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2-finger right hand picking speed

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jleonardbc, Nov 26, 2004.


  1. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    Hello, does anyone have any suggestions as to how to practice in order to build speed with a 2-fingered right hand picking method (like Jaco Pastorius and Jeff Berlin)? I think I know the basics- very light touch, fingers at angle to make pointer and middle fingertips even- movement from knuckles/upper fingers, with fingertips making contact with the strings in passing in "small circles"-but what is the best way to practice this in order to develop consistency and speed? Whenever I turn up my amp and work on this it feels inconsistent and difficult to get a lot more speed than my typical 2-finger technique (which is fairly fast, I could play straight 16ths at 120-135ish BPM with some consistency, but obviously the 2-finger technique can be taken much farther than this with the methods I described)- as I suppose it would, it takes time to develop good technique- basically what I'm asking is: does anyone have any suggestions on how to practice this, or know of any good resources/Web sites about it? There are plenty of helps with 3-finger techniques and some with 4, but for the "basic" Jaco & Jeff 2-finger method I haven't seen much in-depth or detailed information. Can anyone help? If so, I would really appreciate it- technique of course isn't my only concern but it would be nice to be able to pull off some quick fills and lines now and then...

    I'm 16, I've been playing electric for about 4 years and upright for about 8 and am very interested in becoming a better and more musical player.

    Sorry for the long and rambling post but I hope I got the point across..I searched the forum and thought this might be a good addition to the other right-hand resources on this board thus far. Thanks for your time, guys!

    Jleonardbc
     
  2. The best advise is to practice...it sounds like you are trying to jump right in to play as fast as possible...Set your metronome at a slower tempo and start with playing whole note,then half notes,then quarter notes,then quarter note triplets,then eighth notes,eighth note triplets,sixteenth notes,sixteen note triplets...gradulally increase the tempo...maby add another 1BPM everyday...this will not only build up your dexterity,but also your control.
    I also find it helpful to play closer to the bridge(where the string is more tight)-something Jaco also did.

    Hope this helped...
     
  3. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    I do practice slowly, I was just wondering if there is a good way to practice the technique or any good resources- thanks for your advice, I'm going to work on that right now.

    Jleonardbc
     
  4. ...Just thought of a few more tips to help you out...

    Start the excercises I mentioned by just playing an open string...then play simple patterns in one position on one string(to get your hands coordinated).once you have that down,work on moving from string to string,then skipping strings...once you are comfortable with that,change your metronome to playing half notes instead of quarter notes...on the 1 and 3...(like a kick drum)...then on the 2 and 4(like a snare)...this should help improve your time-keeping ability...something we all should work on...

    This is not something you learn and then just have it at your disposal...it is something you need to develop and practice to keep your fingers in shape,so you can play it when nescessary.
     
  5. I use MODERN READING TEXT IN 4/4-Louis Bellson(excellent book!)...it is a great book of every rythm possible...no notes...so you don't even need your instrument to practice...you can just slap your knee(with a metronome).
     
  6. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    Great...I have "The Improvisor's Bass Method" by Chuck Sher, it has a chapter with rhythm studies that I was just working on. I think it is harder to play with rhythmic accuracy at very slow tempos than fast ones (or at least screwing up is more noticeable) so that will help me fine-tune my rhythm and technique. I noticed while practicing that that it's hard to do string skipping and without good muting it doesn't sound too good..I use my thumb as an anchor on the string below the string I'm playing (if it's the E string then on the pick-up or the bass) and at about a 30-45 degree angle to my picking fingers (so closer to the fingerboard) to keep my hand sturdy and balanced.

    So, I'll go back to working on that, and thanks for the advice!
     
  7. AllegroNonMolto

    AllegroNonMolto

    May 15, 2004
    Practice speed bursts til the cows come home.

    Start on an open string, pluck 12 eighth notes then 8 sixteenth notes in time with a metronome. Keep pushing the tempo until you start to get sloppy.

    Drop the tempo then pluck 10 eighth notes and 12 sixteenth notes, push the tempo up, drop down and do 8 eighth notes and 16 sixteenth notes, and so forth...

    An easy visual reference would be:

    E |0-0-0-0-|0-0-0-0-|0-0-0-0-|00000000|

    then:

    E |0-0-0-0-|0-0-0-0-|0-0-0000|00000000|

    then:

    E |0-0-0-0-|0-0-0-0-|00000000|00000000|

    and so on...increasing the amount of 16th notes in a 4 measure sequence.

    you can do this with scale patterns and string crossings too in order to coordinate your right and left hands while still focusing on your RH plucking.
     
  8. The speed burst technique is an excellent way of acheiving hyper speed.

    Playing small scale fragments helps you break down the awesome technique of a Jaco or Berlin.

    Play along to Iron Maiden records :)

    Harris is an amazing player despite his obvious limitations.
     
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    You know what was the most helpful thing to me - I read it here on TB somewhere, but don't remember who said it:

    Someone said that the trick is not to thibnk about playing FASTER, but to think about playing SHORTER NOTES, and the speed sort of comes automatically. ...So now what I've been doing when a part seems too fast for me to play clean is I practice playing it slow, with very short, sticatto 'bips' for notes - I go through it like that a bunch of times, and then try it again at speed to see how it's going; then back to the bip, bip, bip slow version, trying to cut off the note as soon and as clean as I can.

    Whoever it was, I think they were right! It's working for me!

    Thanks whoever you are --

    Joe
     
  10. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the advice, do you keep the notes short with right hand or with left hand muting? The technique I've been practicing (which I have seen to be very fast but I don't know if it's the "best" one) is having the first two fingers perfectly straight and angled to the strings like a classical guitar picking technique. I have seen this done with looser fingers but still with the point of the motion coming from the hand/knuckles, not from the fingertips (which are just passing over the strings in "small circles").

    I really want to find out what the best technique is for me and then to build up from there, so I've been working with that and doing different rhythm exercises with it (also keeping the metronome to just a click every measure at a slow tempo and trying to hit it right on every time to develop better time). Anyone have any other suggestions or care to share what two-finger picking method you subscribe to?

    Thanks for your help everyone, I really appreciate the environment on this board.
     
  11. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Oh, surely it's a RIGHT-hand thing I'm talking about - I think the idea is that as you mute with the alternate picking finger, you're setting that finger up for the next pluck. Obviously this is only strictly true when playing the notes on one string, but I think it's more of the way it makes me think about 'fast'. 'Fast' notes are really 'short' notes.

    Now don't get me wrong; I think that left-hand muting is important too, and ALL muting is important to fast and clean playing. In general, I mute the strings that are physically above the one I'm playing with my thumb; floating it along on top of the strings along with my whole hand, instead of 'anchoring' it (this is a somewhat different subject, I suppose, but it has been way worth it to change from an anchored-thumb to floating - and I think it HAS contributed to my increased plucking speed, AND cleaner playing. You might want to consider it, if you're not already. A super bonus to it all is now that I'm used to floating the thumb, I can play harmonics by using my thumb on the node, and because I'm not referencing to and depending on a useless, anchored thumb, it's just easy and natural to learn these 'Jaco harmonics'. These are much easier to control than I would have thought, and with tone rolled-off on the bass, and the compression that I always use, it doesn't sound like I'm switching to a whole 'nuther instrument like a bell or something - they come out clean and solid, AND you can mix the harmonic with the normal fudamental by sort of plucking with both the thumb and the finger with a 'twisting' kind of motion!) The higher strings that are below the one I'm playing is mostly muted with with some 'precision slop' from some of the meat on my fretting hand, and just sometimes (I'm working on it) the right ring finger.

    I also now always use the biggest scrunchy that I dare for every song. Sometimes its the little pencil-diameter one right next to the nut, and sometimes a big'ol velvet pad slipped under the strings way up by the third or forth fret (talk about effortless, 'automatic' super-clean playing!). Bass players should really take this nut-mute thing more seriously; I don't care how clean you can play without one - if a part is at all fast, it'll be cleaner and tighter WITH one.

    I think I've not been strict enough about the 'space' in my playing (rests), and this short-note thinking here has really made me concentrate on the importance of this more. There are now notes in slow parts inwhich I'm playing stacatto, or cutting off after only an eighth or sixteenth note, and leaving space.

    Oh, Man - I'd better get back to work!

    Joe
     
  12. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    Blunt: I could be wrong, but it seems to me like it would be a bad idea to push your hands to the point where technique becomes sloppy, even if time is still good..? Because it's not reinforcing the right things? I dunno, it just seems like playing slowly and only speeding up a little bit when it is completely and totally solid and relaxed consistently would be the best way to go..like I said, I could be very wrong.

    Joe P.: I do the floating thing, too, but when moving the thumb up from a lower string to a higher string (e.g. from anchoring it on A to anchoring it on D) I have trouble muting the first, lower string (A) as it tends to vibrate when the thumb is taken off of it, at least when practicing slowly. How would you handle that?

    Once again, thanks, guys. Looking forward to any further input about right hand technique and practice.
     
  13. Ozzyman

    Ozzyman

    Jul 21, 2004
    Well, you shouldn't need to move your thumb from A to D because your fingers on the G string will mute the D string (unless you use freestroke). But from E to A string you could probably just mute the E with your palm (turn your wrist slightly). One way to get used to these muting movements is to practice them by playing a scale. After awhile you shouldn't have to think about them.
     
  14. Jleonardbc

    Jleonardbc

    Nov 12, 2004
    Pennsylvania
    I'm not sure what 'freestroke' is but if you mean moving the fingers over the string less than the distance to the next string, that's sort of what I'm trying to do- and part of playing "shorter notes" I would imagine is "shorter strokes"...conserving movement...so I'm not sure what muting methods would work well with that.
     
  15. FUNKonthewall

    FUNKonthewall Nailing The Groove

    Sep 29, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Endorsing: Fodera Guitars, Aguilar Amps, Dunlop/MXR Accessories
    Also, make sure you stretch your fingers/hands/wrists before you start trying to build up speed. Trying to play really fast with cold/stiff joints is one of the easiest ways to get tendonitis or the like.

    I don't know whether you do this or not, but you'll also notice that you can play faster for longer without tensing up when you warm up and stretch. My teacher "got" tendonitis in his middle and ring fingers of his plucking hand in the middle of a song and had to finish the gig with his index and pinky. How's that for versatility! :D But seriously, that was one of the best lessons he gave me because he's been through it and he said that if there's one thing he regrets, it's not warming up. Oh. That and selling his Kubicki... :smug: