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lowest string repetition

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by kimstevens, Mar 19, 2004.


  1. kimstevens

    kimstevens

    Nov 12, 2002
    Hi Michael

    I have been working on my right hand plucking technique, and am trying to achieve the same speed and consistency of sound on the lowest string (e in my case) that I have on the other strings, which have the advantage of neighboring strings for the finger to stop on after each stroke. One thing I've been trying is positioning my thumb to use as a stop when playing on the e string; I am undecided on the merit of this approach. Do you have any suggestions, or do you think playing on the e string will always be a bit slower and more awkward?
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I have always found that playing on the bottom string a bit more difficult that the others for the reasons you mention. If I am not using my thumb to pluck a string, I tend to bury it into the wood between the pickups (you can tell by the wear mark on the bass). With my thumb in that position I am not moving it around a great deal. Any extraneous motions that I can eliminate from the process makes me more efficient, consistant, faster and cleaner. Give it a try and let me know. As an option you can rest your thumb on the pickup.

    Mike
     
  3. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    NJ
    Hi, I don't see any forum rules or FAQ specific to these "ask a pro" forums, so I don't know if it's appropriate for other folks to chime in on these threads. But I found this thread extremely strange and hope you don't mind me replying.

    It's strange to me because I have exactly the opposite problem you're discussing. When fingerpicking the higher strings, I find my finger coming to rest on the string below it can cause an undesirable percussive thumping. When playing the lowest string where there is no "backstop" for my picking finger to rest on, my fingers can swing freely without interference. Which allows me to dig in much harder to "open up the pickup" and get better tone without that horrid thump muddying up the clarity of each note.

    Of course this creates a problem with inconsistent picking sound across the strings. The only solution I've found is to use a lighter touch across the board, which is a double-edged sword because it doesn't allow me to open up the pickup by digging in. Using basses with wider string spacing helps, so I can play harder on the higher strings without as much thud.

    What's your take on this? Any suggestions that might help me dig in more on the higher strings without thud? TIA
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    MM - Thanks for you input. I can totally see and understand your plight. I have been an advocate, for years, of playing with a lighter touch and allow the amp to do the work. This isn't always best for all types of music but I find that it helps with speed, accuracy, intonation (as you are not bending strings out of tune), efficiency as well as health (no carpal tunnel, etc).

    Perhaps what you need to work on, if you choose to really dig in, is control. Practice picking exercises with the sole purpose of developing control over the picking hand. Shorten the length of movement - use only the motion needed and no more. This is difficult but the rewards will be worth it

    Mike
     
  5. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    I'm not sure what your amp settings are (or if you have an active bass, those settings) but it might be worth your while to attenuate the bass settings just a tad to get rid of the thump.

    And as a side note...

    I've been dealing with the same problem as you, and I can tell you, its an annoyingly difficult habit to break. Just keep at it and you'll get results.
     
  6. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    NJ
    Thanks for the replies. Mike, I'm aware of the advantages and all the good reasons for playing with a light touch... but it doesn't get the same sound as digging in. Maybe I'm just crazy asking somebody like yourself how to play better incorrectly. ;)

    FWIW, I've been practicing picking exercises, not only for control but also for conscious relaxation of my picking fingers/hand/arm. Which gives me better speed, control and stamina as a by-product. I've noticed great results from doing that, but they pretty much get thrown out the window when the drummer starts pushing tempos up to 230 bpm. Then I'm back to digging in with stiff fingers. I'll try what you suggested about shortening the length of movement along with the relaxation, thanks.

    Sock, if you don't already use it you might want to try the relaxation technique. Loose fingers don't get the same tone but the accuracy and control are improved. Oh, and glad to hear I'm not the only one. :D
     
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    MM -
    you've said a mouthful - the real key is being able to replicate what you so in practice when you are playing live. That seems to be your challange.

    As for Sock, the poor guy gets it from me every other week
     
  8. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    :rolleyes: lol