# Plucking when playing repeating patterns with an odd number of notes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by serggusak, Jun 26, 2019.

1. ### serggusak

Jun 26, 2019
I'm trying to always alternate my fingers as I pluck. When I'm repeatedly playing the same pattern with an odd number of notes in it, the order of fingers changes each time. That gets things messed up for each second, fourth, etc. round.

I saw a video on YouTube where the teacher says that to play fast you need to keep your plucking consistent - to pluck the same note with the same finger each time. But this is impossible for the odd-numbered patterns without using the same finger twice at some point.

What is the solution? Persevere with the pure alternate picking and altering the order of fingers for the odd and even rounds? Mix one rake in to return to the same finger (this is possible only when going down)? Always start from the same finger by pluck the last note of the previous round and the first note of the second round with the same finger, which means plucking with the same finger twice?

2. ### charlie monroeGold Supporting Member

Feb 14, 2011
Buffalo, NY
Strictly alternating is the fastest and cleanest technique in 99 percent of situations.

3. ### viper4000

Aug 17, 2010
Charlotte
Everyone solves this problem their own way. Some play with only one finger. If this were me, hypothetically, if the line ended with the index finger, I would probably restart with the index finger. I tend to be a one finger player, and add the middle finger when needed. Nothing wrong with going for pure alternating though. That may lend well to fluidity in your playing. I would think to woodshed it, you would really need to learn to play the lick two different ways. One, leading with the index and alternating, and the other leading with the middle and alternating. Once you have them down individually, combine them.

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4. ### Groove Doctor

Feb 23, 2009
Sydney, Australia
Play the notes with whichever finger is next in your alternating pattern. Works equally well for 2, 3, & 4-finger alternating patterns that I play with.

5. ### enricogaletta

May 21, 2011
In my opinion, everyone finds out the own way to reach the goal of alternated fingers.
Trying to reach this goal following equally somebody else approach won't bring to the result perhaps could make obtain the inversion result.
I always teach to my student a simple rule " no matter how, try to alternate as much you can", it doesn't matter which finger you start first, if you close the eyes, your tone is good, you're right on tempo and you are also alternate your fingers, you're on the right path.
In a real scenario, not when you study at home but when you play with your band, in the 90% of the time you follow your gut, this means that you will alternate every single note hardly. If you could get 80% of them, you already got an important achievement.
Alternating everything is important but is a result you will gain time after time, don't worry if some note is not played metrically alternated, the real target of alternating is to be able to play naturally in each scenario of tempo, style, and bassline, possibly with zero effort. That's the real goal you need to reach.
Dynamics are also important, in my opinion playing too strong isn't always a good thing, because you sacrifice, tone, accuracy, speed, and timing. A good medium and constant touch is everything you need.
If you need more help just let me know.
Ciao. Enrico

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6. ### bassrique

Nov 27, 2007
Florida / New York
I practice odd groupings as they are great training. Octave paradiddles are something I warm-up with.

If I find myself practicing a groove and my plucking fingers end up doing the same thing every time I start with the other finger.

In a band situation I'll play the music anyway it comes out.

Their drills were bloodless battles; their battles bloody drills.

Feb 16, 2005
I agree. If it doesn’t sound the same, regardless of which finger starts, then you haven’t mastered the number one requirement for this: both fingers must sound the exact same when alternating.

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8. ### albertus

Jan 26, 2016
I add to the ones that say "persevere". parctice slow and it will come natural after a while.

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9. ### vindibona1

I think the words in bold above are a little vague and easily miscontrued. Could you be misconstruing what the video teacher means in this statement...
I would interpret that statement to mean to do it the same way each time, but does not exclude starting a phrase or pattern with the index and practicing it for consistency, then going back and starting with the middle finger and doing the same so you can start with either finger. But when you do so the plucking pattern will be identical (to itself) each time you start with one finger. Then be identical each time (again to itself) when you start with the other finger. Often times we end up starting with one finger or another and have to continue seamlessly. Being able to play a passage, run, riff or pattern easily, starting either with middle or index, I believe, is key to being a fluid and versatile player.

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10. ### buldog5151bassKibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

Oct 22, 2003
Connecticut
The only time I don't use alternating is when I am playing repeated groups of 3, like with Barracuda.

Several years ago, I broke my right index finger, so spend several months without being able to use that finger, so I am more comfortable starting with either index or middle now.

11. ### Malcolm35Supporting Member

After several years of following the alternate finger "rules" my fingers started deciding which would get the next note. I let them and good things happened.

About this same time my fretting fingers started deciding which finger would get the next note. OFPF normally works, but, is not cast in stone.

As long as you get the note and the music does not go off and leave you, IMO you've done what needs doing. Now giving control to my fingers did not happen over night. It took awhile. So, chill out and just play - see if your fingers are ready to take over, if so let the fingers decide.

This is coming from a hobby bassists that played with good ole boy bands for over 25 years. If you do not fit into that category take what I said with a grain of salt.

Happy trails.

Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
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12. ### vindibona1

I would like to respectfully point out that first you learned the rules... then you learned how and when to break them. My experience is that before learning the rules, my fingers would go where they wanted, but when the tough passages came along... inaccuracy, wonky sound and chaos. The "rules" create order and a baseline from which to work out of. After that, fingering spontanaeity is like deciding to to alter tried and true cooking recipe where you can often make it better... but sometimes not .

13. ### bolophonic

Dec 10, 2009
Durham, NC
I do my best to optimize and choreograph all my bass moves and it depends entirely on what notes are involved. Once I “own” the bass line, I practice it the same way every time.