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I can't play three finger technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BassMoley, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. BassMoley


    May 20, 2013
    Sorry if I'm in the wrong forum section I'm having a bit of trouble navigating the site, but I have a problem with my playing. No matter what I do, or how hard I try how much a practice, I can not learn to play with 3 fingers. I can throw in the ring finger in certain spots to keep a nice pattern for the other two fingers, but when it comes to playing with the 3 constantly and consistently forget about it. It's very frustrating I could practice it all day and night and won't get it. I read how playing with three is supposed to help your hand not get as tired as fast but when I try it it's almost immediate fatigue. I can use two fingers pretty quick, and it's way easier to practice. I know giving up on something simply because you can't do it is never I good way to go, but I'm not sure if I should keep trying hopelessly or just say screw it.
  2. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    You'll find lots of 3 finger discussion in the Technique section of the forum.
  3. Huge

    Huge Hell is full of musical amateurs. Like me.

    Dec 2, 2005
    Someone will move this to the right place I'm sure.

    Until then...

    How long have you been trying to learn the technique?

    Do you have a teacher? If not, get one.

    I can't offer any direct advice as I can't do it either.
  4. jake3

    jake3 Guest

    Aug 23, 2013
    I think you want this in the "Technique" forum ... but anyway - maybe consider using your thumb as the third finger instead of the ring finger? That may not satisfy you depending on what you are trying to do. But I do that a lot - put the thumb on the E or the A string (depending on the key) and use the index and middle fingers on the next two strings over.
  5. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    OP already has a thread in Technique.
  6. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    Jamerson used one finger. Do you seriously think you have a chance to be three times as good as James Jamerson???? :p
  7. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Neither can I, due to damage on my right hand ring finger :)
  8. gpx1200


    Apr 24, 2013
    spencer mass
    maybe this will inspire you or maybe it will just frustrate you more. but check it out anyway because its some crazy three finger(mabye4) technique.

    steve uses his first finger kind of barred to mute the harmonics and then picks with the middle and ring fingers behind it.
    I watch this video at least 2-3 times a month
    im pretty shure he watched the sargent pepper movie the night before they filmed this
  9. You will probably never lose a gig because you can't play with 3 fingers. If you are talking about your fretting hand that might be a different story although Rocco Prestia manages quite well with 2 fretting fingers.

    Rick B.
  10. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    Why are you using wanting to use three fingers? I only made the switch when I reached the limits of what I personally could do with two. (I was trying to play lines others recorded with too fingers. I couldn't and needed the boost in speed that three fingers can offer.) I jump started the switch in an all day, unamplified, right hand only practice session. As I recall the "crash course" really helped and I made the transition quickly. I then spent the next twenty five years trying to get three different fingers to hit the same note with the same tonality. I'll let you know when I perfect that.

    These days, though, I wouldn't be any more or less of a player if I only used two fingers on my right hand.
  11. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Use the tools that work for you. How coordinated you can be with your ring finger is going to depend a bit on what you've used it for otherwise in your life. If you play keyboards, or touch-type, you're presumably already used to using it as an equal member of Team Fingers, but if not, you might not have a whole lot of nerve and muscle memory hooked up to it yet. Depending on your age, genes, etc., getting that finger up to where you can count on it the way you seem to believe you should may take quite a while. Keep at it if you think it's important. But don't let it gate your progress in making music - play your songs however feels/sounds best, but maybe do some ring-finger strengthening exercises as part of your warm-ups.

    Personally, I play with my right middle finger so long as things are leasurely, add the index finger when things get fast, and only use the ring finger when either (a) I'm doing triples, as in "Barracuda" or "The Trooper", or (b) as a one-off when I need to shift from having the index vs. middle finger playing the note on the beat.

    Jack Bruce also plays essentially one-fingered these days.

    Yes, playing with all your fingers *might* be less fatiguing, but whether it really is or not is going to vary from person to person. Don't sweat it. Some people play bass with picks, you know.
  12. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    moved to technique
  13. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    First off, saying that no matter how much you practice at it won't make a difference is simply not true. Whatever it is you're trying to do, do it slowly. Slow enough to where you can do it. As time goes on your speed will increase and you'll see that you can do it. Stick with it and remove the negativity from your mind.
  14. If you're using one, put aside the metronome for now. It forces you to play in time, which you can't properly do yet and since you can't, you tense up in an attempt to play cleanly. It's counter - productive. Play 'out of time' for now. Just move your fingers. Just practice the motion, time be damned.
  15. +1

    the three finger technique is something that I still work on daily, and I'm primarily a pick player.

    You trained your two fingers to get up to speed already, and it took how long? You just have to be patient, and practice, practice, practice. You're training another finger to do something that your other fingers are steps ahead at. Grab your bass when you're watching TV, doing anything that you have free hands, and keep working on getting your ring finger constantly moving. You'll get it eventually!
  16. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    It's not necessary to play with 3 fingers. It's useful to me in playing fast passages and for fatigue reduction. I learned it when I was still a teenager, so maybe (like learning a language) it was easier to re-train my brain at that age.

    It takes a while to develop the necessary strength and independence, so my only advice to you is if you really want to make it your own, keep working at it. Try not to succumb to frustration.
  17. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    It's a little more than just adding in another finger, because you have to change the angle of your other fingers to add the ring finger in....at least I did. I'm no expert with 3 fingers though. I only use the ring finger on occasion, so take my comments with that in mind.
  18. LemmyLicious


    Sep 27, 2010
    From a guy who had massive difficulties getting it smooth: be observant on your hand and finger angles, the part of the finger that you pluck with and overall technique. Just forcing it by practicing without knowing what you're actually doing isn't going to get you far (I don't want to sound harsh but I got angry at myself for not "taking notes" the whole time I practiced hehe).

    Also, what finger pattern do you use? Ring-middle-index seems to be the most natural for many. Plus you might have to consider not using the exact same pattern when moving up and down the strings (I go 3-2-1 on single strings and simple two-string patterns but have to adjust it a little at more complex shapes). At first it's going to be tough to keep the pattern up when moving around, later on it's going to get more natural.
  19. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    It takes patience and discipline and a bit of OCD lol. I learned how to use Gary Willis's three finger system and it took a couple of years of constant practice before I really had it integrated.
  20. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    One thing that helps me is:-

    Pick any open string.

    Anchor your thumb.

    Try to have your knuckles parallel to the guitar body.....not sticking up higher on either end of your hand.

    Pick one string with your third (ring), second and first fingers one after the other but....

    Start the sequence with the RING finger.

    Going ring finger first is easier to learn than going the opposite (index finger first)...........but it can be done both ways after awhile .

    It's not so much training the fingers.....it's training the brain to do something it doesn't usually do............

    Try it in a sort of staccato........TA-TA-TA......TA-TA-TA..etc.

    Start slow at first and then speed up when you get the hang of it.

    The more the economical use of your fingers....the easier it will be.