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How to break bad habits?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Angersmoothy, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Angersmoothy


    Sep 24, 2008
    I have been playing for about 4 months almost entirely self taught. I am pretty comfortable with the fretboard and want to learn to play some faster bass lines. The problem is that the whole time i have been playing i have been plucking with my index finger almost exclusively (except for a quick one or two notes on a higher string). I never thought much about it but now playing fast is very difficult without alternate plucking and i can't seem to make my brain do it. If i think really hard about it, I can do it slow and clumsily, but if i just relax and try to jam, i automatically use just one finger.

    My question is, how should i go about breaking this and any other bad habit.
  2. justincest


    May 1, 2008
    One word. Practice. Practice to a metronome slowly and build up your technique. Practice makes perfect!
  3. tapp01


    Apr 10, 2008
    Wilmington, NC
    Another word -- Jamerson. ;)
  4. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Yep, practice is the key. Doing it the "correct" way for long times make you work it into your muscle memory which will make it come more and more naturally.

    I must confess I'm playing less with two fingers nowadays than I did before, especially on slower lines. However when I do that, I use the middle finger the most, not the index...
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I'm having a similar problem. While I do pluck with two fingers, sometimes unconsciously I dont alternate. Now, as part of my practice I spend about 5-10 minutes playing to a metronome, just plucking alternately to open strings. Another good tip is, in your spare time , eg when watching television, take your bass and pluck alternately. You dont have to fret any notes, just keep those plucking fingers going alternately. After say a week of this you'll find you hardly have to think about it as the muscle memory will have kicked in.
  6. Instead of trying to use both fingers on songs you've already learned with only one finger, try to learn new songs and use both fingers on them.

    Sometimes removing yourself from a situation that caused the habit is a good way to break it.
  7. erickdan


    Dec 26, 2007
    These are great tips guys!

    I've been wondering the same thing myself lately ;p
  8. bassfrenzie


    May 26, 2008
    I've been playing for 35 years and have learned some stuff..

    Do what's comfortable for you. You will pick up pointers & tips from other players, but be yourself - don't try to be somebody else. Keep practicing & let it happen.

    Somebody mentioned Jamerson - one of the best groover ever, and used just one finger.

    I don't know if there are actual rules regarding this...but this is my opinion.
  9. This is true, but it's silly to say that "It worked for Jamerson, so it must be good." Can you think of ANY other bass legends that play(ed) using only one finger? I can't. There's probably someone, but my point is that a vast majority of them use more than one finger.

    Don't use one exceptional player to justify a technique that will limit you in the long run. It will be good for you to learn to play with two fingers. Do it by following the advice of others in this thread.
  10. Fetusyolk


    Aug 7, 2008
    I had similar problems in the way beginning. I had a hard time transfering to two, and an even harder time transferring to three. The trick is to keep at it. If you're not on your bass keep your fingers moving slowly in the way you want them on ur bass on some other surface (table, leg), eventually your muscles will just move on their own. Start slow though. too much speed in the beginning will get u sloppy
  11. +1 That's how I developed my 2 finger plucking. Once my muscles caught up with my brain, it became completely automatic! Now if I can only get the Ring finger in on it!
  12. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    You can even practice in your car. Visualize playing bass while you "pluck" the steering wheel with both fingers. Visualization is important - it is used in sports and it can apply here.
  13. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Ok, so I'm going to pose a question now, excuse me if it's a little silly. I mostly play with a pick, myself. Do most players pluck with only 2 fingers? I find myself using three when I play, though my ring finger isn't 100% on.
  14. Angersmoothy


    Sep 24, 2008
    Thanks for all the answers, this will really help me out!
  15. SenatorsVern


    Sep 25, 2008
    Try using three. index, middle and ring!
    the hard part is the ring though.
    It is good to pull off some quick beats

  16. +1 Bang on! Since I forced myself to correct my technique I found that I can play faster and more cleanly than ever before. I was a 1-finger kind of guy, in fact some of the guys used to laugh and say "Geeze, that guy can really play fast with his 1 finger".

    As everyone else says, once you get the muscle memory working for you, it requires no brain power at all.

    Get on top of your technique NOW before you continue to develop bad ones. I've been playing for 16 years and wish I had corrected mine at the beginning - its taking YEARS to replace the bad with the good.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again, get over to MusicDojo.com and take their "mastering right and left hand technique" course.

    - Andrew

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