Alternating Fingers question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BassBot5000, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. BassBot5000

    BassBot5000 Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    Anaheim, CA
    So I've been trying to develop more agility in my right hand, and I've been looking for nasty little habits I might be harboring. I've noticed that I don't pay much attention to strictly alternating my index & middle fingers, especially when crossing strings. So is this necessarily a bad habit? Any tips for correcting it?
  2. gotmule?


    Apr 24, 2008
    While most people say it is best to alternate fingers, I believe it is personal opinion that matters. Most players use their index and middle fingers, but players such as John Entwistle and Nate Watts use 3 fingers, and players such as Jack Bruce and James jamerson only used their index finger. Other players such as Rick "the Bass Player" Rosas and Sting will use their thumb. Therefore, I believe it depends on what you're most comfortable with and which gives you the best tone. I personally use my middle and index finger when I play.
  3. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Assuming you are playing rest strokes, strict alternation is not required, especially when moving from a higher to a lower string.
  4. BassBot5000

    BassBot5000 Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    Anaheim, CA
    Now what do you mean by rest strokes? I'm not so much worried about how it affects most of my playing, but I'm concerned it may be a slowing me down when it comes to faster or more intricate lines.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    To get the best use from your right hand, hold a small coin in your little finger while you practice. This will give the your index and middle finger more freedom to operate with more focus. After a week or two you should be able to loss the coin and still hold the right hand position on its own. Try practising in threes and triplet times as this will always change what finger you feel the beat on.
    Start on one string, then two and so on about mid neck. When you get comfortable then move towards the nut with your playing.

    Many player play an alternating style that see their forefinger be the dominant finger. This just means that if your playing music with small rests or stops, regardless of what finger last played you just start again on the forefinger. Even though you cant see it, playing with the forefinger dominant in this way is like playing forward or clockwise to some players, and leading with the middle finger is like playing backwards or anti-clockwise.
    Close all your fingers one at a time straight after each other as fast as you can. Is it easy starting from the forefinger or little finger? Thats the feeling... forwards or backwards.

    Don't over do it it takes time to develop, and don't over arch your right wrist, try and keep it as straight as needs be for your style.
  6. pseudoxh4


    Jul 26, 2006
    A rest stroke is when you pluck a string in such a way that your plucking finger subsequently comes to rest on the adjacent string.

    I don't think it's a big deal that you don't strictly alternate when crossing strings; when string skipping or going from a higher string to the adjacent lower one I find it easier to rake (a little trickier for the former, but it works especially well at faster tempos).

    Of course, if you're playing single string riffs at fast tempos, you should definitely be alternating. :)
  7. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Inactive Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: