1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Paying attention to giving equal duties to the right hand index and middle finger

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by William Duran, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. William Duran

    William Duran

    Jan 29, 2018
    Conway, AR
    I've recently started watching and thinking about my right hand beyond just "letting the fingers decide" and have noticed some sloppy tendencies.

    Ideally, I would like for my index and middle finger to be used 50/50 when playing a style where they are both necessary (fingerstyle funk). Realistically, I often find myself raking down strings with my index or playing a line which finishes on an index finger pluck and then frantically (in a muscle memory sense, I don't *think* about this unless focused in practice) jumping over a string with the same finger to hit the next note in the groove. These two situations are both ones in which I find more control over the note's attack/accuracy by ensuring the middle finger is called into action.

    These "hiccups" don't happen when I'm playing consistently on a single string, I mostly notice them when switching strings or shedding scales/arpeggios in quirky permutations at high speeds (at which point, I slow them down!)

    It isn't a difficult concept, but the "finger independence" a la limb independence when drumming has been overlooked in my practice. I would guess this leaning more on the index comes from the difference in length of the two digits, along with the obvious cultivation of "dirty" habits over the years of practice focusing on other facets of my playing.

    One exercise I've been using to help with this came from a guitar forum, apparently the user's dad saw Al di Meola do this as a warmup backstage before a show. I'm not a tab star but the exercise is just played in straight 8ths, once the pattern clicks you can do it in any direction (higher frets to lower, starting on the G string and working to E). In the front of my mind when practicing this is to alternate fingers for each note. For me, it takes some thinking, but has helped greatly.

    "Rippling pyramid manuver"

    E: 1---2---3----4
    A: ---1---2----3-
    D: ------1----2--
    G: ---------1----
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  2. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Then work on broken scale in a block of 4 frets over 4 strings

    Like do a G scale in 6th and don’t forget you can only use fret 2 to 5 on all four string to do it
    Seanto and Fergie Fulton like this.
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
  4. William Duran

    William Duran

    Jan 29, 2018
    Conway, AR
    Thanks for the detailed response. I see what you mean about finger lengths when playing,

    If I sat down with every piece I worked on and picked apart my RH, I wouldn't be making much useful progress. It knows better than I ever could. Glitches in specific scenerios are what I've been laying flat and thinking about (verse groove in John Taylor's "Rio" bassline and Jaco's "Come on, come over" for example) in order to give the 16ths their stylistic dues. With these style lines I find that generally a consistent two-finger alternating pluck gives me the best note consistency. I do agree like you said that the fingering is not identifiable in a recording; I find that sometimes breaking down fingerings helps ME sound more like the recordings :rolleyes:

    With etudes, whatever comes out, comes out, and typically works well. And with slower blues and walking charts (Equinox, off the top of my head) I usually find using any more than one finger to just be uncomfortable.

    I played tuba as my formative instrument through junior & high school, and was somewhat infamous with my various private lesson teachers for being quite neurotic with technical concepts that served more often as a distraction from the music than insights. Not necessarily the case here, but I'll be thinking about overanalyzing what I'm practicing later today when I get back to it.

    "...look at the technique but let the music you play define its use." amen!
    gebass6 and Fergie Fulton like this.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    Analysis is good, it helps reinforce what we do, its another level of understanding that supports our skills...as you say over analysis gets in the way by leading us to work on things that are not issues.

    Check out the link, the info is all relevant, but how relevant it is to any one player depends on them.

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    Oddly likes this.
  6. Bahjark


    May 30, 2018
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  7. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I use 2 fingers, index/middle. But I try not to use them equally. I play mostly musical theater pits. Some times in a fast technical passage I find that using only the first finger somehow cleans up the phrase (Jamerson only used one finger, maybe that's why). Additionally, I find that having a smaller callous on my middle finger allows me to make better soft quiet attacks when that is needed.
    gebass6 likes this.
  8. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    I used to obsess about how fast I could get with two fingers, then I found Robert DeLeo of STP whose favorite bassist was Jamerson. If you listen to DeLeo's work, it often seems to come directly from Motown. This got me into Jamerson and my quest to playing everything with one finger, when applicable. Then there's Tim Commerford of RATM who tries to play everything with one finger (except for the slap, of course). My point is that I would warn you not to obsess over the right hand for too long. Yes, there are times when speed is necessary, so two (or three) fingers make sense, but I also believe there is a lot of style, personality, and feeling that goes into playing this instrument. So, first, be you. The right hand will find its way. However, if you are just starting out, speed might be a good skill to learn right now. After all, you have to know the rules before you can break them. The first rule is there are no rules. The second is to ignore everything I say on this website.
    JRA likes this.
  9. What you are doing is actually more difficult than alternate fingers.
    It seems you have an inbalance and you feel uncomfortable when plucking with the middle finger.
    Just practice only with the middle finger until it gets stronger, then the alternancy would come naturally.

Share This Page