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Plucking with 3 fingers - bypassing anatomy?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kipsus, Mar 26, 2006.


  1. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    The topic itself has been discussed many times. But I haven't seen any good advices on how to actually get that ring finger moving independently from pinky and middle finger. How to get rid of that dangling pinky (Billy Sheehan doesn't seem to care about his pinky..) and make it mute or something else useful.
    I mean, those three fingers are tied together anatomically. Had a conversation with my brother (he's a palm surgeon) and he said that it is in theory impossible to be really good at moving all your fingers independently. That is, the tissue tying them together is almost non stretching. And any stretching will give modest results at best. And, well, there is also the operation. A surgeon can easily cut the unneeded bonds and then you'll be able to show "the middle finger" using your ring finger :)
    Back to stretching, there are a couple of articles about learning to pluck with four fingers and some simple stretching exercises. Or the trick with some fingers tied together and so on. I've tried all of these techniques for half a year but they're all quite ineffective and/or painful (no pain - no gain. too much pain in this case).
    Any ideas about relaxing plucking hand finger tendons without excessive stress or surgical intervention? Maybe some of you could share your personal experience?
    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    I found that using a standard reststroke technique left my pinky dangling and a bit sore. Curling your fingers under and using a freestroke technique, as well as plucking in this order- thumb, index, middle, ring (which combats the natural tendancy for your fingers to play a triplet feel when plucking ring-middle-index) made all the difference.

    Using a freestroke technique meant I didn't need to push so far with my ring, so the tendon doesn't pull on the pinky to follow it much at all. Also, curling the fingers under means less motion for the ring to go through so that you can maximize the independance that it does have.
     
  3. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Sweden
    My ring finger and middle finger are pretty much moving on the same time, it looks stupid if you look at me playing standing beside me but when standing in front of me it looks good...

    it looks like my index finger is working alone and the middle and ring
    together...
     
  4. ras1983

    ras1983

    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    If you watch billy sheehan footage, you will see his pinky move with his ring finger(could be old footage thought). same thing with the Ox, and possibly stanley clarke. Although stanley is just too bloody fast to see his fingers properly. But billy is the only one who seems to use three fingers regularly.

    What am i getting at? I don't know, but i also find it extremely difficult to play with three fingers.

    I will say that i think its possible to play just as fast with two fingers if you use the correct technical exercises. for example, my teacher cen play 32nds @ 120bpm and he only uses 2 fingers.that's 960 plucks per minute. if you can play 16ths @ 200 bpm using three fingers(which is bloody fast!) that's 800 plucks per minute.
     
  5. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    16ths at 200bpm :eek: This kind of speed requires special training I guess...
    Though Billy could handle it :)
     
  6. seequeue

    seequeue

    Feb 13, 2004
    I have a hard time believing your teacher can play 32nds at 120 bpm. Unless he's a freak of nature, I don't even believe it's possible for your anatomy to move that quickly using normal two finger plucking
     
  7. seequeue

    seequeue

    Feb 13, 2004
    It's not that hard. If you've ever just rapped your three fingers on a table, it's very similar to that. Try seeing how fast you can rap them in a r-m-i pattern, and that should give you an idea of how fast you can get. The hard part is if you're playing 16ths, is getting them to sound like a duplet meter instead of a triplet meter, which is what three finger technique naturally lends itself to
     
  8. ras1983

    ras1983

    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    you don't have to believe it. why would i possibly make such a thing up? i already mentioned that he stresses the importance of technical exercises specifically for the plucking hand.

    he's been playing for nearly 20 years, and he's a tutor at the victorian college of the arts as well as Melbourne University.
     
  9. seequeue

    seequeue

    Feb 13, 2004
    Practicing for long periods of time doesn't mean he can overcome basic anatomical restrictions
    i'd like to see a video of someone doing that
     
  10. ras1983

    ras1983

    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    what anatomical restriction are you referring to? as far as i know, no one has done any research on how fast someone can pluck with two or three fingers.

    the only anatomical restriction the oriniginal poster's brother spole of was independantly moving all three fingers, not how fast you can move them.

    i would love to know how fast jaco could play, because he was known to use 32nds and he did them well.
     
  11. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    Yeah, simple plucking of one string can be done at very high speeds indeed. But because of the natural limitations, doing the same with occasional string changes complicates situation IME. I mean, with two fingers you can go up or down relatively easily and without thinking, because the first two fingers are almost completely independent. Now, if you use your ring finger, there is basically only one pattern (r-m-i-r-m-i) that allows quick plucking. Now if you have to quickly go down (physically) and that happens when your next pluck is to be done with ring finger, then the finger has to be strraightened even more than usually. And though it is not very difficult with a bit of practice, it may complicate things when your fingers are tired or not stretched properly.
    Sorry if I am not making sense, I'm having a hard time explaining such things, especially in English :(
     
  12. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Why not incorporate the thumb? When soloing, I alternate thumb-index-thumb-middle and get play 16ths at 160. I've only been using this technique for 2 months so I'm sure it'll get even better in a year. I'm also trying to incorporate the ring finger as in p-i-p-m-p-a

    A buddy of mine does that and is up to 16ths at 175
     
  13. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Another technique for playing fast is using direction picking (sweep picking) This is where you allow a single finger to sweep across the strings when changing strings. Jaco did this all the time. I'm working on a technique where I use the thumb for going down and the index for going up and I can play all kinds of fast lines in 4ths and 5ths that would be extremely difficult with standard alternate plucking.
     
  14. ianlightsfires

    ianlightsfires

    Mar 7, 2006
    Your problem probably isn't finger independence.

    You don't need total finger independence to play with three or four fingers. The tendons don't force equivalent movements, they force slight compensatory movements. You shouldn't need to stretch or tie fingers together or anything; just practice normally on your bass.
     
  15. ianlightsfires

    ianlightsfires

    Mar 7, 2006
    This isn't really true... first, I change patterns depending on the piece; I use either r-m-i-r-m-i or r-m-i-m. When you use the middle finger, your ring finger moves closer to the string; depending on what string you are on, this theoretically makes it either easier or harder to switch strings to pluck with the ring finger. If you use the index finger, your ring finger shouldn't move at all.

    Personally, I don't even notice a difference.

    And this just goes to show that it's just what is comfortable for you that will get you speed... thumb-index feels incredibly clunky to me, my speed is bad, and I hit harder with my thumb than my index finger so I get a DA-da-DA-da sort of rhythm, which is the last thing you want on 16ths. So obviously, I prefer more standard two or three finger techniques, but some people get some great speed off of it.

    In the end, I'm not sure three or four fingered techniques are inherently any faster than two fingered... it's what you put into it. You're going to have to practice for speed regardless, and some people are going to be faster with certain techniques than others.
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    You're right obviously. Whatever works best for you. I switched to the p-i-p-m technique because it's nice for playing wide intervals. Try octave displaced chromatic scales on a 6 string with 5 string skips sometime...

    One nice thing is the technique translates very well from acoustic to electric guitar and electric bass.

    Matt Garrison plays with the p-i-p-m technique by the way...
     
  17. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Sweden
    Is there any famous bass player who actually did something like this? Would you be able to play faster?
    It's not like i'm unhappy about my 3fingered speed(16ths over 200bpm) but if a operation like that would make me a better player then i wouldn't mind considering it...
     
  18. oathbass462

    oathbass462 Guest

    Dec 27, 2005
    i can do triplets with my index, middle and pinky really easy, its kinda natural for me. i lets me write some really fast basslines.
     
  19. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Garrison plays thumb-index-middle-ring in a repetitive order; he doesn't use his pinky for any standard plucking.

    Which also disproves kispus' idea that
    as Garrison is very fast going the opposite direction of that. As are many classical guitarists who use the same pattern.
     
  20. bannedwit

    bannedwit

    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    This helped me:
    Put all your finger tips together with the thumb as the main "connector"

    Notice that all your fingers are made to basically go towards your thumb... Do the three finger technique slow and make sure your thumb is centered with your middle finger. Be light and maybe play the pickup to get consistent plucks. When trying 4 fingers, center your thumb in between your middle and ring finger.

    Play the pickup means that you hit each finger on the pickup and then pluck upwards. The pickup will always be there and it will basically prevent you from overshooting or undershooting the string you want to do 32nds on at 120 bpm hehe
     

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