fact that as a result of orchestral convention there are left handers who are virtuosos playing the violin right handed.

My feeling, being a jazzer grown from a folk root is that they might have achieved and discovered so much more if they had played left handed, but I can't assert that it is a fruitless, much less impossible task in the face of the evidence.

The ones who have made it all the way wanted to plat in orchestras and that was their dream and taste and who are we to judge that.

It doesn't fit my worldview and doesn't sit comfortably with my instincts, but thats human diversity for you.


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Subject: RE: Guitar set-up for missing digits
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 02:24 AM

I'm a regular right-handed guitarist. One day the last knuckle of my left index finger became swollen with arthritis. Took guitar to obnoxious reummatologist hoping that after he saw the finger articulations that hurt (D7) and those that don't (F). I thought he'd have some useful suggestion. I don't think he liked my bringing my guitar. He left after 15 minutes, gave me a blood test order. And that was about it. I caught him in the hall, asked if I had arthritis or not and he scolded me that if I'd been listening to him I would know. Then the nurse said she was sorry but that since I hadn't met my deductible I'd have to pay $175. Then I got another bill for about $150. Then they realized I had met the deductible and they owed me over $300, of which I've seen nothing. (And I might add that $300 plus is a bit much for 15 minutes of work.) Thank God for Michael Moore's "Sicko." This crap has to change. Any suggestions, since we're just dealing with one knuckle?


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