1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Consistent tone using multiple fingers = impossible?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Suckbird, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    So i'm using 4fingers and none of my fingers sound the same...

    it's pretty weird because i didn't notice it before i read a thread about it.

    Anyway, i started to play really really slow just to make sure each note sound the same but they dont, it doesn't matter how slow i try they just dont wanna sound the same... some people says that you have to pluck with the same strength with each finger and if you cant then you'll have to build up strength in the weaker finger.

    That's not my problem, i think my problem is the different surfaces on each finger.. my index and pinky both sound much treblier than the ring and the middle, and the middle finger sounds bassier than my ring finger..

    the weird thing is that when i play faster and do scales(different
    notes all the time) you wont notice how different my fingers sounds..

    the most annoying finger is the index finger, i have to play with a small angle towards the bridge or it will produce a snappy sound, and guess what.. i watched a billy sheehan video where he's showing his 3finger technique and i could clearly hear how his index finger sounds different too which means that billy sheehan doesn't have a consistent sound either...

    i see this as a big problem and it's damn frustrating, i can get a consistent sound when i play very light but that's not the sound i want, whenever i play harder each finger will produce their own unique sound...

    another thing i noticed is that when i pluck with my index finger in the same place as i do when i play with 4 fingers and then move my hand slightly towards the bridge and then pluck again with my index finger in the same place as my ring finger is supposed to it sounds different, i know the closer to the neck you play the bassier sound you will get and the closer to the bridge you play the treblier sound you will get, in that case.. how could you possibly have a consistent sound?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Using a light touch helps a lot in getting consistent finger tone.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I can get a very consistant tone with my fingers. Takes practice and a light touch.
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I use only my first and second finger to pluck. And they do have a different sound. I've always thought it was do to the fact that the calous on my index finger was bigger than my middle finger. And frankly, I like it that way so I can have a variation of sound.

    For fast playing, leading with my index finger gives a strong attack and begining to the phrase, the middle finger then follows with 'less important' notes.

    Every now and then I use my ring finger (no calous) for a very soft attack, like that last note of a ballad or something like that.
  5. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    One thing you have to realise is that playing with all four or five fingers is that you'll never have the same consistency in tone that you would with one or two fingers. This isn't just related to the angle of your attack, but also what part of the string you attack.

    You'll probably never get the exact same sound with all of those fingers, but the purpose of playing like that is to play fast so there isn't as great a need for consistent tone, only for volume. Just don't forget how to play with two fingers.
  6. I get quite a consistant sound out of three fingers. It just takes slow practice with a metronome. Playing with a metronome also helps get rid of the galloping feel
  7. Signed.

    I believe consistancy in itself.. is one of the hardest things to master as a bassist. Take a look at your fingers now and pay attention to your calouses, then at the widths, and lengths of all your fingers. It sounds like you have a very delicate ear, which will pay off in the long run.

    I would reccomend practice amongst all others, but as mentioned earlier, you could play with a lighter touch or possibly go for a compressor.

    Just my 2 cents, but i'm no pro :p
  8. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    I noticed the same thing back when I played with 3 fingers all the time for about 6 months. No matter how much i tried, I had the same result, an inconsistent tone, esp when switching strings.

    I really like Tom Commerford's take on this. "Use one finger as much as possible, if its something fast or with 16ths use two, if its triplets or ridiculously fast, use 3 fingers." Geddy Lee does this and James Jamerson only used one most of the time.

    90% of what grooves in music be it rock, pop, latin, country, jazz, etc..
    one or two fingers should be enough. So find your range of 16ths how fast can you do 16ths with one finger? 2? More importantly, 8ths. How fast can you do 8ths?

    It's like a drummer's bass drum. It is usually one pedal smacking the drum, but in metal it may be two. Therefore you will lock in better with what he is doing. There is a difference in consistency for sure.
  9. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    However,,, how many people notice that about Billy? He sounds amazing to most people either way. You can easily speculate on this into perpituity, but to the audience,,,, it doesn't matter much.

    Speed and chops can only satisfy the ear for so long. It's the groove that really brings people to see a band play. Counting from 1 to four over and over..... Making people bang their head, or dance. Even Billy has great groove to go with his chops.
  10. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Well, i gave up and went back to three fingers again, so after 2days of playing with 3fingers i played with 4fingers just for fun and... it sounded pretty damn consistent!

    I practiced a couple of hours and it still sounded good but now it sounds unconsistent again... but i'm going to practice 4fingers anyway...

    i'm very unsecure in my bassplaying for the moment, if somebody would ask me to play something i wouldn't even know how many fingers to use...

    it feels like i'm always doing everything from the beginning, when i first started out i used 2fingers and raked... so i had to learn strict alternation practicing really slow, after that i started to use 3fingers, practicing even slower and now i'm learning the 4finger plucking method and i'm back on the first spot again.. and i was going to learn the 5finger technique but i think that's just a waste of time, the thumb wont sound anyway close to the other 4fingers as long as i'm not using free strokes...
  11. It certainly true that the position you pluck the string with matters a lot as to the tone you get. The closer to the bridge you get, the more honky the sound. The closer to the neck you get, the more warm and full the sound will be. By using four fingers your covering such a wide area of string that it would be impossible to have a consistent tone because of where each finger is placed.
  12. yeah, also like right and left hand strokes on the snare.

    up and downstrokes with a pick is another- sometimes all one sounds too consistent though (like when programming a snare roll using one snare sample).