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How many fingers do you need?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Spazzout, Aug 8, 2002.

  1. Spazzout


    Aug 7, 2002
    Bellingham, WA
    I've been reading alot of posts about people useing 3 and even 4 fingers to plunk with. when i learned to play, i used my middle finger alone. it works just fine, and i can play faster than most of my friends. The only thing i need 2 fingers for is Victor's THP method. does anyone else use only one finger?
  2. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    well of course one finger at minimum =)

    but i would sayyy its up to you, i personally use all 5 fingers, it helps me go from string to string quicker.. less moving around, or pluck 2 (or 3!) strings at once (i.e. A and G) without plucking others, and i believe it just helps my overall ability to play more intricite sounding bass lines, sure 1 finger works.... but i surely cant do what 2, 3 or 4 or 5 does... i suggest trying out your pointer and middle finger at first.... thas what i tried and my little sister got me to goto the 5 finger method, she plays classical guitar and taught me some things that REALLY helped my playing.....
  3. Not me.. I'm practicing on useing 3 fingers properly on anything I played with index and middle before, and I'm getting good results. I wouln't tell averybody to play with 3 fingers cause is better than using 2, but I think that using just one finger is just not good.. nope..
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Jamerson did a lot of great stuff with one finger, but I personally recommend two.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - it could be one thumb as a minimum! ;)
    Some of the best guitarists I've ever heard, have just used their right hand thumb to pluck - like Wes Montgomery etc.

    But I do agree with Jon that two is preferable as a minimum for bass.
  6. i use 3 fingers, well 2 fingers and a thum and in can get some pretty quick action going on....
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    if my memory serves me correctly Geddy Lee used to use one finger alot as well and did some great stuff with it.
  8. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I am convinced that the amount of dexterity we have is God given. Try as I might, I can only engage two fingers well. The third just isn't up to it. Some, I've seen can play with all plus the thumb. It's all a matter of the talent we're given. Some woodshedding helps, but there will be an upper limit. Plus, if what needs to be done can be done effectively by one, two, or three fingers, why use four? Whatever comfortably works.
  9. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    It seems like alot of people dont know this.
    I believe he uses his index finger in a back and forth motion, like a pick. At least for the fast stuff. Chuck Rainey does this also.

    What I am curious about is if Geddy actually uses his finger nail. He has so much attack it sounds like it.
  10. I was playing the normal 1 2 1 2 then all of the sudden, without any command from me it was 1 2 3 1 2 3. I use 3 and sometimes my pinky to reach from the E to G or D. Start playing 1 2 1 2, you might have the same occurance as me.
  11. hmmm, unsure about that- in the BP Solo Album cover story he mentioned using mostly his index finger only, but also his middle finger, but in the Bassist magazine interview Jan 99 p23;

    "I use the first two fingers pretty well and occasionally, if I really get into trouble for speed, i will throw a third one in there".
  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I use all fingers when I tap, but for normal plucking I use my index and middle. I'll use my ring finger for gallop type triplets, but that's all.

    Even Mark Egan says, there's really no need to use more than 2 fingers when plucking. I find the other two fingers awkward (even though I use the ring for triplets as I said earlier) do to their size and the way the tendons are connected.
  13. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    For most songs I probably /could/ only use 1, but it's more natural to use 2 for me, especially since I play rock with lots of eighth notes. I use one finger for the 1 2 3 4, and another for the AND AND AND AND. Sometimes I hit something with 3 and be like, where did that come from? Heheh. But yeah, I get the most speed and best sound out of 2, and I use my thumb occasionally.
  14. I typically use two fingers for fingerstyle. If I'm playing a real staccato like bass line I will often times use only my index finger and then use my middle finger as a mute. I've seen other bass players who use more fingers-- John Entwistle not withstanding-- and it often times looks awkward to me. I guess I like to keep it as simple as possible.
  15. This is probably just one of those "It's not what you use, it's how you use it" things...

    I started off with a pick, but then I lost it, so I started using my index finger coz I was sick of looking for picks. Then I started using my middle finger coz I wanted more speed. And I would like to learn using my ring finger, but it's one of those thing you have to get used to and two is anuf for now.

  16. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    I've seen this posted before, but if anyone's interested, try this link to an article on learning to use all five fingers.


    Bill Dickens also advises using three or four fingers plus the thumb on the right hand in one of his old videos, not necessarily for speed, but for relieving hand strain by using all instead of a couple fingers. Too tough for me-my pinky just won't get there without crooking my hand.
  17. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    thumb plus first 3 fingers. not to go against mark egan ;) , but i find it necessary to use the thumb plus 2 or 3 fingers all the time, in the style of classical guitars.
  18. Pharmecopia


    Jul 31, 2002
    i use 3, sometimes 4. i use this pattern :


    its good for fast songs and for chord work.
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I need all of mine, thank you very much! Get your own!
  20. I use anywhere from two to four fingers, I just don't use my pinky at all. I usually use two, but I'll throw in the ring & thumb if necessary. Thumb can also be handy for octaves. For example, if I were playing Bulls on Parade, I'd hit the high F with my index finger, and the low F with my thumb. If in a song I only hit the high F occasionally, I'll hit it with my index, hit the first one or two low notes with my thumb while moving the rest of my fingers to the lower notes, and then play the rest of the lower notes walking style. It's rather eclectic.

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