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Flea - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Right on Time

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by modernday, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    Can anybody help me break down exactly what flea does on this song? I know he plays sixteenth octaves ect. But I mean what fingers does he hit each note wite? Does he use all 4 of his fingers?

    Any Insight would be appreciated.
  2. TheListPunk

    TheListPunk Guest

    Feb 2, 2002
    Topeka, Kansas
    I've seen him play it live and I can't really tell if he's using 2 or 3 fingers. All I really know is that he does it really really fast.

  3. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    Thank you, any other helpful advice?
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    What he's doing on that tune is what every '70s Disco bassist worth his salt played on every tune...for hours at a time, too!

    You can approach this octave/string skip a few ways-
    Concentrating, for now, on the "A" & "G" strings
    1)Play the 2 LOW notes(maybe the "D" on "A"-string)with your index finger
    ...play the HIGH notes("D" on the "G"-string)with your middle finger.
    Slowly. with discipline & accuracy; don't deviate.
    Think economy of motion(in other words, the fingers shoyuld only 'flutter', not flap).

    2)Same position & notes.
    Play the 2 LOW notes with
    a)Index & then
    Play the HIGH notes with
    c)Index & then

    You may want to think about using the "floating thumb" method here(in other words, don't anchor your plucking hand's thumb on the "E"-string or on the bass' thumb rest. As you attack the notes on the "G"-string, move your plucking hand's thumb accordingly. This keeps everything equidistant(?). ;)

    I'm assuming the rhythm your talking about is-

    You can choose to MUTE the "e" of each downbeat-

    The important thing here is to keep the plucking hand in that 1/16th note percolating rhythm...the ghosted notes(X-notes) becomes a major component of the line & they give you a split second to grab the notes when skipping strings.
    This is my personal favourite/technique of choice.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Firstly to answer the original post. Flea uses two fingers.

    JimK - your post confused the Hell outta me!! I think we might be saying the same thing, but I didnt understand what you meant so I'll say it anyhow! :rolleyes:

    I dont think this needs to be any more complex than:

    Play the line as written using your index (i) and middle (m) fingers, where r=root and o=octave, each space is a chord change:


    You should really, i.e. if you can be arsed, practice this pattern starting on both index and middle fingers.. and play it as below, so you alternate bewteen starting on index and middle each bar:


    (ignore the dots, that's just so it lines up properly)

    Some would say that this would be more efficiently played with a 3 finger technique and they might well be right, but in my experience root-octave patterns with string skipping at 126bpm is made harder by trying to use a 3 finger technique.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...hey, it was early, "OK"?
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Actually, no it's very frikkin far from OK :D ;)
  8. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    After reading this thread the other day, I decided to see what I could do on it. I found it is best played with a 3 finger technique. in a 1-3-2-1 repeat pattern. It seems to feel much more natural, and leaves your hand in ma more central location, less moving. This is particularly a pain if you only have a stong 2 finger technique, like myself. But it is always fun to learn new things, to develop your technique. Best of luck..
  9. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Also, please list some of the disco tunes using this technique, I'd like to hear more.
  10. I've seen him play it live on TV. He uses three fingers to do it - index on the root and the middle and ring for the octaves. His performance was incredible.
  11. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I really feel flea is an incredible player. I think his antics, and such give him a bad rap. Still one of my fave players to listen to, great feel goes into his lines.
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    does he, hmm, i have their live dvd and i could swear he uses two fingers? I shall double check.

    Hmm, yes, I can see how that might be easier... I shall work on that, thanks :)

    I've been peppers fan since Uplift Mofo Party Plan was released when I was 13, so I've listened to Flea play for longer than I've played bass, whcih is 13 years.

    I used to think Flea was just amazing, but more and more recently I find myself hearing poor technique and the same old tired use of minor pentatonic in nearly all his lines.

    Don't get me wrong, his studio playing is simply brilliant, BSSM is without a doubt one of the all time best albums, especially for the bass playing - Flea has momentus feel...

    ...but when you compare him with some more technically able players he just pales IMO.

    Plus he uses minor pentatonic far too much! I read somewhere that Flea was learning to play jazz lines - so I'm hoping that he really pushes his boundaries and comes up with something a bit more original from himself. If that makes any sense.

    All that said his lines have been a huge influence on my playing.
  13. HighestGround


    May 10, 2003
    He uses 3, its pretty clear on the the Off The Map DVD, its an old Pastorius trick

  14. but Jaco used 2 fingers???? (as explained in the modern electric bass video)

    yeah, I think Flea uses 3 fingers.
    there's some closeup footage from Reading 94' and in a fast intro bit it does look that way.

    also chordal playing as in "pretty little ditty" is a lot easier using 3.
  15. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000

    I agree. When I heard this song I started playing it with 2, but this is much better when you get used to it.
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    well i had a go at this 3 finger technique described above, 1-3-2-1, last night and I must say what a great idea! I couldn't get up to the speed I can already play string skipping type lines with two fingers (I've been using 2 fingers for many years), but I can see that with a little practice I'll be up to speed plus cleaner and most likely faster.

    Nice one ANBassistm thanks! :)

    That's the first really practical new technique I've learnt from TB - I've picked up loads of theory in the past, but never any really usable new technique :)
  17. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    LOL, flattering howard! I am sure I am far from the first one to do that, but upon reading this thread the other day, I thought I would try some things to see what worked.

    Glad I could be of some help to someone!
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    no worries,,

    it's odd cause i use three fingers from time to time to accent, or play certain phrases, but never really for speed.
    when playing faster it's usually 16ths in 4/4 so using 3 fingers means you need to start each set of 16ths with a diferent finger, which i find isnt really ideal for getting good consistancy - accenting the 1...2...3...4...

    anyway, ta
  19. Dru


    Jun 13, 2003
    Houston Texas
    i cant play that damn song. makes my hand hurt for 30 minutes when i try and keep up. when is flea going to get carpel tunnel or some kind of repetitive stress injury!?

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