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Different tone in different fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JellinWellen, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. JellinWellen


    Oct 18, 2012
    So recently (past few months) I have been noticing something pretty interesting. Playing with my index finger gives me a very aggressive and growly tone. While using my middle and ring fingers gives me this pillowy thump on my strings.

    I am assuming it is due to the difference in the callouses on the two? Anyone else experience this before?
  2. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    I have named my index and middle fingers, Good Kirk and Bad Kirk. Good Kirk (my RH index finger) is polite, civilized, makes neat and orderly sounds. Bad Kirk, my RH middle finger, is noisy, less precise, and generally rude.

    When I play them separately they are kind of weak, though. The Good Kirk/Bad Kirk analogy comes from my observation that if I just let both fingers play, my "sound" comes out, and the rhythm is consistent, strong, and musical. By themselves neither finger can play bass worth a damn. Only together can they function correctly.

    I think my middle finger is longer and physically more massive than the index finger, which is why it hits harder with less precision. We're talking about fingers, mind you, so they aren't very big to begin with but differences do add up.
  3. tbz


    Jun 28, 2013
    Yup, my index finger is slightly twisted due to an old injury, and also a curved naturally.

    My middle finger is abnormally long and very straight, to the point that the bottom of it's nail starts above the top of the other two. So I have to bend it noticeably to make it as short as my index or ring fingers.

    As a result it's mostly impossible to make my index, middle and ring fingers hit the string at anything resembling the same angle. I can make them sound mostly the same, after a lot of practice, but it's not the natural state based on their shape.
  4. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    I hear the difference on recordings. One sounds different than the other. If possible, I will attempt to play the line with only one finger (ala Jamerson). Just like you say, one has a sharper attack and the other is warmer. My thumb is the biggest and warmest of all, but I can only play simpler lines with it. Live....I just let'er rip!
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Embrace the difference, it is one of the things that help define you as the player you are. As it contributes to your sound i have always viewed that attempts to "smooth out" or work on making each finger sound the same is not a productive use of time....unless you want to sound like a computer programme.
    Fact is over time your brain and ears will work with the fingers to smooth out issues.....over time. It takes time to develop the over all techniques we use in playing, in that time the fingers will even out many tonal issues just through the act of playing.
    I like the idea that although others can play the same lines as me, they cannot sound or feel like me because they do not have my hands. :)
  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    This is why floating thumb is really the answers.

    When I play, I curve my fingers at the second knuckles so they are all leveled, even my thumb is just in front of them and always ready to join the party. So my hand looks like an "b".

    If I played by anchoring like many players do, I would have those same inconsistencies since my index is a little curved and obviously not as long as my middle finger.
  7. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I play floating thumb but still have a noticeable difference in sound between my index and middle fingers. I just embrace it and use the best finger for the job.
  8. LemmyLicious


    Sep 27, 2010
    I'm having trouble with consistency. My palm is of average size and my thumb too, but my fingers are short. So if I anchor my thumb sticks out far and the rest of the fingers have to reach out. Floating thumb on a 4-string is awkward since I have to jump to the pickup for the e-string, so it's f'd up because I'dlove to be able to play a 4-banger as well as fivers. My ring finger usually gives a very dead sound, my fingers reach out in a wonky line.
  9. I've been wondering about this myself but never thought of asking the question. In a band situation with drums and guitar(s) it's not noticeable though. If you turn the tone down it's almost unnoticeable. And you can always use a pick :)
  10. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    But then we'll have to argue about whether your upstrokes should sound the same as your downstrokes!
  11. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013

    I always turn the tone down a little. It's gets all the stuff sounding even. Love it.
  12. My teacher always stressed the importance of practicing to keep them equal. But there are many right answers. Whatever works for ya. Oh, and a compressor WILL help with consistency. It's great for lazy folks like me.
  13. eno50


    Jan 31, 2009
    North of Memphis
    Fingering 101
    Rule #1 Not all fingers are alike

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