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How hard to pluck

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Scot, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on this. When it comes to jazz pizz walking quarter notes I've noticed that there seems to be two camps:

    1.) The ones that really pull the string back and let go so that the string snaps back and a lot of sound is produced.

    2.) The ones that use a lighter touch and sort of roll the finger around the string.

    The hard plucking seems to be advantageous in that more sound is coming from the bass so that the amp doesn't have to do as much. On the other hand, the lighter touch seems to have the advantage of being able to switch to the alternating two finger pizz playing for playing solo lines and heads and not lose the volume of playing hard with one finger.

    Any thoughts on this?

  2. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    For me, there is no standard rule. My bass is set up with thick gut strings with high string height. The way I play em, I could never do the same on a bass with Spiro Starks and super low string height. There's two considerations, AFTER you've decided on which strings to use and with which string height; one, the way that you are gonna pluck the string and two, how hard. Plucking harder may get more volume , but then lose volume because the string is not vibrating. There's many factors. maybe someone else can describe in a simpler manner than I.

    As for me - I pluck pretty hard, on gut strings. I use one finger %99 of the time, even in solos (the side of the index finger). I got this from watching Mingus videos. It works for me, and gets the sound I want on my bass with my string height and my strings.

    There is no standard - find what works for you and work on it!

    hope I could be of help..... :)
  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I play with Ken often enough and he has a very soft touch but gets huge sound out of his basses. On the other hand, I pull like hell to get the sound I like but when we play together I am not louder than him.

    I think it has to do with how you're trained, the bass you're playing, and "the sound" that you are after.
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    I'm guilty of using the phrases "pulling hard", "heavy right hand", etc., but this doesn't really mean what I'm actually doing.

    While getting a big sound won't come if you are a tips of your fingers way up the fingerboard style electric bass convert, I'm not talking about mauling the bass either.

    A lot has to do with the actual stroke, and the power DOESN'T come from the hands and fingers. It starts with the back and shoulder muscles. Lynn Seaton shows it as similar to the motion used on a water well pump.

    A lot of the power comes from playing in difficult rooms where you have no choice but to fill up the room with sound or no one will hear you. I think until you make yourself stretch for it, you don't really develop a room filling sound.

    Just my .02 worth.