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Having trouble shifting into thumb position while staying in tune

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Ratatouille, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. Ratatouille


    May 10, 2017
    I've been having trouble with the first excerpt (the F Blues) for my audition: https://www.scsboa.org/wp-content/uploads/SCSBOA-JHS-Bass-Audition-Music-19.pdf

    I'm having a lot of difficulty in the tenth measure, where I shift from a C to A in the thumb position. The A always ends up being quite flat when I play it in time. What advice would any of you have for getting this shift in tune? I'd appreciate any help.
  2. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Starting in the measure before: If you play open G, shift into TP at A harmonic on the A string, use a chromatic position to hit Bb with the 1st finger, B natural with the second, C with the third and that A with the second on the G string. That fingering might be a lot more stable.
    Also, running the whole line arco several times will help intonation as well.
    That is NOT a walking line a bass player would likely improvise!
    Sam Sherry and lurk like this.
  3. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    That sounding "A" is found as a Harmonic on the "A" an Octave lower on the D String - A very close Minor 3rd below the C natural on the D String.
    Play the G,A,Bb,B,C (1,4,1,2,4), all on the D string and then reach back for the A Harmonic (on the "A" that you just played.)
    Look at the Judge at that point and WINK!
    Good Luck!
  4. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Another option is to play the C on the D string with the thumb, then the A on the G string with the 3rd finger. Using the thumb below the octave harmonic really opens up fingering options, especially in the no-man's-land between "normal" thumb and standard positions.

    But if I were reading this part, I'd almost certainly do what Don suggested and play the harmonic. It brings the line back into the realm of lines one might improvise.
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  5. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    Depending on your setup, I would personally slur it in and gliss up on the second finger.
    0 1 2 1 2-2
    If you don’t want to slur
    Open G then on D 1 2 4 + 3
  6. lurk


    Dec 2, 2009
    Yep. This is the kind of thing you run into when non bassists write bass parts. They hear great players do things like sudden changes of register or drops or dickety dums that are graceful and powerful gestures and try to write them without realizing that you can't do them gracefully and powerfully just anywhere on the bass, so they become instead stumbling blocks.
    marcox and Sam Sherry like this.
  7. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Another good option.
  8. Ratatouille


    May 10, 2017
    Thank you everyone for the advice, I will definitely try out some of these suggestions. I especially like the sound of Don’s suggestion. Another thing I found today is that singing the line as I play helps with my intonation.
  9. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    All good options here. You can also play the whole on the G string (01124 and 3 for the high A). Try to isolate that jump from C to the high A. Use it as a shifting drill. When you have done that several times that big jump becomes manageable.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    ^^^^This. Musically, mm. 9-10 would be perfect sounding an 8ve down and would make a lot more sense. Any bandleader with a lick of sense would rather hear a high school kid play that line and nail it than work like the dickens to flail around and stab at the line as written and play it out of tune. That's just plain terrible writing for the bass.
  11. Silevesq


    Oct 2, 2010
    I really like Don suggestion, that's what I would do but I'm not sure this is what they want... You know teacher ;)

    But if you really want to play it with a closed note on the G string, one of my teacher recommended that I add note to work on big shift. In this case I would work with the bow and play C(D string) G (G string) and A (G string) to get use to the motion. Once I feel comfortable doing that I would work on C (D string) D(strings) and A(G string). I would then work on removing that note and I might physically still do it without playing it to "ancor" myself.

    But, am I still wondering why A and not G?
  12. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    Practise scale G to A:
    open G then on D 1 4 shift + 1 3 and on G + 1 3 and down again. Auditions are by nature not there to have you play stuff that is easy and works great. They want to see you work the problem.
    damonsmith likes this.
  13. I wouldn't play any in the thumb position.
    I'd use open G string then A(1st finger on the D string) Bb short shift with with the 1st finger, 2nd finger on B chromatically up to C with the pinky, hitting the high A as a harmonic on the D string with the 1st finger the rest in that same position.
    Most of my teachers would say if you can use a harmonic, and minimize the shift, do it.

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