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Help with my finger technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by codiak, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. codiak


    Mar 16, 2017
    Madison, Wisconsin
    When I’m plucking with my right hand I always slap the strings agains the fretboard and sometimes it is audible through the amp. What are some techniques I can use to stop this?

    I play with resting my thumb on either pickup (bad hitch hikers thumb) and I’m sure I’d be considered heavy handed. I know lightening up will help it but by now it’s like a reflex and I go back to my regular style of playing without realizing it. I’m working on that now. What are some other techniques I can use?
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I think you have answered your own question(s) here. Play with a lighter touch and let the amp do the work. Apart from trying to be constantly aware of when you are digging in, and correcting it every time, the only other necessary ingredients are...time and patience.
    Nashrakh likes this.
  3. Do you have this problem when running your scales? If not run some more scales - get your fingers moving in a lighter touch.

    Back in my rhythm guitar days when I was trying to get a strum pattern into muscle memory I would take my guitar over to the couch and deaden the strings with my left hand and then run my strum pattern a zillion times - while watching TV. This may work with getting a lighter touch ingrained in muscle memory. Run your scale patterns and see if this helps.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  4. Two things come to mind. Either your action is too low for your playing style, or your plucking is too horizontal.

    Action is a setup issue—easy to correct.

    The other has to do with fingertip angle, placement, and articulation. Most people push the string inward, toward the pickup, when they play. This sets up a horizontal eliptoidal string vibration. Instead rub the string with the finger print, not the tip, in a floor-to-ceiling manner. This gets the string vibrating in a more vertical orientation—less prone to whacking against frets or pickups.
    Lobster11 and SJan3 like this.
  5. codiak


    Mar 16, 2017
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I was trying to do this but the only way I could get it to work was to hold my hand out in a weird way that was uncomfortable. I’ll just have to raise the action for now and try to lighten my touch.
    SJan3 likes this.
  6. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    Keep at trying to pull across the string instead of pushing downward. In time, you'll get it and a much cleaner tone. And definitely check your setup. Maybe your strings are too close and/or you neck doesn't have enough relief.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  7. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    That’s pretty much it, if you like low action you risk of popping the strings in such a way that they vibrate perpendicularly to the fretboard and “slap” back.

    Try making sure that your fingers pluck in such a way that the strings resonate/vibrate in parallel with the fretboard. Like this you keep the action low, better control your dynamics and avoid the slap sound.

    I have an micron-low fretless FBass that is pretty unforgiving with this and had to figure this one to play it.

    I hope this helps,
    SJan3 and Whousedtoplay like this.
  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Don't raise your action -- Fix your technique!

    I strongly recommend learning this right-hand technique, which (as he explains) has many advantages over mounting your thumb on a pickup:

    As a bonus, I think you'll find that once you start using this technique, you will find that plucking more softly comes naturally.
    codiak likes this.

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