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A (Somewhat) Definitive Guide To The Matthew Garrison Technique And Playing Ramps

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jan 22, 2006.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I'm pretty sure I've seen him do i in a video- one of the two DVDs I believe, but I can't be sure. Gary Willis has been doing stuff like that for a long time as well.
  2. Marsvoltian


    Feb 22, 2010
    Cool, can you think of any examples or explainations into the technique?
  3. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    Mars, on the Matt Garrison Live DVD he scrapes his nails to make that wicked sound in the second or third song, they show a close up just as he does it
  4. Intenzity


    Oct 15, 2006
    Seattle, WA

    He has a new website, and if you sign up (free) in the lessons section you can see the basics of how he gets the independence of each finger.

    The navigation on the site is a little...convoluted, but he has videos showing how he does it, and breaking down every possible finger combination.

    Worth checking out at least once.
  5. +100

    Sing up and get the low down on all this stuff and get access to all of Matt's new music - the man is still kicking huge amounts of ass and absolutely rules on the bass! :)

    I've just made this video (posted below in the forum as well) that I hope shed a little light on using this stuff in solos:


    gscroggin likes this.
  6. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    this guy is incredible ..it's kinda like fingerstyle tech on acoustic guitar ...don't follow much jazz so i was unaware ...thanks...
  7. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    I've been messing with this technique quite a bit for a while now. Starting to be able to play almost all my lines with a combination of thumb and 1,2, and 3. However, I'm curious as to how you guys do quick descending arpeggios. Obviously going up is blazingly fast. But how do you descend? Do you flip the order from T-1-2-3 to 3-2-1-T? For instance how would someone finger the intro lick to Opus Pocus by Jaco? I can blaze through the first 8-12 notes, but once I get to the descending E Maj Triad and then the Eb Maj Triad I get stumped. Even just something simple like playing open strings quickly E-A-D-G-G-D-A-E is tripping me up. I'm trying to find a way to not repeat a finger as well, since that kind of takes away the fluid nature of the picking style in general.

    That's all,


  8. bThumper38

    bThumper38 brian ebert

    That's funny, I play better on the descending stuff, than ascending, How bout' we trade licks. Only thing I just use T.down,T.up.,index finger.
  9. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    Well, for instance if you take an A maj arpeggio. So A-C# on the e string, E on the a, A on the d, then C#-E on the G string. The way up has many easy options

    You could just alternate T-I (thumb-index) the whole time, you could use a 3 note phrase like T-I on the e then M on the a then T on the d and finally I-M on the G. Or you could use T-I on the e then M on the a then R on the d then T-I on the G. Many fluid ways to pluck each note on the way up without repeating a finger. But the way down stumps me.

    How do you finger on the way down without repeating a finger or using pull-offs or hammer-ons? If you reverse the order I can see something like T-R on the g, then M on the d, then I on the a, and then T-I on the E. This works, but is awkward because you have to quickly reverse the order. Do some of you reach "past" or "behind" the thumb with the index to string cross downwards?

    Anybody have any suggestions? Hope this made sense.
  10. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Try to relax & keep your right hand moving. Time & practice will let your hand find the finger that can play the next note. Whether you use each finger in sequence, repeat a finger, reverse the order, use 1, 2, 3 or 4 fingers, skip a finger, is not important. It becomes how you do it. Yes, it will affect the phrasing of what you play. The music also suffers when you continue to think about your hand. If you trip over a finger, play a quarter, half or whole note rest, simplify & start again, perhaps with just 2 fingers. At a minimum, this distracts less & requires much less thought.

    FWIW, I find sweep picking, with 1 finger, useful for descending. Hope that helps. :cool:
  11. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    That's fine. I'm glad that works for you. But for me if I'm going to use a technique that uses twice as many fingers I'm going to think about it. Otherwise I might as well not try it. My two finger technique is plenty sufficient for almost everything. I don't think about that anymore, but I did need to at one point. I feel attention should be given to the right hand just like it is given to the left. And judging by what I've seen of people like Gary Willis and Matt Garrison, I don't believe I'm alone in that sentiment. Reversing the order is something I've been working on, but two notes in a row with the same finger seems to take away everything this technique has to offer (i.e. fluidity, speed, etc...). I've tried sweep picking like you mentioned It works for me if I'm trying to do a fast sweep arpeggio, but since I don't do rest strokes when doing this particular technique it is difficult for me to switch from one style to the next in a smooth manor. I've been trying to find someway to do rest strokes while doing the 4 finger stuff, but can't seem to find a comfortable hand angle. Still would be curious as to what others do for the arpeggio I mentioned above.
  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Well, the main point of using so many fingers IMO is for making things easier. If a certain pattern would be easier to play using only two fingers and harder to play using four, then using four for the sake of using four would be counter-productive. Willis and Garrison do that as well when you watch them (Willis doesn't even use his third finger most of the time when he's not ascending strings). That's why I almost always start out plucking with my thumb when descending strings rather than alternating all the time. With my hand is positioned and the opposing hinge of the thumb, it's just more natural to pluck with it when descending. Conservation of motion sometimes requires less fingers/finger alteration.
  13. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    We agree you will succeed by doing what works for you.

    If you use a strap, changing it's length could provide a more comfortable position for your right hand. If you play seated, standing with a strap might do the same.

    I certainly think about what to do when practicing, planning & approaching something new. I do my best to not think while playing, since I find my music suffers when I do.

    FWIW, my 1st experience playing with 4 fingers involved a folk guitar & right hand patterns popularized by the Cotton Family. That lead to some experiments with Classical guitar techniques, then a look at the way James Taylor uses his right hand, etc. It's funny how the muscles remember so quickly. For the record, I am not an technical innovator & am, on good days, an intermediate player.

    Good luck on your quest.
  14. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    Cool, thanks for the responses guys. I'll keep experimenting.
  15. Alimic


    May 9, 2011
    Just got my new ramp installed on my new bass.

    Attached Files:

  16. Ratking87


    Oct 5, 2011
    So, I have started working on this recently. I have gotten pretty adept with the index, middle and ring lately. I mostly play two finger, with the ring for skips and a little extra speed from time to time. I started adding in the thumb recently, but am having a few hang ups. I haven't installed a ramp yet, and I have been hung up on the angle of my right hand.

    I know in the OP talks about how he slightly angles his hand, while the Garrison method is a little more straight. I have found that my initial instinct is to curl my hand, and it allows me to sit my hand in a seemingly more comfortable position. However when I can force myself to keep it straight, I feel like I get better and more consistent attack out of my right hand. I have been really impressed with Abe Laboriel's playing, and he seems to do a similar thing with his hand. Is this just a ridiculous hang up of mine? or is there actually a potentially better way?
  17. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It's possible to come up with a number of different methods that work consistently. Going with what's comfortable is usually best; however, there's a lot that can be gained from working through something that's initially uncomfortable as it may turn out better for you in the end. Only way to know for sure it to put a decent amount of practice in with both methods and seeing what works best after a while.

    There's also nothing saying you can't switch back and forth between the two positions depending on what you're doing. There's nothing to gain from holding steadfastly to one technique if it makes things more difficult for you at times. I switch to playing standard 2 finger plucking on occasion if a part is just plain easier to play that way.
  18. Mr.Typhus


    Sep 14, 2004
    So, I started practising this technique now after christmas. I feel like its a easier way for those "really fast" runs that I want to have in my playing. I've allready got it pretty fluid and I can play easily 16th notes on 160pbm when staying on one string. When skipping strings it gets a little inaccurate! But i have to work on that! :) SO, I have a question. How close to the strings have you guys adjusted the ramp? I feel that its easier to play on lower strings when the ramp is really near, but with G and D strings i prefer ramp a little lower. Should I make a "curved" ramp ?haha! :)
  19. here's my cort RB5 with ebony ramp, it's radius and yes the pickup was radius too, its Bartolini 66RT5DC
    i need no glue to attaching the ramp, as you can see, it framed the pickup..
  20. So what is the measure of success for those that have decided to not install a ramp?
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 8, 2021

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