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Choppy percussive finger picking (HELP!!!!)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by draginon, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I cannot figure out how to play choppy and percussive. I know it's not difficult but I can't figure it out. Basically I see guys i know and wooten, pino palladino and others play quick choppy notes.

    At other times I see guys play a slap style but using fingerstyle technique. For instance a choppy percussive fingerstyle bassline of regular bassline and the player will play the octave and it sounds muted and short but the note still barely rings through. I'd appreciate if someone can point me in the right direction because I can't seem to even figure out how to get that sound let alone to practice playing it.

    I'm thinking maybe It has something to do with the way my bass is setup (action, etc...) if so, any tips would be appreciated
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'percussive'; do you just mean real tight stacatto playing? like tight little 'blips'?

    If it's what I think you mean - I work on that constantly, my self! It's one of the reasons I keep twin hair-scrunchies up at the top of the neck (slide'em down to around the third and fourth frets when I'm playing higher, and need it to be super- clean and tight), and constantly practice disciplined muting with both hands! My right-hand muting includes a floating, 'trailing' thumb.

    The 'choppiest' (?) sound that I get is when play with a single pup, and play right over the pup - especially the bridge pickup.

    I also use a compressor in the loop of a remote-sensing noise supressor (Boss CS-3; Boss NS-2). This lets me play with a light touch while still sounding 'right-up-front' - then when I dig-in, it's not jumping out of the mix.

    See.. What I think of as more of a 'percussive' sound is the effect I get from using hard compression with the attack control turned-up; the initial transient sneaks-through before the compressor clamps-down on the level, and results in a percussive attack (it gets pretty obnoxious if one uses a pick with this setup - sounds like a kickdrum is playing along with your notes!).

    Anyway -- I'm all-OVER those strings with muting. Any little spare piece'o'meat on either hand is candidate for doing some muting with!

  3. I found it came pretty naturally to me, but Ed Friedland explained the technique pretty well in one of the Hal Leonard books when he talked about staccato notes.

    What he said (and what I was doing) is to follow on with your right hand - pluck the note with one finger and then bring the next finger up against the string as a follow through, and it stops the sound dead. The way I think of it is as if I was going to play notes twice as fast as they are written, but instead of actually plucking the second note, you just drop your finger hard on the string.

    The only time I had problems with this is playing 'disco' octaves, where your fingers are playing different strings. In this case, I posted on TB and got the reply to use left hand lifting to mute and it works really well - lift your left hand fretting finger from the fret but keep it on the string. For open strings, put your left hand or finger on the strings and mute them that way.

    For the latter technique, I practiced 'pulsing' the beat - alternating 8th notes, fretted then dead on the same string. Start slow and speed up - got me cooking pretty fast.