Improving the finger roll

Hi all,
I’m guessing the answer here is more practice, but any tips or tricks for the finger roll? Sometimes it works ok, other times not so much, and just now terrible on Pretty Pink Ribbon. Also, it’s hurting the heck out of my finger pads (whine), I’m guessing I need those pads to toughen up. Anyway, am I thinking right here? Any other recommendations?

THANKS!

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I struggle with them too, so you are not alone! Lower action would probably help. I don’t know of any other tricks unfortunately. I imagine it gets easier the more you do it, like most new bassist struggles. I really enjoyed playing Pretty Pink Ribbon though. Fun song to play.

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You just have to build enough strength, so practice but don’t overdo it or you’ll hurt your fingers.

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What I’d like to know about finger rolling is how can I do it without “inverting” the finger joint. (Not sure if that’s the right term, but hopefully I’m making sense.) The angle my finger ends up in scares me sometimes, especially the pinky.

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Not familiar with the terminology…probably later in the course than I am at the moment. For context I’m taking the course to restrengthen and establish basics I had missed in my bass journey, but am an experienced player. What is a finger roll? Fretting hand going from index, middle, ring, pinky on same string or?

Using one finger to transition between the same fret on two adjacent strings (e.g. 5th fret on A to 5th fret on E)

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Basically fretting two strings on the same fret in succession with the same finger. If that makes sense. Like playing a 5th fret on the D string then using the same finger without moving it on the 5th fret of the G string.

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@Gio correctly pointed out below that the following is NOT a finger roll, but an example of a barre which is used to play notes strummed together, but not one after the other (generally). I confused the terminology and want to make sure I’m presenting accurate info, so I apologize for that!

Ignore the full power chord (for now) that some tabs will show. With the index finger fret the fifth fret on both the D and G string. Just keep the finger kind of flat, hold both down and strum. This then has a hammer on with middle finger to both of the 6th frets, then with the index to both of the 7th frets. It will look like this. Not doing it in time just showing fretting and sound.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XrpWbPDvBCkcIxuIBlskjC1aCQO7KngL/view?usp=drivesdk

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A couple of songs that use that pattern are “Billie Jean”, “Money”, and “In the Light”.

What you’re supposed to do is hit each note individually and separately with the ring finger and the pinky. . . I still can’t do it it, so I’m stuck using that finger roll technique.

But as @kerushlow pointed out in another thread, as long as the sounds come out right, you’re doing ok! :slight_smile:

Cheers
Joe

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Hmmm…I didn’t even think about that. Just tried it and can do it both ways, but without thinking I do the finger roll too. The octave thing is actually a finger twister, I don’t have that down at all lol. As far as roll or pinky…it only matters in the octave version.

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This is a good discussion. That move from the same fret across to the adjacent string is one of my nemesi(?)/demons/problems. Just have to practice more…also I now understand what a previous teacher of mine used to say that made no sense to me at the time…he would say a major 5th is just a major 4th backwards or somesuch nonsense. So thanks Josh for the music theory!

Mark Smith calls this technique “Joint Barring” in his courses, which is where you bend the joint in your plucking finger in such a way that it strikes the string below or the string above simply by bending it back and forth. It’s hard to explain the motion; in fact I had to watch the video over and over several times before I actually got it.
Common uses of this technique are songs like Billie Jean where you have to rapidly go from the F# to the C# below it, and then later in the song go from the B to the F#. Another one is Money, in which you have to go from the high B down to the F# and then from the middle B to the low F#.
It’s a good technique to have in your toolbox, but IMO not absolutely necessary.

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Oh yes, same fret on different strings can drive me nuts, too.
I practiced this recently and what worked for me on the 5th fret E- and A-string, was to really find the best spot on my index finger on the A-string. I fretted it with the joint because this feels strongest and is also more protruded (is that the right word?). Then I made sure that I remain in contact with the string all the time and only shifting the pressure between joint and finger tip for the E-string. This will most likely depend on the size of your fingers and which fret and strings and a whole lot of other factors, but worked really well for me going back and forth between the two.

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No Josh, I did not do a great job on pretty pink ribbon on the actual speed. In fact I sucked. Bad. Like real bad. Can do medium, but not actual speed. Not only can I not finger roll well, but I can’t pluck at speed. so there is another thing i need to work on. Plucking alternate strings fast. Any good exercise recommendations for that?

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I never got great at the finger roll, and opted to just use pinky+ring fingers to fret each individually whenever possible. The finger roll seems like the shortcut rather than the foundation to me. Though sometimes it is the only option.

Like an A chord on guitar, I like to fit 3 fingers in tight rather than mash 1 finger across 3 strings. I feel like I get more precision fretting individually.

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Hmmmm…Southbound Pachyderm by Primus (I know, more Primus) is actually a great exercise for alternate plucking and starts to even help develop some plucking autonomy with your middle and index plucking fingers.

Goes a bit like this (the exercise portion of it)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LMAsl87qG3X5T8xqyv8jXFYZ_GxKOMn-/view?usp=drivesdk

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Yeah, that works too and does tend to be a bit more precise. This is sort of an example of technique preference as opposed to serving some purpose.

@The_Baron since Pretty Pink Ribbon has plenty of both things you want to work on, a good exercise is probably just playing it slowed down and gradually increasing speed when you feel confident. It’s one of the songs in the 50 First Songs collection in the course extras so you can adjust the BPM and play along with the whole song.

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@kerushlow you are on point with the Primus-related exercises :smile: Love it

Lol…everything I know I learned 3rd hand from Les Claypool!

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