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Is switching fingers on a note considered bad technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DuckSoup, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    I'm learning All on Fire by Coheed and Cambria. (Wicked sick bass line by the way)

    One thing I find myself doing a lot is landing on a note, and while that note is ringing out, I'll quickly switch what finger is holding that note down. For example, taking my middle finger off to swap it for my index finger while the note is still being played, so I can be ready to move to the next set of notes.

    I notice this the most when I have to walk up a fourth, or step down a fifth. If I move from C (On the A string) to a G (On the E string) I'll walk that by using my Index on the C then middle on the G. But I may swap my middle finger on the G for my index to play an octave with my pinky. (If that makes sense)
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    There’s the idea that what works for you works for you but that seems like a bad habit to get stuck with.
    St_G, cchorney, SLO Surfer and 2 others like this.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i'm with gorn on both accounts. i admit that i'm not quite following your description, but: if you are letting a note "ring out" (sustain?) on a fretted instrument and you're "switching fingers" while the note is sustaining = a rare technique, or = a nasty habit. the pleasure is yours! good luck! :thumbsup:
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Very common technique. I use it often. Not sure if it has a special name.

    Your example however doesn't totally make sense to me. Personally, I would just use the same finger for the C at the 3rd fret and the G at the 3rd fret. Index for the C and middle for the G feels weird to me.
  5. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I use it sometimes and after a beer or two I don't even feel ashamed for using it.
  6. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Seems like you're dexterous with the ability to plan ahead. Can't see a down side to that. Whatever gets the job done without inflicting injury, I say
  7. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Yep. I use OP's technique if I'm stretching up to hit a note, then the next note's higher. It's just changing positions. However, it doesn't make sense if it's being done because one finger is stronger than another.

    I would also suggest checking out a cover of the song on YouTube to see what they're doing. Or post a link of yourself playing the part you're questioning and these kind folks can tell you if it's a habit worth breaking.
  8. tonymcbony


    Mar 21, 2006
    Agreed - if it's a switch to get your hand in a better position for the next phrase then I think that's totally fine if it doesn't affect sustain or change tonality. One of the advantages of a fretted instrument I would say.

    Sometimes need to do it if I'm jamming/improvising.

    If it's a crutch like you started on your pinky and lose strength then work on getting your pinky stronger.
    Greyvagabond and instrumentalist like this.
  9. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    It wouldn't be my first choice, just because it introduces a small point of failure. If something happens while you are switching fingers it could mess up your flow.
    A "One finger per fret" gestapo would whack your knuckles for doing that. It might be better to work out ahead of time what finger you want to land on, or rethink how to approach the next note.
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    wintremute, ONYX, BrBss and 21 others like this.
  11. ak56

    ak56 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    Carnation, Wa
    I find myself doing that occasionally. I think it's usually a case (for me at least) of not planning ahead far enough to know where my fingers should be heading.
    Seanmo likes this.
  12. I’ll use it rarely when my fingers are a bit bunched up. eg. Sight reading on a Fretless Bass. Whilst it is a legit technique, it’s not ideal to overuse it.

    OP - Teach yourself multiple ways of fingering the same phrase; it does wonders for improving your planning.

    Two octave scales/modes/arpeggios played up & down the neck are a brilliant way to sharpen your position shifts, learn multiple fingering options, fretboard knowledge, applied theory, etc.
    cchorney and HolmeBass like this.
  13. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    Using the same finger to move across never felt right to me for some reason. I could never get a clean transition so I always walked with a different finger.

    Refer to the video I posted below, but at 1:15 is where I do the technique I'm describing in my original post while also walking to a 4th\5th using a different finger.

    I can't find a cover of the song I'm learning, but here is me playing another Coheed song where I use the same technique.

    Right at 1:15 of the song is where I actually do what I'm describing and swap fingers.
  14. rashrader


    Mar 4, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    Well, no offense meant by this, but it sounds like a technique that’ll really slow you down at one point or another. Economy of motion.....
  15. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    The one factor we need to accurately answer your question would be "sound". From what I can tell by listening to the clip you posted, it's not affecting the note on which you do the finger switch, but it's not easy to tell listening to all instruments & vocals at once. Since you are aware of where this happens, record your bass isolated from the rest of the song recording and review if you are screwing up the notes in question.
    UnderTheRadar likes this.
  16. I do it all the time, land the note and play it, then subtly switch to a different fretting finger to serve as a more convenient take-off point for the next note or run. If it has no noticeable effect on the output, how could it be wrong?
    Ulf Buck, lz4005, bolophonic and 2 others like this.
  17. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    I do it to ready for the next note or when my finger(s) are sore.
  18. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    As long as is not used for prostate exams, I would totally support it.
  19. It isn't "wrong" but I'd bet it causes a bit of choppiness in your playing and it definitely makes extra work. I suggest working on prepositioning fingers as you practice; anticipate the next note, as it were. Slowly playing the chord progression of a tune as a series of arpeggios helped smooth out my playing of some toughies. Don't worry about eliminating it but do what you can to reduce it over time.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  20. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    NO please, as one who has studied and taught WAAAAY too much theory, please let's NOT give it a name!

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