cliff's technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by f'nar f'nar, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. I just went out and baught the B&P box set today of metallica, and it rocks!

    At the beginning of the san diego show, theres a segment on cliff, and he's playing the intro to 'For whom the bell tolls" and he plays this wicked as solo, that sounds more like something kirk would play, only he plays it with his fingers... HIS FINGERS! Not on this, but only his index and middle finger, no ring or pinky, just those two!

    Does anyone have any tips on how to get that fast with just two fingers. And for that matter, if anyone knows what he does for that little solo bit i would love to see some kind of tab, i would do it for myself if i could write accurate tabs, but meh, i cant.

    In closing, cliff rocks!
  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I think I know the exact clip you're talking about. Its definately one of his more impressive solos. Cliff Em All was the reason I started the bass in the first place.

    As for getting speed there's really no key besides practice. Work on scales, using a metronome at very low tempo. Advance the tempo SLOWLY (not more than 3-5bpm per week). Get your hands perfectly in sync, every note clean, defined and on time. You need to build your muscles to the point that you can play fast while still being relaxed.

    You might also want to practice 3 finger techniques, I know its hard to tell in the videos but Cliff used 3 and even 4 fingers quite frequently. I never use my pinky (its too short) but I do use 3 fingers when I need to do a long sustained passage at high speed (the kind of stuff CLiff does with ease).

    And yes, Cliff does indeed rock!
  3. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    I have put some stuff here:

    It's all of the patterns of 4 notes that can be played on 4 seperate strings and a recommended fingering based on the premise that right hand fingers alternate unless you are dropping to a string of lower tonality. The other method is a strict r-l-r-l fingering which should be practiced on the same patterns of 4 notes as well.

    Practice tips are also included, such as practice in quarter notes at about 100bpm with a metronome until stumbling over notes stops and then you can increase to 8th notes and gradually increase the speed. Try for clarity of attack and ensure that notes ring for the entire quarter note value (legato).

    Since the exercises are for the right hand, you can do something musical and interesting with the left. For that purpose, there are probably passages in the Bach cello suites (which Cliff also studied) which can be played for each of the finger excercises.

    The cello suites are here:

    (Since bass is notated an octave lower than the sounds, it should be noted that the range of a cello for at least the first few suites are from a low C (8th fret - E string) to a high G (24th fret - G string). If playing on a 22 fret bass, the high F# (23rd fret) can be produced by playing a harmonic over the 4, 9, or 16th fret of the D string and the G can be found by playing a harmonic over the 5th or 17th fret of the G string Suite 6 appears to be composed for a 5 string cello so may need to be played an octave or two lower than written to be in the range of the bass guitar).

    Comments and questions are welcome as are tips for improving the document.
  4. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Some of those excercises look pretty cool, I think I'll give them a try. One question though, which finger is which according to your diagram? I've always used the same numbering for both my right and left hands (index=1 etc.) but I know some people reverse them.

    Do you find it makes much difference which finger is which (I seem to have an easier time playing in a 2121 pattern than what you have written)?
  5. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    Fair enough. In the description notes, I mention that "1" represents one finger and "2" represents the other finger. I believe that the exercises should be practiced both ways (i.e. With "1" as the index finger, again with "1" as the middle finger) and also with a strict 2-1-2-1 right hand motion.

    If you are comfortable with all three fingerings, it will increase your options on stage and lead to more musical freedom with your left hand.

    I also don't mean to present the notion that there is a "proper" fingering for any of these patterns as, given a 4 string patterns for example, I would be just as likely to use a Thumb-Index-Middle-Ring right hand fingering.

    All of the possible 4 note string patterns are outlined on that page and a strict alternating 1-2-1-2 or 2-1-2-1 right hand pattern would also work over them.

    The purposes of these exercises is to reduce some of the redundancy of motion inherent in the 1-2-1-2 strictly alternating right hand plucking technique. When dropping a string or two, an extended plucking motion where you play 2 or three string with one finger reduces this redundancy of motion. This can lead to increased speed when it becomes comfortable.

    When dropping 2 or 3 strings lower with one plucking motion it may be desirable to use your left hand to mute the 1 or 2 strings in the middle.

    Milage may vary. Ideally, it shouldn't make a difference. A 2-1-2-1 should be practiced; the purpose of this exercise is to increase your options, not decrease them.
  6. MarztekMilita


    Feb 10, 2005
    that little solo is one of the crazist things me and my friends have seen
    we didnt even know that the intro WAS cliff!
    but when i looked up the tabs i played the intro and just went for it. but i play with a pick. its very hard to play with out disrortion so get your distortion (assuming that you have one) push it to the farthest point it allows and just [email protected]$ing whank with it :bassist: . but if you cant get the exact solo thing just do your own and see how it comes out
    thats all i got to say hope i could be a service to you
  7. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Cliff is the metal god. Check out Fight Fire With Fire, he plays that with his 'effin fingers!
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