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is this normal?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by The Alexander, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Hey people,
    I am a rookie bassist and just found this board a little while ago. This has probably been beat to death already, but is it okay if I only play with one finger? I started out trying to play with two, but I subconsiously (spelling??) started playing with one. Should I try to get back to playing with two, or is one okay? Please :help: me.
  2. Well if it suits your needs there is no problem but if you ever want to play a fast basline keep in mind that you'll never be fast enough with one finger.
  3. Weasel


    Feb 18, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    Hey, James Jamerson played with one finger!
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA

    Its always diffucult at first to use 2 fingers. Try to do 2, you'll wish you'd learned how to use 2 later. If it was okay to use 1, do you think 99% of bassists would use 2?
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Hell, for about a year, I used one(1) finger on my FRETTING hand.

    Unless you're a complete natural that is gifted, learning to play an instrument will challenge you to learn new things. I know(& remember) that playing with one finger is easy & seems the way to go when you're early in your developement. I still recall practicing in the shed with 2 fingers...but come gig-time, I gravitated back to 1 finger because it's what was 'more comfortable' (at the time).
    Take your time & do it 'right' early on; it's a pain to go back & re-learn stuff once one gets really settled in.
  6. RudeMood


    Nov 7, 2004
    Austin, TX
    My opinion is to use two fingers. As you learn more about the instrument, you'll find that in general, you can do more with two on the faster baselines.
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ahhh-eeee! Now THAT'S the hard-way!

  8. Wow, thanks for the replys. I have never had this many replys in such a short time on my other forums! You guys rule :D !
    Anyways, would the best way to learn to play with two is just sit on my bed in my room and just play on a open string until I get the timing right (thats my biggest problem)? Thanks.
  9. You should also walk up and down strings. Play the E string a few times, then the A, and so on. Just doing one string is a good start. You can also practice away from the bass. Pluck the edge of a table or something. That's what I did when I wanted to learn a continuous rasgueo.
  10. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    When I started, the two fingered approach was always the most natural to me. Now I'm trying to learn three fingers, but that's a challenge.
  11. kudzukid


    Jan 18, 2005
    I'm also a rookie (playing only about a year); started out using one finger and my thumb, but now I'm using two fingers more, and my playing has improved.
  12. Many bassists, after learning to play with two fingers (and yes it's a challenge) feel the urge to try and use all four! I've tried a few times and given up, but maybe i should try again. I found just a while ago though in one part of a song where the bass just pumps straight 8ths, that i was playing with one finger, and i didn't know why... then I realised that the sound you get from just one finger is different to using two, because of the tinyest little accents that you only notice subconciously... (so for that spelling again)
  13. kudzukid


    Jan 18, 2005
    I've noticed that different sound, too, that comes from playing the same note with two fingers instead of one, but I don't know how to fix it.
  14. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I remember playing "smoke on the water" with
    one finger when i started out :D

    It just happened naturally that i played with 2fingers.

    And yeah, rather one picking finger than fretting lol.
  15. just to add in my .02

    the way i learned to use 2 fingers was to take a song that had all quarter notes, or something to that effect and play 8th notes of it, using 2 fingers. starting slow, then working up to speed. worked quite well.
  16. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    Not as hard as it seems man. I use three fingers to run up and down scales sometimes. It makes sense too, you just have to time it right. BUT playing with 3 fingers is no substitute for playing with 2. Because you can get a tighter and louder sound playing with 2.
    I also use the three finger technique when I am playing with people who love to pick real fast.
    "Naw man, yer gonna need a pick. It will sound like ass fingerstyle!"
    They never mention it again after the first couple of 16th note triplets.
  17. I regularly use 1 finger, 2 finger, and 3 finger techniques on my picking hand. Why limit yourself? Really, try getting 2 down. It's hard to play faster lines on 1 finger, and it's not like you don't have the option of going back once in a while. I like using 1 finger because the sound is more consistent and even... John Paul Jones uses it for this reason, and Jamerson played nothing but 1 finger as far as I know. Both very amazing bassists. But don't be limited by it... I recomment learning 2 as well.
  18. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    No, it's not okay. Next time you do it, cut off the finger you usually play with.
  19. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    True that! A band I was in for a long time had a lot bass lines which just pounded straight 16th ('rest-stroking' they called it, but I'd never heard that term before) roots underneath the guitar's strumming patterns, so it just sounded like a continuous 'line' holding everything up. Cool effect, I think Chi from the Deftones does that a lot too. Anyway, I taught myself to use my third finger for these kind of runs - things just tend to come out with a better flow, and its good for maximising your physical energy to spread out the forces between three digits if you do a lot of note-intensive lines. I definitely don't recommend it, it's a pain in the arse to get the co-ordination happening so you don't end up with a whole load of crappy triplets rather than a cool flow - but hey, another tool in your low-end arsenal if you're prepared to put some work in.

    If I was a rookie, I'd be shooting straight for two finger plucking right off the mark. Nothing worth doing on the bass is comfortable, and you are almost certainly gonna need that middle finger unless you plan to be some kind of walking Jamerson tribute. In which case it's all good :)