To put fingerboard tapes on your viola, you need to know how to tune your instrument accurately. Please watch our video called Tuning for Beginners so you can be sure your strings are in tune before starting.
Why Do People Use Fingerboard Tapes?
In this video, I'll show you how to put fingerboard tapes on your viola. For a beginner, its important to know where to place your fingers for each of the notes because the fingerboard doesn't have any indication of where the notes are and it will be very frustrating to try to find them without a guide of some kind. Most people use tapes for the first year or two of playing. After that time, you should have developed ear skills and muscle memory that will let you know where the notes are without tapes.
What You Need
All you need is a pencil, a tuner, the tapes, and scissors if you need to cut the tapes yourself. We suggest using StringClub fingerboard tapes that you can order at Amazon. They are the best for a couple reasons. I've seen students with various kinds of stickers on the fingerboard, like dots or other small stickers that only go in the middle of the fingerboard. The problem with that is that the sticker doesn't go all the way across the width of the fingerboard, meaning that on the outer strings the student has to guess a bit about where the note is.
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Our fingerboard tapes go all the way across the fingerboard, making it 100% clear where the note is. Also, it is good to use these because you can feel where the edges of the tapes are, so you can find the spot just by feel instead of having to look. That is good because a lot of the time your eyes will be busy reading music or looking at a conductor in an orchestra. To feel where the note is, just slide the finger back and forth a bit and you'll sense exactly where to place the finger without needing to look.
Marking the Locations for the Tapes
To make the marks, you'll need your tuner and a pencil. Play the A string to confirm that it is precisely in tune. Then put your first finger down on the A string where you think the first finger should go. Play the note looking at the tuner and see if it reads "B." Be careful that it is not saying "Bb." Adjust your finger placement and play again and again until the tuner tells you the B is correct. Most tuners will show the note in green or have a green background with B to show that it is in tune. Leaving your finger right on that spot, take the pencil and mark the location of the mid point of your finger on the fingerboard between the G and D strings.
Place your second finger down and make sure the tuner reads "C#" also with the green indication of being in tune. Make a mark on the fingerboard as before. The third finger will be quite close to the 2nd finger mark as it reads in tune for the note "D." Make another mark there. Then stretch out the fourth finger, tune it to the note E, and make the mark. Now you should have four small marks in the middle of the fingerboard. When you place the tapes on the fingerboard, you should center the very middle of the tape onto the very center of the pencil mark. When you play the note, you should center your finger right on the center of the tape and this procedure will line up the tape for accurate pitches.
Place the Stickers on the Fingerboard
Peel the back off the tape and slide it under all four strings. If its hard to get it under all of them, you can feed it under the strings by the bridge. As stated above, line up the middle of the tape on the pencil mark rather than lining the edge of the tape on the mark. Make sure the tape is perfectly level, not slanting to one side or the other. When it looks level and in the right spot, press the tape down and press the excess length of tape down the sides of the neck.