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Finger Flicking; Stanley Clarke, Mike Flores, Bryan Beller, Geddy Lee

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sergius Durante, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019

    So I’ve seen this appear more often, but this video fully cemented me into posting about it.

    What is this flicking technique that is going about?

    My favorite bassist Mike Flores (technical death metal) is an avid user of this, but so is Bryan Beller and Geddy Lee

    Essentially, you use your index or middle finger, and sorta flick back and forth. Sounds easy on the lowest strings, but it’s not... when trying it on any inner string, it gets even harder.

    This man below is a beast, and he’s just doing a cover of the great Mike Flores

    Look at his finger... it’s hard not to look at.

    Anyone do this? Any tips? I don’t have anything against pick usage but I don’t wanna use picks, I can double thumb fast but I feel this would stop my hand cramps on my plucking hand
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    Koshchei, IamGroot and lesclaypoolsob like this.
  2. The key is to be relaxed in the hand and wrist (but not floppy/loose). Think of a small strumming motion.
  3. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Boy I need to rethink my technique lol. I can somewhat do this but It feels weak in my finger, the inner strings especially are hard as you either hit to softly, or too hard and hit other strings.
  4. It’s a lot like scratching the back of your head IMO.

    - Slow it right right down (60bpm or less = one strike per second),
    - use the very tip of your finger,
    - use very light pressure ..... BUT
    - make sure the fingers move EXACTLY where you want/need them to go.

    It’s like golf, tennis, etc - there’s more to it than just the striking action... the lead up and follow through need plenty of work too. But then the follow thru becomes the set up for the next note, so...
    Focus on coming to a stop at the exact place where you need to start the swing for the next note.

    - Get it to the point where you can execute 200 consecutive notes perfectly (Builds consistency endurance).
    - then do that while watching TV etc (do it on autopilot).
    - only then can you start to speed it up.
    - I would focus on one finger only for the first week (faster initial progress, less confusing).
    - do this for 5 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day, for 2-4 weeks and you’ll be amazed how easy it’ll become.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    ObsessiveArcher and JoshS like this.
  5. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    So it’s a light touch thing right?

    Wow, sorry that just seemed to be my struggle lol. I play in a punk/metal hand, and for the longest time plucked incredibly hard, same with double thumbing.

    Gonna practice this that but gonna have to bring out the compressor pedal (only ever use it for two handed tapping)
  6. With practice you’ll get stronger/louder.

    I wouldn’t take it to a gig until you’ve gotten more mastery. Compressor-cheating will only reinforce the bad habits.
    ObsessiveArcher and FRoss6788 like this.
  7. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Yea, but it does help bring in some overtones/take even the ones I dislike for certain techniques.
  8. I’m those cases compression is a tool and is great.

    Aggressive technique is also just a tool. I use it for certain songs/bands too.

    What really upped my playing was learning to pluck, slap/pop, pick & thumb pluck at equal volumes so I could use them interchangeably thru a song. (Took a few years to master that though). I’m a Much smoother and more dynamic player now.
  9. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Cool, Im garbage with inconsistent technique, but I can compete well enough with my fast shredding guitarist, but three finger playing and even double thumbing was not enough, and I thought “I can flicking my fingers back and forth faster than I can gallop on a desk, so what If I can try a new technique

    Found out it is, but there is little to nothing on it. This one being useful for playing rapid 16th notes/tremolo picking without using a pick (we bassists should strive for everything, but we will always find an alternative to the pick!)
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  10. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I've done this since I first started playing in the late 80s. It was unintentional at first ... I was playing scales and modes where there were often 3 consecutive notes on the same string, and I would use a normal action with my middle finger, and both an up and down stroke with my index finger. I keep those two nails cut very short anyway, so getting the tone to match came without too much effort. At one point I was going to start over and learn to play "normally," but I decided to just stick with it.

    I do use the flick by itself sometimes, but usually still combine it with the standard plucking of my middle finger. The flicking does become second nature after you work with it for a while, and yes, staying relaxed is key. It's amazing how fast it can be.

    The thing that gave me the most trouble was actually muting: with normal plucking technique, you can use rest strokes, where the finger naturally comes to rest against the adjacent string at the end of the stroke, thus muting it. With the flick, that is no longer true, so I had to work on it. This is one of the main reasons I switched to floating thumb technique.

    Anyway, I wouldn't ever suggest that anyone starting out use my weird "hybrid" technique as their main approach, but practicing the flicking technique can be a very cool and useful addition to your bag of tricks.
    Sergius Durante likes this.
  11. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have never seen Stanley Clarke do this. Are you sure? Any videos of that?

    And you are correct the technique is great but string crossings are hard to get consistent. On single strings it is much easier.
    gebass6 and Sergius Durante like this.
  12. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    perhaps this is too much to ask but do you have a video of any kind of you doing it? Especially regarding with how your bass is set up? Low action with some fret buzz on my 5 string allows me to do it, and still use two handed tapping (so long as I can move my bass mute from behind the nut the fifth fret fast enough.

    I won't lie, I could use an expansion of my bag of tricks, something I use for rapid 16th notes (or just 220 bpm tremolo picking) aside from double thumbing and three fingers is I would slap with my thumb, then rotate my hand and slap with my pinky

    It's percussive as hell, and mostly sounds like springy madness, but if I set my action right I can get some fast as hell notes to register, muting needs to be on point to... but problem... this can be exhausting, and I've been doing this since I started bass back in 2016, thinking this is how you slap fast (I was wrong but it looked cool to everyone lol). So I can do this for a good minute before getting tired.
  13. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019

    In class and cant find the vid, but this is somewhat it (thought obviously we do this for chords as bassists)

    Imagine this but on individual strings
  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    ok but that's just normal chord strumming. That's not the flicking technique like Geddy Lee does because that's on one string.
  15. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    out now, yeah Ill edit ol stanley out. I think I had a brain fart and just suddenly thought about stanley clark.

    But I do recommend checking out the guy in the second vid I sent as an example of the technique, he shows what Im talking about, as well as Mike Flores himself, these two guys do it like there's a sale for strings

  16. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Redding CA
    I guess I'm just too old.:rollno: Both the guy in the second video and the Flores video just sound like noise to me. Very little notes and a lot of fret noise. Interesting technique if it can be done with precision.
    Joelc73 likes this.
  17. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019

    Yea, these guys are playing at stupidly fast tempos, and more technical in the sense they play fast, complex riffs.

    I thought it was just noise at first but when I sat down and allowed my ears to distinguish the bass from the guitars, and notes from notes

    Some interesting stuff.

    That being said, Geddy Lee has it clean, but him and Mike Flores play WAY different genres of music

    Don’t feel old, feel gold
    gebass6 likes this.
  18. BobKos


    Apr 13, 2007
    I'm with Inara in that I've been doing this for a long time. Truth told, I always felt that I was cheating and using bad form. But it sounds OK once you are used to it. I have always wanted to learn good 3 or 4 finger form but never devoted myself to it. So I continue with it. I guess it is reassuring to see I'm not too much of a hack in using it.
  19. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Nah, if it works for you then it works! Don’t worry about technique unless it can be dangerous (forcing your hands will be bad for you physically).

    There are lots techniques and ways of approaching plucking and picking that many people know little of that may help them

    John Entwistle and his bouncing off the strings

    Victor Wooten and the double thumb

    Larry Graham/Louis Johnson/Marcus Miller and slapping

    I like expanding my bag of tricks because sometimes certain parts, certain riffs require a different approach.
  20. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Yep. Makes life a lot easier!

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