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Jazz Bass Lessons: Basic Shifting

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Now I'd like to talk
to you about shifting.
Shifting, on the bass is a very
challenging thing at times, but,
I feel, like if we really focus on
keeping our hands centered, and
we think about the arm shifting as opposed
to the hand and the fingers shifting.
We can go a long way to ensure that
we play really in tune on the bass.
So I'm gonna give you a little
exercise that really helps.
This is basically a shifting exercise
where we do a part of a scale.
All on one string, and
we'll do it on all four strings.
And we'll do variations, we'll do a major
one, a minor one, and a chromatic one.
I'll explain what those
are in a minute and
also in the In the theory section we'll
talk about that as well, but a major one.
I think we're all familiar
with this sound
here we have starting on A.
So we're starting really in A position.
Remember that?
A, B flat and B are in our hand already.
And, I want to get this idea in your head.
Whenever you set up in a position,
you want to have all three notes lined up,
not just the one that you might
be playing at that moment.
You want to be ready to
play the others in tune.
Again, let's set up and see how we do and
test it against the open strings.
Here's the A
notice how I played,
I was a little teeny bit high,
and I moved my finger.
That's a good thing to try right now
notice how when it all lines up,
we get it right in tune.
It rings in a certain way.
And notice even when I'm sliding here,
I'm trying not to change
the shape of my hand too much.
I'm not letting my hand
get out of position
okay, so we have our A.
See I corrected it, B flat and B.
Check the B.
With your E string.
So now we're gonna play G, A and B.
At first.
Here's where the shift comes in.
We wanna get from this B to
the C right next to it but
in order to play in tune and have
the positions intact we're gonna have to
shift to the next position, where
the first finger is going to be on C, so.
That's where we have to go.
The way we do the shift,
is to think like this, we're gonna glide,
we're gonna slide, we're not gonna hop.
When you see some bass players,
including myself before I really
got my shifting together.
They, sort of, hop around the bass,
instead of glide.
Gliding, I mean, the bass
the hand stays in contact with
the instrument the whole time.
We don't hop, we glide.
And we can use a little sliding exercise,
we call that portamento in music, sliding.
This is an exaggeration to get you to
connect the notes.
See what I'm doing?
I'm gonna slide up.
The first direction is up.
See how if you move
your fingers a little bit
let's look at that again.
You play G.
[SOUND] Now the first
finger's gonna be on C.
Now start sliding.
Now we're gonna have to
get that fourth finger on B.
There it is
without the slide
that's major,
let's try the minor
So now we have a open G string,
we have the first finger on A,
now we're gonna use our second finger.
On B flat.
Lets try that a little bit.
Now, we're gonna shift from that B flat,
G, A, B flat,
now we got to get to the C, but
we want our first finger on the C.
Now the last one
will be on the G string.
Will be chromatic,
where we play all the half steps in a row.
So all the smaller divisions of the steps.
G, A flat and
then slide to A,
B flat, B C, C sharp.
How about going down?
Now notice I did that little
sliding again, the portamento.
portamento here
into the C
Slide into that change into the B,
we went from the C
so chromatic,
I took the slide out.
[SOUND] Now let's
do all of this
on the D string.
The one thing that helps about all this
is the fingering, for the major and
the minor and
the chromatic shifting exercise is always
the same no matter what string we're on.
[SOUND] So Now we're on the D string.
[SOUND] We're gonna start with
our first finger on E natural.
That's E position on the D string.
Make sure we have all three notes in tune.
E, F, and F sharp, even though were
not gonna play the F natural yet.
So that's the first part of the exercise,
D, E, and F sharp.
Now sometimes we're gonna be,
tendency is to go a little
high on that fingered G.
The first shift, so
we have to work on that,
that's better.
There's the A.
sure that
G's good.
We can use the open A string to
check our pitch again.
Open string's always good.
Checking pitch,
Now let's
work on that shift.
First, we'll put the slide in.
So we're going to go between
the F sharp and the G.
with the first
finger into the G.
There's your A, then you come back.
Slide with the fourth
finger down to the F sharp,
one more time with the slide.
Okay now,
Same finger as before on the higher string
we're gonna go open string, D, E natural,
F natural, the minor sound, G.
let's try
the sliding.
Again, when I slide,
I make sure that
the whole arm glides.
I don't change the shape
of my hand around.
So, that's the minor.
Now we'll take the slide out.
And now we're playing
the intervals more open and in tune.
The bass is ringing correctly.
Now let's try the chromatic.
Same fingering as before.
In other words, you do open,
and then one, one, two, four.
One, two, four.
So with the slide.
Here's that shift.
See what I did?
Getting ready to slide between
the fourth finger and the first.
F sharp and G.
A flat.
Now we'll just do it on the A string.
Again, the fingering is the same.
So now, we start with our first
finger on B natural on the A string.
Now, you notice on these low strings,
you got to make sure you open up
your hand, and you come around now.
Now we're coming around to
the low strings on the bass.
Make sure you don't fall into
the trap of breaking your wrist or
getting sorta like lazy with
the left elbow and let it hang down.
Make sure it's a straight line.
There's A, B, and C sharp.
And then the shift, to the D.
Make sure you really got a D there,
and then, now there's an E.
You can have a nice open E there.
So there's the major.
That fingering again, O, O is for open.
One, four,
one, four, one.
See the major is very easy.
It's O, one four, one four.
With the portamento,
the slidey.
C sharp to D.
Check it.
One more.
Well, actually two more.
Sorry, I lied.
This is minor now.
A, B, C, D and E.
All right, we're gonna slide.
the chromatic.
B flat, B.
All right, actually used the one twice,
so zero, one, C natural, C sharp, D,
check it, D flat, D sharp,
I'm sorry, E flat.
E natural.
Now, you notice on these low strings,
you feel the pressure and the weight.
You have to use the weight wisely.
Resist the temptation to start pressing
into the neck with your thumb.
This is a challenge on the bottom strings.
There's a lot of weight that's required
just to hold these notes down.
So that fingering,
again, for the chromatic is O,
one, one two four.
One, two, four.
Make sure you're saying the notes,
too, so you're learning the notes.
A, B flat, B, C natural, C sharp.
D, E flat, E.
With the slur, and,
you know with the slide and
without the slide again.
And finally, E, E major first.
So we have O, one, four, one, four.
So open E, F sharp,
G sharp, A, B.
A, make sure you get your forearm up and
I have to watch it myself.
B, A, G sharp, F sharp, E.
See, I'm doing the my little
portamento, now without it.
Again, I'm gliding.
I'm not hopping.
The minor, E, F sharp, G, A, B.
See, I'm connecting those notes.
At first it's a little,
don't be discouraged.
It takes a little practice
just to connect those.
But even when you're practicing
these things, think of the beauty
of the tone of the bass.
The bass is a noble instrument.
It's majestic in sound.
You want the notes to ring like that.
You can get control of that.
It's a wonderful feeling
to have those rich
notes flying out of the bass like that.
Okay, so that's the minor.
E, F sharp, G, A, and B.
And finally the chromatic.
E, F, F sharp, G,
G sharp, A, B flat, B,
B, B flat, A, G sharp G,
F sharp, F, E.
This one coming down is a little
trickier to play really legato,
cuz there's so much weight on
these strings at this point.
The thickest string on the bass and
you're playing up high on the string.
That's a challenge.
So, you really have to just take it easy.
Remember that the weight of your arm
it's not pressing into the neck with
your thumb.
There's the shift.
At this point,
you might want to send me a video,
to cover the shifting exercises
we just did, the portamento.
You might have questions.
But before you send it in,
make sure you check out what
I've said to the other students.
I'll take a look at it, and
I'll give you some feedback.