3 Finger Speed Picking

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Vorago, Jul 17, 2003.

  1. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium

    I'm new here (I got here thanks to my fellow bass-player Kheos, I love you! Just kiddin...) Probably this question has been asked already before, but can somebody give me some advice about using your third finger to gain more speed?
    I play in a metalband and refuse to play with a pick, and I sometimes notice that my 2 finger picking isn't quit fast enough, although it has become a lot faster since I've started playing 7 months ago (I play the electrical guitar like 7 years now, so scales, chords and stuff are not new to me....)
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Personally I get more speed with 2 fingers than I ever did with 3, but that's just me.

    You want to really pound out the 3 fingers, practice doing alternation excercises.

    Don't just get stuck doing I,M,R(index middle ring) or R,M,I,

    be able to use all three fingers equally, and practice slowly, the only way to gain speed is to start slow.'

    Also, you should do a search on the topic, this has been covered before, and there is lots of great advice hidden in the depths of TB.

    welcome! :D
  3. I use 3 fingers probably 85% of the time and, for me, I think it's better to always use the same pattern. I use r, m, i. It just takes practice and work with a metronome if you can. You may find that it doesn't work as well for you as some people but it's worth givin it a shot.
  4. I find it easiest to use my thumb, index and middle three in almost a slapping style when playing fast. You don't actually have to slap or pluck. I don't play metal, but I'm sure you could adapt. Check out www.victorwooten.com and look at his lessons. Vic knows way more than I do. Good luck.
    I personally would not recomend only using one pattern. You should be as versatile as possible.
  5. I learned 3 finger style by sitting and watch tv :)P) while I played r, m, i for 30-60 minutes. It was a good way of jut getting your fingers to be comfortable playing straight notes with three fingers instead of two or a pick. I found it hard to play 4/4 because that comes naturally when playing with two finger/pick.


    2 finger style:
    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
    M and I and M and I and

    3 finger style
    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
    R and M and I and R and

    It's not constant and it changes every time (3 finger style) while 2 finger style is constant. But from what I descibed above I got used to it and I have no problems with it now.

    When it comes to right hand speed the only things I can't play right now is the really fast Black Metal stuff like Marduk (listen to B War, a finger player, in their fastets songs - amazing).

    Hope you understand despite me having trouble to descibe it ;)
  6. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I'm practising now on getting the R-M-I pattern straight, I'm also trying to master a certain technique, wich is described on "bassists of death", it's a technique used by Tyr (bassist of Borknagar) and goes like this, you play R-M-I all the time, he accents notes is different patterns to break the triplet feel and makes it flow perfectly. Here is an example :
    --- --- --- ---
    (all notes have the same duration)

    You stress the ones underlined, I thinks it is quit hard because the finger you use to stress the note changes all the time...
  7. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Wow, that post came out different then anticipated anyway , you get my point:)
  8. Bullett138


    Apr 17, 2003
    Kansas City
    i play r, m, i. but it was one of the most frustrating things ive ever had to learn to do evenly at high speed. it took me about 4 months to get it down solid at breakneck punkrock 16th notes.

    It's gonna suck, but you wont regret it.
  9. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    r=ring, m=middle, i=index.

    Check out Steve Digorgios lesson over at www.dsrmusic.com (under guitar lessons), it goes over the basics and introduces how to apply it to riffs.

    Steves method basically states to do rmimrmi, howver, this method relies heavly on the middle finger so in theory it's qorking exactly the same as it would in a 2 finger approach.

    One way to 'combat' this is as mentioned above by the rmirmi appraoch as the notes are picked in a steady, continual sweep, achiveing max' note output for movement input.

    The main problem with achieving 'solid speed' with rmi technique is that a triplet feel may be produced. However, I learned from a discussion on another forum that this can be flattened out by empahsing or accenting the 4th note in each sequence (shown as a capital) such as rmiRmirMirmI etc. It's tough to start, but with work a difference becomes apparant.

    For more advice on the subject, check out a TB members website and forum at Bassist's of death -
    website or forum

    Hope I helped, if not just ask for more info on here of BoD forum (sorry for the plug).

    Edit - sorry, didnt realize vorago had gone over some of the stuff I have.
  10. BaroqueBass


    Jul 8, 2000
    Salem, OR
    I use 3 finger speed picking on my nose.
  11. I think that 3 finger picking is a great way to open up your possible maximum speed. Because lets face it, when you reach your peak speed with three fingers it should be a lot faster than 2 fingers with economy of motion. My suggestion for speed exercises is to set your metronome really slow, around 40 and just go ring, middle, index for a few minutes straight. Click up the tempo a little and do it again. After a few days of that, go into the speed picking from right to left on your right hand on those beats, with the 'nome real slow. Now raise the tempo again, putting less space in between your rapid fast attack. Get the 'nome up to around 160 and soon you'll have no space in between the rakes and it will sound like a real smooth, fast attack. After you get that, work on string crossing (i.e. E,A,E,D,E,G,D,G,A,G,E,G,E,D,E,A,E...) and you will basically be able to apply this technique anywhere. Just using three fingers in general allows a great ease to picking with string jumping. However, using this technique you will most likely have to work out a new method of muting, because once you hit the G String things are going to start sounding muddy. I suggest using a floating thumb (thumb on E String) and pinkie on A, while having your returning fingers rest on D during your rest strokes. Or if you're really lazy and don't like to move your hand, rest your pinkie straight across the strings, kind of like muting and just drag that back as you play across the strings. Enjoy.
  12. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Aye Maties, thanks for all your wonderfull replies (no kiddin), I practis the excercises when watching tv and it really works, really thanks a lot:)
  13. In a recent issue of Bass Player magazine, one of our contemporary celebrities remarked on this topic. I believe he made a point of saying that he sticks with 2 fingers following the inspiration of Geddy Lee who uses one finger much of the time. Two of my favorite musicians, Geddy Lee and Tony Levin, have their own idiosyncratic minimalism: Tony with the idea of one needing only three strings, and Geddy with the one finger technique.

    I prefer to do what allows the most expression and the right sound for the music while requiring the least amount of stress. The stuff I write includes a few Steve Harris-style licks in my bass lines, so I know that R-M-I works great, but sometimes alternating M-I just sounds better. You can always reach the same velocity either way with practice, but you have to go with what sounds right. Playing 16th's or any grouping of 4 notes with 3 fingers I find counter-intuitive. I'll use 3 fingers for triplets or 16th's with a rest every 4th note or 2X16th's/8th note patterns. But if the lick is in 2's or 4's, 2 fingers feels right.

    Anybody use 4 fingers?
  14. I think that with practice you can avoid the whole problem of thinking in 2's and 4's with three fingers. The whole point is to not think with your fingers, but think with the beat. I've only been using three fingers for about a year now and I think it sounds especially great on even funk lines while hitting muted notes. If you just play with the metronome you'll get it. Don't think too much about it or else you'll start to screw up. I occassionally use 4 fingers, but I don't like to for muting purposes. I like to throw in attacks on one string with my index and then use a three finger rake (p,r,m) on another string for some cool effect.
  15. Actually, I don't think about it at all. I only know this is how I play by watching video of shows. As it turns out it just feels that way in the 3's and 4's. Since it works for me I don't try to break the tendency by practicing otherwise.

    I agree with you about the funk sound. Adding some third finger in the mix gives you that extra hammer, tap, punch, muted ghost note, whatever you call it.

  16. Does anyone use a I-R-M technique in there three finger playing? It's my weird method but it seems to work well in many of my situations. I think it originated when I played in death metal bands and I just stuck the ring in there before my middle came down. wa la....beautiful triplets.

    I also use a one finger techinque for really fast grooves using the front & back of my finger to make really complicated riffs fluid and easier to play than doing the straight "play a note and rest the finger on the string below" routine.

    Just my playing quirks......semi-related :D

  17. I-R-M....yes, basically. I am pretty sure I use that pattern if I end up leading with the Index and the notes (typical death metal licks) fall into 3's. I actually disagree with orthodoxy about the "correct" technique of achieving independence in RH fingering from the groove. Of course one should master all techniques worth knowing just to make more sounds and styles available in one's arsenal. But at a certain point the passion and the feel has to be allowed to breathe. Your fingers do have a personality. So once you achieve that steady balanced "every tone with every finger" mastery, then it becomes time again to let the fingers have their own personality.

    Maybe this is hokey. But it is not necessarily a sign of poor technique that I-R-M will come out sounding different from R-M-I. As long as you know you are not locked into that, you can allow that pattern to serve the music and the feel you are aiming for. As long as you know you could make any pattern sound identical if you had to, I endorse strongly that you will find the "right" sound by finding the "right" pattern for the music.
  18. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Cool thread. This is something I've spent a lot of time on.

    I never looked at any lessons for 3 finger playing, just did what came naturally which was RMI you can just grab a whole triplet really fast that way. I'd have to agree most closely with TheInsane's post, do your right-hand exercises while watching tv. You may as well be doing *something* while watching tv, and you don't need to worry about fretless intonation or any fancy-pants crap, just pounding metal and learning muscle memory. Although you should check yourself against a metronome once you relax into it. I also did the same thing with 2 finger exercises to build speed. The Steve Harris stuff is all just medium tempo, so even if it's triplets I do it with 2 fingers for a stronger attack when it's that slow.

    The bassist from Marduk is really good because he's very innovative for the genre. Especially on the earlier stuff like "Those of the Unlight", very melodic basslines.

    Edit/update: Ok I was just listening to Panzer Division Marduk again tonight and he definitely is doing 16ths! Maybe I have the EQ set different on my stereo... Sounds like he's using a pick but the Bassists of Death page says he uses fingers and has a photo to prove it. Excellent finger attack sound and speed! Think I'll listen to that again :bassist:

    I don't worry about the Tyr style mentioned above, because I play almost everything (divisible by 2) with 2 fingers. I'll use 3 fingers for the fastest triplet beats - which isn't that often anymore, because I consider it "fake speed" ala Morbid Angel and Slayer, and try to discourage my bands from using it. But a lot of the Danny Lilker 80's stuff was like that too. It's much cooler for the 3-16th-followed-by-a-16th-rest palm-muting parts, but hardly anybody uses them anymore. :meh: Except maybe The Chasm.

    I'll also use 3 fingers for classical/flamenco-guitar-ish or 3-string arpeggiated stuff. The bass intro to Dark Angel's "Darkness Descends" hooked me on that back in the day. Great P-bass sound on that record by the way.

    I do sextuplet pedals with 2 fingers because I get a stronger attack sound that way.

    One thing I've noticed about practicing speed picking is if you spend all your time practicing fast 16ths you may not be as accurate playing medium tempo 8ths or quarter notes, because you'll use a different angle of attack and pressure against the string. It's always a good idea to include medium and slower tempo exercises, like learn and play along to the whole "Ravishing Grimness" CD from Darkthrone. By evening out your picking and playing dynamics at a slower tempo, you'll be more accurate at the faster tempos too - but it doesn't work the other way around.
  19. cwbassist


    Aug 23, 2003
    I can't play very fast if I use 3 fingers all the time but it works great fot 16th note triplets because I can do quick bursts with a double bass drum but mostly I use the two finger aproach
  20. Little G

    Little G

    Feb 27, 2003
    Check out Matthew Garrison.

    He is the son of Jimmy Garrison who used to play for John Coltrane.

    He uses a 4 finger technique and the speed of his playing is ridiculous.

    I think he is in the process of releaseing a book on the technique.