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July 25, 2018

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:14 pm
by NutmegCT

I would *greatly* appreciate hearing how I should handle the problems in the video above.

1 - I still find myself "hunting" for strings as I play. After a month of practicing "G chord" repetitions, then "C chord" repetitions, then "G chord C chord G chord C chord" repetitions, I'm still struggling just to play those two simple chords. Just "practice practice practice" isn't cutting it.

2 - Thumb often hits an A string while trying to play the D string. I feel lucky I can even find the melody strings when I add the chords. Without the chords, I can usually play the melody pretty well.

3 - The new melody strings I bought (Lenzner Soloklang) are twangy and often buzz. I got a full set of Lenzner Soloklang, but despite the $150 I paid, I haven't replaced the accompaniment and bass due to what I consider a harsh, metallic sound in the five new melody strings. Disappointing. I'm afraid I can't afford another $150 to try again and hope for something better.

After four years, it still seems every good suggestion I follow falls apart.

Would someone please post a video of simply playing three G chords, three C chords, three G chords? I swear I can't figure out how to do the "rest stroke" with all three fingers. I'm playing rest stroke with 4 and 3, but just brushing over the other two strings with 2.

Anyway, I'd really appreciate comments on my three big questions above.

Tom M.
PS - note that for the last month I'm now using a table, hoping that would help.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:37 pm
by DonO

This is Don down in Wilton. Your video is good, and you may be judging yourself much too harshly. One thing I notice is that you may not have your zither rotated clockwise enough so that your right hand has a more ergonomic position. The zither's right corner should be more in line with the player's bellybutton...perhaps you already knew this. Try re-orienting your instrument.

You mention you've been practicing for 4+ years: well, I hope you play for the enjoyment and the fun of it; with or without mistakes. Missed notes? who cares. Just play along and enjoy yourself.

As to the buzzyness of Lenzner soloklangs, I agree. My alto zither was recommended to have them, and I was dissappointed with them and wished that I'd gotten Pyramids. Though it is rare that a string breaks, I have replaced one snapped Lenzner with a Pyramid, the second accomp string, (the balance of the Pyramid set is on standby). My Schwarzer (key of C) is strung with Pyramids, and it sounds terrific.

Oh, by the way.......I've already pulled out Stille Nacht, Schlaf/schlaf/schlaf and Kinderlein Kommt. I play these with my Alto zither (i.e. harmony) while I hum the melody. Nice. Rudi would be very pleased.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:01 am
by NutmegCT
Don - thanks for the ideas.

It would be very helpful to see an overhead photo of your zither placement and hand positions. I'm afraid YouTube videos and drawings in method books aren't very clear on the "angle".

Sure wish I'd known about the twanging and "buzzyness" of the strings before I paid $150 for them. I found many forum members who use/recommend Lenzner in various posts. Unfortunately I didn't know there are different types of Lenzner strings when I ordered.

Still hoping for a short video of an experienced zitherist demonstrating the "three G chords, three C chords, three G chords" motion.

Tom M.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:52 am
by Musicmaker
Oh heart is with you Buddy!
I am no expert in this but when it comes to helping a friend in need then it goes like this....
I learn myself by demonstrating what I HAVE LEARNT.
I have drank too much wine tonight but tomorrow I will show you the difference from C chord back to G. Okay?
Hang in there dear fellah! ......we will get you there!
Who the hell am I!
I am a nobody.
Non Zitherist.
Talks too much.
But I will try to help you with your problem by demonstration okay?
Frustration is the key to nailing it!

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:42 am
by Musicmaker
Hi Tom.
I have just re read your post and missed the bit where you call for an experienced zitherest.
Sorry I cannot help.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:59 am
by kenbloom
What I do to angle my zither comfortably is to align the fingerboard strings roughly parallel to the axis of my thumb when holding my arms in a comfortable position. That usually results in the bridge end being fairly close to my body and the peghead end angled away from me. This usually puts the instrument in a position that is very comfortable for my left hand and I can access all the frets easily. I've noticed that this same basic setup is used by other table zithers such as the Hungarian citera. I would let comfort and relaxation be your guide. Each person is different and each body is different. The more relaxed you are, the better you will play.

Ken Bloom

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:29 am
by NutmegCT
Thanks Ken. For us "beginners", determining a comfortable arm position is pretty much guesswork, as both arms are adjusted constantly when moving along the fingerboard and the accompaniment strings.

I like your method of aligning the strings with the angle of the right hand thumb, but I'm never sure even how to place the right hand. If I just extend my right hand forward in front of me, the thumb points at an angle of about 80 degrees away from my chest. That would be an impossible angle for the zither!

Instead of words, it would be so much clearer to just see an overhead photo of both arms/hands in place on the zither strings. That would show arm and finger position, as well as placement of the zither related to the player.

Any hope for a photo?

And a close up video of the right hand playing repeated G chords, C chords, G chords, etc?

Tom M.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:10 pm
by Andy
Hey Tom,

Know you were looking for someone experienced, but hopefully this will help out. I have attached what may be the most awkward picture of a Zither ever taken. It shows my point of view sitting in front of the instrument, how many hand aligns and the angle it creates with my body.
IMG_0707.jpg (487.37 KiB) Viewed 564 times
Additionally, here is a video up close of my right hand playing some major chords in repetition. Excuse the shake, little tricky holding the phone at that angle and playing the chords.

Hope this helps, and if someone more experienced see's this is all wrong, please let me know!
- Andy

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:35 pm
by NutmegCT
Andy - that is fantastic! What a difference from the zither angle I've been using. I had no idea the zither angle could be at such an "offset" - almost 45 degrees. Mine has been closer to about 20 degrees. Also, I see you're sitting more centered to the zither than I do. I'd read in one of the method books (Keyes?) that 1/3 of my body should be to the right of the zither. Your right leg is pretty much under the zither's side; mine was much farther to the right.

And, the chords video is incredibly helpful to me. All along I'd thought I was supposed to be using "rest stroke" on all the accompaniment and bass strings. Your video shows only the bass string having the rest stroke, and the other strings are "brushed" by 3 and 2.

Man, a video is so much clearer than just words.

Quick question: are your elbows slightly *below* the level of the zither, at the level of the zither, or slightly above the level of the zither?

Thanks Andy. Wish I'd had demonstrations like yours when I started four years ago!
Tom M.

Re: July 25, 2018

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:05 am
by Musicmaker
Hi Tom.
Here is how I do it right or wrong.
Not as brilliant as Andy's vid but at a different camera angle.
To try to do rest strokes with the the right hand 1st and second fingers I personally cannot do so I play as comfortably as I can as in the vid.
I find by playing the brush strokes with 1st and second fingers in Staccato not only gives it bounce but helps to get the fingers back into position.
I have taken your advice in making sure only the people with this you tube link can see this.
I only did it so hopefully it will help you.
I am not an experienced Zither player and only been playing six months but for what it is worth?