Fretting With the Tips or "Pads" of Your Fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jebis, Aug 22, 2001.

  1. Jebis

    Jebis Guest

    Nov 28, 2000
    Long Beach, CA
    This is kind of hard to explain; hopefully I can get my point across.

    I took a free trial lesson today from a local guitar/bass/piano teacher. He made a comment on how I fretted notes with the tips of my fingers, rather than using the "pads" which prohibited my left hand muting, because by using the "pads" of my fingers I could lay my fingers down across the fingerboard and mute more effectively. I started using the tips of my fingers to fret notes after reading an article on technique by Adamn Nitti at, and I usually muted notes with my with my picking hand, which was effective, but sometimes I would get undesirable harmonics.
    Overall, fretting notes feels much better to me when I use the tips of my fingers, so is there a way where I can mute the rest of my strings with my left hand without using the pads of my fingers?
  2. Well, I'm not entirely sure, as I use the pad-like part of my finger between the tip & the pad...but if you want to mute the strings with your left hand then you might try laying the other fingers across the strings.

    For example, if you're using your index finger to fret a note, then ley your middle, ring & pinky fingers across the other strings etc, of course allowing for ease of movement. As in if the next note is going to be on the next string down, then use the finger that you would use to fret the note to mute the string, thus making it easier to go from note to note in the song.

    Of course, I haven't tried this since...well...I dunno, I never really take the time to notice what I'm doing with my left hand to mute, I just sort of...mute with my left hand. After a while it should become second nature. :)
  3. Pads... 100%

    fingertips takes more energy... and the chance of missing the string is higher..
  4. If you want to be lazy ("use less energy"), use the pads. It is a much easier technique, and I often find myself falling into it. However--unless you're willing to put in many, many hours on keeping your fingers extremely rigid once the note has been fretted, which is pretty much impossible since there's so much give on the pads, you will bend the string toward the floor and throw off your intonation. This is mainly a problem on the B and particularly the G.

    The better way is to use the tips. It takes more practice but is a cleaner technique and doesn't run into intonation or G-string pull-off issues.

    As for muting: if you press down hard enough with your right thumb, you can mute the strings quite effectively anyway. Using the left hand to mute is a technique more commonly used by guitarists anyway, and it's a futile gesture on anything with more than 4 strings.
  5. Jebis

    Jebis Guest

    Nov 28, 2000
    Long Beach, CA
    I've been using my finger tips for a little over half a year now, so those factors don't play a role here. :)
  6. Gary Willis' video shows his technique for muting unused strings with the plucking hand. This way he can play on his tips and not have problems with open strings.
  7. OneLuvIbanez

    OneLuvIbanez Guest

    Jul 28, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Ok Granted im pretty new at bass, ive only been playing for about a year, but i'm self taught, ive learned many techniques at once, i find that depending on what style you use to play, either the "pads" or the tips both work well, like when i do slap, i find the tips work better, but for faster songs using fingerstyle or a pick i find that using the "pads" work a little better, it seems to help keep the tone lower, and you dont get that tapping sound off of the frets as much, but like i said, it all depends on you and your style, use what you think is best for you, and run with it. I think its better to have different ways of playing anyways, more variety is better i think, i mean, look at FLEA.:cool: ;) :D
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I use pads OR tips depending on what I'm doing.

    On a fretless instrument, the tips give better intonation and if you are into classical URB your teacher will whack your pee-pee if you don't use the tips :)

    I also prefer to arch my fingers and use the tips when playing complex runs at high speeds, it's just more efficient.

    Pads are more comfy when playing simple, repetitive stuff like country root-five or R&B groove licks. Of course, the pads come in handy for muting on those greasy licks, too :) Sometimes I'll even wrap my thumb around the neck :eek:

    I'd put pads vs. tips in the same category as fingers vs. pick, slap vs. fingerstyle, etc. It's just another technique that has it's place but it's not the ONLY technique.
  9. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    My bro used to yell at me all the time, "WHY THE **** ARE YOU USING YOUR ****ING PADS!!! YOU SUPPOSE TO USE YOUR TIPS!!!" Then i'd ask him, "Why?" and then he would walk away. It definately varies with me. It just matters what i'm doing. Brianrost, I used to have a viola teacher that used to tell me, only use the pads.
  10. purple_haze

    purple_haze Guest

    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    Pads definately. I was always tought to keep my hand flat against the fingerboard for muting so pads was the only choice.

    Also, if you're keeping your left thumb anchored to the back of the neck where it should be (as opposed to appearing near te E-string), then it should be much easier to play with your pads.
  11. Ketch27

    Ketch27 Guest

    May 4, 2001
    But fingernails are a pain when it comes to using your tips...
    That's why I keep a nail clipper in my gig bag!
  12. I've never thought about it but after further review I've found that I use both the pads and the tips.

    If I'm doing a quick run I tend to use the tips of my fingers, but if I'm doing anything that requires a lot of muting, I use the pads. BTW, when I play anything staccato, where I'm doing a lot of muting, I mute with both my left and right hands.

    I think it's been mentioned that using the tips of your fingers helps with intonation when playing fretless and I also find that to be true.