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Pinky vs Ring on the fretboard

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Evolmonster, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    Hiya guys

    I was watching another band the other day, and I noticed that the bassist didnt use his pinky finger on the fretboard at all.
    he favoured his other three hingers, uing the ring finger to stretch up the frets.

    That got me thinking. I NEVER use my ring finger!

    I use my index and middle finger most of the time, and my pinky to stretch up the board.
    My pinky is really strong now, and the skin between the joint at the end is rock hard!

    Is this bad technique? Should I get rid of this habbit and use my ring finger?

    opinions please
  2. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    No. The other guy should do it your way.
  3. TL5


    Jun 27, 2005
    My default position is middle finger on the root/1, which puts the index ready for the third and pinky on the 5 with no hand movement.
    That said, I can and will use all fingers, whatever is smoother and easier, whether it's proper technique or not.
  4. eighrule


    Nov 19, 2008
    its not bad technique, its your style, personally i find that using all of my fingers opens up more options for the following nots

    just personal style
  5. Evol-
    You might want to consider time and 'learning curve' before you get started. Last year I started taking lessons, and this included correcting some poor technique and other bad habits. I had to do a lot of woodshedding to where I became comfortable using the new positions and fingerings correctly.
    If you're happy with your playing and style, you might want to factor in training time and what you hope to gain out of a new technique.
  6. I use 1-2-3 or 1-2-4 depending on the notes needed. It's needlessly limiting to not use any certain finger.
  7. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    No, 1-2-4 is not bad technique. This is a standard double bass fingering that is very effective on electric bass, particularly in lower positions. Search for "Simandl fingering" and you will find plenty of information on this technique.
  8. + something.

    What you're using is known as 1-2-4 or double-bass technique. You use index, middle and pinky (backed by ring). It may be limiting in some situations where using all fingers would be preferable but it's a perfectly legitimage and widely used technique.

    No decent teacher would tell to use 1-2-3 only, like that other guy is using.
  9. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    on db use ring and pinky together. at least that's the way i was taught in the olden days.:)
  10. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    I don't use my pinky finger enough. Sometimes I will find that, while playing, I have actually curled it under the neck to get it out of the way. Not only is that stupid, but it also puts unnecessary strain on my muscles. In my case it is definitely bad technique. I am 6'2" and have pretty long fingers, so I can get by with only using three, but I am working on kicking the bad habits.
  11. Memitim


    Mar 30, 2009
    Orange City, FL
    Thinking about it, the only times that I've been using my ring finger is for 7ths and when running through scales. May have to find some chords that incorporate the ring finger to give it some more practice. I guess those of us with average or small hands just automatically favor the pinky since the stretch would otherwise be ridiculous. :)
  12. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    On bass I usually use 1, 2, 4. 3 when I HAVE to, otherwise it's just chilling with pinky.

    On guitar I avoid my pinky whenever possible.
  13. Bardley


    Nov 16, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    My first bass teacher was primarily a DB player and this is how he taught me for electric. I didn't stick to it exclusively. It was too limiting on electric.
  14. I haven't been playing for too long (about 2 years on and off), but I've made ENORMOUS progress when I recently discovered the pinky was actually worth something...
    So you should be glad you started the correct way haha

    The only time I don't use it is with higher notes (like 15+ frets, my bass has 2 octaves) where I find it easier to reach the strings just with 1 2 3. But that rarely happens anyway, especially with the songs I'm playing atm
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I use all 4 fingers. I don't get not using all 4 fingers. Simandl fingering is a little more necessary on upright because their necks are giant compared to electric bass necks. I have tiny tiny hands, and yet I can do a 5 fret stretch with 4 fingers on a 34" scale bass.
  16. adube810


    Mar 6, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    ive found the best way is to use all 4 fingers, and to use my middle finger as my center go to finger for position shifts so i always have the outside fingers available to move to. this is kinda hard though and takes some thinking when your doing it but it pays off over time. also i have found that when i have my hand in a 1, 5, 8 position, i use my pinky and index for the 5 and 8 individually, opposed to barring with my pinky, but i think thats just prefrence
  17. Evolmonster


    Dec 1, 2008
    Ok cool. Cheers guys.

    Seems like I am doing it correctly, but could do with working up the strength in my ring finger and using it a bit more.

    Thanks for all the input!
  18. VisualShock


    Feb 19, 2008
    North Wales
    I go with a finger-per-fret, which seems to work well, however, the way i play Dani California means i've got my index on third fret, ring on fifth fret, and pinky on 7th...

    big hands... *shrug* from the end of my thumb to the end of my pinky when they're spread out is just over 10 inches :D
  19. I use all 4 fingers on my left hand as well. It's good to challenge yourself sometimes, say to consciously try to use a different finger pattern for a riff that you play all the time. Funnily enough, I use 3 fingers on my right hand as well, being a finger style player. It takes a little getting used to, and some time to build up strength in it, but if you can get to a stage where you can play 16th/32nd notes with the 3 fingers on your right hand, You can do pretty much anything.

    For the record, I rarely hit 32nd notes, they are freakin hard! :D
  20. Sijjvra


    Mar 31, 2009
    I literally can not comfortably or practically use my pinky finger, as my fingers are so short and my hands so small that in order to use it, I have to twist my wrist in a way that would probably encourage a really bad sprain.

    However ;) I get along just fine with pointer-ring finger. A lot of people would complain this is not "proper" but then again a lot of people take their long, big bassist hands for granted too.

    In short: Can you play well with the fingers you do use on the fretboard? Is it comfortable and most healthful to you? If yes - then there you go. If you think you -can- master the four finger fret board technique, go for it too. Up to you.

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