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3-Finger Alteration is slowing me down

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mahumadi, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    Ever since I began playing bass (About this time last year) I have alternated my pointer, middle, and ring fingers for plucking. I like having a strict alternating attack; however, my alternation is 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 etc. I feel comfortable doing this, but at times I find myself getting tripped up on fast runs. I have a feeling this is due to my alternation of 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 etc. Can anyone offer any positive advice about my alternation? Id hate to learn it all over again, but if thats what it takes, ill do it, so let me hear what you guys think. Ideas?
  2. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    I use 2 fingers. I reserve my middle finger for other things.
  3. Sandor138


    Jan 16, 2010
    Providence RI
    I usually go 3-2-1 but it doesn't really matter... just do whatever is the most comfortable and with more practice it will be faster
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Honestly, if you're going to do 3-finger alternation, I would not think that would be the way to do it. The pattern you describe means that your "2" finger has to pluck twice as fast/often as the other two, which kind loses the benefit of using 3-finger technique instead of 2-finger, which is is that the more fingers you use, the less quickly each one has to pluck. I believe most people who use 3-finger technique alternate either 1-2-3 or 3-2-1.

    Here's an earlier thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=545702&highlight=alternating

  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Re-think your naming 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1- does not work,
    change to index finger = 1, middle finger = and, ring finger =2

    So now when you practice you have 1 and 2 and 1 and 2 and 1 and 2. This is easier for you brain to help associate the action.

    I would say that a year is no where near long enough to get such a technique, or any technique for that matter, to be natural.:)
    For more info check out the link, any questions drop me a line;

  6. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    Furgie, thank you, and to be honest I was kind of hoping you would chime in ;). I have learned a good deal from your posting/replies.

    Are you implying that this finger alternation is doable, so long as I can assist my brain, in the fashion you outlined?
  7. Time Consumer

    Time Consumer

    Jan 27, 2008
    Joliet Ill.
    Kind of ironic, I usually use 2 fingers and switch to 3 for faster stuff.
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Off course it is it, but because the way your hand is designed you have to bring them up to speed so to speak. Most finger work faster and better coming from the little finger side in one direction. This is because the power side is used first (little and ring finger) then the dexterity side takes a sort of whip or sling shot off that action. Do not be afraid to reverse the action when it is needed, i see you work from the index finger side. Use one way "gallops" or one way triplets, etc. Piano players never really suffer this problem so nether should you.

    I said about using 1 and 2 and 1 and 2. That reference i should have mentioned applies regardless of what finger you start on be it index finger or ring finger. The break down of 1 and 2 is how you reinforce the action, you have to represent it in a way that the brain understands. This allows the brain to control the action, yes muscles, nerves, attachments do the work, but only because the brain tells them to.

    You trip up because the do not work together, that is relating the right and left hand as well as the fingers of the plucking hand. This is not purely a plucking hand problem. The problem is to relate the two hands together.

    In the link it explain a bit of detail about find he one, all i have do is made a three finger action applicable to count as a one two action by using the and, that's what smooths out the counting side and helps the brain relate the action.

    Tell me do you play scales or arpeggios ?
    Let me know and i give you some great ideas for application that will help the process along.:)
  9. KratosNL


    Mar 16, 2010
    I do 2-1-3, i guess i'm just weird:p, i do get tangled up after playing a couple of triplets this way, but it comes more natural for me.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Not at all weird and good for doing what is natural. your is a basic 3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1 action but you start it on the middle finger rather than the ring, so you are in fact "one finger in" when you play. Look at a trumpet, it has 3 valves....... now a trumpet player does not start on the same finger in the same motion......so why should a bass technique be any different. For most it is this trying to be regimented that is the problem, not the action. It is because the regimentation breaks down, not the playing that problems occur.:)
  11. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    I play arpeggios and scales.

    On a side note, the Gary Willis dampening approach seems as though it would eventually make dampening an automatic, learned reaction. Any truth to this?
  12. somegeezer


    Oct 1, 2009
    I only use 2 main fingers and use the 3rd when doing triplet runs or when i need some extra speed... I've never actually thought about doing it in a certain pattern. I just do whatever finger makes its way to the string first.
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    If you mean "floating thumb" then yes it does become an sub-concious skill that becomes automatic dampening tehnique.

    Play your 8 note scales slow and count 1 and 2 and 1 and 2 etc as you play. Feel the one and 2 on the fretting hand fingers.

    Start on the index finger and play the scale and stop. If done correctly you will stop on the middle finger ( the "and).

    Start on the ring finger and again you will stop on the middle finger.

    So you can see now why reversing the finger action makes no real difference, the "and" will always on the middle finger. The fact you can relate the "and" to the middle finger helps relate the action.

    Play the scales forward only to start with. Because you finish on the middle finger, start each new scale with the same starting finger, so if index start each new scale with the index finger and if the ring start each new scale with the ring finger. When you count 1 and 2 relate it to the plucking hand fingers, after a few minutes you will feel the difference and be able to relate to the plucking fingers.

    Once you can relate the forward action in the scale to the top( still working 8 note scales), learn to come back down by continuing counting the 1 and 2 all the way to the way back to the root. The coming down action will feel funny but you know that the "and" can control the action. This is so because you are actually counting forward all the time by the virtue of the 1 and 2 and 1 and 2.
    You never really relate it as a back and forward movement, or an up and down or a left to right , right to left it is related as one way because you are counting one way.

    Your arpeggios, again are four notes, root, 3rd, 5th and octave, so start as you did with the scales by going root to octave.
    Start each new arpeggio on the same finger. You will hit the octave with the middle finger on the "and", so each new arpeggio will start on a "one". Again start slow and count 1 and 2 and 1 and 2 till you can feel the fingers being used. Once you have this down then start going up and down the arpeggio. But you will notice you end on the root on a 2....so continue back up and down again, keeping the count going and you will end up back on the one. So do the arpeggios twice to get the feeling of moving off of either finger.
    That is why i said earlier it is not that important what finger you start on as a rule because in the end it will make no difference..the movement is fluid from either.:)

    Try these for about a week and let me know how you got on?
    Any questions post again or drop me a PM.
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    That is my technique as well, i only use the other finger when required, like an extra gear. There is no concious thought in this...it just happens as a matter of course.:)
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    :meh: I honestly don't think about which finger is plucking a string. I just pluck with whichever finger is handiest. Sometimes, I'll even pluck one string with two fingers. Whatever gets you through the night....
  16. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    To me, using that middle finger for every other note eliminates the advantage of playing with three. I might start a phrase on any given finger, but the general flow is 3-2-1.
  17. jpTron


    Apr 19, 2010
    I learned 3 finger going 1-2-3-1-2-3-etc. It seemed natural since I start with the index finger when I play normally with 2 fingers. Seems like it's the minority of 3 finger plucking techniques but it works for me. Lately I've been working harder on getting it to sound as even as possible across all three fingers for longer and faster runs. Still needs work but using a metronome is speeding up the process. My gallops are no problem though..
  18. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Well you would think so, but it lets the hand and the fingers get a proper work out through proper use. As i have said there seems to be two much emphasis on direction, the direction is imaterial as the fingers should work regardless of which one starts and in what direction when it is being developed, and that is the point many miss. 3-2-1-3-2-1--2-1-3-2-1 is easy to play when it is required as should 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3 or 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2 or any combination for that matter.

    In a two finger use of 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2 or 2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1 there is no real difference as a 1 always follows a 2 in each example, so if this is the middle of a song what is the leading finger?
    In a 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1-2-3 or a 3-2-1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 it is the same principal, again if this is the middle of a song what is the leading finger. This is more a brain co-ordination skill that is shown as a result in the fingers movement.

    There seems to be to much attention based on the direction or the leading finger rather than the result. It is the result, the notes played and how they sound rather than any point of technique that should be addressed or it is technique for techniques sake, not technique for the musics sake.:)
  19. I have been using three fingers for the better part of a year and half. Everyday I sit down and turn on a metronome and practice on my speed, and to make it not sound like a gallop, and still, I'm faster with two fingers.
    For more intricate things I will use three fingers, like if it requires me to jump around on strings, but for fast, single string I go two fingers because I'm faster at it.
  20. It does, and there's no pattern involved.

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