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3 Finger Plucking?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LTE Brent, May 17, 2003.

  1. LTE Brent

    LTE Brent

    May 17, 2003

    I've been at the bass for a long time now and have learned my fair share of techniques...however, recently I've been working on 3 finger plucking as the music I'm starting to play demands ultra fast runs that 2 fingers just can't handel (for me anyways)...if anyone listens to John Myung in Dream Theater...listen to Overture 1928 and the run in that or the one in A Change of Seasons (about 12 minutes into the song)...thats about the speed I'm hoping to get at. I've been able to play that stuff using hammer ons and pull offs but you just don't get that same tone as you do from individually plucking the strings.

    anyways my dillema was the finger pattern...

    which finger should I lead off on? my index or my ring finger? and what pattern should I go? ring, middle, index, middle or ring, middle, index, ring, middle, etc.?

    Thanks and please let me know.

  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I recommend doing ring, middle, index, ring, middle, index, etc. [cf. Billy Sheehan et al]
    Keep in mind that the downbeat shifts from finger to finger, since you play groups of four with three fingers.
  3. LTE Brent

    LTE Brent

    May 17, 2003
    thanks for the reply...

    but would it be intelligent to switch finger patterns based on the meter you're playing (aka duple and triple)...


  4. I use the same pattern that JMX described although I really see no valid advantage to using it over another pattern or any pattern at all. I think just playing/practicing with three fingers will allow you to naturally figure out what works best for you, just make sure you have have equal dynamics and tone with each finger. Although I normally use ring, middle, index I find that depending on the meter, tempo, string switching, etc. it can change somewhat so you may want to keep that in mind.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I don't follow it rigidly, e.g. I rake when I go from higher to lower strings.
    But I think the rmi pattern is the most ergonomic. Take a look at your fingers when you're drumming them on a table. You most likely go from pinky or ring finger to index.

    But you're basically right, you can use the other direction too, in fact you should practice it too for dexterity.

    But I think you should stay away from patterns where you're changing direction, e.g. r, m ,i, m, r, etc.
  6. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    I personally use three, but I don't rigidly adhere to the ring-index-middle pattern. I'll use it for steady 16th's and 8ths, but will usually go to just middle-index for more elaborate cross string stuff (i.e. Teen Town).

    It's a matter of personal preference. I know that I almost always rake from high to low; it's the way I was taught. However, some of the greats (Adam Nitti) stress learning how to use alternate fingerings on cross string excercises. It can come in handy in some situations, and makes some lines (i.e. What is Hip) easier to play and cleaner.
  7. Get the Video "New Bass Concepts" (Abe Laboriel) he shows how to do a similar technique but with all the fingers (5 fingers technique) he goes thumb, index, midle, ring, pinky, ring, midle, index and thumb that's an amazing technique;)
  8. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    i use the 3 finger technique JMX described a good bit.. I can't really do 4 fingers though.. I have huge hands... long fingers.. but my pinky is alot shorter than my other fingers.. its wierd and I just can't get it to reach.. however i've never needed to use it.. I'm plenty fast with 3.. and can get away with 2 fingers 95% of the time
  9. Rockbobmel

    Rockbobmel Supporting Member

    There is an article on Harmony Central www.harmonycentral.com and find "Hang Ten".It's an instruction in the subject. It involves taping two finger by together at a time, then the next two, etc.
  10. When playing I am using all me fingers, even the pinky from time to time.
    To train this do as Myung did: Chromatic scales all the time. Start with index, middle, ring over the complete neck and work your way back, but this time start with Ring, middle and index...

  11. It's loads easier to go ring-middle-index, but from your description, your index and middle are strongest... and therefore will give you the hardest pluck. If you want to go soft-hard-hard, then by all means, use the above method... and for hard-hard-soft... you're gonna have to go the hard route :(

    Keep in mind, tho, that the whole hard/soft thing is only gonna be a problem while you build strength ;) And then everything'll be all right!

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