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Playing chords with a fingerstyle technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by metdistortion, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. metdistortion


    Aug 13, 2008
    I am working on mastering bass chords, trying to take advantage of them to create a fatter sound (a la Lemmy Kilmister) which would be useful in filling space in the metal trio I am currently in. But I can only play my best with a fingerstyle technique.

    Playing along with some Motorhead tracks, I found it difficult to play Chords with just my fingers, floating thumb style. If I was to play the occasional chord, I would usually just sweep my index finger up the strings I am using. But this wasnt possible when playing Chords in an aggressive, fast style.

    I don't want to use a pick, as I would like to use my fingers, as most songs only use chords for small sections, if any. So I tried switching to using my thumb for chords, which lacked the same amount of attack, and didnt feel right. I then tried using my fingernails (as if playing with an invisible pick), which felt better, but still felt awkward and apparently isn't good for fingernails.

    So do you guys have any techniques that I could use, or ways in which I could improve my fingerstyle chord approach. Thanks in advance:D
  2. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    "thumb chords" suck, keep that index sweeping, and playing all the notes at the same time with all the fingers you need for the chord... that's the bestpossible choice, IMHO
  3. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I find Les Claypool's technique to be really good for playing chords (strumming with the fingers)
  4. metdistortion


    Aug 13, 2008
    Yeah I agree that's the best way to play chords normally. But it doesn't work when playing chords in fast succession, like the way Lemmy does on motorhead songs such as Killed By Death.
  5. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    i use a flamenco-esque technique (i was doing it before i knew geddy did something similar) to play chords.

    it works well for me - basically strum the chords with as many fingers as you want (i use all four). using the nails sounds best, but to go faster use both sides of the finger. it's not comfortable at first, but it gets a lot easier
  6. erix


    Sep 24, 2005
    Washington DC
    Strumming could be a good technique for you to try.

    Other solution would be to consider using effects to make your sound fatter, without changing your playing style.
  7. i say stick with the flamenco technique (fanning the fingers out)
  8. I use a sort of folkish strumming technique, using the thumb, inside of the index, and nail of the index. I find the nail of the index works as an accent for downbeats, and between accents I just go between thumb and inside index.

    This folk style strumming also puts the hand in the perfect position for finger picking as well (t, i, m, r). Which in turn allows the ability to incorporate finger picking while strumming, and a good position for right hand sweeping.

    I find that the les claypool style strumming is hard to articulate accents the same way, as there's only inside fingers and nails going back and forth, so you end up with a lot of clacking when it doesn't sound good.
  9. ShawnStones


    Nov 24, 2008
    I do my stumming with my index finger and thumb clinched together as if i'm holding a pick, just strumming like i would if i had a pick, using the tip of my index finger as the pick. I stole this from Ryan of Mudvayne. You can find many youtube videos of them. look for videos of "Not Falling", he's strumming the entire intro.
  10. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I'll pluck with the thumb and whatever fingers I need most of the time, but that's one kind of sound. Flicking the fingers downward so the back of the nails hit them works well but it's not as agressive as you might need sometimes. So, you might try Stephen Stills' guitar approach. He holds his first finger and thumb together just as if he had a pick between them. He hits the guitar strings that way and the thumb backing up the first finger gives it more force than just hitting it with either the nail of the finger or the fat of the thumb.

    Also, if you haven't done some of these techniques much, you don't have callosues there- and the hardness of the callous can help with the sound you're after.

  11. Alduroth


    Mar 3, 2009
    I use the les claypool way for a chord in 1 note.
    (easy to practice when you play too many puppies by primus I believe)
    If I got the question right.
    If I play a chord along several notes (like a sweep of some sort)
    I just use thumb or alt. finger picking.

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