Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Fingering "ghosted" Notes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jim T., Jan 11, 2004.


  1. When fingering "ghost(ed)" notes, should I be trying to use my barred index finger most of the time or is it "ok" to use whatever convenient finger falls into place on whatever passage I'm playing?

    I tried using my barred or unbarred index most of the time in order to not have to think about this most of the time, but I'm finding it much more natural to use my ring and other fingers. Will this become a bad habit that I'll have to break later in order to play fluidly on different material or does anything that works suit most of you? Thanks!
     
  2. Funkateer

    Funkateer

    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I think the general rule is to get as much flesh on the string you want to ghost as you can. If you can get more than one finger on the string that is good. A lot of times ghost notes are used to cover position shifts. In these cases you can sometimes flatten your left hand during the shift while keeping it in contact with the strings.
     
  3. Thanks Funkateer. What I'd like to know specifically is: is ANY finger ok to use-whatever feels "most at hand" in a passage or is it a good idea to use the barred index finger 99% of the time in order to have it handy for funk riffs, position changes etc.?
    Is there ONE "correct" way?

    Also, I wondered if the X marking that indicates the muted/ghosted note pitch
    should always be adhered to or is it ok to sound a ghosted "thump" on an adjacent string (in fast passages) if no true/audible pitch is being sounded anyway?
    If the X is on the 3rd fret C pitch MUST you ghost that C or will anything work as long as an audible pitch isn't sounded? (By fretting the note.)

    Hope that's clear... Thanks again, Jim T.
     
  4. Funkateer

    Funkateer

    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I don't think any one finger fits all situations. For example: Your first finger barre approach will work fine in 3rd position, but in 5th position you are going to get a lot of harmonics.
    Here you might use both middle and ring to deaden the string. Or if there is a shift down to first position, you might relax your left hand and slide it along the string and use the ghost note to connect the positions.
     
  5. OK, great! Thanks for the helpful info Funkateer! This is what I was feeling intuitively and I didn't think about accidental harmonics!
    Jim.
     
  6. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I have heard the term before, could someone be kind enough to explain what a ghost note is?
     
  7. VellaBass

    VellaBass

    Aug 29, 2003
    London, UK
    RicPlaya (from one to another)- a ghost note is where you play the string while it's damped with your left hand - i.e. as if you were playing a harmonic but not at a position where there is one. (Hence the reference to harmonics in the earlier post)

    I find it can be very effective with fast - say sixteenth notes - plucking or picking - a "ghost" of the note comes thro' when you take the pressure off your fretting finger and just play one note of every two or four with the finger on the fret. Great fun to experiement with an amp cranked up.
     
  8. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    So it's kind of like a harmonic as far as location of your finger, then you do like a quiet pulloff?
     
  9. Actually, the ghost note is simply a dampened/dead note-kind of like the bassist's equivalent of a kick drum hit. Normally the player doesn't lift off or pull away from the ghost note to let it ring like a harmonic. (Occasionally one can do this for an extra effect). If you listen to a lot of fast sixteenth note funk like Tower of Power's Rocco Prestia, or Alain Caron you'll hear a lot of ghosted notes. There are tons in Jaco's version of "The Chicken". (The piece I'm currently asking about the fingering thang...) "Ghost" notes are thumps basically-providing a percussive effect rather than a defined pitch. Hope that helps.
     
  10. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Your examples do thanks.
     
  11. Glad to be helpful. Does anyone have any insight concerning the question about whether or not it always (usually) matters about whether or not you HAVE to play the Xed ghost note on the fret and string that is indicated by the position of the X -or is an adjacent string or fret OK as long as the player doesn't press too hard and sound a definite pitch? Thanks again everybody.