View Full Version : Jumping Strings With the Same Finger

Mike Buesseler
Jul-26-2005, 7:02pm
I almost added this to the "Keeping Fingers Down" thread, because this question arose while learning the same tune as that one. # But, this is enough different from that issue--and comes up often enough in other tunes--that I think it warrants a new thread.

(The tune, btw, is Blair Athole, featured in last month's Mandolin Magazine. #Great tune!)

There is a phrase in the second measure of the B part which ends on the third string, fifth fret, an eighth note G. #The very next measure begins with another eighth note on the first string, fifth fret, an A. #

My problem is this: #I'm fretting that G note with my third finger (which I think is correct). #But, I need to play the next note, A, on the first string with the same finger, a split second later. #Making that quick jump seems to chop off the G note before it should end, and I barely get to the A on time and cleanly.

This problem is common enough for Simon Mayor to dedicate a whole section of one of his books to the problem. #His solution, however deals with jumping adjacent strings and I don't think his solution works here...at least not as far as I can see. #

So, how do you jump a given finger from one string to another, non-adjacent, string in a quick passage without it sounding choppy? #

(SMs solution for jumping to adjacent strings, same fret, involves using another finger for the first note. #That seems too difficult for this problem....)

John Flynn
Jul-26-2005, 7:12pm
I would use either my pinky or my second finger on the first string. The pinky should be right there, over the fret anyway. The second finger is in position for a nice slide up to the fifth fret, if you want that effect. I would try them both and see which one works the best, including leaving you in position for the notes that follow.

Mike Buesseler
Jul-26-2005, 7:23pm
I would use either my pinky or my second finger on the first string.

Good point, but I forgot to mention that immediately after the A (on the first string, fifth fret), you play a B, first string, seventh fret. So, forget using the pinky. You need it for the next note. And using the second finger seems very awkward to me....

John Flynn
Jul-26-2005, 7:50pm
Then for me, the second finger would definitely be the way I would go. I would hit the G with the third, then be sliding my hand up the neck about an inch as the second is coming down to hit the A and then the third is right in position for the B. Using the second would only be awkward if you kept your hand in the same spot and did not slide up. A one-inch slide and it's a piece of cake.

Mike Buesseler
Jul-26-2005, 11:17pm
Thanks, Johnny. I messed around with those ideas and came up with one that works for me. I play that G on the third string with the SECOND finger, then the A on the first string with the third, followed by my pinkie to the B. Sounds odd, maybe, but it requires no sliding at all. I don't know why I didn't think of trying that in the first place. I guess I get locked into thinking the fingers have to go to certain frets all the time. T'aint true.

Actually, it's a sign of my improved playing that I'm even thinking about this stuff. It used to be I was happy to get to ANY fret at the approximately right time.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Pete Martin
Jul-27-2005, 11:44am
Another solution COULD be to lay the ring finger flat over the D A and E stings, getting both notes that way. You would have to try it to see if it works for you.

Mike Buesseler
Jul-27-2005, 1:32pm
Another good point, Peter. I often press down two strings at a time...not sure if I can handle three at a time. But, I still love all these different ways to skin the cat.

The real lesson for me has been that, sometimes you have to break the rules for a particular tune. When you are focused on just remembering the dang rules in the first place, this can be frustrating. But, I'm coming to grips (pun intended) with it, thanks to the wonderful advice of the fine folks who share this message board.

Bob DeVellis
Jul-27-2005, 5:06pm
There's a scene in Ghostbusters in which Sigorney Weaver, who's possessed by a demon, is trying to seduce Bill Murray. Bill says somehting like, "I make it a rule not to consort with demons." Sigorney kisses his neck, rubs his chest, and Bill says, "Well, it's more of a guideline than an actual rule." I think that applies to a lot of the "rules" of mandolin playing. they're tools to get you where you want to be. Buy it's okay to adapt them -- they're really only guidelines.

Jul-27-2005, 11:05pm
I play that G on the third string with the SECOND finger, then the A on the first #string with the third, followed by my pinkie to the B.

That's how I would do it. #Remember, you can go to an alternate fingering (or position) change before you actually get to the problematic part.

It's like playing pool....you set yourself up for the next couple of shots. So you don't always go for the ball that's right in front of a pocket (which would leave the cue ball in a spot where there weren't any good shots), but go for a slightly harder shot and sink that ball which leaves you in a good position on the table to sink a few more.

It's all about net gain. #You go with the option that makes it the easiet in the overall sense. You can practice other ways as exercises, so if you paint yourself into a corner you can wriggle out of it better.

Niles H

Mike Buesseler
Jul-28-2005, 8:49am
From Mandocrucian: That's how I would do it.

I have arrived! #Seriously, Niles, thanks for that. #If I figured out a way to play this (with some help...) that is the way YOU would do it, I feel like I must have crossed onto a new plateau.

I recently acquired and am learning to play an octave mando. #You have to make this kind decision all the time on an octave. #I think it's helped my standard mandolin playing a lot.