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Gary Willis technique and me

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bardolph, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I've been using just my index and middle fingers since I started playing and recently I'm trying to adopt the three finger technique. I've gone to Gary Willis's site and gotten the exercises down, but I'm not sure where to go from there. Does anybody have suggestions for how I can find ways to apply it to my actual playing?
  2. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    By the way, I play mostly jazz and do a little solo stuff.
  3. hi Eskimo, I have tried to intergrate a three finger style into my playing and it is kind of hard - I've seen Alain Caron use it while he's soloing and it's very impressive - the one thing I would say is that it is obviously best if it sounds unforced and natural, but when you're getting to grips with it that can be difficult. I have no really great answer other than what I have used it for is obviously funk and string crossing, the whole index, middle, ring, middle, index approach though is very difficult get flowing - from my attepts at doing it - but I do it 123, 123, 123 - etc, so playing in 4/4 you just shifted the one to each successive finger so you can play in quarter notes.

    Again, I don't find this the easiest technique to intergrate as you can get all the effects you need from just two fingers, I suggest checking out Willis' video to see how he uses it during different feels in each section of a song - he mainly uses it for string crossing, and stationary vamps in one position - personally I think you should try your own version of it and try and make it fit whatever music you play - at least with jazz you get to play with the different counter rhythms.

    Hope that helps

  4. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Hi Eskimo,

    Coincidentally, I just had a lesson with Gary yesterday, and attended a clinic he gave at G Guitars in New haven, CT. I'll be posting about it in "Bassists". Gary's technique is a bit unusual, as he encorporates somewhat of a guitar player's finger-picking style, and not only use three fingers, but also incorporates the thumb ocassionally for a muted funk thang. I'm sure Gary would tell you that it will take you a long time to master any change in right hand technique, and that you should master the change in practice before you incoporate it fully in your live playing. But why not ask the man himself? Email him at his site, and I'm sure you'll hear back from him. I know he's very busy the next week or so, giving clinics and lessons then attending Summer NAMM next weekend, but I'm sure he will answer you. He's a great cat. You can even study with him online, if you've got a web cam and a fast (DSL) connection. Gary lives in Spain now, BTW.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    You mean "Gary Willis technique and I"... :p
  6. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Get Gary's video. He explains his right hand technique in it. There are also a few more excercises on the video than there is at his sight.

    It is not an easy technique by any means. It boils down to doing ALL of the muting with your right hand and playing with a very light touch.
    I worked on it for a while, but I found that Matt Garrison's four-finger right hand technique suited me alot better.

    As far as applying it, you should try playing some grooves or scale patterns that your already know but using the Willis technique. It will force you to figure out you new RH fingerings.

  7. That's really interesting - good news for us UK bass players - we might get to see the guy play more than once a decade! Cool man - I'll drop him a line too - I'm freinds with a brilliant fretless bassist called Franc O'Shea who moved to Spain, he lives in Granada, from the UK about two years ago - he's a very gifted composer too. Check his website out www.francoshea.com - Steve Lawson interviewed him a while back and we both have basses made by the same guy in Brighton.
  8. The 3-finger technique popularized by GW is really a carry over from classical guitar technique. I've been using that technique for over 25 years now, and that's because I started my musical "path" on the classical guitar with formal lessons. When I picked up the bass (in the early 70's) I had been taking classical-g lessons for about a year, and was unable to play the bass with the "standard" 2- finger technique..... my thumb kept jumping in for some action. To this day, I play the classical guitar often, and I find that it helps me tremendously (with my bass playing).