Shift (string technique)

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This article is about string instrument technique. For a change of level (music), see Shift (music).

On a string instrument, shifting, or a shift, is a movement of the fingers of the left hand from one position to another on the same string. Position is indicated through ordinal numbers (e.g., 3rd). Strings may be indicated through Roman numerals, I-IV, and fingering may be indicated through numbers, 1-4. When done skillfully shifting avoids string noise.

Possible string technique and notation demonstrated on a bit of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", played on a cello. Note the string change to A avoided through shifting and the string change to the G string: the A could have been played open like the D and the entire line could have been in 1st position.

In reference to classical guitar, "Fernando Sor recommends that one should 'be sparing of the operations called barring and shifting'."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ryan, Lee F. (1991). The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless Playing, p.73. ISBN 0-933224-50-8.