Fingerstyle bass: How many fingers do you pick with?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ArvindJayaram, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. 1

    7 vote(s)
  2. 2

    182 vote(s)
  3. 3

    125 vote(s)
  4. 4

    49 vote(s)
  1. Thought this would be an interesting poll.

    I am trying to work my way up to using four fingers on my non-fretting hand, so I put myself down for 4.
  2. 4 -> Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring.

    Pinky also when playing guitar fingerstyle.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Thumb (side of it, not slap style), index and middle.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Usually just two, index and middle, sometimes thumb (pluck not slap), but all of them when I'm doing chordy things.
    jamro217 and Dean N like this.
  5. BBQV


    Feb 13, 2010
    Uppsala, Sweden
    Same here. The older I get the more thumb I use...
    red_rhino, jamro217, wncBass and 2 others like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I waited way too long to get to know how much that adds to a bass players bag of tricks.
  7. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    It depends on how the music is written.

    If there is a separate bass line and a melody I will play with my thumb on the bass line, and one to for three fingers for the melody.

    If there is only one line I will play with two or three fingers depending on the line.
    eJake and lizardking837 like this.
  8. Thumb and first 2 fingers
    jamro217 likes this.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There are songs I play with just my thumb, others with two fingers, others with three fingers, some with thumb and two or three fingers.

    That's either all of your options or none of them.
    instrumentalist and JRA like this.
  10. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    Index and middle, though on the couple of occasions when my fretting hand has cramped up, I've used my Ring and Pinky until I could stretch my hand out.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Poll needs more options.
    Chrisk-K, lz4005 and Nashrakh like this.
  12. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    I use 3 - 2;3;4.
  13. From 1 to 4 (the fourth being the thumb). I have tried to use three fingers for most of the material we play but sometimes two sounds and feels better (likely the way the song was played originally), sometime one finger for a strong attack.
  14. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Mostly forefinger and middle (that's where my calluses are), but also thumb and for a couple tunes ring finger. "White Rabbit" comes to mind.
    jamro217 and HolmeBass like this.
  15. I use 4 if you count the thumb as a finger. Most often just my index and middle fingers. But I occasionally use my thumb for slapping and also in a similar way a classical guitarist does. And for some parts I incorporate my ring finger using Billy Sheehans three finger technique for example. Can’t think of any parts where I pluck with my pinky finger.

    On my fretting hand I use everything. 4 fingers obviously for fretting but on 4 and 5 string my hands are big enough that I can use my thumb to mute the lowest string. Which is sometimes necessary to play parts cleanly when I’m using my right thumb to pluck a string.
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Three finger plucker here, IMR. Trying to get the thumb in there too but I'm not there yet.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I'm assuming you mean at a time. I pluck with my thumb alone for some country, use index and middle for most of my fingerpicking playing, but don't rotate between the three. I use a pick to so I never felt the need to develop picking with three or four fingers.
    jamro217 likes this.
  18. I have been trying index, middle, ring to cop White Rabbit properly. My ring finger is not really up to the task yet.
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  19. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Changed to four after realizing that even though the pinky doesn't really get involved, the thumb does.

    Here comes the THUMB-doo dn doo doooo!
  20. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    California Republic
    Mostly two fingers, but sometimes use the soft side of the thumb in non-slap way, particularly for chords and tenths. Also some use of the fourth finger...sometimes to start or complete a phrase, sometimes in alternation with the second finger, on steady eighths, sometimes on chords. There is something about the way my fourth finger works that lends a percussive attack, which I sometimes utilize for effect or variety in phrasing. I should add that I'm left-handed, and any evidence of right-hand dexterity is always a pleasant surprise.
    jamro217 likes this.

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