how bad will using 2 fingers instead of 3 impeade speed etc?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fr0me0, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    Sorry if this have been broguht up did a search didn't find anything too concrete. I've been playing for while fingerstyle always using a 1-2 pattern. Tried going to a 3-2-1 pattern last month. Spend at least an hour in front of the tv or what ever a day chugging away and havn't made much progress. I find the middle finger will sometimes miss the string hit the wrong string and I'm still faster and more relaxed using just the 2. Now I know that the a proper technique is obviously going to be slower at first then a bad technique that you are used to but its been a whole month and I han't notices much progress. I don't mind spending the time practicing but I don't wanna work on this for 6 months just to find out it really isn't that big of a deal and I coud have used all that time to work on my fretting hand pinky or learnt more theory something like that. So what do you figure keep up with the 3? or just go back to 2?
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've seen lots of discussion about that. What I gather is that two fingers can be blazing fast, and many of the greatest masters of the electric bass used two fingers. I've never heard anyone say that two fingers is 'bad technique' (is that what you meant by "Now I know that the a proper technique is obviously going to be slower at first then a bad technique"?). I'd say that if anything were going to be called "proper technique", it'd be two-finger finger style!

    For what it's worth anyway - I started into three fingered from two about a half a year ago, and for the first month I got NOWHERE; absolutely nowhere. Now I don't think I put anything like an hour straight every day into it, but even so - I'd say it was three months before I could do anything even like a quick-and-nasty "flam" triplet (I made that term up, but isn't a 'flam' what you call it when a drummer hits with two sticks, but he puts one ahead of the other a little so they hit at slightly different times? It's like that - it wasn't a real triplet, it's just like a 'triple-hit', like "blang!"). Now I can do a fair triplet with three fingers, but I'm always working at making each of the three more seperate and distinct and on-triplet-time. I still use that 'flam'-stroke, though; I like it for accents!

  3. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    really? I had always though the proper technique required three fingers. If thats the case i'm going to stick with 2 throw in the third once in a while if i need to. it seems to be getting the job done
  4. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I use the 1 or 2 finger technique for supportive roles and 3 finger for soloing etc.
  5. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's what most (many?) of us do too.

    Then there's the pick. Oh.. Uh, never mind I brought that up. Just never mind. I don't know what I was....

    I gotta go -

  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    While you can pretty much get the same speed with two or three, the one real advantage of three is that you exert less energy to play the same number of notes.
  8. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    My teacher taught me to play with 3, but after a few years I made the switch to 2 and was glad I did. I can get a much more consistent sound with 2, and I think consistency in tone is pretty important.

    Except, of course, when you want a note to jump out a bit, and that's when I really like throwing in the third finger, like to grab an octave and make it just a little brighter than it would have been if I'd used one of the first two fingers.
  9. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    To learn three finger technique, get a metronome at set it to 60bpm. Then Play four notes on a string, then move to the next and play four notes, then the next, etc... At the G string start going back down.
    Gradually, speed up the metronome. Then get some of your tabs of the songs that you learned early on. Play through them VERY slowly, chopping each riff apart and practicing each segment. You need to have left and right hand finger independence (for some reason, I had trouble keeping a straight three finger pattern when playing with both hands)
    After that, you should be able to apply the three finger technique without thought. Personally, three fingers can go slightly faster than two fingers.
    Most imprtantly, it takes LOTS o' time and LOTS o' practice.
    GL :D
  10. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Any time you get tempted to think that you need 3 fingers to play fast enough, go listen to a recording by Paco de Lucia, or any other good flamenco guitarist. That stuff is 2 fingers all the way. Nylon string guitarists use 3 or sometimes even 4 RH fingers for chords and arpeggios etc, but scalar passages are usually 2 fingers.
  11. Guiseppe


    Oct 26, 2003
    Vancouver, WA
    Ozzyman's right on the button...working with a metronome (in my mind) gets two things done - keeps you working on rythm while working on your newly found technique, and keeps you playing (and not thinking) while you do it. Most everything I "learned" at first sounded horrible, but after a while of wearing out my fingers, it became second-nature. I don't always play with three fingers (or four), it depends on the song...I always use three when playing triplets. Hope this is of some use, and no matter what, keep practicing and keep up that drive!
  12. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    To play fast you need to play with a light touch. People, especially bass players, have this need to "dig in". If you want more volume, turn your bass on 10, or turn your pre-amp value up. For the pick-up to hear the note you need to barely touch the string. Playing fast is the result of quick, short muscle movements, the tenser you make the muscle the longer the cycle from rest-->movement-->rest takes. You only need to lightly bump the string with your finger tip to sound the note, and that is the key to speed.
  13. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    wow thanks for the help everyone, I kinda though playing with a light touch and cranking the volume was "cheating" thanks for the advice :D
  14. The Beast

    The Beast

    Jul 19, 2004
    Evil Town
    as far as I have seen, Three-Finger techinique is really only required for ultra speedy metal like Alex Wbster or Steve DiGiorgio or Billy Sheehan, where you are going top speed almost constantly.

    For stuff like Jaco Pastorius, John Patitucci, Geezer Butler etc., two Fingers is just fine.
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Three finger is a good technique to learn, but it is not necessary for blazing speed.

    Jeff Berlin is the fastest fingerstyle player I have ever heard, and he only uses two fingers.
  16. I use two fingers for normal playing and three for "effects." I think there is a link in my signature where I use both - and you will notice the difference.

    I don't totally agree with the guy who said you must have a light touch, though. Many people prefer to get the attack you get when you "dig in." Listen to Jaco Pastorius. His attack really changes his tone. That is different when he plays ballads, though.
  17. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Nice observation, Richard.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Jaco tended to play ballads up by the neck(ligher/softer touch required).
    ...when he played back by the bridge, it looked & sounded like he dug in.

    For those that espouse the "light" touch...are you playing directly over the pickups? Do you ever pluck back by the bridge? If so, are you able to still play with a "light" touch.

    I guess the way equipment is nowadaze, a "light" touch can work. It surely did not for me back in the '70s; my '64 P-bass required some oomph/force, especially on some parts of the neck.
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    The "other" 3-fingered technique that I find more valuable(in what I do) is the "Thumb-Index-Middle".
    No doubt.
    What Willis & Garrison are doin' with a "more than 2 approach" is pretty happenin', nonetheless.
  20. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Interesting thread. I can see how using three fingers would help with triplets, but I know I would mess up my 4/4 groove with three fingers.

    But I play in a classic rock band, speed it not a problem.