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Fingerstyle troubles.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by floppyfajita, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. floppyfajita


    Jul 31, 2003
    I'm having a little trouble playing fingerstyle. Well, you see, when I first started about playing, I used my index finger constantly (before I knew about two finger plucking), and it built up a callous very quickly and eventually became very rough. When I play with it, it creates a sharp and trebley sound. I don't have a problem with this, but my middle finger is not very rough at all. When I play with the middle finger, it creates a dull sound, quite unlike the index finger. So when I play with both fingers, there is a very noticable difference in tone. I tried to build a callous on my middle finger by regularly playing near the bridge with it, but it's not working well at all. Is there anyway I can get my middle finger to sound rough and trebley like my index finger. I know this question was pretty lame, but any help would be appreciated.
  2. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Maybe you should try using it the same way like you used your index in the beginning. Use only your middlefinger to play your basslines, might take some time and patience, but it should pay offI think..
  3. floppyfajita


    Jul 31, 2003
    Makes sense I guess.
  4. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    If you consistently play with both index and middle, the callous on the index may eventually go away.

    I've played nearly every day for the past 8 months and I have no callouses at all - perhaps my light touch is part of the reason - I don't know.

    Good luck - I can believe that this is frustrating for you.
  5. AllegroNonMolto


    May 15, 2004
    I would say just focus on your technique and as long as it's good they will eventually even out. I am speaking from the perspective of a classical guitarist though as I only recently started fingerstyle on bass. It took a while for my right A finger to catch up to I and M tone-wise but eventually it did.
  6. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Why don't you try a pick?
  7. floppyfajita


    Jul 31, 2003
    I don't really like the tone of a pick too much, but I do use them occasionally. I guess I'll just have to make sure to use both fingers evenly, and hope that both turn out the same.
  8. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    you could always file down the callous on your index finger and start with 2 smooth fingers
  9. floppyfajita


    Jul 31, 2003
    How do you go about filing down a callous?
  10. ChenNuts44


    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    Take a file, press it against the callous, then rub. ;)
  11. ChenNuts44


    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    The Lady thought I should add that it helps to soak your finger first to soften the skin (you'll have to be more careful as well when filing), and that you shouldn't file to the point of pain (obviously, stop if it hurts).
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    C'mon...how 'bout extremely fine, fine, fine sandpaper?
    IIRC, Stanley Clarke mentioned this.

    What's weird about the original post-
    FME, a calloused finger does not yield a 'trebly' tone. FME, a smooth finger(like my ring finrger on the plucking hand) yields a 'trebly'/clicking tone.
  13. ChenNuts44


    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    A decent file should be more or less comparable to extremely fine grain sand paper.
  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I practice and gig regularly, and have no calluses on my picking fingers. I used to dig in a lot and get sore fingers and calluses, then I discovered the gain knob on my amp. Turn up your amp and use a lighter touch. Also, if you dig in too much, you'll be more prone to CTS and other skeleto-muscular disorders.
  15. ondray


    Jun 3, 2004
    Different people have different reactions. Some ppl might not even get calluses after intense playing.

    But if you have calluses and want to keep it at its current state, you should try to avoid using softening soaps when washing your hands. It's quite hard to find a non-softening one on the counter these days, so just try not to wash your hands unnecessarily.

    My double bass teacher (who has been teaching for 50 years by the way so he must be right) said you could use alcohol or any drying organic solvent (make sure it's safe to the body first!) to prevent your calluses from cracking due to cold weather or because the calssuses are breaking away from your skin.

    To start getting calluses, just play a lot and HARD! But if you don't have the luxury of doing that, you can try keeping your fingers dry. I worked in a petrolchemical plant before and we produced tonnes of acetone and this thing dries like a towel on ecstasy. It's not safe to inhale it in large amount as it would cause throat irritation or in the worst scenario, bronchitis. But a dab on the tip of the fingers would be just fine.

    I have very mild calluses on my plucking fingers (i use middle and index alternating and rake sometimes) barely visible but can definitely feel it if you compare it against my unsed ring and pinky fingers of the plucking hand.

    I have a big callus on my fretting index finger but it's due to the double bass frets and mild calluses on the rest of my fretting hand.

    In my opinion, calluses are more important for the fretting fingers because it gives the tip of my fingers a good and firm grip on the spot directly behind the fretbars (for bass guitar). This in turn gives the bass a really clear, mature and warm sounding tone. I believe in correcting the techniques to get a good sound and not getting devices and gadjets to supress/correct one's sound.

    I use a light- er touch on my plucking hand most of the time. To cut through the mix if you're recording, just increase the volume. Or you can just tell the guitarist/s to reduce his damn freaking cone creasing ear-deafening volume which by the way applies to most guitairsts these days :) I practise digging hard into the strings too just in case it might be needed in some part of the songs.

    Hope that helps.

  16. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
  17. YIKES!
  18. floppyfajita


    Jul 31, 2003
    Well, It's not a callous per say, but the skin on my index finger is significantly tougher than the skin on my middle finger. It yields a little bit of a twang compared to the other finger, which sounds dull.

    I'll be sure to try some of the methods you guy suggested. Thanks a lot for the replies.
  19. rkatapt


    Jun 7, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    You could try a little super glue before you play...... just put some on your none caloused finger......

    Just a thawt