Three Finger Technique Across Strings

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Herrick, Dec 27, 2012.


  1. Herrick

    Herrick

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Munchkin Land
    I've been trying to get down the three finger plucking where the one lands on a different finger each time (ring, middle, index, ring etc). I'm having trouble moving from string to string. When you play say four quarter notes on one string & move to another string, do you "start over" with r-m-i-r or do you just use the next finger in the pattern? Like r-m-i-r on one string then go m-i-r-m on the next string?
  2. Fenwick

    Fenwick

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal
    I keep the pattern even when changing strings, but I had to really work hard on nailing the pattern before it felt natural to change strings with it, now I don't even think about it. So in summary; RMI 4 LIFE :D
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

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    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    London,NewYork,Paris,Braintree
    I would practice it like this, check out the link. The video that relates to three finger use is no. 4, the Overview Video.
    But watch the first three to understand the framework and how to count, this will pay dividends in the future as it will help to train your thinking so you do not trip over what you think, what you feel and what you play in relation to you fingers. Each video is 5 minutes long and there is a link in the more "info" section under each one to take you to the next video.

    By putting in a framework to practice to you use the same mechanics of movement, so you build a relationship to it, once this has been developed you just stop thinking about it and do it as a matter of course. The framework is slow and deliberate and progress can be checked because you know where your fingers should be, it is just not a random practice, because it is structured so, as is explained in the overview video, and as each video in the Trilogy is 5 minutes long, it is short enough to give you the information required. You can of course use the framework to use any fingering pattens you choose, all the framework does is give you a structure to develop not only how it plays, but how it feels and more important how a count relates to it within a tempo.

  4. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    To the guys who are good at this, is it ever possible to get so good at it that you can play any normal song using a pattern of three?
  5. Joedog

    Joedog

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    Jan 28, 2010
    Location:
    Pensacola FL
    I'd say yes, but 2 fingers work just as well the great majority of the time. The only reason I got into the 3 finger stlye is because I got into bluegrass banjo for a while, and it carried over. It comes in very handy sometimes. It's like that old saw... "How do you get to Carnagie Hall?" I only use it on the songs that it works better on. If 2 fingers work, cool...maybe I'm just lazy? Having said that, the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes. I'm no "monster" bassist, but I like having the technique in my quiver. I look forward to seeing some real pros take on the subject!
  6. chaosMK

    chaosMK Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Disclosures:
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I would just do whatever feels natural to you. Keep at it (do exercises etc) and these types of details will become automatic.
  7. thebeerleader

    thebeerleader

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Location:
    Lakefield, Ontario, Canada
    I drag the last finger I used when raking upward, and I step downward with the next finger in line. If I lose my place I just start at the ring finger again. Most often I have more of a 2 finger type of approach though, and go to 3 fingers for Iron Maiden galloping mode.
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

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    Nov 22, 2008
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    London,NewYork,Paris,Braintree
    Strange assumption that you can't, the answer is yes of course you can, and the return question "why would anyone ever assume you could not?"
  9. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    I don't know if the human nervous system can get that good. Of course you can play a song like that if you woodshed it for a while like that, but not on the spot.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

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    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    London,NewYork,Paris,Braintree
    When a piano player plays bass with the left hand they do not limit themselves to fingers, they do not limit themselves working the fingers to a pattern and getting the notes to suit it, not for them the problems of starting on any one finger.........they just play the music and use whatever finger is needed.
    Take that another step further, they can read and play a bass part to accompany any melody they are playing, so no only can they make their fingers move in different ways, within different tempos, but they do it with both hands at the same time.

    Try and see your hand use as a functionality to play the music, if you want better hand use......just play better music. By all means there are exercises, studies, techniques, etc.,that can be used and worked on to help the brain relate to co-ordinate using them. As well as build up stamina and develop healthy hand use such exercises are only of benefit if the player can use them fully.:)
  11. jabsys

    jabsys

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    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    As with anything it comes down to practice, it took me a few months of using 3 fingers all the time before it got to the point of feeling as natural as 2 fingers.
  12. Herrick

    Herrick

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    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Munchkin Land
    It's something I'll have to play around with a bit more. I'll try both methods out and see how it works :cool:
  13. Fenwick

    Fenwick

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    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal
    Feels like the exact opposite to me. I'll get to that.

    I've practiced so much with 3-fingers it's pretty much my default. I use it for styles where it is 'unnecessary', although this is a questionable concept to me; because you CAN do something with one finger as opposed to two, is it the 'correct' thing to do? I don't really know, but it seems like more work with one digit as opposed to two most of the time. Which brings me back to Joedog's idea that using 2 fingers when you can use 3 might be lazy or something. 2 is more work in most cases, so i can only assume youre not fluid with 3 if you feel that it is more work.

    I'm at the point where I have to consciously stop myself from using 3 fingers in some (string skipping) passages as it is easier with two, so in short yes, you can use it as your default, although you will find reverting to 2 works better in some spots. Sometimes I try and use 2 fingers for faster (16th not type) passages just to keep my chops up, but it doesn't last long as I always find it futile as it will never be as fast or easy as 3 for straight 4/4 stuff for me.
  14. Fenwick

    Fenwick

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal
    Also, in some spots where im repeating notes over 3 strings it is much easier to dedicate 1 finger to each string, so 2 being easier for string-skipping is not a hard rule either. Just practice, it takes months and even years to perfect, but it will come with determination.
  15. kevteop

    kevteop

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    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    York, UK
    I pick with three fingers but not alternately. I either alternate between 1+2 or 1+3. On a couple of occasions when I've injured my index finger I've done gigs with 2+3.

    I've thought about picking with 1-2-3 in a continuous sequence but I couldn't see any benefit. It's easier to groove if the downstrokes are always on the same finger, and it sounds better if the same finger hits the one each time. Generally with a 1-2-3 routine you're going to get a lot of inconsistency in your tone even if you woodshed it for ages to get rid of any inconsistency in your timing.

    In general I don't think it's worth pursuing.
  16. Fenwick

    Fenwick

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    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal
    I find 3-2-1- or RMI much more effective and natural than 1-2-3 or IMR, but that works for me.

    Also your experience with 3 fingers is your own, there are a list of known players that can play consistently with the technique. There is no difference in tone between my 2 and 3 finger techniques. I don't say this to be arrogant, I just don't want the original poster to think that solid playing (tone, consistency) cannot be achieved with 3 fingers, because it can and has been time and time again. Practice, don't give up.
  17. Tupac

    Tupac

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    May 5, 2011
    I just naturally started using IMR plucking for triplets. I find to go the other way I have to tilt my hand slightly, and it just feels awkward to be starting on a weak finger.
  18. Nellarecneps

    Nellarecneps

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2012
    Just reading this thread. I play two finger technique because thats just how i picked it up.
    I play 2 + 1 then and sometimes on string switches (Ex: G to D, i will keep using whatever finger i used on previous note.) the only formal training i had was when i played double bass almost 4 years ago. So dont take my word just adding my 2 Cents.
  19. Fenwick

    Fenwick

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal
    Whatever floats your boat. I find it it feels more natural to go RMI, the old 'roll your fingers on a table, which do they go?' theory if you will.

    Anyway, as far as I'm concerned the issue is not about starting (RMI) or finishing (IMR) on a weak finger, it's the weak finger itself. Practice.
  20. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Do you have a video? That would be cool to watch.

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