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Best way to change from plectrum to fingers without throwing the bass out the window from frustratio

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by B-Mac, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member


    I need to change from plectrum to fingers and I really hate the sound of fingers.
    But it is something I know I need to do.

    I also hate hearing my finger nails on the strings even though I cut them close and file them I still hear them.

    Are my fingers deformed? Will this change over time?

  2. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    why exactly do you "need" to change, if you hate the sound?

    fingernails on strings should not happen with a normal plucking technique
    explaining exactly how you pluck will go poorly in a forum, a personal demonstration is best.
    You should find an instructor.

    here's a video that seems legit though

  3. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly



    As for hearing your fingernails on the string, best I can say is try to focus on just using the fleshy pad of your fingertip. What's your attack like? Start slow and low so you get the feel. Like everything else related to playing, it takes practice. I suspect your fingers are not deformed (unless you post photos to show otherwise).
    zontar, 4 Strings Good and Lobster11 like this.
  4. Rev. Cornelius

    Rev. Cornelius Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    I have learned that my index and middle fingers have 2 very different plucking sounds. The pad on the middle finger is much greater than on the index. The middle has become the main plucking finger unless playing a passage that requires alternating.

    Also, when switching from pick to fingers use a cheap P bass. They are more likely to survive being tossed out the window and smashing into tiny bits.:eek:
  5. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I guess your position is not good and you are crawling your fingers too much and you might pull the strings instead of plucking.

    I suggest you start by playing the open A string and make sure your finger land on the E string after the pluck. The more flesh you put on the string, the rounder and fatter the sound will be. I think that would be a good start.
    gepettus likes this.
  6. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    Because certain songs actually need it
    Been taking lessons from 4 different teachers since October 2013. I really thought my last teacher would help. He has helped immensely with reading notation, but as for playing technique, not so much. Maybe I'm just uncoordinated?
    I like the 'precise' sound of the pick on the string rather than the thud sound of the finger
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  7. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    Middle finger works better than index. Not a big fleshy pad on my index finger even when I keep the finger flat and pluck A land on the E I still hear the finger nail and I am not doing the 'claw' position like a guitarist. Flat finger with follow through to next string. Middle works most of the time but index finger not working well. Maybe over time that'll change?

    In one of Adam Nealey's vids he stated just to start out using one finger before going to 2. What do you think of that? Just the alternating between index and middle is an issue for me.

    I just really like playing with a pick. I've been using a 3 mm pick for 5 years now.
    Randy Ward likes this.
  8. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I love the alternate fingers when doing my technique routine: arpeggios, scales, motifs etc... But when it is time to play I go with what feels right. Also in most pop/rock tunes when steady 8ths are required then go with 1 finger either one. That is the sound !!
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Have you tried this method?

    LoTone, ELG60, thanos k and 1 other person like this.
  10. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    Gonna have to try this out
    Lobster11 likes this.
  11. Kriegs

    Kriegs Peace Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2018
    MA/ RI area
    I have simply given up trying to play without a pick. I found that the proper combination of the plectrum and strings (of course this varies from bass to bass) can give me a sound that is indistinguishable from finger playing. Just a thought that helped me get over the hurdle, as always, YMMV :thumbsup:
    Lefty McGee, BurtMacklinFBI and B-Mac like this.
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I would not blame physiology, This is most likely a technique issue to be solved by slow attentive practice over time.
    Every body's fingers and finger muscles have differences. That is why players are encouraged to practice alternating "smoothly and consistently". The fact that you both are aware of the difference is good: now you must act on that knowledge. Right handed and left handed players can learn to fret notes/pluck notes in spite of the 'handicap' of using a non-primary hand. Train your fingers to produce the same sound in spite of the differences.

    The solution for frustration in practices always the same: slow down until you can play it accurately ("smoothly, evenly"), then work on up to speed.
  13. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Great! Maybe all you need is to find a particular right-hand technique that works for you, and maybe this is the one. I'll be eager to hear how it goes.

    You might find it amusing to know that some of us have experienced the exact same kind of frustration going in the opposite direction. It might be hard for you to imagine, but if you've never used a pick and go 15 years playing bass without one, learning how to use one is want-to-throw-bass-out-the-window frustrating. I tried off and on for years, but each time I just gave up convinced that I couldn't do it. I didn't really start to get a handle on it until I made the decision to stick with it for as long as it took, and eventually I got the hang of it. If you're as determined as I was -- and it sounds like you are -- you just need a little patience and you'll get it. Good luck!
    ELG60, eJake, cchorney and 5 others like this.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Indeed. Getting a decent , even sound across strings with a plectrum is a challenge for me.
    I have to slow down and pay close attention to get it right - and I've been playing for 3 decades.
    Pilgrim, B-Mac and Lobster11 like this.
  15. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    Wow! Amazing how we’re at opposite ends. Once you have cross picking down you’re on your way
    Lobster11 likes this.
  16. Another vote for this. I have never spent the time to learn how to play with a pick, although there are long repetitive passages which tend to fatigue my right hand, and which would benefit greatly from use of a pick.
  17. The only reason I ever switch away from a pick to fingers is because I play completely differently with fingers. I don't have great technical skill with fingerstyle, but have cobbled together my own technique that makes it work for me. If it's just a sound thing, though, I can get 97% of the way there by changing the way I use the pick... and that's close enough for me.
  18. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    If you want less "thud" with a sharper attack, pluck closer to the bridge!
    brett adams, Joebone and jamro217 like this.
  19. cool breeze

    cool breeze

    May 13, 2016
    If I’m not mistaken Bill Wyman picked over the fretboard.
    Joebone likes this.
  20. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Good Luck.
    JRA likes this.

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