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Michael and Steve -- Ring finger, ringing strings

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by kimstevens, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    Hi Michael and Steve,

    I have been wondering if you use the 3rd (ring) finger of your right hand in any kind of systematic way. I have been reading Gary Willis' website, and his exercises are really good; I just wonder if you have a different approach to the 3rd finger. For example, Gary says that he uses the 3rd finger mainly when crossing to higher strings (though I assume he uses finger 1 or 2 immediately after having played with finger 3, even if he is crossing to yet another higher string).

    Another question, if you don't mind: I recently purchased an inexpensive 6 string in order to explore it, and it seems to me that no matter what technique one uses, problems of string dampening occur with a magnitude far greater than on a 5 string (i.e., much more that 20% more ringing!). I'm wondering whether the ringing strings problem is a reason that Michael doesn't seem to play a 6 very much in performance.

    Thanks for any time replying,

  2. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Hi Kim,

    I guess I do use my third finger in a relatively systematic way, but it's a little hard to describe! Several years ago I learned to play standard pizzicato by cycling through index-middle-ring, but I didn't find many advantages to playing this way and the timbre differences bothered me a little, so these days I usually just alternate index and middle fingers for basic pizz. I tend to use my ring finger for fingerstyle chordal playing, for slap and when I want to do certain kinds of triplets. I also use it when I want a softer sound.

    I have looked into Gary's approach a bit and I think it's very cool. It's a great way to deal with the difficulties of string crossing. I'd love to learn it someday if I ever have the time!

    Muting on a six-string is considerably harder than on a four. I'm glad you're concerned about it though, because I've always been bothered by the sound of unnecessary string ringing. My basic approach is to mute the bottom two strings by keeping my thumb between them, the A string with my index, D with the middle, G with ring and C with pinky. That's all my fingers, though – I haven't figured out how to mute on a 7-string!

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