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Improving 2 Finger Alternate Picking

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by markjsmithbass, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. After spending a lot of time recording the music theory video lessons I've finally put up a few more technique oriented videos. This one is more of an intermediate level lesson on alternate two finger picking across the neck. There are also a few more slapping lessons up and in the pipeline.

    As far as this picking lesson goes, I find if I'm ever having difficulties with a bassline or technically demanded piece, it can often be due to getting confused in my picking hand. It's often quite difficult to stick to an alternating picking pattern in odd patterns but at high speeds it can be essential to stick to a rigid alternate motion. I know raking can be a perfect solution to some of these problems but it's always worth addressing problems or weaknesses so as to have options.

    Anyway, hope it's of help to someone.

  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Cool Video, some nice points touched on.:)

  3. I think planning your fingering in advance is over thinking it and can get in the way of thinking about the music. When you're taking a solo, you shouldn't be thinking about what scale to use, nor should you be worrying about what finger is going to play what note at what time. All that stuff should be internalized and not factor in.

    And also since everyone's physiology is different you can't expect to rigidly apply the nuances of one persons technique and use it as a standard to judge everyone elses by.

    I'll use HF, I guarantee he doesn't think about his fingering in advance. Neither does Gary Willis or Janek Gwizdala, Richard Bona, Linley Marthe or any other bass player who's in that league. It's not useful as long as you stick to whatever system you're applying - be it strict alternation, 3 finger, 4, 5 blah blah,

    If you've done your job correctly and practiced correctly then all of those mechanisms are muscle memory and burned into your neural pathways.

  4. It's cool to ask questions, always! I just think that the questions weren't really relevant because IMO it's not practical to worry about that stuff. Anyways it was a cool vid and I don't want to detract from it.
  5. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    you just don't need to plan your picking fingering nor it is a necessity to plan your fingering during a solo ... it is a solo it should be improvized while like you say with written music it is sometimes best to plan it or find the best way to make it flow ... and yeah sometimes too many philosophical questions isn't a necessity.

  6. If you're playing some written lines, sure you might want to check and plan the fingering but read the part when I say " taking a solo".

    Quit putting what I'm saying out of context and making inferences. I'm straight forward dude, if I think something I'll say it plainly. :cool:

    And now that you put it that way, yeah - your questions are unnecessarily complicating what was a pretty plain and easy to understand vid that Mark created.
  7. Chill Guys. I'd say you're both correct but coming from different angles. An improvised solo has no planning in the picking by it's very nature. However, hours of practicing different patterns (especially odd stuff like I mention in the vid) allows you to play what you are hearing in your musical mind without getting finger twisted. It's a little like a drummer practicing a variety of accents between the hands (and/or feet) and then allowing them to instinctively flow as they come to mind.

    A lot of improvised phrases are fairly vague or general in their conception. You might be on a certain note and instinctively feel the need to run up to another certain note. The individual notes might not be a part of the overall musical contour you are going for. It could be just a case of wanting a brrrrrrr wheee, as silly as that sounds. Your knowledge, personality, influence and general style will dictate what notes (diatonic or chromatic) you go for in creating that contour. It could be a simple diatonic or modal run through the scale or arpeggio dictated by the chord in action. Or it could be a scalar sequence, quartal run blah blah blah. Whatever it is, you'll be better prepared to start than run if you're adept at playing various scales, arpeggios, lines, runs etc. from either finger so you don't get caught out when your imagination makes demands of your physiology.

    I know physical limitations can actually be a kind of 'mother-of-invention' for some people and let's face it, there are plenty of amazing improvisers and improvisations that have an edge or gutteral brilliance to them because of the lack of technique (nobody wants to hear ABSOLUTE accuracy). But most musicians also feel a little annoyed when an improvised musical moment is ruined or abandoned because of something as easily practiced or adjusted as fingerpicking.

    As for more general basslines or solo pieces, I would approach these very differently. You have the benefit of practice time and are more likely to run into problems that you might not find in improv, simply because your improvising mind is likely to be influenced by the sum total of all your playing experiences and technical strengths/weaknesses.
    Accuracy will also be more important especially when playing in a band situation. I think most demanding band leaders of the past like Chick Corea, John Mclaughlin, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa etc. etc. would be on your ass if you were to screw up that important and tough instrumental section just because of a lack of preparation. I find that most 'really hard' pieces boil down to planning and executing a picking and fretting battle plan. Speed can only be worked on after assimilating the necessary plan. If that plan is something very familiar to you then speed will come quickly.

    Janek Gwizdala has some very informative videos dealing with the improvising/technique side of this stuff. And he certainly knows what he's talking about.

    Anyway, I think my main point is that improvisation and non-improvised pieces are approached very differently from a picking and mental standpoint but the practice needed to improve both (fingerpicking-wise) can be the same or similar. IMHO.