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3 finger playing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BluemoonIbanez, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. BluemoonIbanez


    Aug 14, 2012
    I have finally (thank god) got over the 3 finger gallop disease and started playing 4 notes straight without any accent on them, now I am having trouble building up speed, I would like to get to the point where my finger simulate thrash metal pick speed. Any exercises you guys use to build speed in the plucking hand? Specifically for three fingers? Thanks :bassist:
  2. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Use a metronome. Start slowly with any phrase that is tripping you up when you play fast. In your daily practice, spend about five minutes on just that phrase. Speed up the metronome a few clicks as you work on it each day. After a couple of weeks you will be able to blaze through that phrase! This approach works for any style playing when you come across something that's tricky.
  3. BluemoonIbanez


    Aug 14, 2012
    Yeah i probably should get a metronome! Good tip thanks! :)
  4. Leftybass12


    Nov 14, 2008
    Also, once you get a good handle on the technique it wouldn't be a bad idea to start playing your favorite tunes, etc. using the three finger technique.
  5. What both guys said. Jamming to records is totally vital because then you're using the technique in your playing. Using a metronome can help you get every note totally consistent and even... Even if you think you're dead on, the metronome usually will tell you otherwise.

    A good exercise I pulled out of one of my BP mags (I forget which one...) is to start at a tempo of, say, 100 bpm, or whatever's a good, comfortable tempo for you... Just play 16th notes on one string, I always favor the 12th fret on the D string when doing this one, but move it around so you get cozy with it everywhere and make sure you're totally in time and really listen to the notes you're playing... Then once you're comfortable with it at said tempo, raise it to the next speed and incrementally work your way up to a faster tempo. Now, one other cool exercise to work on that'll be killer for working on timing that was in the same article that REALLY brought my right hand technique up was this... after you get used to using the click representing the down beat of "1" and "2" and so on... Then flip it, so instead of it being *1* -e-and-ah, *2* -e-and-ah........ Have the click go on the off beat... Like this; 1-e- *and* -ah, 2-e- *and* -ah..... So now, you're tapping your foot on the down beat but the click's going on the up beat... Then have it working with the IN-BETWEEN beats; 1- *e* -and-ah, 1-e- *and* -ah, etc... This one will trip you up at first if you're not used to it, it helped my meter by MILES when I started working on this and I noticed my right hand played with much more conviction after I got the hang of that.... Kinda hard to explain, but I could fire off 16th note runs much much easier after practicing that because my right hand was conditioned for it... After a while you'll develop your tremolo on your right hand and from there you can develop that and fire that off as well....
  6. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    It's worth pracitcing moving between strings too - 4 notes on one string, 4 notes an octave up (i.e. skipping 2 strings), etc.
  7. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Excellent metronome use advice!
  8. BluemoonIbanez


    Aug 14, 2012
    Very good indeed...in orchestra paying bass for 6 years and I hadn't heard that good of metronome advice! Thank you! :hyper:
  9. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    You can really 'think of the click' as anything you want. I did off beats when I was working on the Hindemith Sonata to get used to the piano playing 'ands'.
  10. QuickNasty


    Jul 29, 2012
    The biggest suggestion I found to work for me was something Billy Sheehan said. And it's all about economy of motion, find the weak link in your pattern. For me It's going from my ring finger to middle finger. So to remedy that I'll go 5 minutes just working those 2 fingers and ignore the index finger. Then I'll spend 5 minutes playing just the ring and index fingers. etc.etc. that has helped my speed tremendously. Finding the weak link and isolating it.
  11. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    That is Anthony Welliingtons yardstick method. I just watched Victor Wootens Groove Workshop (the first disc only so far, it is like a 5 hour movie) and they talk about this, really really good concept that I am going to add to my practice routine.
  12. Good thread, I just started with 3 fingers. I am in the galloping phase...thanks for all the tips!
  13. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    There are some good exercises in Alex Webster's "Extreme Metal Bass" that deal with this.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  14. rokkitt


    Jun 7, 2007
    bronx, nyc
    I use three fingers! sometimes two....I seem to be the same speed with both styles...and I switch back and forth.
  15. stealth94rt


    Jul 8, 2012
    Not to overcomplicate things, but you may be interested in exploring "four finger" techniques. There are quite a few YouTube videos on this.

    Here is one that uses thumb, index, middle, ring:
  16. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Do you guys start with index or ring? I've always thought it was easier and made more sense to start with the index because it lets you easily transition from two to three, but literally every single 3 finger player I know except for Stefan Fimmers starts with the ring. I've tried it, and I have no idea how people can do that. It's just so awkward.
  17. QuickNasty


    Jul 29, 2012
    Well if you were to tap your fingers on a table one after the other. Would you start with your pinky? I would. It's the same natural order to start of your ring finger if you are going to exclude the pinky.

    Also I've found that once you have the gallop down.. it's best to try a few other 3 count exercises before moving on to a 4 count.

    First I personally start ring/middle/index and that makes a 3 count, for 5 minutes. Trying to pluck steady to a metronome at whatever speed you are comfortable with (faster the better).

    Second I do middle/index/ring - still doing 3 counts, for 5 minutes.

    Third is index/ring/middle in a 3 count for 5 minutes. Eventually you will be able to do something similar to a gallop with each exercise.
    Whichever of those 3 exercises is the most difficult will be your weak link in going faster as a 4 count. And that's the one you spend more time on.
    The whole idea is to get comfortable with starting the 1 on each finger.

    Finally, I move to a four count starting with the Ring finger for as long as i can stand.

    I don't do separate exercises with the 4 count because switching of the starting finger is already inherent in the process of a 4 count. Steadily move up the speed of your metronome over time.

    Another trick for going fast is something the guitar player Shawn Lane did.

    I just put part of an old shirt or a cutoff sock between the strings and last fret to deaden the strings and make them much easier to pluck with one hand while watching a movie etc.

    It's always good to have a clock and metronome in front of you.
  18. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    Very interesting thread. I picked up the bass about 1 year ago (after ages playing the electric and Warr Guitar) and had the unique opportunity to think about how we wanted to play before I started experimenting. For some reason, using three fingers and sometimes my thumb came very natural to me.

    The process, as mostly described above, it is not "automatic" and the accent generated on some notes due to the anatomy of our hands requires some work... It has taken me about 1 year to feel comfortable letting my 3 fingers play the way I wanted it.

    My two points of advise beyond what has been said:
    - Before you do your exercises, look at your hand and make sure the fingers travel the shortest possible distance going and coming back from the strings. Each millisecond spent travelling is time lost that accumulates and affects your efficiency.
    - Change the angle of your hand while you try different things. If you consider the "normal" position to be having your hand on a 90 degree angle from the strings, try shifting the angle of the hand/arm a few degrees towards the bridge. Try also (as a separate idea from the one before) rotating your hand (having your arm as the rotation axe) a few degrees, sort of making your ring finger closer to the strings than the index.
    These two may give you more comfortable/quick control over your sound and motion and help you go faster/cleaner.

    I hope it helps
  19. QuickNasty


    Jul 29, 2012
    I found this neat song I like to practice my 3 finger technique with. Maybe it helps you.

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