Fast Plucking Assistance

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LowFreqVeee, Aug 16, 2022.

  1. LowFreqVeee


    Aug 8, 2022

    I hope everyone is doing well. I am currently learning my first song (Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down) and the chorus requires me to pluck quickly.

    I've watched various videos on Youtube and tried many drills on fast plucking. However, I seem to have a problem where my finger gets "stuck" on a string. I'm able to get the index and middle pattern down but the consistency of how my finger touches the string is not very good (I hope this makes sense). Does anyone have any advice? This may sound funny, but I put a bit of lotion on my fingers to make it smoother and it helps for a minute before it dries haha.

    I'm able to get 80% speed fairly well but beyond that I have the problem described above. I have attached the music sheet for the particular section I am attempting to get down.

    Thank you very much!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
    teh-slb and DianaBass like this.
  2. A guy pulls up next to me and asks... How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
    I tell him... practice practice practice. :bassist:

    Likewise here. You are building a skill. That takes practice.

    Or you can cheat and use a pick. (Ducking for cover now...) :D

    I'd also be concerned that the lotion could gunk up your strings and make them stickier over time.
    2cooltoolz, 6-3-2, chris_b and 14 others like this.
  3. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe .. El Jefe del funk Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    Try a ramp. It can help with over follow through (for lack of a better term). It will stop your fingers from going too far past the string when you pluck.
  4. LowFreqVeee


    Aug 8, 2022
    I did not really think of the lotion clogging up my strings oof. I would put on very little but yes, I should stop and just keep practicing.

    Practice is definitely good advice haha. I have definitely seen improvement but as with all things you get to certain moments where you feel you are at an impasse. But you just need to work harder :)

    I had to look up what that was (I learned something new!). It looks interesting. I wonder if it's better for me to just practice as is. I wonder how it'll feel removing the ramp after I get used to it.
    Old Garage-Bander likes this.
  5. BTW... I see you're only about a week old here.
    Wanted to say welcome.
  6. LowFreqVeee


    Aug 8, 2022
    Thank you! I am glad to have found this community. I picked up the bass less than a month ago and been playing nearly nonstop haha. It's been amazing and I am happy to be doing something I've wanted to do for a long time.

    Everyone here has been super friendly, and it is a great community.
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  7. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Speed comes from economy of motion and practice. Economy of motion comes from practice. You're starting out, the fact that you can't play blazingly fast is to be expected.

    There are software programs (I use Anytune) that will allow you to take an mp3 or wav file and play it faster or slower (without altering pitch) and you can also transpose. Load the tune in that you want to play, and slow it down until you can play cleanly.

    If you're in doubt about what speed to start at, lean towards slower. Play it a bunch of times at that speed, concentrating on making sure you can play cleanly. Then, and only when it gets easy, turn the speed up a bit - I think Anytune goes in 5% increments. Play that for a while, again concentrating on playing cleanly. When it gets tough, take a break. Come back and start over, at the slow speed. Eventually, you'll get there. Don't try to get really far in one session - patience and persistence are key (Haste makes waste).

    I've been playing for over 40 years, and I still use it to build speed - I don't strive to be the guy who can play the fastest, but if I run up against a tune that's a bit tough, I will work on it until I can play it cleanly at speed, and then run it up in increments to 120% or so - the point of building speed to me is not about being blazingly fast, it's about having enough "headroom" in your technique that, when you go on stage, you're not running at the limit - everything is in control and well within your capabilities.
    6-3-2, mrcbass, ArtechnikA and 11 others like this.
  9. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    The problem I am having now (and I need to see my doctor) is arthritis is making my joints lumpy and they rub against each other which might slow them down and is certainly distracting.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    I play that song with a pick
    6-3-2 and GregT like this.
  11. Eric Wolfe

    Eric Wolfe Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2021
    Many years ago, I took a tape of YYZ to my first instructor, and said "I want to play fast like that". He said "put your first finger on F of the E string and your second finger on G, and play from F to G and back slowly" Practice, with a metronome, is the only way I know.
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    What picking pattern do you use? Alternating fingers? Try also i-im (1-12).
    LowFreqVeee likes this.
  13. lark_z

    lark_z Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2020
    Overland Park, KS
    Using a digital audio program like Audacity to slow a song down can really help, even just 10% slower is much better. This helps you develop technique and not just fast yet sloppy.

    Give it time. Try not to 'catch' too much string with the finger. More amp volume, less string deflection will help. Practicing slower songs first will help you develop technique.

    For me, some songs just require a pick, but I find that's not always speed but very rhythmic parts that demands that.

    Just watched part of the video. Sounds like mostly straight 8ths. He's using a pick, but this would be good practice for both finger and pick style.

    That song is 99 bpm. Find something slower maybe 80 bpm and play straight 8ths with it for awhile. Find Songs by BPM

    Or use a metronome or drum loop.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
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  14. bassalien

    bassalien Commercial User

    Feb 24, 2012
    Owner, Bass Alien
    Besides practice, I would experiment a little with the angle of your hand & fingers, perhaps try coated strings too. I love coated strings for this purpose but they're not for everyone.

    I switched to using my ring finger too but that's a whole new technique to develop, and can make you slower if you don't keep practicing just the 2 fingers alternating

    Another method is to do a triplets as fast as you can with 2 fingers, with breaks in between each one, then 4 fast in a row, breaks in between, then 5

    Keep doing that until you build up to playing that fast without the breaks.
    6-3-2 and LowFreqVeee like this.
  15. JonathanPDX

    JonathanPDX Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Portland, OR
    Speed comes from clean technique and muscle memory. Fortunately, you can develop those things even without doing musical exercises. First, find the right angle for your plucking fingers to glide over the string and "catch" on the one below it (if there is one) and use only enough force to make the string vibrate. Don't try to yank it vertically or make it snap loudly back into place. You can also experiment with where you pluck. Closer to the bridge has more tension, so over your rear (bridge) pickup can sometimes make it easier to play really fast, but over either pickup is doable with practice.

    Once you have the minimum amount of force and the ideal angle of attack, practice it slowly, over, and over, and over. You don't even need to fret any notes. Hold your bass while you watch TV. While you check your email. Pluck pluck pluck.

    When you sit down to actually practice, add in the left hand and play either chromatics (4 frets in a row, up and down) or scales and pluck them slowly and cleanly. Experiment with skipping strings and even playing odd groupings in order to force your plucking hand to remain consistent even when shifting around in more unfamiliar groupings.

    Do this slow, but clean, every single day for a week, then go back to the song and you'll see an improvement. Do it daily for a month and you'll find that your plucking hand is far more developed and ready to take on greater challenges.
  16. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Great advice here all around. Practice, practice, practice and play the song slow until you master it slow, then increase speed, then play it until you get it, then increase, etc. I learned Sir Duke this way. The song is 105 bpm, I learned it at around 80 bpm (with drum machine), then increased speed until I could nail it at 110bpm. Then when I slowed to 105bpm I felt like I am some room to groove a bit.

    Welcome to the forum and have fun!
    LowFreqVeee likes this.
  17. Egg250


    Jan 10, 2022
    Practice has probably been covered.
    Adjust your playing volume so as you don't have to dig in to get the volume. Learn to play with a light touch. Having your bass set up with a low action helps this as well.
    Also, practice. Work your drills/songs slowly and speed up as you improve your technique.
    Keeping your strings clean helps too. In humid weather I will wipe my strings with a little mineral oil. Helps keep your fingers from sticking.
    12BitSlab, Jazzdogg and LowFreqVeee like this.
  18. *Throws carrots at blasphemer
  19. OptimalOptimus


    Jan 4, 2019
    It is just practice.

    maybe in a month or two you’ll be able to play it if you continue to practice it.

    also what is the bpm of that song ?
    LowFreqVeee likes this.
  20. LowFreqVeee


    Aug 8, 2022
    Oh wow, so many great replies. I will respond to each :) Thanks everyone!


    That was a great read. Love the wealth of knowledge in this community.


    I make sure to practice with a metronome daily and Guitar Pro let's me slow down songs and have a beat counter so super helpful. I will take a look at the software you recommended as well thank you.


    Do you use a up/down motion during the chorus or straight down? I've been avoiding the pick as the online lessons I'm taking (BassBuzz course) recommends I learn finger style as a new player first. But yeah, a pick really suits this song.

    @Les Fret

    I do the 1-12 method :) The course I've been taking has done a terrific job of teaching finger style method.


    Thanks, I'll try that! And yeah, I want to make sure I get the basics down before trying alternative techniques.


    Thank you! I'll take a break from the song and do what you recommend. The force with which I pluck is definitely inconsistent. I need to work on this.


    Thank you! The advice on these boards is amazing.


    I'm getting my bass adjusted next month (they are super booked) and I will ask them to lower the action a little as I noticed it's a bit too high. I really need to work on having a light touch.


    It's 100 bpm. I'm definitely noticing an improvement from today compared to just 3 days ago. I've practiced this particular song about an hour every day for the last 3 days (that's on top of the online lessons I'm taking and practicing scales).

    @Eric Wolfe

    I'll give that a try! Thank you.
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