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2 questions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kmb523, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. kmb523


    Nov 19, 2007
    Hi, I've been playing bass for a while now, and I have recently realized that my technique could definitely improve... Here are my questions:

    1. I finger pick with 2 fingers, and I want to move up to 3 or maybe 4. What is recommended, and how do I approach this?

    2. My middle and ring finger can't be separated too much on either hand. For example, if I try to make a "gun" by sticking my thumb up, and my index and middle finger out, I can't keep my ring finger down. I'm the only person that I know of who can't do this.. and I feel like it might mess up my playing somehow.
  2. bass player 48

    bass player 48

    Nov 17, 2008

    1. Normal 2 finger technique is fine and good, and for most of us, 3 and 4 finger technique is not worth the effort involved to learn. (You should be able to play very fast with 2 fingers)

    2. How do you normally strum the bass? (What is that you normally do that you call "finger pick with 2 fingers")
  3. kmb523


    Nov 19, 2007
    Thanks for the input.
    I strum the bass with my index and middle finger on my right hand, alternating between the two.

    and the 3/4 fingers was more for complex lines that used all 4 strings. I'm not sure, but I feel like using all my fingers would help.
  4. bass player 48

    bass player 48

    Nov 17, 2008
    I read a lot of posts on here from people who think it does help. I guess it's a matter of opinion. Plenty of people feel that two is good, three is better, four is best. I do not agree with that at all, but maybe that's just me. I've never ever felt like my right hand had any trouble keeping up alternating with two fingers, and if I did need to work on speed I think I'd be better off improving speed with my existing technique rather than learning a new right hand technique. IMHO - I think three and four finger technique are more about looking fancy or flashy rather than an actual necesary technique. Feel free to flame away - YMMV.
  5. I agree, in part, in that you should reach the limits of your two finger technique first. I had a great bass teacher who gave me a solid foundation, but you're really going to need to teach yourself more advanced stuff.

    As for the "flashy" thing, I guess it looks cool, though I'm not sure how much eyeballing my right hand gets from the crowd. The main benefit of using three or more fingers is that you don't tire out as easily, so keeping up a fast pace can be effortless. You may be able to do it all with two fingers, but it's not as easy.

    Also, from my experience, I can tell you that using more that two fingers will allow you to move over the fretboard in a different way, and that will lead you towards new riffs that you would not otherwise have come up with. I'm not a veteran with the technique, but I cannot tell you how many doors it opens up. I would recommend learning it, provided you've got the basics down.
  6. kmb523


    Nov 19, 2007
    Thanks so much for the responses. I think my main problem right now is I don't even know where to start. For example, is it better to play a 1 2 3 4 pattern by using fingers: 1234 1234, or 1234 3212... if that makes any sense. Also, what are some good exercises for a beginner to more than 2 fingers?

    Thanks :)
  7. Using one finger after the other in sequence will give each finger the same amount of time to recover, which will make it easier to play. Going back-and-forth is less efficient, but down the road it may be helpful as a way to turn-around or switch direction, etc. Start sequentially, though; it's a better foundation.
  8. Klockwerk


    Jan 8, 2009
    I disagree with all who said that you should fully explore the 2-finger technique before moving on. From what I've seen, it's much easier to develop a new playing technique early on.

    I'm also a firm believer that 3-fingers is superior to 2-fingers in almost all fields. When it comes to 4-fingers, I'm not so sure. While your Index, Middle and Ring are fairly similar fingers in strenght and lenght, neither your pinky or thumb is anatomically similar to those three. Hence, your plucking tehcnique becomes very different, and it's harder to judge if it's "superior". I've added the thumb to my technique, but I'm often alternating between 3 and 4, depending on the line thats is played.

    Anyway (enough rambling), I highly recommend getting used to three or 4 fingers early on. For three fingers, I recommend practicing all you do with the Ring-Middle-Index pattern, until it becomes more natural to you to pluck with three than with two. Practicing everything, from scales to full songs, should be done with three fingers, so it becomes more natural.

    As for 4 fingers, it's similar. I recommend going Ring-Middle-Index-Thumb, or perhaps T-I-M-R. Your thumb being more precise and strong than your pinky, I don't really think training the pinky is a good idea.

    Of course, you mentioned you think you may have a flexibility problem in your hand. Your Middle and Ring fingers are linked, but still, it's weird that you can't do a "gun". Perhaps consulting a professional would help. If you really have problems with your Ring Finger, then there is another way to play with three fingers: Thumb-Middle-Index.

    Once again, the key word is practice. practice all your lines, warm-ups etc with your new technique, slower at first if you need, and do so until it becomes natural. Find out what areas are causing problems and practice exercices in that specific area (string crossing, keeping a constant sound, etc).

    The most important thing, however, is never play if it really hurts. This potentially means that there is a physical problem lying underneath, and should be treated/identified ASAP.

    I hope this helped.

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