4 finger technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by silvermaneZ, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    (I think this is my first post in Technique. Hi everyone!)

    I had a revelation of sorts last night...

    I have been working hard on my three and four finger right hand technique to increase my overall speed. While I was practicing "YYZ", it came to me: using a 4 finger technique all the time is like bowing technique for Double Bass playing. For some technical passages, your bowing does not go up/down/up/down/up/down, but could go up/up/up/down/up/up, etc. With the 4 finger technique, you could do alot of pinkie/ring/middle/index/ring/middle/index/ring/middle, etc.

    I don't know if anyone else has ever thought of it this way. (Although I am sure SOMEONE has.) It just was like a lightbulb going off for me. I can't wait to get home tonight and start working on some other stuff that has been giving my right hand fits.
  2. Hi Silver'

    Nice one.

    My r/h is definitely the weaker and I seem to be constantly fiddling with various methods of trying to play better in that regard.

    The pinky is the difficulty, IMHO.

    I shall keep close eyes on this thread to see what the technique gurus say.:D

  3. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    Look at all the great players, none of them use 4 fingers. The reason being IMO is it's akward and your tone will be uneven. I have never seen anybody use 4 fingers. Even though I am sure there is some freak of nature that does do it.
    It is proven though that anything can be played with 3,2 or even 1 finger.

    Geddy Lee actually only uses his index finger and uses a back forth motion like a pick for really fast stuff.
  4. very true!

    but I don't know if you can do the same thing with 1 finger as you can with 2 fingers. It also looks very ugly to see a bass player playing with only one finger or more than 2 fingers (if they are plucking)...i play with 2 fingers, and to play faster, you don't need more than 2 fingers, it's all in the technique. 4 fingers??? what the heck are people thinking!??
  5. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    In response to theJello and Rafterman....


    Check out the Video of Billy Sheehan and Stu Hamm. Both of them use 4 fingers. Also watch John Myung's instruction video. He uses 4 fingers. I have seen video of John Patitucci and Anthony Jackson playing fusion stuff, and using 4 fingers. Steve Harris of Iron Maiden - 3 and 4 fingers most of the time.

    If you watch any of the live video's that Rush has put out over the years, you will see Geddy using two fingers at least. The strumming technique you are talking about is used for playing double stops, for example in "Red Barchetta", not just for fast passages. I doubt he plays "YYZ" live with only 1 finger.
  6. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000

    Yeah, I play with 2 also. But, guys like James Jamerson and Geddy Lee prove you can do just about anything with one finger. The back and forth movement geddy uses is for the most part equal to 2 fingers. Chuck Rainey uses this technique also. I personly could never do it. I think it all comes down to what feels natural for the individual. Everybody is different. But I have still yet to see 4 work for anybody.
  7. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Ugly? It looks ugly? Are you really going to walk into a bar and say "I refuse to like this band because the bass players hands look ugly when he plays!":confused:
  8. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    Silverman dont take this wrong but you are dead wrong on just about everthing you said.

    First off I do have both those old Billy Sheehan videos and the first Stu Hamm one from back in the day when I bought videos.

    Billy sheehan uses 3 fingers. He does demonstrate 4 fingers on that video but he says he doesnt use the pinky normally because he cant get it to sound right. More or less thats is what I remember. It did sound ok when he did it. But this is Billy Sheehan.
    Bottom line he doesnt use it in his normal playing and didnt seem to recommnd it. From what I remember.

    Stu's pluckng technique I am a little in the dark on. considering he doesnt play finger style a whole lot.
    He doesnt do much on the first video fingerstyle except some major scales. He appeared to use 2 fingers.
    If you are talking about tapping that is whole other story. I am talking strictly traditional fingerstyle, not tapping.

    John Myung, I have heard him state in several interviews that he uses 3 fingers. Other than that I dont know whole lot about him.

    Geddy Lee plays with one finger. I have seen him play all the fast stuff with the back and forth technique. Anybody want to back me up on this?

    Steve Harris, this one always gets me. I see so many guys state that Steve Harris uses 3 and 4 fingers. Not true, Steve has said himself that he uses only his index and middle fingers. The movement that you see is called sympathetic movement. you move your middle finger and ring finger moves. I think this is causing lot of confusion for you because of what you "think" you are seeing.

    John Patitucci using 4 fingers? Hmm, I am really not sure about this but I am almost positive he uses 2.
    Unless he changed.

    Anthony Jackson same thing but not sure.
  9. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Jello, this is getting totally off topic of what I was talking about when I started this thread. I have no desire for this to deginerate into a pissing contest between the two of us. All of the bassists I mentioned I have seen live and up close, and being a bassist I watched their technique. You think one thing, I think another, and we agree to disagree. Case closed in my book.
  10. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    Sorry if I got off topic. I wont say anything more after this. I am really not trying get in a pissing contest or anything. It really doesnt matter to me what you believe. I was merely replying and disagreeing with what you basically stated as fact. When Steve Harris says he plays with 2 fingers I take that as fact. This is has nothing do with what I "think" vs what you "think" Its what most of these guys have said vs. what you think. Thats all.
    No hard feelings.
  11. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    4 FINGERS!

    I love using 4 fingers,its so much easier,and i dont think it affects the tone at all.I used to use 2 and 3,and i couldnt play scales or songs where you had to stretch alot,but my teacher taught me to use my little feeble pinky.Little did i know that after a few months of tiring my pinky,it would become stronger,and so easy to play songs!If only I could think of someway to use my thumb...
  12. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    Sorry I didnt read everything people said,but I have more to add.

    Please tell me,whats the purpose of only using three fingers?You just have your pinky dangling there,useless.It's pointless to not use all of them.It's easier to play faster and smoother with your pinky once its developed and strong.I know a guy,whose hands arent even that big,who can stretch from the 1st fret to the 6th fret:eek: .I mean it's like a drummer using 1 arm,a pianist using 1 hand,and on and on and on.:eek:
  13. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    frankencow, I hate to be the one to point this out, but we were originally talking about using 4 fingers with the right hand, the picking hand, not the left hand.
  14. i take it that you weren't reading the other replies posted on this thread...we weren't talking about out fretting hands...we were talking about our plucking hands/fingers.

    it's obvious that you NEED to play with 4 fingers on your fretting hand.
  15. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001

    Oh my god!The whole time I thought you were talking about your fretting hand!Well back on topic,I think that 4 fingers on your plucking hand would be a good thing,but very hard.Right now I use 2,and I'm workin on 3.
  16. Originally posted by theJello

    Geddy Lee plays with one finger. I have seen him play all the fast stuff with the back and forth technique. Anybody want to back me up on this?

    he said in an interview in Bassist a few years ago that he uses 1 or 2 fingers and occasionally adds a third if he needs to for extra speed.

    in BP's interview for his solo album "my favourite headache" he said he used one finger mainly, but also two fingers.

    Steve Harris, this one always gets me. I see so many guys state that Steve Harris uses 3 and 4 fingers. Not true, Steve has said himself that he uses only his index and middle fingers.

    do you have a link to the interview he said this in?
    judging from video footage I can't believe he's using less than 3 fingers to play stuff with the fast triplet gallop like "run to the hills" or "the evil that men do". his index and middle fingers just aren't moving fast enough for them to be doing all the work.

    I use 3 fingers usually, for speed and the most attack, and 2 fingers for slower playing (and to save wear on my ring finger, which blisters easily).
    I occasionally use 4 fingers for chording.
  17. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Being someone who has gradually moved from two fingers to three and is now working on four, I can tell you that each has its advantages and disadvantages.

    First of all, with two: I find it to be the easiest method if you are crossing strings, although of course heavy practice will bring you up to speed if you use more. The problem with two fingers is that it's just too slow for some styles of music. I played in a very fast black-metal band and there was NO WAY that two fingers could play fast enough for that.

    Three fingers: Well, you can increase your speed by a fair amount, but what can get confusing is that you're now playing everything in terms of "threes", if that makes any sense. Unless you have it absolutely down pat, everything is going to sound like triplets!

    Four fingers: Doesn't give you more speed than three fingers but eliminates the annoying "triplet" feel. Difficulties lie in the fact that you may need the pinky for palm muting or something like that. Also, if your hands are small like mine are, you have to alter the angle of your hand to reach the strings properly, which can pose other problems. Also, seeing as how your pinky is usually the smallest and weakest of your fingers, it can take awhile to build it up...

    Note that all of the difficulties inherent in playing with three and four fingers can be solved by throwing large amounts of practice time at them.

    Anyway, I have seen a few bassists use 4 fingers, notably ICS Vortex from Dimmu Borgir and Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse. But really, who cares who else does it? Do what feels right for you.
  18. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    Play what you like.I can see that 3 or 4 fingers is very useful for metal or thrash bands,because they play VERY FAST,and play a few notes.but if your playing music where you have to go from string-to-string it probably gets hard and confusing with 3 or more fingers.
  19. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000

    It was in an old Bass player. Probably like 10 years ago right after the album that come out AFTER Seventh Son, Cant remember that albums name because thats when they turned to crap.

    I used to be a HUGE Steve Harris fan, he was what inspired me to pick up bass in the first place in the 80's.
    Honestly I used to think he used more fingers until I heard this interview. It appears he is playing with more because when he plucks he doesnt curl his un used fingers. So the other fingers move sympathetically with the others. There is no way to tell how many fingers a player is using by watching them. Unless your like inches from their hand. Well, I guess I should say there is no way to tell if they dont curl their un used fingers.

    Anyways,It is possible to play all that stuff with 2 fingers. He does it. Thats what he said man, Believe it or not.
  20. I play with all five fingers. The thumb of course for slap. my pinky for the E, my ring finger for the A, my Index finger for the D, and my middle finger for the G. it took a while to develop but I can play pretty darn fast now. to play fast on one string I use the designated finger like a pick (going back and forth across the string) and it works just fine. This to me was almost easier than getting the coordination of alternatley using just two fingers. One of the main reasons I learned this though (apart from developing speed) was to do polyrythms. i still cant exactly do them, but im working on it. I just see more fingers as more possibilities. You know whats funny though, most people will look at this post and think Im mad. But, the bass is a relatively new instrument and has plenty of room for innovation. I dont think there is any set way to do things, so why stick to two fingers? Why stick to four strings (even though I exclusively play 4-strings, but thats just my thing)?