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123 vs 321 plucking

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by joeca0304, May 6, 2005.

  1. joeca0304


    May 6, 2005
    Hi, im trying to get some opinions. I've posted on HC and I've tried to look up info on the web and searching the forums.

    My question is, is there any difference really between using 321 or 123 plucking?

    1- index

    From what i've gathered most use 321. I haven't herd of anyone using the 123 order of plucking, does anyone do this? Just curious.
  2. rambob


    Mar 28, 2005
    I use the 3-2-1-2-3 for normal picking. For galloping and triplets i either do 3-2-1 or 2-2-1
  3. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I use 1-2-3 picking and yes most everyone I know that uses three fingers uses 3-2-1.
    I think it's kind of a genetic thing like if your right or left handed. Each way is equally good it's all about comfort.
    3-2-1-2-3 picking is quite un-economical because you use your 2nd finger twice in each set of strokes. But then again some people find that more comfortable. Find out what's best for you and work with it. :)
  4. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    IMO it's not good to get into the habit of having a set plucking pattern. Having a pattern like that removes the feel of playing in my opinion. When you're too concentrated on which finger to use, you're probably not concentrating on the music and groove. What ever finger is there and usable, use it.
  5. JTbass


    Jul 2, 2004
    Asutin TX
    Well said.
  6. joeca0304


    May 6, 2005
    I think developing a finger pattern is essential tho. I think that it needs to be developed to enable you the most economical picking. Once you develop it I dont think it's any harder than say as natural as it is for most of us to use 2 fingers.

    Once you have it you dont even consciouslly think about the picking anymore and you just play. So yeah at first it takes development, but it took development for any other method as well.
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Like joeca0304, I have to completely disagree. Having a number of set plucking patterns is extremely benefical- the plucking hand is just as important in playing as the fretting one. "When you're too concentrated on which finger to use, you're probably not concentrating on the music and groove" could be said about the fretting hand as well- the point is to learn your techniques and how you'll use them so they will become second nature, and you won't have to concentrate to be able to use them. That's what practice is for.

    "What ever finger is there and usable, use it." isn't a good way to go about playing. If the song calls for a sharp pick-like attack and you're thudding away with your thumb because it's there, then there's going to be a problem. If the song calls for a galloping triplet feel, using a 3-2-1 or 1-2-3 patten is going to get it better than using just your index finger. And with more complex basslines are called for, you're going to need a set plucking pattern is essential just to play the music right. If you're trying to cover a fast Dominique DiPiazza solo and you're just playing 1-2-1-2, it's not going to sound good and clean, and you will end up exerting way too much energy to try to play it that way. Gary Willis' plucking technique aids greatly in string skipping, muting, and conservation of energy, but it is rather complex and you need to practice at it to get it right (too complex for me!). Most of the pros with the best grooves in the business have a very trained right hand and know exactly what it's doing, and don't have a problem with grooving.

    Steve Bailey said that one advantage of using a 3-2-1-2-3 patter over using a 3-2-1-3-2-1 pattern is a more even feel when playing even groups of notes (2, 4, 8, etc.), and to use a 3-2-1 pattern when playing triplet grooves. One advantage I've seen for using a 3-2-1-2-3 over a repeated 3-2-1 is that after plucking with the index or ring fingers, the middle is the next closest to the string, and therefore can pluck it quicker than the finger next to it.

    As to the original post, 3-2-1 seems to be a much more instictual feel than 1-2-3, although I'm practicing getting my fingers to play in that order (thumb-1-2 thumb-1-2). I'm also practicing thumb-1-2-3 thumb-1-2-3, although without as much success so far.
  8. I find useing T-1-2 (thumb-1-2) is good for playing R-3-5 (Root-third-fitfh), and T-1-2-3 is always good if your in situation calling for R-3-5-6, or R-3-4-5 . I also use T-1-2-1-2 for R-3-5-7-R. these are all depending on how you skip strings. Some of you guys gotsta know what I'm talkin' about. :)
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Yeah-the main reason I've started trying to use my thumb is because of string skipping-it's just so much easier to use it for it. I've always used my thumb in playing chords, so I figured it would be no different to play arpeggios or chord tones using it.
  10. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    I typically use 1 and 2 but when I do tripplets I use the 3-2-1 pattern, it's just more natural. I'm not very good at keeping it very sharp when using three fingers for speed so I stick to using two fingers.

    I don't have a set pattern at all so sometimes I'll sit there using my 2 finger for most of a song if I feel like it. Attack is a different story though 1-3 goes from sharp to dull so that's kinda how I guage which I use.
  11. Patterns are ok, until you get a blister or cut on one of your fingers and you have to shift the burden to the other ones. I used to be a steady 1-2-1-2 guy when I was starting out, but eventually one finger would get tired or sore and I started working in the 3rd finger and thumb to compensate. After that became natural, I was a much more versatile player. I still do patterns and such sometimes, but its not set in stone. If I need to break outside the 3-2-1 pattern, I can, and its natural to me.

    The best "pattern" or method to right hand fingering I've found is to try to match your right hand to your left. For example, if you're fretting with your left index finger, pluck with your right index, then fret another note with your left middle and pluck with the middle on your right hand, and so on. This way, your fingering pattern or order will be relevant to the song you're playing, and in theory it should be a very efficient way to play it. It seems to help out with speed and acuracy, but your results may vary.
  12. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Three fingers are very unnatural when you start off. But eventually your brain will develop connections and strict three finger technique will become natural and thoughtless (i think that's the right word). I still use two fingers for more staccato things and three fingers for ummm... shredding (for lack of better word). Playing with what evers available becomes inefficient and you will wear out faster.
  13. psi


    Mar 11, 2005
    New Jersey
    I use 1-2-3 for my three finger technique. It sounds great for triplets -- I almost have that mastered. However for playing fast groups of 4 or 8 notes, it sounds like I'm galloping still. I attribute this to an "accent" on my 1 and 2 plucks compared to my 3 pluck. Any tips?
  14. even note set 4, 8, etc.... even fingers 2. takes away all the problems.
  15. I'm working on that right now. Gotta tell ya, man... it's a bit** to get that ring finger to produce the same amout of attack as the other two. :meh:

    any tips on that would be great! :hyper:
  16. Disagree totally.... You get good at one pattern, then you try something that doesn't lend itself to that pattern, you're screwed. You should work on a bunch of different patterns until they are all easy and natural.

    It sucks, cause its more fun to practice stuff you do well to get better than it is to practice stuff you do poorly to get better. We're all like little kids sometimes, they think if they close their eyes they're invisible. We practice like if we avoid our weaknesses, they don't exist. We think we sound like the stuff we play well.

  17. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I think he meant developing and becoming proficient at a number of patterns, ie two fingers, three fingers going in a certain order, etc.- I don't think he was implying that it was important to learn just one pattern. His response was to someone else's post that you should have no set patterns, just plucking with whatever's there at the time.
  18. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004

    I completely agree, I think it should be however it comes out naturally.
  19. I've been playing with just the index and middle finger (thumb as well of course) for a while and the more I have been playing with three fingers recently I have been noticing I mostly go 1-2-3. Why is it according to most 3-2-1 is "better"? Are there any benefits in particular to this technique? It seems to come more naturally to me 1-2-3.

    Sometimes even 1-2-3-2-1 seems to happen, I'm just really curious what the benefits of starting with 3 is. Even the bassist from Dream theatre I believe agrees with that order.
  20. screwball


    Jul 25, 2004
    Manchester UK
    I agree with Bryan.

    I always use a 321 pattern. I developed it so i could improve the effeciency of my picking hand, and it took quite a long time, but i've practised it enough that it is natural to me. When i'm playing I don't think about which fingers i'm using, just about the music.
    I think the problem some people have mentioned comes when a particular finger pattern is forced, making the groove less fluid. All it takes is practise.

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