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Finger technique ?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DeFeCT, May 7, 2004.

  1. DeFeCT


    May 7, 2004
    Hi all. I started playing bass for about 3 month ago or so and started with a pic, but i want to play finger-style instead, its going ok i guess, but the band complains about the sound, i dont get that distinct sound when i play, i mean it almost float together making a constant noise instead of a distinct sound you get when you play with pic. I thought i was only a training thing but im not sure anymore :meh: .

    Anybody who have any tips on how to make it sound ok or should i go back to pic ? I really want to play fingerstyle....

    Note: this only happens when i play multiple time on the same string, no problem with only one stroke. i use my index finger and my middle finger
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    What kind of music are you playing? If you're playing punk or fast metal, I'd reccomend using a pick for it just because you do get a very distinct sound that can help cut through the rest of the band. That said, it's still very possible to get a distinct sound with hands, but I'll elabourate in my second period spare. Off to school I go!
  3. DeFeCT


    May 7, 2004
    Well, we play covers at the moment, from rock to pop, what i mean with constant noise is that you dont hear every stroke on the string, but i know its possible to do but its very hard to play distinct and still keep the tempo up, so i guess its only training training training =)
  4. If I were you I wouldn't try and limit myself to just one playing style. Playing fingerstyle produces a different tone than playing with a pick but you have to decide which tone fits better with the song. Usually heavy and fast music lends itself better to the pick tone. Although, if you are playing covers, it is usually a good bet to play the same way as the bassist on the original recording played it.

    You may also need to work on your technique playing fingerstyle in order to get more definition in your notes or even adjust your EQ. There are plenty of threads relating to this type of thing so try doing a search.
  5. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX

    You could try some eq... Boost the mids a touch and maybe a bit of high as well.

    If you are just starting to play fingerstyle, remember that it takes time. Try to work on a style where you mute the string before you play the next note. This will have the effect of playing a line that sounds defined and clear and can be taken to the extreme of playing a stacato line.

    What you don't want to do (usually) is pluck a note and let the string ring until you pluck another note. This will create the mud you are talking about.

    This is going to be hard to describe, but I 'll try. Let's say you are going to play straight 8th notes on the E string. Your first pluck will be with your index finger. In order to set up for the next pluck, rest your middle finger on the E string. This will mute the note you just played leaving a space between it and the next note you pluck. Now pluck with the middle finger and mute with the index. Same story. Try this really slowly until you get the idea then practice it with a metronome until you can do it at your desired tempo.

    To summarize it goes like this:

    I MM M MI I MM M MI ....
    I = pluck with index finger
    MM = Mute with middle finger
    M = pluck with middle finger
    MI = Mute with indext finger

    You should also reverse the order and start with your middle finger first. Practice all of your excercises leading with the index and leading with the middle. The idea is to alternate as much as you can and starting with each finger causes different problems depending on what you are playing and how many strings you have to cross.

    This combined with the EQ tips above should get you started.

    Good luck.
  6. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Paradoxically, lot of right hand technique involves the left hand. Are you muting the strings with your left hand between each note that you strike? Try just letting the string release (with your left hand) between notes and letting the string rise to meet your fingertips. That may give you the staccato sound you're looking for. When playing with a pick, many players do this with their right hand, by resting it on the strings. The other muting technique, often done at the same time, is to alternate rh fingers letting the rh fingers do the muting. It's hard to describe, hard to do at first. It may be worth your while to watch someone experienced do this.
  7. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    Agree with cutting low-end eq and also pay attention to where your RH is in relation to the PU.
  8. Yup, sounds to me like muting problems. I agree that it's easier to play staccato with a pick because of the position of the right hand and the way it naturally rests to mutes the strings. Playing staccato fingerstyle takes a lot more conscious effort from both hands.

    Here's a trick I learned in playing fingerstyle rock lines - practice using James Jamerson's technique of using only the index finger. You'll find that using the same finger will have more of a muting effect than using two fingers (and it creates a very strong pulse). If you think about it, that's sort of like using a pick. Once you get that down, incorporate the middle finger and try to get the same sound. You'll find yourself muting the strings naturally to get the line to sound the same.
  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Well, I took a walk downtown in my second period spare, but in my absence, several people explained it better than I could have. Definitely a +1 on the EQ suggestions.

    Also, try playing towards the bridge too. If you play towards the neck, you won't get as defined a sound.
  10. DeFeCT


    May 7, 2004
    Tnx alot everyone the tips. Seems to me thats its most about practise after all. Just gotta keep at it and not listen to my bandfriends hehe.
  11. In addition to this, make sure the finger that plucked the string gets stopped on the string beneath it. This is called a rest stroke. This is how you should really play fingerstyle all the time. If you don't use a rest stroke, then what you described will happen. The notes will bleed together, and you'll get a very indistinct sound. A rest stroke is the only thing I can think of that will solve your problem. All the EQing in the world won't help you if you're not useing proper technique.
  12. I think I see your problem. If you are playing a couple of bars with 8th notes it kind of blurs together. One thing you can do is this:

    Sit down with a metronome and play a strict 8th note rythm and on the beginning of every bar or on every forth note you give that note a little heavier accent.

    4/4 A string 7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-

    Ok here follows a very silly example of me trying to show you how it will sound.

    The capital letters are the accents.

  13. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX

    Ed Friedland's article in Bass Player this month about pumping eighths talks about this very problem. You should get a copy.