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inconsistent finger tone

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DaRK_CaRNiVaL, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    I am not sure how common this problem is but I cannot get my two fingers to sound the same with fingerstyle! or at the least only slightly different :p

    I have rather skinny fingers, my index finger has a normal roundish shape but its more pointy while my middle finger is more rounded at the top and longer so when I play the two together I get this "alternating" sound. Well that is really annoying me especially for certain songs where I use the two fingers on different strings or long passages of alternating.. the index finger is more twangy and can get the "snarl" on my jazz and the middle finger has more thud and cannot seem to get the "snarl".

    I was wondering if there are any ideas from people with similar problems.. I do also use a pick.. it is good not only for a different tone but for when I get annoyed with finger style :D
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The shape of the fingers doesn't matter - I think you're getting decoyed away from concentrating on technique. The strings can't tell what shape your fingertips are, but they can tell how you attack and release them. Work on getting consistent feel and release on the strings, and I believe the sound will even out.
  3. DGbass70


    Jun 1, 2005
    Rochester N.Y.
    2 things that i can think of........imho

    1- hand position
    2-string set up
    any of these two can affect the sound when playing fingerstyle....
  4. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    While I to a large degree agree with Pilgrim's post, I strongly believe you cannot get the two fingers sound exactly the same. You can come quite close, but when you pluck on two different places on a string (which I believe most bassists do), the sound of the two notes will consist of different sets of harmonic overtones, or at least with different proportions of the same overtones. (You can hear this when muting the strings lightly at the nut/first fret and pluck). Different sets of harmonic overtones is also the reason why for instance a D on the E string sound different than a D on the A string or the open D string.

    The shapes of the fingertips should in theory slightly affect the sound, but I'd say focus on getting the exact same attack with the two fingers instead. That's more important, if not the most important thing when trying to get the plucks to sound similar.
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I have this same hassle too. Mostly it doesn't affect the music, but I hear it in practice and it can bug me.

    I've noticed that the callous on my middle finger is not as thick or hard as my index finger, and I think that accounts for some of the difference in tone and attack. So, every now and then, when the sound gets to bothering me, I'll to a practice and just use my middle finger to build that up.
  6. Tenma4


    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    I have all of these same problems. I've been trying to solve this for 7 years now. I can live with it on some things, but I find my middle finger is lacking compared to my index. On very fast passages with constant string crossing my middle finger eventually begins dragging because I don't get the same amount of attack. I think the two problems are related. :bassist:

    Here's one that drives me nuts... This is played in constant eighths 196 bpm.


    or this @ 200 bpm:





    3 (whole)--------------------------

    I've almost resorted to using a pick on these lines.
  7. richardjones89


    Jun 6, 2007
    i want to know; with high amounts of use do you get calluses on your finger plucking hand as well as your fretting hand?
  8. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    I think it does matter to a degree.. as I have been A/Bing my fingers separately lol like strumming a line with just one finger and then in the same place with the same attack with the other and even trying different ways.. it may be that I just need to work on my middle finger attack but so far its not working.

    But some good suggestions so far :D
  9. Milk eWay

    Milk eWay

    Nov 23, 2006

    I don't practice a whole lot and i havent played bass very long and i have calluses on both hands.

    Maybe i just had girly hands :meh:

    sry to side track

    As to the original post, i think most ppl have this problem with finger style. Especially when they first start. Practice makes everything smoother, but its very difficult (if not impossible) to get both fingers to sound 100% the same, but practice as if you could be perfect, i suppose.
  10. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    Aye I don't expect them to sound 100% the same, I guess lots more practice at combining the two should do the job :)

    And yeah depending on how much you play you usually get them on both hands.. it also depends on how hard you dig in I guess :p
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    There's another pertinent question: even if you think you can hear a difference in practice, can the audience hear any difference when you perform? And if not (which is my vote), does it matter?
  12. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    If you put it that way, pretty much no.. depends on how heavily the bass tone is brought out in the mix. It becomes apparent at least to yourself when you can easily get growl with one finger but not on the other but even then the crowd probably won't hear the difference.. But for me as I don't play any shows it is important in my enjoyment of what I am playing to have consistency. During practice I am not "in the mix" so I can't really mask it.

    On a side note if we all went by that thinking then half the stuff bass players care about wouldn't be an issue.. e.g. scratching logo's off basses what's up with that? The audience doesn't know/care if its a Squier geez :p
  13. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist
    This is what i've noticed, too!

    But I USE the difference in sound . . . I've gotten to the point where I use my index finger ONLY when I want THAT sound . . . and for a progressively more "mellow" sound I'll use my middle finger, thumb (it's got quite a hard callous, too) or ring finger . . .

    And for a hard-driving shuffle (12/8), I'll use the index ON the beats and the middle (or ring for even MORE contrast) for the pick-ups to the beats . . .
    the variations in tone HELPS move the groove along!

    IMO, IME, YMMV, etc.
  14. Trestles


    May 24, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi Dark Carnival,

    I have had this exact same problem. My middle finger is round and fleshy, but my index finger tapers and has less flesh. When I first started playing my index finger sounded hollower and thinner than my middle finger. Here's what I did to fix it:

    I experimented with different ways of attacking the string. One thing I noticed is that I was "snapping" my middle finger more than my index finger. It wasn't necessarily a powerful stroke, just a light and quick pluck. My index finger made a more lethargic plucking action. Fixing this got me 50% of the way there. I also adjusted where I plucked the string from. I moved my contact area farther up my finger to the more fleshy part instead of the thin front part. Not far, just a millimeter or two. The contact area is in the center of the last joint, not the tip of the finger.

    After several weeks of practicing this my tone evened out a great deal. I now get a very consistent sound from both my fingers.

    By the way I am also a classical guitar player so I have nails on my right hand. This technique allows me to sound good even with nails.

    Hope this helps!

  15. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    Cheers for that Trestles, I think the contact point AND my plucking style is where the problem lies now that I think about it.

    Now its just a matter of putting it into practice :D
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