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Plucking hand speed & tone: can we learn from spanish guitar player?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by plarry, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    A big +1 to exploring other guitar techniques.......after we play bass guitar, the point is it is a guitar that plays bass.
  3. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I played 5 string banjo for a couple of years. It seemed to help. I never used my right hand ring finger on bass until then.
  4. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    There's another vid from the same guy that I've found really useful. Make sure you don't always start from the same finger (of the plucking hand, of course...)

    Thanks for your input, guys!
  5. I definitely think there's benefits to be gained from applying this kind stuff to bass guitar. In most respects, it IS a guitar, just with very large strings, and therefore many techniques should carry over, or be adaptable to it, and I see no reason not to, if it works well.
  6. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Betcha Victor Wooten picked up part of his amazing right hand technique from Bela Fleck, yep.

    Actually, I remember him saying that in a magazine interview.
  7. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    Yep, I read that too. And when you watch them both carefully, it becomes pretty obvious.

    And yes, I can't see why we couldn't learn from a guitarist, a banjo player or any other artist, or... anybody! ;)

    Another nice vid from a guitar teacher, about stretches / warm-ups:

    Can seem a tad lengthy but I've found out that this preparation is not only very useful and effective but, for me, it has become a pleasant moment before I practice. And no more sore wrists, forearms, etc., so that's time well "invested"!

    Of course I don't do them all everytime I pick up the bass for 5 mns...
  8. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Whoa, look at how fast he goes at the end there. Why can't we shred that fast :crying:

    Notice how he doesn't rake though.
  9. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    1. Our strings are much bigger.
    2. We don't want to.
    3. Most of us haven't been practicing 26 hours/day since we stopped being breast-fed.

    Simple as that! ;)
  10. IdolWorkshop


    Nov 18, 2012
    Greetings. I was perusing threads for tips on techniques when this one caught my eye. I'm new to bass (February 2012), coming from a mediocre guitar background which included formal study in classical guitar.

    My first inclination is to answer the topic's question with NO.

    I suppose there are some aspects which can be applied meaningfully, but the central theme of the first video is 'stabbing' the strings - pushing down before release. It is this specific training that is causing me some grief on the bass. It's long ingrained habit I need to unlearn. While not unacceptable for all purposes, it's not working out as a general technique because of noisy slap against high frets and sometimes even contact with the pickups when getting too jiggy.

    I've come to appreciate that these are radically different instruments requiring correspondingly different techniques. The pertinent difference here is action. A nylon string guitar is architected with ridiculously high action, intentionally. It's just something you become accustomed to, but it supports a stabbing style beautifully.

    By contrast, the bass not only has lower action in the worst case, but the bigass floppy cables you call strings easily displace a significant distance. If I lapse into classical plucking muscle memory, my lines sound terrible with all the metallic atonal clicking. It's not so bad on my Rickenbacker which has relatively high action, but it dominates the sound on my cheapie Yamaha (which is otherwise a more playable instrument).

    As I've looked around, I see a variety of styles amongst great players, but push down stabbing seems absent. Stanley Clarke seems to orient at an angle and brush/sweep on faster runs. I saw Geddy Lee last night, he was predominantly pulling the strings in a vertical motion. I'm sure the many accomplished bass players can school me on who does stab and how it can be used to advantage, but even as a noob I have to advise caution.
  11. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
  12. I guess using a stabbing motion will be somewhat dependent on the action and general playability of the bass in question, but it works well enough on my Jazz bass, without excessive noise, and I actually like it. Then again, I'm using fairly heavy, higher tension strings, and a less than super low action.
  13. IdolWorkshop


    Nov 18, 2012
    Maybe you have 'the touch' to make it work. I wish it would work for me, since I'd be at least months ahead in getting basics down. It was a lot of work (several decades ago) to master a relatively heavy hand with the poke to get good intonation on a nylon string, as compared to finger plucking a steel string acoustic. I always sucked at steel string plucking but worked hard to get clean strokes on nylon; the same thing (minus nails) does not seem to translate well to bass.

    I'm not sure of the intention behind posting this video:
  14. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Of course you can shred ! You just need to understand what you do and step up your game a lot ... most people here only play rock style of music where you don't have any technical virtuosity.

    Start listening at 3:00 through 5:00

    So in all, yes you can, you just have to listen to music that have that kind of virtuosity.
  15. IdolWorkshop


    Nov 18, 2012
    That was an interesting set of videos. The first one took me up a few notches, that was excellent to the point of absurd. Just a matter of personal taste but why throw virtuoso talent at something with mandatory gutteral trash-the-cords-trying-to-reproduce-an-octaver vocals? Real demons don't need to develop polyps to make an offensive noise. Just sayin...

    So, the player in the first video uses sweep almost exclusively in an incredibly fluid manner. But this is virtually the opposite of the cited style of the classical guitarist, in which every note in the scale is intoned by a sharp, discrete stab at the string. The comment you replied to was:

    "Notice how he doesn't rake though."

    Exactly. Can this technique be of value for shredding on a bass? Not that I can tell. But I hold out hope that someone like SquierJazz72 can educate me on whatever subtle difference is needed to make use of it. I would be able to leverage something natural I've already acquired versus setting the metronome to 20bpm and taking baby steps... just to be able to play with fingers (period) on the Yamaha.
  16. IdolWorkshop


    Nov 18, 2012
    I see I'm not the only one with clacking problems because of this same thing.


    The relevance to this thread is, a stabbing technique useful for playing another stringed instrument may not translate so well to bass. A considerably lighter touch is needed to pull this off with lower action, somewhat paradoxical given the string mass and size. I believe SquierJazz72, but I also think it's right to be cautious in pursuing it for the same reason that using the sole of a shoe isn't necessarily a good pick choice for bass even though it's nearly the case for contrabass balalaika:


    I do applaud getting well-rounded exposure outside the narrow realm of one's chosen instrument. This thread struck a chord, so to speak, about being careful in transferring specifics like technique. Not that anyone is going to adjust their playing to sound worse, obviously; it either helps or it doesn't depending on the setup and the individual.

    I'm coming from "it doesn't work" and I'd like to escape a rut which was once a proper operating principle in a different context.
  17. My bass set up is pretty typical of a Fender Jazz bass, since I always use the Fender specs as a baseline and adjust from there. I have raised the action just slightly above spec since I play pretty hard, but it's not overly high at all. Still pretty close to a stock Jazz. The pick ups are slightly lower than spec, again just to keep them out of my way. Plus the heavy strings I use are likely less easily displaced than a lighter set, but I wasn't experimenting with this when I had lighter strings on the bass, so I have no basis for comparison.

    As far as the technique, I rest my thumb on the neck pick up and push the strings straight towards the body pretty hard, with very little vertical motion, just enough movement to get my finger out of the way and keep the string from possibly vibrating against my fingernail, but my fingers almost come to rest on the pickguard after a stroke, as opposed to a vertical pluck coming to rest on the string above.

    It's useful. Probably not a technique I would use all the time, but it does give a nice snap to the notes and, to my ears, sounds just slightly different than my regular plucking, so I can see where I probably will find uses for it.
  18. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    There's a lot of variability among classical guitarists, bass guitarists and their techniques. Ignoring that and painting with a broad brush, here are some things that I've found, in my personal experience, are transferrable from one instrument to the other, and some that are not.

    Generally transferrable:

    (1) Straight but relaxed right-hand wrist.

    (2) Using movement primarily at the big knuckle of the finger (where it meets the hand) for power; collapsing joints for a softer sound.

    (3) Rest strokes for tone production and muting purposes.

    (4) Planting fingers in advance.

    (5) Using and practicing various right hand finger combinations for speed and string crossings.

    (6) "Floating" right hand -- depending on circumstances.

    Generally not transferrable:

    (1) Using nails for tone production.

    (2) Pushing down and releasing the string.

    (3) "Floating" right hand -- depending on circumstances.
  19. Probably not the best example/vid of willis to use for that type of comparative analysis since he is palm muting the majority of that vid hence the crab like position, but you are right his attack does go across the string
  20. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    Hey! really interesting insights here! Thanks, Guys.