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My shuffle needs help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mongeaux, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Mongeaux


    Apr 14, 2004
    Untill now 99% of my bass playing has consisited of walking bass lines. Which was fine when all I was doing was playing Jazz. Now that I am doing more blues I am trying to get my 8th note shuffle down. When I use the "box" fingerings for my shuffle line I get tripped up when going from the root to the octave. Normally if I were to play an octave I would play the first note with my first finger and the second note with my second finger. With 8th notes I have to play both the root and the octave with my first finger.

    Is there a prefered fingering for playing a shuffle with a box pattern? I want to get it right before I spend to many hrs working on it and develop a bad habit.

    edit: I'm speaking about the right hand, I didn't make that clear /doh
  2. Mongeaux


    Apr 14, 2004
    Well for those interested I found the answer to the problem with my shuffle. I posted on Peter Murray's web site. Peter Murray is author of the Bass Technique book if you didn't know. He seems like a cool guy and will answer technique questions on his forum.

    shuffle fingering
    Posted by Peter Murray on Wed, Jun 9 2004

    Hi Kevin, cool question and thanks for the compliment. I always play shuffles starting with the ring finger. It's almost a different technique-- sort of like playing a flam on the drums... the middle finger note leans heavily on the index note, which is landing on the beat. That can be tricky at high speeds (I'm remembering Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani, La Grange by ZZ Top), especially when changing strings, but it does work best--especially when going up the strings as you mentioned. I would cancel the raking technique when descending strings, because that would throw you off the shuffle. I think it's important to keep the index playing the emphasized (quarter-note pulse) beats. The ring is just playing the shuffle or "swing" note, and in less rigid shuffles, may even play on a different string than the quarter-note, especially if playing a muted note. This is a very useful tool if you want to make a groove swing--I'll usually play the muted note on the string above (higher in pitch than) the emphasized quarter-note. I'm just realizing that this is a pretty big topic, and I thank you for raising it because nobody else has, and it isn't mentioned in my book. *now going to the bar to buy you a virtual pint* ...Cheers! ;)
  3. I know exactly what you're talking about. Try plucking both the first and second notes with you're first finger. That way it's easy to jump up to the octave with your second finger. This should make it a whole lot easier.
  4. ondray


    Jun 3, 2004
    I am not really sure about your problem playing octaves but I have had a great lesson from jeremynyc in the UBB bass forum.

    This is a permutation excercise for octaves/string skipping riffs.

    Assuming fretting hand:
    R=root note
    X=8th note

    Assuming plucking hand:
    i = index finger
    m = middle finger

    1) RRXX RRXX
    imim imim

    2) RRXX RRXX
    mimi mimi

    3) RRXX RRXX
    iimm iimm

    4) RRXX RRXX
    mmii mmii

    (no.4 is harder due to different finger lengths)

    I did this for a couple of weeks and the results were amazing. I was able to get used to play any kinds of octave/string skipping riffs especially disco songs. Am still doing the exercise now.

    Another lesson which i found to be helpful was a lesson in the second issue of the Total Bass Guitar magazine (UK bass guitar mag)

    It shows the fingerings for octaves which has 3 notes in a beat so it's quite different from the permutation exercise above.

    It basically involves:


    R = quaver or 1/8 note
    X = semiquaver or 1/16 note

    the fingerings are:

    i i m i i m i i m i i m

    This helps increase the speed of your index finger when doing string skippings. You can also try the reverse way by starting with the middle finger.

    Thanks for reading and hope that helps.

  5. Peter Murray

    Peter Murray Commercial User

    Dec 13, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Artist Relations and Social Media Manager, Pigtronix and Supro
    I must have had a pint or two when I wrote this, cause I say "ring finger" twice when I mean MIDDLE finger. I do sometimes use the ring finger when playing high-speed triplets... but not shuffles. Sorry if this confused anybody!! :meh:
    Cheers, Kevin!
  6. PhilMan99


    Jul 18, 2003
    US, Maryland
    Depending on what you mean by "shuffle", you may be struggling more with rhythm.

    In rock, the underlying "ticks" (divisions of time) are very even; eighth-notes, sixteenth, etc. Rockers playing jazz just don't sound right; they don't "swing".

    In some genres, the underlying "ticks" are triplets. Each beat is broken into 3 parts/ticks, the first two tied-together (one note) and the third played as a separate note. Thus, rather than playing nice even eighth-notes (two on each beat), for example, the first eighth-note is held longer (2/3 of the beat).

    Since your middle finger is longer than your pointer-finger, if you lead each beat with the middle finger, depending on your wrist angle, you may well get a "natural" shuffle rhythm.

    Next time you're in a music store, this is explained rather nicely on page 36 of "Serious Electric Bass" by Joel Di Bartolo.