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Need help developing 3 fingered plucking technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Gobnoof, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. Hey, I've been playing bass for about 5/6years now, and am up to a good standard playing with pick and 2 fingers. I've been trying for a while to progress to playing with 3 fingers on my right hand but am having trouble developing strengh in my ring finger. I've tried a number of different exercises/approaches but just can't get the hgang of it. I was wondering if anyone out there who plays with 3 fingers might lend some advice on how they got started with 3 fingers and if they have any methods/techniques/exercises to reccomend?
  2. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Practice slowly, listening out for even tone.
    Did I say " practise slowly...?"
    The other thing is" be patient and focused whilst you practise.
    There are also some good videos on youtube-gary willis.
  3. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Are you trying to do triplets like Les Claypool style? Really the best way is just to practice playing scales or whatnot using your ring, middle, pointer finger in that order. You don't want to use 3 fingers all the time, usually it's normal 2 finger pluck and you use the 3rd finger for triplets (sometimes I 2 finger pluck with ring + pointer when I'm playing a tough part and my fingers get tired).
  4. Try this, worked for me:
  5. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    NYC vicinity
    I added my third right hand finger at age 15 after one year of playing. The principles of practice should be virtually the same as for a two fingered attack. But I can recommend one specific exercise: Practice the 3 finger attack to a repeating loop of a 4/4 bar of continuous sixteenth notes. This is because often times (depending on the riff) each time the riff repeats you'll be starting on a different finger, making a total of three attack combinations for the same riff. Your aim is to work towards rhythmic, volume, and tonal eveness, which becomes a little harder to do wth three fingers than with two. Another exercise you can do is pedal eighth notes with only the third finger just to build up strength and stamina to "catch up" with the first two fingers. I also prefer alternating between the first and third finger to do octaves, so you might wish to wood shed some "disco" type octave-oriented bass lines as well.

    In all actuality though, I generally avoid using three fingers except for very fast things that I need "warp drive" for, or for a rhythmic pattern that syncs up better with three fingers than two. But eighty percent of the time I prefer two because of the overall eveness. In slow ballads I even prefer just one finger (or the other), again for consistency.
  6. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    What, Jaco didn't play fast enough with two fingers? Kidding, kinda. I use 4 at different points, alla Garrison, but usually just two.

    Simple point. Work on groups of four with three fingers, groups of three with two fingers.

    Also, watch how you roll your fingers on a desk- the hand wants to move ring-mid-index. This is the best modality for three finger stuff.

    BTW, besides triplets and the gallop for metal, my ring finger only gets used for muting most of the time...
  7. 0--+LoveBass


    May 11, 2007
    Ithaca Ny
    I cut my finger once and that helped me develop it. Taping you first and middle finger together my help you.
  8. I only use it for triplets, and I only learned it to play other's songs. Two great songs to learn triplets on are The Toys Go Winding Down by Primus and The Trooper by Iron Maiden. Or anything else by iron maiden :D
  9. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    Like LoveBass, I developed this technique due to an injury. I had a splinter in my fretting hand index finger that got badly infected, and my finger swelled up like a bratwurst. I was on antibiotics and couldn't even touch it. I had never thought about using my ring finger, but had to use it that night. By the end of the night, it felt fairly natural, and I have been using it ever since.

    I don't, however, recommend this method to learn the technique....
  10. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    This is good advice. :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:

    However, one can choose to use three a lot. I even use 3 on the upright, for certain styles. Music and one's own hands drive it, no?

    I'd advise going for good facility with three fingers and then seeing when your musical ideas take you.

    I use 1 a lot, or 3 a lot, rarely only 2. :ninja:

    ps I sometime use 2 together as 1 on upright, an old old old school way to get more sound.
  11. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    NYC vicinity
    +1 I hope I didn't imply that there should be any restrictions at all when using three fingers, or that three should necessarily be used sparingly, but only wanted to indicate my personal preferences. YMMV. I agree with you that it's the combination of the music, style, and player that will determine when or when not to use three fingers, or whichever finger attack combinations are best.

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