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Help with right hand plucking technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lukeridden, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. Lukeridden


    Jan 26, 2014
    Hi Guys - the title is what I think may be my problem
    I'm currently playing in a 3 piece hard rock band and I play a Fender Jazz Bass and a P Bass (both standard)
    When I play both instruments particularly the P bass anchoring on the neck pup i think i must be slapping the pup giving not a great sound off. I'm not sure whether this is me plucking too hard - or whether i need to raise the action or lower the pups (will that effect the sound?)
    Recently I've been anchoring on the bridge pup which doesnt slap the pups because the tension of the string is higher - but playing on the bridge isn't ideal for me as you dont get the same lows.
    Thanks guys
  2. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    If your P pup is too high, the string could be making contact.

    Playing near the bridge will give you less string movement and a tighter sound, so lowering the pup is probably in order.

    You want to be able to dig in when you need to and not have the string contact the pickup.

    When I bought my VM Jazz, the pups were way too high.

    Also note that there is a sweet spot in that if the pups are too high or too low you will get undesirable effects (such as string contacting the pup and possible producing too hot a signal, or loss of sustain if the pup is too low).

    Experiment until you find the height that suits your style.
  3. Lukeridden


    Jan 26, 2014
    Ok - thanks for reply - like I say, would lowering the pup effect the sound ?
  4. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    First, welcome to talkbass. You should fill out your profile. It really helps us answer certain questions. It sounds to me like you need a couple of lessons. You should not rest you fingers on the pickups. The non-plucking fingers should be used to mute the non-plucked strings. Normal rest position is thumb on A string resting against the E string for a 4 string. Also, the best tone is achieved by using a light touch with the tips of the fingers. This is the most plectrum-like sound. It requires a sufficiently loud amp. Often players start with an underpowered amp. They try to make up for the lack of volume by plucking hard resulting in bad habits.

    BTW, there is nothing wrong with plucking hard. I like to pluck hard sometimes as a technique to get more of an overdrive tone. But when I practice I try to get the lightest touch for maximum tone.

    Moderators: this post should be moved to the technique section.
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  6. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    it will lower the output, but won't *significantly* alter your tone. you'll just need to turn your amp up a bit louder. also, make sure to lower both pickups, or one will be louder than the other.

    caveat - sometimes pickups can be way too high, and lowering them will actually increase output.

    another suggestion: i like to play actually over the end of the neck. gives a nice deep hollow sound. fix your pickup heights, but try this also. it's a nice flavor.
  7. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    I was adding stuff while you were responding, so to further elaborate, there is a subtle trade off for every adjustment in pickup height.

    Too close to the strings and you'll get unwanted noise and sometimes even harsh overtones, while too far away and you'll lose some tonal qualities you like and lose some sustain.

    I find that a floating technique is most often more useful than having a set anchor spot that you rigorously adhere to.
    Be flexible, you'll find a big range of tones away from those two anchor points.
    Sometimes you need to anchor firmly to play a passage evenly, however.

    There are no rules set in stone.
    Do what works best for you.
  8. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    While this is all fair enough, i respectfully disagree. there is nothing incorrect here, except for being overly restrictive.

    you can rest your thumb on the pickup if you want to. moving your thumb is also okay, it's just a different (equally accepted) school of playing.

    and there could be a legitimate pickup height problem.

    but yes, get some lessons. you'll be glad you did. (i think we can all agree on that point :))
  9. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    You get more fundamental as you lower the pickups and more overtones as you raise them.
  10. Lukeridden


    Jan 26, 2014
    Thanks both of you - BFunk - when i said i rest on the pup i was talking about when i only play the E string - i rest on other strings when playing the lower strings I should have made that clear; and i will be sure to update my information
    Thanks again
  11. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    Cool. That is very good form. As for the pickup height, since I like rich overtones, I tend to raise the pickups as high as I can and then lower them for plucking comfort and to have no contact direct contact between pickup and string. This type of contact can cause speaker damage in certain situations. Again the amount you need to lower the pickup depends on how heavy handed you are. From that point I make micro adjustments for tone. It is surprising how little changes can effect the tone.
  12. Lukeridden


    Jan 26, 2014
    Yeah - I'll do some experimenting
    Thanks again for everyones help - you have answered my questions

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