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Four-fingered players

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Johnny Mac, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    Are there any four-fingered players here on talkbass? I'm talking about plucking the strings with the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers, not the thumb-index-middle-ring thing that Matthew Garrison does.

    I'm currently trying to strengthen my pinky finger. I can play with all four ringers reasonably well at slower speeds, but it all sounds jumbled when I try to go faster.
  2. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Yes, there's at least myself who does that, though I don't have the greatest speed doing that yet. I had just figured that I have an extra finger flapping around that's not anchoring anything, so I started applying it toward fingerstyle playing. The only thing you can do is give it patience. Not only do you have to establish strength in that finger, you have to establish the correct feel for plucking the strings. I can tell you the callous on my pinky is offset about forty five degrees from center which illustrates the way I pluck with that finger, but only you can figure out what way works best for you. The only thing you can do is practice at a pathetically slow pace to start out, then gradually work up speed as you establish consistent picking between the four fingers you mention.

    [edit:] Cr@p, I just realized you stated you're further along than I realized. Yup then, the best thing you can do is just be patient yet persistent. I do trust that you'll establish the speed in due time.
  3. Use various strength and more importantly, finger independance exercises. The first thing I did to strengthen and isolate the pinky was to play walking basslines with my pinky and ring fingers only. Then my pinky and middle, then pinky and index. Then I used my ring and middle while holding my pinky out.
    Doing stretches also helps..but warm your hands up before you stretch them to avoid damage.
  4. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    This is something I want to work on - however I'm currently just using a standard 2 finger technique. I've started on 3 but it's still a long road to go.

    I'd be interested in opinions: Should I keep working on 3 fingers, or skip straight to 4?

  5. You probably won't have to skip straight to four, immediately since three fingers can still go fast and you can learn some triplety stuff, but still do exercises and stretches with ALL Four fingers away from the bass. Then when you feel three is getting good (use a metronome, please, i didnt for a bit and it really delayed any decent play), then start using four fingers.

    Start slowly with basslines on one string, then on two, and use a metronome to speed up.

    Then, later, to do speed exercises for 3-finger plucking hand, play some riffs like:
    -Iron Maiden gallops (Run To the Hills, Killers (faster) )
    -Slayer ( (Raining Blood) even faster) triplets
    -and then, for 4 fingers, just look for fast metal and thrash songs with 4-note chugging (early metallica has some, but many better examples).

    Then to get quick coordination between hands (EVEN later):
    -Play any patterns of one finger per string on fret-hand (you may have already done this), but SPEED them up with a metronome (starting high on the fretboard will be easier, then transpose down)

    Of course, this is just what worked for me...maybe you prefer jazz, or funk or whatever...use patterns of similar nature in whatever style you like :)...always jam with drums/metronome...and DONT GIVE UP :)
  6. vyse933


    Mar 31, 2006
    Grand Haven, MI
    i have NO clue what mathew garrison does, but i've always used my thumb first and second finger, and latetly have found myself using the ring finger to had some stuff..or when i need it
  7. There's a thread on his technique stickied I believe
  8. Kobaia


    Oct 29, 2005
    Denton TX
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amp Gruv Gear and Mono Cases
    matt uses his thumb, personaly i was able to incorporate my thumb in very easy from double thumbing. so it was a quick change to include it for 3 fingers. the ring finger took some time.

    pinky seems like a waste of time
  9. all u need is 2 fingers and a thumb :smug:
  10. ChrisdFlip

    ChrisdFlip Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2006
    Or even just your fretting hand/fingers. A'la Bill Clements...
  11. I'm just a wikkle giwl my pinky isn't big enough to reach them big burly strings!!! Well thats my excuse anyway, still manage to outplay plenty 5 fingered fret flickers (fret-flickers? jeez its true! pop rocks, coke and the internet should never be mixed!!!)
  12. oh my god!!! what if I lost my thumbs!!!!!
    ( shakes back and forth in corner and recalls article about big toe thumb replacement graphs....phew!!)
  13. I used the garrison techneque for a while, and I was good at it. But I found no use for it, two fingers is all that I need. But work slow and speed up.

  14. Corbow


    Mar 15, 2005
    Yep, my 4 fingers play well :)
    but it took damn lot of time
    and billions of metronome clicks
    slow down and go over some scales to learn the coordination of getting over strings up and down
    and of course..dont be frustrated..this is a long distance run
  15. I hear a lot of people say they have no need for four fingers, but for me, when playing certain types of metal, it helps to be able to go from fast tremolo like chugging to regular two finger fast-paced. It takes a lot more effort to use two fingers to go that fast when four is such an easy, fluid motion. Sometimes you'll get just like two sets of 16th notes in the middle of some rhythmic pattern, and four fingers makes it a breeze (unless you use a pick ;?).
  16. DannyGrowl


    Apr 21, 2006
    Madrid, Spain
    I occasionally can use all 5 fingers of my right hand but not too often, even though I do use index-middle-ring-pinky quite often
    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  17. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    I play with those for fingers, but not how your talking about. I adapted playing keyboard onto bass (just because i was having an off day and decided to do sumfin weird) i hit the string with the tips of my fingers (relatively hard) because i play keyboard to and my muscles are used to this i can play ridiculously fast (about twice the speed of my guitarist haha annoys him) i dont very often but it might come in useful.

    Just thought id add in my 2 cents
  18. I played with four for a while, i learned it from that hanging ten on bass article.. im sure plenty of people have read it. But then i went to the whole floating thumb technique, and couldnt get my pinky, or ring for that matter, to work while floating. Well i finally managed to get my ring to work with the floating thumb, and now i use a 3 finger role, i can go faster than i would ever need to this way, and the floating thumb allows for great muting and easy string skipping. ( i play a 6 string and stretching for the high c can be tough for me if anchored) And just for the record i play thrash/death metal, so speed is required.
  19. Do you fret tap? Or are you saying you pluck by hitting the string with the tips of your fingers? I dont see how that would give you a good tone...:?
  20. Wait, how COULD you use a six string with a set anchor. I started my playing on a sixer and moved to 5, so I always just had my thumb resting on the next string for muting, stability (only moving maybe 1,2 strings away from that anchor quickly). I use three fingers sometimes, but it gives you more of a triplet feel. I use the different techniques depending on the pattern. Tremoloing with three fingers doesnt sound as tight to me as with four or two.

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