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How much of your finger do you use when you pluck?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Jul 14, 2000.

  1. I used to be a Geddy Lee/John Wetton-style digger, getting the flesh of the finger under the string, but then I got a bigger amp and now I play on my fingertips. I've heard this is "bad" technique...what do y'all think?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    No - this sounds like Good technique or at least a technique that will help you to play faster.

    Our resident "pro" Michael Dimin gave an answer on this very subject recently :

    Author Topic: How to play faster
    New Member
    Posts: 23
    Registered: Mar 2000
    posted June 29, 2000 02:39 AM
    I need some tips on how to play faster...Finger exercises ? what can I do to play faster?
    IP: Logged

    Mike Dimin
    Posts: 125
    Registered: Dec 1999
    posted June 29, 2000 09:34 AM
    First step is to either set up your bass or have it done professionally. have it set up with a low action and as little relief in the neck as possible.
    Work on developing a soft touch on the strings. Apply only as much pressure as needed with the fretting fingrs as needed, no more. When you lift your fingers off the frets only move them high enough to clear the strings - be efficient with the fretting hand. With your plucking hand try never to "dig in", play with a soft touch. I have absolutely no callouses on any finger and I play at least an hour a day.

    These few hints are the start of playing fast. let me know how it goes.


    I would agree with this totally and it's the way I approach playing.
  3. My teacher says fingertip/soft-touch with electric, but with URB you have to think of the finger as a hook, and really pluck using more of the side of the finger on the string to get the "snap" at the beginning of the note. I find it easier on the G, D, & A, but have to really work at it on the E - perhaps that's because I have arco rather than pizz strings.
  4. Well, I went home and tried it out with my amp (can't have an Ampeg/Eden half-stack in a dorm during summer school, evidently...*grin*), and I can whip off even Jaco stuff at full tempo. I've always been able to play relatively fast digging in, and using just my fingertips is like, as Jeff Berlin said, "teflon coated with butter in zero gravity."

    The gigs I play in the fall and spring are PA-supported (perk of living in a musician's dorm: 16-channel PA), so if I can't hear myself from my stage amp (not likely, that little Eden 2x10 is LOUD) I can always get more out of the monitors.
  5. depends on the sound you want. i always try to play softly as a rule becuas the sound seems purer, less distorted, if u know what i mean?

    sometimes it's really nice to really snap the strings, to get that punky, raspy sound when they buzz...I kinda like that, specially in a full-on piece of music.
  6. Licketysplit


    Mar 15, 2000
    For me it depends. If i'm trying to get a real "meaty" tone I'll use as much flesh as possible. If im going for a more clear tone I'll use more of my fingertips. My advice is to utilize both, bassists need to be versatile!!!

  7. Monkey


    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I've always played pretty hard, with fairly high action and heavier strings. I liked the dynamic range and meatier tone, but I've had some carpal tunnel problems., so I decided to try a light touch on a five-hour a day, 5 day gig. I also now have an amp with lots of headroom, so I decided to let the amp do the work. I was pleasantly surprised by the deep tone, and I saved wear-and-tear on my wrist. Maybe I'm going through a life change....
  8. I've found that I'm almost as fast with a pick as I am digging in, so if I need an aggressive attack I'll just pull one out. I also slap a fair amount.

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