Chords + Fingerstyle...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by OxJohnson, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. I'll admit it, I am a gui**** convert...

    That being said I have been on the bass for about a year or so with a band. I would really like to add some chords to my sound, but without a pick, how do you do it?! How can you get a clean chord sound finger style?

    I am VERY adept with a pick due to my guitar experience, but I prefer finger style on the bass. I would prefer to not have to find a way to switch back and forth, but we are going to start playing some songs where my gui**** informed me that I will have to provide some chordal re-enforcement, but still play my natural bass lines (which I would prefer to do without a pick).

    How do ya'll do it?

  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    the same way a classical guitarist would play chords without a pick ...

    God gave you finger nails dude ... use them ...
  3. Right... so how? Do you use the fingernails independently on the pluck and play all the notes at once, or the pointer finger on a downstroke like you would a pick?

    I used to play guitar (as stated earlier), but all the finger style that I did was "chicken picken'" which is commonly referred to as the "pima" method. I always used a pick to play chords...

  4. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Ever watch claypool strum? I have found this to be the best way to play chords. Mostly double stops, and power chords, but it works very nicely.
  5. Hate to say it, but no. I love Primus, but have never seen them live. Can you please elaborate? I also hate to sound like a noob, but my gui**** upbringing keeps demanding that I reach for a pick!

  6. Ramstien


    Aug 19, 2007
    You could just rake with 1 finger over the strings.
  7. GianGian


    May 16, 2008
    I strongly suggest watching Rush In Rio, Geddy plays a lot of chords.
  8. I have been using the rake for the occasional chord that I need to play, but it sounds "thin" to me. May I need to work on my technique? I have also been doing the 2 sting pluck on playing octaves, but now I need full chords...

  9. Are there good close-up shots? I have the CD set, but not the DVD. I am not beyond getting anything that helps!

  10. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Check out some live clips on youtube, especially american life, and groundhogs day. If you can pick it up, check out the hallucino-genetics tour dvd. It's a good buy anyways. :D

    I have found it is extremely easy to get a clean and precise strumming sound out of a bass by using his method of going back and forth using my whole hand. When I do it I normally use my three fingers, and not the pinky. The down stroke was the easiest at first, with the upstroke being muted a first. But now I have the same dynamic for both. What are kind of chords are you playing? Are you strumming out the chords to a rhythm, or are you just playing power chords and letting them ring? For ringing chords the downstroke is just fine, but it will be easier to do both when you are strumming to a rhythm.

    You can also use your thumb downwards for very deep chords as well. I'll do a combination of both of those and plucking the notes separately (sometimes like an arpeggio) for different rhythms.
  11. Rockles


    Feb 26, 2008
    If i dont need more then 2 fingers for a song, I hold a pick with my ring and pinky fingers on my right hand while im playing.
  12. DeanAngerer


    Jul 18, 2008
    Well I'm no expert, but it would depend on which strings your chords use. Like if it's just a double stop with any two adjacent strings, you can just rake upward with your index finger. So if the chord uses the D and A strings, you'd rest your thumb on E, start by plucking D, and rake upward to A. On the D and G strings, you might feel more comfortable just raking your thumb downward across the two strings. If the two strings aren't adjacent like E and D, you can use your thumb and index finger separately much like you would to Travis pick on a guitar.

    I find that really slightly arpeggiating the notes of the chord can sound really nice; the notes aren't quite played simultaneously, but almost. Remember if you can mute all the strings you're not using, the job of your right hand will be a lot easier, and you can strum the strings just like a guitar with your thumb to still get that smooth finger sound, or use finger nails to get more of a picking sound.

    Sorry about the rambling, but hope that helped a little.
  13. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    Your first post doesn't really describe how you expect to use the chords, which really makes a difference. When I play chords (without a pick) I usually don't play them in rapid succession, so these techniques might not work for that.

    The easiest way is to just use one finger per string, and let her rip. My personal favorite if a very forceful slap, right next to the bridge, with all other stings muted. Another one is to rake your finger across the stings in the opposite way you usually would pluck, so your nail hits the strings.
  14. GianGian


    May 16, 2008
    Some...use youtube..ghost rider, la villa strangiato, the pass.
  15. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    There are any number of way to play chords on bass. You can strum them with your fingernails. You can either use the tips of your fingers for upstrokes or you can use the thumbnail. You can play them by raking your fingers across the strings quickly. You can play them as sweeps, you can finger pick, you can even tap or slap them. If worst comes to worst you can always get the old pick out.
  16. I play the bass

    I play the bass

    Jun 3, 2008
    Generally I do what another poster advised, and rest my thumb on either the E or A and rake the 2 or 3 strings upward with my index finger. Alternating index middle and ring depending on how long im playing the chords. IMO, the flavor you get from the strum pattern on a guitar isnt as important on bass. Keep the rythem, but ditch the pattern. Maybe I'm copping out though haha.

    BUT for chords that are thrown in at the end of a line(especially if it really grooves) I hit the strings with my fingernails in a downward motion.(make a fist and then flick all your fingers out at once, thats a really rough way to describe it, but i think you get the point.)
  17. Thanks for all the good replies! It really gives me some different things to try. For basic power chords and octaves I currently just pluck with two fingers at a time. I was really asking about playing slower droning chords that ring through. I guess that I will work a little more on trying the finger rake method. That seemed the most obvious but felt a little funny and my consistency wasn't there. I guess that I need to give it some more practice, but I figured that I would ask before I started practicing something that was counter-productive!

    Thanks again for all of the great responses!

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