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Keeping plucking fingers stretched out while playing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tupac, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Is this considered good or bad technique? Many, many times I see bassists doing this. I can't help but think they do it for more than looks. I keep my fingers the same way I would play piano, all curled up. I know Billy Sheehan makes a point to do the same thing. It looks silly, but it works. Same thing with tucking in the pinky and ring finger... does it really help? It just seems to be a bother doing it all the time. I think it's more efficient to play completely from your second knuckle than to twiddle your fingers. So which way do you do you use, and which is generally accepted as better?
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Hey man, if it works for you and doesn't result in injury, then keep on keepin' on. Personally, I keep all four right hand fingers pretty much straight, my thumb firmly anchored on a thumb rest, pickup, or neck/body joint and hammer away.
  3. I tend to play with my index and middle finger outstretched and with my ring and pinky fingers tucked up, with their tips touching the palm of my hand. It really is a case of whatever works for you, and ultimately being sensible. If something you're doing is hurting you, stop and assess whats going on and find another way of doing it. Alternatively, if you have a way of doings things that works for you and doesn't cause any problems or pain then stick with that.
  4. Von Fett

    Von Fett

    Sep 1, 2011
    Depends on where I'm plucking. I tend to do both.
  5. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Mine are basically straight, but not totally. Just a slight curve in there. But, whatever works.
  6. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    If I play with 2 or 3 I keep them not exactly straight but extended, I'm used to the lengths for string crossing and play with the pads across the strings rather than adjusting a curve from underneath.

    4 finger technique is a different animal altogether though, lots of curvature but you work on locating the whole hand for string crossing there.
  7. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    My hand looks like a "h" and I think it should look like this when you use the floating thumb. Every fingers are the same lengh and every fingers are ready to be used. Also it helps a lot to mute your string without using your fretting hand or thumb like many pop/rock/punk players.

    Attached Files:

  8. ZanaZulu807


    Aug 6, 2007
    I notice the majority of bass players play using their second knuckles, I find for me it adds a bit more speed and power to play from the first. However, I do try to employ the second knuckle technique just to kinda experiment and see what the buzz is about. My hand position when I play tends to look like an upside down peace sign. That is, my thumb is curled in underneath my index and middle to give the second knuckles a bit more use, while keeping both fingers pretty straight; it's very useful for flying across all strings. I don't use anchors generally cause it feels pretty clumsy to me having your thumb on a pickup above the E or B while trying to pluck the D and G. I try the Floating Thumb every now and then, but eventually go back to what I generally do and just float.

    IMO though, there is no technique worth trying to copy as when you devote time trying to learn somebody else's way, you lose time from perfecting and honing your own technique. Just try to get a good/strong tone, try to play as fluid as possible, but overall just be comfortable. All else doesn't matter...
  9. This is exactly what I do.....I also float the thumb...best unlearning/learning thing I ever did. Only I use my right hand:D
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    As a rule the fingers being used should have enough curl in them so the joints even up the fingertips in other words level. There is a certain falacy that the hand needs to change angle to level out the finger tips, or use the longer finger to play 1st or 2nd string so you do not have to stretch so much with the other finger etc..
    Truth is when the correct amount of curl is used, then the fingertips will be level.

    If you can learn to swing from the middle knuckle, rather than the large first one ( from the wrist ) then you will find a better angle of attack because it is steeper going in between the strings and coming out. When we swing from the large knuckle, especially with straighter fingers, the arc is flatter and the tendency is to brush strings either side as the fingers go in and out between the strings. Sometimes the nail will catch the string because the shallow attack needs the tops of the fingers or it will catch the string to thick or sometimes even trap the finger from coming out smooth.

    As for tucking in the fingers not being used, i say tuck them in, as it gives the playing finger better momentum, especially if it is the fore and middle finger playing and the ring and little finger tucked in. In a regular hand, just tucking in the little finger will bring the ring finger on with it. As a learning aid to teach the hand how to do this, simply hold a pick or a small coin in the crook of the little finger and that will bring in the ring finger.
    Bear in mind depending on the health of the hand, results will vary at the start but the long term results will basically be the same for all.

    Floating thumb or fixed anchor? Floating thumb gives the wrist a better postition to play because of the reduced angle over fixed anchor. In floating thumb the hand is flatter to the strings so the wrist angle is straighter. In fixed anchor ( or any of the thumb anchor positions ) the thumb is behind the fingers as a rule so the wrist arches back to the strings to allow the fingers to reach them. depending on the bass and the height etc, this will vary, but as a rule floating thumb has a straighter wrist position than fixed.

    Consider the elbow as important as the wrist in helping the wrist find its position, a bad elbow position can put extra bend into the wrist, and a good one can take some out.

    As usual we all have different ranges of motion due to our lives and health, but these are just a few of the more beneficial areas to look in helping you hands stay healthy and improve technique.
  11. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    I play with an anchored thumb. My ring and pinky are used as mutes on the E and A strings when I'm playing on the B and G. When not being used for muting, they're curled slightly under my palm.

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