Fingering! How many fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lukc, Jan 23, 2013.


  1. Lukc

    Lukc

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2012
    Location:
    Portugal
    I am a begining bass player, and I have been playing for almost a year now. I never had a bass teacher, but all online guides were basic: use your thumb on the pick up, pointy and middle finger to finger, and the rest you can use for muting the strings. And I've followed this rigorously. Recently a friend of mine went to one of my practice sessions and said I wasn't using enough fingers. I dismissed it as nonsense, since he really doesn't know anything about music. But then he showed me a video of his father who IS a great bass player, and he used his ring finger as well. Then I was like WHAAATTTT!? Until I noticed the bassist from dream theater did the same thing. So yeah, how many fingers should you be using for fingering?
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Loud Mouth Know It All Blowhard Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Billy Sheehan on using three fingers.

    Do whatever feels good to you. I generally use two, but I can use three if I need to.
  3. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    First of all, the term "fingering" should be used to discuss stopping notes on the fingerboard/fretboard, and you seem to be using it to describe plucking. In any case, there is no should or shouldn't. Jamerson used one finger, many use two; Entwistle and others have used three. Find what's comfortable and practical while meeting the needs of your playing style.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I use two fingers because I can't get the other two in gear. I say do what you want. I'm not especially fond of a teacher teaching you to rest your thumb on the pickup, though. I'll do it sometimes, but for playing harder stuff, I greatly prefer to take my thumb off the pickup and let it float, and floating thumb has become the accepted and most taught way for those who play fast stuff. Not that resting your thumb is wrong, but the floating thumb is more right IMHO.
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  6. kevteop

    kevteop

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    York, UK
    I've always picked with three fingers but only because I never had anybody tell me I should do it another way. I've seen many better bass players than me pick with two fingers, or with a pick, one of course is famous for only using one finger. Don't over-think your technique - what matters is the notes you play and when you play them and whether that improves the music you're playing.

    If you literally can't play something without using three fingers then that's another matter but you may never come across a situation like that, so wood-shedding a three-finger picking technique just in case is probably not a good use of your practise time.
  7. eriky4003

    eriky4003

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    All the people here are saying the same thing. There are no rules for this.
    I'd say go with what you're working with (two fingers). If you feel the need, start working in the ring finger.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Loud Mouth Know It All Blowhard Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005


    Same video. Go to about the almost 6:00 minute mark. Playing really REALLY fast, and ALWAYS anchored on either the top string, top split pickup, or bottom split pickup. Really fast. ALWAYS anchored.

    But, again, as long as the music sounds good, who's to say either way is wrong?
  9. Basshappi

    Basshappi

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    Feb 12, 2007
    Location:
    Tucson,AZ
    Why not learn to use all of them?
  10. aasti3000

    aasti3000 Supporting Member

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    Jul 18, 2012
    I've been playing for less than a year and I asked TBers on here the same question. They're right when they tell you play what's comfortable to you. I started with the 'two-finger' technique but I noticed like two months ago that I play with 'two finger and a thumb technique'. I don't know if that is the 3 finger technique or not but I noticed my thumb generally plays the 'low B' and 'E' and the others strings are played by my index and middle finger. I found that this technique works for me. Like someone just said...try them all.
  11. Nurb

    Nurb

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    Feb 8, 2008
    Location:
    Wrocław, Poland
    You can do what works best for you, but I think there's a reason most bass players use two fingers. Just saying. :bag:
  12. paganjack

    paganjack

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Do what suits the music. Learn techniques for their own sake if you like, but only use them when musically appropriate.

    Honestly I try to just use one finger (index) more often than not- for some reason it grooves harder. However, I've been in situations where I'm using two, three, or all four (can't do five) of the fingers on my right hand. Different techniques for different sounds and feels. Why limit yourself?
  13. Tom-Phil

    Tom-Phil

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    Hamilton OH
    I like this.

  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
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    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Agreed. Does look anchored but lightly. And he does go from string to string. Some folks leave it at one spot, though. Billy's not quite doing floating thumb but it's kind of the general idea of floating. Floating anchor, maybe? ;)
  15. Duke21

    Duke21

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    Positive Grid Beta tester
    3 fingers is what I use to hold my pick.... :D
  16. JoeWPgh

    JoeWPgh

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2012
    I use the first 3, but only any 2 at a time.
  17. Wolfword

    Wolfword

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Yeah, John Myung from DT uses his ring finger, mainly because the style of music demands it.

    I use 2 fingers mainly, but sometimes, to play chords or harmonics with the bassline I use the ring finger. Also, I'm practicing on using 3 fingers to play some passages, but getting a straight 4/4 feel and accent using 3 fingers is difficult, because u tend to gallop.
  18. gjbassist

    gjbassist Supporting Member

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    Sep 7, 2005
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    Really no right or wrong, just what works best for you. I use my index and middle finger.
  19. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    I use one finger if it's a mild pace, and two for everything else. I don't anchor my thumb unless I'm going back and forth between two strings (like A and D). If Im playing only on E and D, I'll use my thumb and middle finger.


    There's no "wrong" way to play unless it involves hurting yourself

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