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Plucking technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rick Martin, May 20, 2001.

  1. I've been learning on my own for a little over a year from books and tapes. My playing sounds nice and fluid as far as I am concerned. I pluck the strings with my index and middle finger of my right hand and I alternate the fingers. I haven't really had to think much about my right hand technique for a long time and I do need to keep an eye on my fretting fingers.
    Over the past few weeks I have taken four lessons from a well qualified professional bass teacher. Right from the jump he objected to my right hand technique. He said I was reaching under the string with my finger tip and pulling up. It looks to me like I was pulling side to side, but I figure this guy knows his stuff. He showed me how he wants me to press down on the strings with my finger tip and then follow through to rest on the next string up. For example: pluck the A string with the index finger by pushing down on it and letting it roll off the finger tip and continue pushing that index finger tip firmly into the E string. He says this will get a better tone from the note and damp the next string up so it doesn't vibrate and muddy the sound. Makes sense, right? I buy into this and pretty much have to go back to the beginning to retrain my right hand to do it as he says. I practice like crazy, but for four lessons a week apart, all he wants to talk about is my plucking technique. I feel like I'm close enough and I sure as heck can't hear a difference in tone quality from how I am now plucking and the seemingly exagerated downward push and hard follow through to the next string that he keeps on about. I find it clumsy and tiring to play the way he wants me to and I definitely don't hear the difference. There are no other bass teachers in this town, but I'm not excited about taking a fifth hour long $25 lesson about right hand technique. What do you'se guys think?
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Your teacher is showing you what's more commonly known as rest stroke or apoyando (from classical guitar terminology). Rest stroke has a nice way of firming up your articulation as well as muting unused strings, but it's only one kind of right hand articulation. My advice: learn what your teacher is teaching, but not to the exclusion of the skills you've already developed.
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    If you like this teacher, I'd suggest having a talk with him...not to ream him out or anything, but rather to express to him what you've told us. The right hand technique is a very funny thing, and many players have subtle differences in the way they attack strings with the right hand. He's showing you his method and is trying to get you to perfect his way of doing things.

    That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, just something you need to be aware of. And, if you're having trouble perfecting this technique, you should communicate that with him. Tell him you've practiced this technique until you're blue in the face, but aren't getting it right. Maybe he can give you pointers.
  4. the thing to remember is that teachers tend to be a very good source of information and advice, but just like us all they will have a different approach and method of doing different things; the way in which they fret, pluck, slap, pop and so on.

    like RAM said, tell him/ her that u acept that your technique may need some developing, but also that 'you' pay the 25 dollars an hour, don't force this point. say that you want to incorporate the learning with something fun, thats how i learn with my teacher,

    as soon as you start enjoying yourself, your playing will benefit, and at the end of the day, if your sound is good, it won't matter how you approach it. thats how some of the best players got ther rep,and made a name for themselves. if we all played the same way , bass wouldn't move on
  5. I did talk to the guy about moving the lessons beyond the finger thing and he told me that since I wasn't serious about learning proper technique, I should look for another teacher. Case closed.
  6. Fatboy_Jim


    Oct 25, 2000
    he sounds like an incredibly big ********* if you don't mind me saying
  7. MetalAbrahm

    MetalAbrahm Guest

    Well... That's pretty crappy of a teacher. He sounds like he thinks he's too good. Using different techniques is good and all. But as long as you're comfortable and it sounds ok, do want you want.
    I do exactly what you do and I'm doing okay.
  8. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Rick Martin, as I was reading the opinions of the other folks in this thread, I almost could've told you that would happen with your teach. There is no way to tell a teacher something like that and have him not say and do what he did. I personally have never taken a "lesson," but I know plenty of people that have and they all have at least one story like yours. My experience with some of the musicians in my area is that there is only ONE way to do something -- THEIR way, and their way of teaching is to mold you into a "Mini-Me" of themselves.
  9. Pau


    Dec 8, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I don't know how good is your teacher but I feel that you should better try to find a "music teacher" instead of a "technique teacher". If you sounds good so as you can communicate something through your bass I don't understand why you should do it like he says. Technique is necessary but not the only thing in playing bass. And if he doesn't understand that I think you should leave him.

    PS: sorry about my poor english but I come from Spain and it's not easy for me to express properly.
  10. I wouldn't go so far as to call the guy an a**hole or anything, but he was sort of an egotisical know it all. The fact is, he really does know what he's talking about and is the only qualified teacher in this small town. It turns out he wasn't a good teacher for me though. I'm 46 years old and just started playing a year ago. I'm learning the bass for fun. Playing along with recordings and living room jams with my accoustic buddies is as far as I need to go. I practice throughout the day in twenty minute to half hour sessions and I'm very pleased with the results. My accoustic buds are real helpful in showing me the bass riffs to the songs we play. I did not hear a difference in sound quality between his method and mine. His plucking technique felt clumsy and unnatural to me and I worked with it for over a month. It started to be a drag and I wasn't practicing nearly as much. Now that I'm done with him, I be jammin again Mon! What I really want from a teacher is help figuring out bass lines to some of my favorite recordings. I like swinging blues, big band swing and Reggae music. I'd like to learn some of the principles and constants for bass in those styles.
  11. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    It sounds like your instructor was a real Jerk. It's funny I just started lessons and quess what we covered on the first lesson? The rest stroke. My instructor wasn't obssesed about it though and we covered other material in addition.
  12. I'm interested to hear about your lessons. I've had plenty of time to work with the rest sroke technique. It seems good for a slow tempo, but over like 125 bpm it seems clumsy for me. I sure as heck can't hear a difference in tone quality like the teacher claimed he could. He may have been full of BS on that tip. Who knows? What else is your teacher talking about?
  13. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    I had some knowledge before I started and still have some books I reference through out the week. But we have been focusing on chord construction in the key of C and the Mixolydian scale to get the C7 chord. Also, we've been doing chord progressions through the C major scale. There is a lot because of the way certain chords sound relative to each other. We also covered a couple of left hand finger exercises. They're pretty good IMO.
    I think there is a slight difference in tone with the rest stroke than the free stroke. The rest stroke cuts down on excessive string vibration and you have to pluck harder to get your finger to rest on the string above. Anyway, If you'd like I could try to transcribe some of the stuff I learned. Man, that guy was an a$$.
  14. Funny you should mention the E string. This is where he would would stop my playing and lecture me about the rest stroke. He was emphatic about plucking the E string and then having the finger tip make solid contact with the edge of the pick up. I've spent plenty of time watching my right hand technique and I'm definitely not pulling up on the strings. My finger tip is pulling them side to side with a slight downward motion. Now that I'm done with the teacher, practice is fun once again.

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