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finger technique

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by jack knife, May 31, 2002.


  1. jack knife

    jack knife

    May 30, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    :confused:

    I've only been playing bass for about a year. I've always plucked the strings of my bass with my thumb and pointer finger. I always see people using their pointer and middle finger to pluck the strings. Is what I'm doing considered "wrong"? It was the way I started playing when I first picked up a bass, and I'm afraid it's pretty ingrained into me at this point. It just feels really natural for me to play that way. Is there any great advantage to plucking the strings with pointer and middle finger as opposed to using my thumb and pointer finger?
     
  2. I've seen guys playing astonishing things using thumb and index-finger, but I never heard the tone I really love by them. (Stop, I've heard Miller playing this way while he muted the strings with his wrist full-time, gettin a cool double-bass-sound this way)...
    I'd suggest to learn both styles, but from my experience the tone gets fatter when played by index- and middle finger. -Pastorius-like-funky-nosy near the bridge and full-warm-rich near the neck.
    And I guess, after you managed this, you'll find yourself in need to use this technique MORE OFTEN than the other.

    My vote goes to "Learn how to learn"!
    So, everytime you see that you can't do something, -learn it!
    (I'd just like to know where to begin -every day!)
     
  3. bcarll

    bcarll

    Oct 16, 2001
    If you got it going on with your fingering style and you are happy with it keep it going. However I started out using just my thumb because of arthritic fingers but kept trying to use my fingers ansd now I can use them. A much better tone using the fingers rather than the thumb. But remember when Fender first introduced the bass they had a finger rest at the bottom of the strings and not on the top like we see now. Guess they thought it should be played with the thumb too. Bottom line --- whatever gets the job done but I would keep trying to get that thumb out of there.

    bcarll
     
  4. what about plecs?
    :(
     
  5. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    hi,

    larry graham sure could get a good tone just w/the thumb. I agree w/you though, "whatever gets the job done" and maybe what doesn't hurt your hand so much too!

    if you ever watch john entwistle's picking hand when he played, it was amazing. he'd use several tecniques: pluck, plec, strum, slap, thumb... all in the same tune! wild.





    on bass, watt







     
  6. jack knife

    jack knife

    May 30, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for the advice. Since I doubt I'll ever be onstage or make a living playing music, I think I'll stick with what I'm doing. I'm kind of late to the game at 31, and I play just for fun because I can't really devote the time I would like to playing. I try and squeeze playing in between work, my wife, and preparing for the arrrival of our first child. Right now I have my gear setup in our future nursery, so now I have to find a new place for my gear! I'll be satisified if I can just bang out a few of my favorite tunes with my buddy on guitar. I'm always interested in expanding my skills though and I appreciate any advice that will help me get there. I play just for the love of music and don't really care if I ever profit from it.
     
  7. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    hi,

    playing should always have tons of fun in it - for profit or not - cuz it helps the music come alive and is good for the soul. even w/sad stuff, it can still be "fun" to do if you have the right attitude. art comes from love, that's the bottom line in my opinion.



    on bass, watt




     
  8. jack knife

    jack knife

    May 30, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    You're exactly right. I just want to say what an inspiration you are to me musically. You're an amazing "thudstaff" player. I admire how you arrived to where you are on your own terms. I'm totally down with your perspective on life. I always tend to think that since I don't have any formal music training that I won't ever be a good bass player, but you need the heart for the art. It ain't nothin' without heart. It's just such an amazing feeling to be in the moment of music and have it flowing out of you (not that my flow sounds all that great) but it's my flow. Even when my friend and I lock in to the simplest groove it's worth it. Basically, because we're approaching it with the eyes of a child so to speak. When you comin' to Pittsburgh next?
     
  9. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    hi,

    thank you much for the kind thoughts. I commend you on the priorities you find essential about music. very well put.

    my next tour starts march 17, 2003 so I'll probably be out pittsburgh way sometime in april. see you then!




    on bass, watt