Okay so we have a riff like this used by guys like Lightnin' Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughan and I'm having a hard time with it.


Now it is simple enough but I'm having a major problem: the high notes ringing out. Should I be applying more of a muted percussive effect to the high strings or should they just ring through?

It isn't so much of a problem when I play it acoustically, but when I plug in, the sound is just really muddy and terrible. I have that alternate down-up swing feel, but I just don't know what to do with the up strokes. Anyone mind helping me out?
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Last edited by BlueTele1983 at Oct 29, 2009,
Part of the key is to keep your picking hand very relaxed and when you bring it down to strike the lower, bass notes mute all the other strings, the lower notes end up being a little more of a thump with a vague pitch to it that the ringing notes I suspect you're going for at the minute but that's one of the things that helps give it that swing feel.
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Everybody's technique is a little different, but ya...you should be sort of dragging or raking your pick across all of the strings in an even strumming motion and applying emphasis the note you want to ring out.

Try really exagerating you right hand... even to the point of passing right passed those high notes by several inches before you return on the up stroke... that over exagerated movement will help you with the feel and timing.

It's has a very percussive feel...

The left hand is muting all of the other strings (with the bottom of the fingers as they curl over the high notes) except for the note you want to ring out (usually a low note) as the right hand strikes... that note gets the emphasis and is timed to be fretted just when the right hand passes and strikes that string.

Another way of looking at it is that "all the strings get the emphasis" (dead notes included), but because all the strings are muted except for the notes you want to ring out... the muted notes sound sort of dead and percussive while the fretted note rings out.

The real trick is in fretting the notes you want to ring out just at the right time when the right hand is striking. At first you really need to exagerate the muting and the right hand technique, but as you get better you will lighten up a bit.

It's really one of those things that's very "feel" oriented and can't be explained very well. You've really got to practice a long time to get a really good shuffle.

Some shuffles have a hammer-on phase to the chord being shuffled and if this isn't timed just right with the right hand it will sound terrible. The hammer-on phase is usually started with a backwards rake on the picking hand and then the hammer on the left hand... and then shuffle... and so on.

Hope that makes sense... practice ... practice ... practice
Last edited by Jammy Pige at Nov 2, 2009,
You just need to mute the high strings before picking the bass note again. How you do it is completely up to you - as well as how long you want the high notes to ring out, and whether or not you want to strum any extra strings for a more percussive sound. But you definitely don't want to let the high notes ring out continuously.

I find it easier to use my fretting hand to mute the high strings after the upstroke.

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Last edited by Guitartist at Nov 3, 2009,