Reply to Thread
Posts 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Hi everyone, I'm a beginner in jazz improvisation but have been playing bossa nova for a while. I'm currently working on Sheryl Bailey's Bebop Dojo mainly to learn comping an improv.

    I current use a nylon string guitar since it's my sole guitar for bossa nova and jazz.

    When it comes to shell voicings, would it be better to strum them downwards with the fingernails or pluck them with my thumb and 1st/2nd finger?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Since either would give you different effects and sonic options, why not use both? Personally, any time I'm given two options for doing something, I look for the third too. The more diverse your toolset is, the more you can make your solo a personal statement. Being comfortable with different approaches gives you what you need to bring more colours to the canvas of your playing.
    Why not?

    David

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    As above. Strums are more staccato and much heavier on rhythm, plucking gives more options. Hitting individual notes is easier with the fingers. Obviously bossa would be more effective with the fingers.

    And so on. It depends a lot on the tune and what effect you want to produce. And there's the option of using both in the same tune for variety.

    Whether you use your thumb or nails for a strum is also up to you. Nails are crisper but a far more brittle sound. Rhythmic upstrokes are harder using the nails. Again it's not either/or, nor is there a standard way of doing it. Experiment is my advice!

  5. #4
    Yeah. Every instrument is different, and you adjust what you do technically to the sound and playability factors of the specific instrument.

    Nylon strings are muddier sounding with those voicings played simultaneously in my opinion, but I have a pretty cheap and crappy classical guitar anyway . So it may be very different with other instruments. Mostly, you just have to use your ears to determine which sounds best. To my way of hearing, I like to break things up rhythmically more with the nylon string, for two reasons : the muddy factor mentioned above and also the lack of sustain. You somewhat have to fill out more on nylon anyway in my experience. So, I'm playing more with fingers and separating out the bass part rhythmically from the inner voices.

    But more importantly, what sounds best to YOU?

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Thanks for the advice guys. I agree that strumming downwards with the nails sounds muddier than plucking them. I guess both of them would work in different situations.

    For now, I'm trying to switch between both styles everytime the backing track loops.

    As for single note lines, I've been alternating P and I when I practice scales. Is this the most efficient way? I heard that some nylon string players like to alternate between the thumb and index finger.

  7. #6
    As for single note lines, I've been alternating P and I when I practice scales. Is this the most efficient way? I heard that some nylon string players like to alternate between the thumb and index finger.
    Alternating between P and I is alternating between the thumb and the index. A more straight forward way for nylon is using the I and M (ring and middle) fingers, but both are valid approaches. Especially if someone is coming from steel strings, thumb and index is often easier to use.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Thanks! I'll see which approach is more comfortable for me.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    You may find it easier to "swing" lines using thumb and index; it sort of imitates using a pick, and allows for the long-short phrasing of swing eighths. On the other hand (or same hand, as it happens), i-m alternation may be better for Latin and EMC-style straight-eighth-note linear playing. Take a listen to Ralph Towner and Gene Bertoncini on youtube to hear how they approach jazz phrasing on the nylon-string guitar. As far as chords and chord voicing go, thumb and fingers will give you a more pianistic and orchestral sound than strumming will, although strumming can be more energetic when that is needed.