┬┐Compensating for RH finger length discrepancy?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by vindibona1, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. Back in the day I was the designated bass player for your typical 60's high school rock band. We didn't really know much back then and everything has changed so much. So as I get more an more involved with bass I want to increase my skill level. In the good ol days we pretty much used a pick or out thumbs and nobody really noticed or cared.

    But now the standard right hand style (slap exempted at this moment) seems to be more of a 2 or 3 finger plucking technique. I'm ok with that and have been doing whatever feels right at the time. And with easy stuff it almost doesn't matter if I use one finger or two- which I sort of do either of unconsciously. But I want to improve my technique and of course my ability to play faster. I understand how to alternate fingers, but the problem comes with my preference of fingers to use- based on finger length...

    My index finger is a FULL 1/2 shorter than my middle finger. And probably because of that I tend to use my middle finger more intuitively, possibly also because I think it's stronger (being in the middle of my hand). But I know there are times when I have to pluck with my index, particularly reaching for a higher string than my middle just plucked and it feels like a MUCH farther reach than if I'd just plucked with my index and then had to reach a higher string with my middle (if that makes sense). And so my question is two-fold:

    1) Should I be changing my hand position in any way to help compensate for the finger length discrepancy? 2) If alternating fingers 1 and 2, (let's just say steady 8th notes, but perhaps moving across strings), does it matter whether you begin with 1 or 2? [Yes, I understand what "raking" is an tend to do it a bit intuitively because I often use efficiency picking when playing guitar]. Is there a plucking strategy that one uses to determine which finger to start with? Or do you always start with 1 or start with 2? Because my middle finger is longer and stronger, should I consider that my "main" finger for simple plucking purposes?

    Looking forward to your replies. TIA
  2. Thudnar

    Thudnar Guest

    Feb 22, 2018
    Instead of using your index and second finger; try using your index and third finger more often. The index and third are usually the same length, or close to it, and easier to "gallop" with. It doesn't take long at all to learn.
  3. To compensate for length differences
    - arch your fingers slightly
    - bend your knuckles slightly.

    Learn floating thumb technique for better/easier string skipping. It absolutely transformed my playing, well worth the effort.
    floating thumb techniqe
    JimK likes this.
  4. Thanks. I'll try bending at the joints a little more and see if that helps. I play a fair amount of fingerstyle guitar, but the hand on a 6 string comes in more of an angle and the strings are closer together.

    I think I already use the floating thumb intuitively. I feel like everything is already anchored with my forearm on top of the guitar so I don't need the thumb for opposing force to the fingers. It also comes in handy for muting the low B string, now that I have a 5 string.
  5. Which finger to start on? Doesn't matter, but the Steve Bailey book I used taught to be able to start equally well on any finger.
  6. I've got to work on being equally adept. I do have a preference for my middle finger. But I recognize from learning percussion that I have to be able to play equally right and left. It's funny, but if I just "play" my right hand (usually) does what it thinks it should do in response to my left. When I have to think about it it takes so much mental energy because I have to shift into a cerebral gear and once I do that for my right hand, my left hand gets disconnected from the process. So bizarre.

    I've been testing using 1 and 3, but it's very foreign feeling. But I do want to incorporate my 3rd finger for some things. I do a fair amount of guitar finger picking and learned folk style as a kid (but not classical), so using my fingers isn't foreign. Just different on the bass, more classical style action.