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Finger rolling

PompierPompier MarylandNew Cigano GJ-15
in Technique Posts: 62
I'm curious, what's your perspective on finger rolling, i.e., using the same finger to play multiple consecutive notes on the same fret of different strings? I'm looking at Yaakov Hoter's arpeggio booklet. It's quite helpful, but I'm having difficulty with some of the suggested fingerings, particularly doing a finger roll over 3 strings or rolling with fingers other than the index finger. I found multiple threads on the topic at, but this may not reflect the prevalent practice on GJ guitars.


  • psychebillypsychebilly Kentucky, USA
    Posts: 40

    Wim GlennBuco
    Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
  • PompierPompier MarylandNew Cigano GJ-15
    edited July 2018 Posts: 62
    Gonzalo helpfully clarified for me the meaning of the practice method I tend to follow myself. Work a couple of minutes on one technical aspect of playing, a couple of minutes on another, etc. Now I realize I'm doing exactly what he says -- concentrating on my weak points. Which at this point include everything I might want to do with a guitar. :)

    Since I'm not hearing recommendations to use multiple fingers or alternative fingerings instead of some finger rolling variants, I take it that people actually do use all these moves on GJ guitars.
  • psychebillypsychebilly Kentucky, USA
    Posts: 40
    Do it your way...Django did...
    Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
  • DeuxDoigts_TonnerreDeuxDoigts_Tonnerre Lawrenceville GA USANew Altamira M30D, Eastman AR810CE
    Posts: 26
    I am currently using the two-finger technique for practicing my Gypsy Jazz (and other genres as well) and I pretty much have to finger roll with my first and second fingers when doing certain arpeggios. Some of the arpeggios work very nicely this way. With a little practice, you should be able to whip out those quick, snappy arpeggios like Django did.

    Sometimes for example if you play the same fret for 3 consecutive strings, you may have to roll 2 strings with your first finger, then grab the last string with your second finger to get you set up to reach 1 or 2 frets back on the next string with your first finger.
  • edited July 2018 Posts: 3,707
    I use finger rolls sometimes but most importantly I figure out the fingering that gives me the cleanest quickest shift. sometimes its a roll sometimes its using another finger. I will often try several fingerings before I find the most efficient one
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 2,845
    It's interesting to hear Gonzalo say in that video how he found artistic freedom in this genre that can be very strict and inflexible on the technical side.

    That said, I don't think there's a reason why you wouldn't take tips from or as others said just look for something that works for you. I don't see this as something that would need to be practiced regularly though. Maybe if you ran into a specific situation where you need to find the most efficient way to move from one note to another. But I see that as isolated situation, not a part of your practice routine.

    You know, as much as I like Yaakov, I wonder if teachers practice religiously everything they preach? That's not to say they don't have a mastery of a concept they present. But I'd think that the stuff like that just found it's way into their playing because they play so much more than us. Then they recognize something they do, pluck it and figure it could make an interesting lesson. Of course stuff like creates a value. But why is it that us amateurs need it and the guys at the top always seem to intuitively know what's the right thing to practice and get better? I've never heard none of these guys say "I followed so and so method", they seem to be pretty individualistic. As Gonzalo in a way implied too. I'm not even sure what am I trying to say here haha, just rambling. I was really just looking for the chance to say Go Croatia!
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • PompierPompier MarylandNew Cigano GJ-15
    edited July 2018 Posts: 62
    Interestingly, the discussion at was largely polarized into pro-rolling and anti-rolling camps. I was also expecting to find strong opinions here, but perhaps with a different distribution, since the higher action seems to make finger rolling more difficult. Upon closer inspection, Yaakov doesn't seem to do a finger roll over 3 strings in his arpeggios; he just bars them. I'm curious why you don't see this as regular practice material. Do you find that you rarely need to make a quick vertical move on the same fret in your playing?

    My motivation for this question was time saving. For example, there are a quite a few possible fingerings for the "vertical" C major triad arpeggio on frets 5-8. I can't rely on my initial instincts to decide which ones work best for me, as I would have never stuck with downstrokes for descending arpeggios if I didn't know that it was a "thing". This is an analogous area of technical difficulty, where learning about common practice was ultimately fruitful. I chanced upon the non-rest stroke "grace-note" downstroke and dug into archives to find out that Stochelo uses it. I also learned that Gonzalo avoids one-note-per-string downward arpeggios altogether. That kind of stuff is good to know, for someone like me.

    Which brings me to your last question. We can't know for sure what virtuoso players go through to get where they are, or what combination of natural athleticism and dedication have gotten them to that point. Perhaps they developed their technique, as the Germans say "mit schlafwandlerischer Sicherheit", with somnambulistic confidence, or perhaps they completely reworked their technique at some point, as I've heard many classical pianists do when they reach adulthood. However, I am pretty sure that I won't devote nearly as much time to the instrument as they have done. I'm looking for any shortcut to a satisfying musical experience that I can find. As long as I'm learning the basics of a tradition, originality isn't high up on my agenda.
  • edited July 2018 Posts: 2,845
    Haha there's such a thing as pro and anti finger rolling camps! Man is there anything on this planet people can't make a strongly opinionated argument about?

    Yeah I do finger roll when playing 1-3-5-back to root arpeggio, so 5 to root is played with the same finger. But I don't remember using this technique regularly in my playing. I'm not a good example either just because of my own level. And maybe it's more common in the straight ahead, bebop etc, jazz world because they probably transcibe wind players much more. A few sax solos I learned way back laid on the guitar fingerboard in a very weird and unusual way, it was awkward to find a practical fingering. So it could be that it finds it's way into their playing.

    I'm also convinced Django used a lot of that in his two fingers playing skip between strings with the same finger. At least as much if not more often than a long stretches between the two notes on the same string. There was a thread some time ago about how Django might have fingered some run. Most people seemed to think that he simply made long stretches on the same string since he had long and flexible fingers. I was able to play it within a few days practice by skipping the two strings with the same finger at his speed only not as clean. Still I don't know if I convinced anyone. The conclusion was that he was probably just stretching. To me Django would, even with his celebrated skills, go for a simpler and more practical solution. Though it could certainly be that it was just as easy for him to do large and long stretches.

    When it comes to the best of the best and how they practice, lately I tend to think that it's more about sticking to something and making it work when it comes to pure technique. With a lot of really good players you see a different approach to similar challenges. I wasted a lot of opportunities to get better because I was unsure if something I, as you said, chanced upon was the "right" way to do things and didn't want to practice or stick with something if might have been "wrong". Now I see how silly that was. You should just go with what have at the moment. Things will work themselves out in an evolutionary sort of way if you keep at it. I agree with you when you said they do it with somnambulistic confidence (though I had to look up the word :)).

    And I hear you about the shortcuts too. However I think you can learn and understand those on the intellectual level but you won't be able able to use it in your playing unless you woodshed, just like those who thought it to you. Case in point is Duved Dunajevski course and concepts he thought at Django in June and also available on Soundslice.
    I don't know if I ever saw a concept that was as simple to understand and at the same time so effective and beautiful sounding in the hands of those who mastered it, like Duved. But you don't all of a sudden hear a bunch of players sounding like him after he spilled out all of his "secrets". So I don't know if shortcuts really exist. I'd like to think it might get you there faster. But then I was in Wrembel's class once and he said exactly that "there are no shortcuts".
    Sorry :)

    @Pompier do you ever come to Bethesda jam?
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,899
    Hey Buco, which 1-3-5 arp are you referring to above?

  • edited July 2018 Posts: 2,845
    @Bones I started typing it out, PITA. So much easier to just record and upload a quick example of it:

    First G arp then C arp.

    By the way, Sebastien said at Django in June this 6th string root arp is the only thing he does for "practice" or warming up before the show. He goes through every key, first slowly with all downstrokes, then faster with conventional GJ picking, then triplets feel, it takes about 20 minutes and "I'm good to go".
    So I asked him "how the heck did you get that good?".
    The answer was a common one: playing a sh!tload when younger, over 10 hours a day was not uncommon, learning interesting parts from those who he admired, coming up with his own flashy licks... He said he spent about 10 years studying Balkan Gypsy music of Romania, Serbia etc...
    He said at one point "there's no magic guys"...

    Oh yeah, it was hilarious when he said that friendly competition was also helpful in those days: "Adrien M would call me over the phone, say check this out m-f, put the handset by his guitar and play something crazy. I'd hang up and think holy sh!t!?! Then I'd sit down, spend the next day coming up with something of my own, call him and say now you listen to this m-f!!
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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