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3 Finger picking.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nuk3m, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. Nuk3m


    Sep 18, 2004
    Down Under
    Hi guys,

    Just wanting to explain a slight dilemma, I am a Metal / Prog Rock / Funk player who is fairly new at the game and I'm currently using the simple 2 finger method (pattern 1-2-1-2) One of my idols (Martin Mendez) uses a three finger method (pattern 1-2-3-2-1-2-3) and sometimes even four if it calls for it but I was wondering is it really necessary for the speed or does 2 fingers just not cut it in fast paced music?

    Im wondering if i should bother to get my 3 finger pattern up to speed or just put more practise into my two fingers?

    Thank you for your help.
  2. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    I've never found a 3-or-more finger technique to be neccessary for speed. Players like Sean Malone and Lars Norberg (to stay in the prog metal area) certainly play fast enough with only two.

    That said, the pattern Mendez uses doesn't seem very efficient to me. He should be doing 123 or 321, as currently, every other stroke is still his second finger, so nothing is gained.

    And another aspect: If I were to try a new right hand technique, I'd go for the Gary Willis approach, because it offers more advantages than just speed.
  3. Pretty sure Mendez uses two fingers.
  4. Nuk3m


    Sep 18, 2004
    Down Under
    Ive seen him live and chatted to him after the gig

    He wouldnt use it in a constant sence more like 4-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 and then go into that pattern

    How ever he uses two fingers and goes into 3 when the beat picks up and 4 when it picks up at certain parts.
  5. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've been working on 3-2-1(repeat) for a while now. Why? Well, I just don't have the stamina with 2 fingers for superfast playing while staying on one string. Using the ring finger is enabling me to haul butt (relatively speaking) on a long passage, then I usually switch to 2 fingers for string crossing/runs etc. The advantage of using the 3 finger technique is that my Willis style has gotten a little better, and playing arpeggios and chords only gets easier.
  6. I'm in the same boat as Lackey. I'm about equally fast 2 fingers or 3 (unless it's just a really fast triplet), but the advantage comes in when I have to sustain it for a while. 3-2-1 repeat is just easiest for me when that's the case.

    Is two fingers fast enough you ask? You'll have to decide that. I think it's worthwile to spend at least a little time working on 3+ finger playing, to see if it works for you.

    Oh, and no fair mentioning Lars Norberg. I'm pretty sure he's a robot designed specifically for bass playing. :D
  7. Diowulf

    Diowulf Guest

    Aug 4, 2004
    San Rafael CA
    I am jealouse of you right now.

    I've pondered about using more than two fingers for a while, and thought that you really couldn't go faster with more fingers, you would just not use all your strength and energy to get those two fingers going for a long time.
  8. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    My bass teacher plays very fast with only two fingers. It might take more time to get two fingers up to speed but I think three fingers takes more concentrating. When I learned three fingers (now i use it exclusively) I had to forget everthing I knew abouttwo finger technique and also I had to start thinking that my fingers move 1.5 times slower with 3 fingers. It was wierd but now I can't think of going back. It did take a huge chunk out of my practicing time though. (it took my about 6 months to get the technique solid, and another six months to be able to play crazy string skipping riffs)
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yes: arpeggios! The reason I first used three fingers at all was for the verse-part of Jerking Back and Forth by Devo, where I play two four-note arpeggios in a row for each round at a mighty brisk speed for me. My r-finger is still pretty weak, but the possibility of smooth arpeggios and smooth, even triplets at high speeds keeps me working on it.

  10. flea-bass


    Jan 30, 2004
    three fingers is the onlyway to get really fast single notes.
  11. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    uh, no
  12. Nuk3m


    Sep 18, 2004
    Down Under
    hahaha i want what hes been smoking.
  13. i'll agree that the main benefit is that it's easier on your hands, doesn't make much of a speed difference. but it's also worthwhile to get comfortable with that third finger so that if one of your other fingers gets hurt or something, you can sub! these days i can play 2-3-2-3 or even 1-3-1-3 without really thinking about it.
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Fleabass, I direct you to check out James Jamerson.

    Do a search, this has been discussed to death, and yet again recently.
  15. I'm all for learning three finger picking. While it's not necessary for fast playing, it lets you play fast and be lazy at the same time. A worthy goal. The same can be said for four finger playing, but three finger comes first.
  16. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Combinations I use include:

    One finger plucking - 1st finger
    Two finger plucking - 1st & 3rd mostly, 1st & 2nd rarely
    Three finger plucking - 3rd, 2nd, 1st
    Tapping - Total of up to six finger tapping
    Thumb is always anchored to something
  17. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Disagree. You can get good speed using two finger
  18. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I love JJ but don't know about his right hand technique. I am assuming that he just used one finger. There is a slight variance in the sound of plucking with your index vs. your middle finger. JJ had none of that: his bass sounds extremely consistent.

    I really noticed that when I started playign exclusivley with my ring (3) finger. I wanted to use three plucking fingers which was tough as I used two for 20 years.

    Using only your ring finger will build up its staminia and callouses. When it gets tired, switch back to good 'ol index and middle.
  19. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    If I wanna get that groove bang-on, one finger plucking is the only way to get it. For me, groove is also about control, and using the one finger allow me to control the groove very effciently. There seems to be a bit sigma about using one finger, but it's a very useful tool (I can understand way people use picks). I have also perfected the one finger flick. Very good for simulating that up and down action.
  20. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    If you want to check you some really cool 3 and 4 finger technique - check out Billy Sheenan. I'm pretty convinced that's the way he was keeping up with Paul Gilbert ( other at the tapping thing ). http://www.billysheehan.com/