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Plucking with 4 fingers.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rockin John, Apr 10, 2001.

  1. Came across a link on one of these boards to a lesson called something like, "Hanging ten on the bass".

    (I forgot to save the link and can't find it again so can anyone out there tell me where it is, please, cos I want to view the lesson again?)

    Anyway, I've tried to use 4 fingers for plucking and it kinda works - loads more practice required, though.

    So here's my question: Is it correct / good practice to synchronize fingers on both hands? (It seems more natural to do it that way at this stage of my learning). That is, say, if you're stopping a fret with the first finger, then pluck with the first finger, stopping with second then pluck with second, and so on?

    Obviously that idea falls down with open strings and when multiple plucks are required on the same note played. Don't really know how to discipline myself to cater for that situation.

    Help please and thanks in advance.

    Rockin John
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    This would only work on a minority of basslines. You should go for independence. There will be a picking pattern of course, but don't keep it too rigidly. This applies to two-finger Technique also, you should be able to start a bass line with the index AND the middle finger. Billy Sheehan for example can use his three-finger technique in almost every possible sequence.

    Oh, and the link is:

  3. Hello JMX and thanks for the trouble. And thanks for the link which I've now visited and printed-off the lesson.

    I kinda suspected there'd not be a definitive answer to this.

    I pluck with 3 fingers anyway and I certainly don't conciously try to sync fingers. That seems to work OK, as far as my current skill level allows.

    I'm no Billy S., God forbid, but I can start a bass line with any finger.

    As for using 4 fingers - indeed on any topic of technique - and being self taught, I tend to look for proven methods to follow wherever possible.

  4. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I just wonder: why stop at four? Last time I looked I had five extremities on both hands. All of them useful; for fretting AND plucking AND muting (sorry about the shouting, an AltaVista side effect....)

    Five finger plucking is actually very effective for a sucking, halfwit, nogood bass abuser like myself - and fun:D
    Next step will be five finger fretting....
    Then ten finger tapping LOLOL!!

    Anyway: go for the lot!
  5. Hi Suburban.

    No real reason to stop @ 4. But we all have to begin somewhere.

    I was back on the bass @ Christmas after 25 years off. It's hard enough trying to remember how to use 3 after all that time. 4's more of a problem but 5......!!

    I guess I'll just have to work up to it.

    Do you have any good suggestions for plucking hand practice routines, please?

  6. I find the plucking pattern you use with your fingers is all a matter of sense of rhythm - or at least it is to me. Just like strumming a guitar.
    One example is when one of my friends who wishes she could learn the guitar (I don't know why she doesn't...) asked me "How do you strum a guitar?" And I told her it's all about your sense of rhythm. I then proceeded to show her by playing one song 3 times, with different up/downstroke combinations.
    I find it works the same on bass for me, even though I only use 2 fingers, I can still either alternate completely with middle-index-middle-index etc. or I can do middle-middle-index-middle-middle-index etc.
    As for practice routines, I guess you could try playing songs you already know with alternate plucking patterns(?). :)
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Practice routines? I'm not good enough to do any routines:D I just do everything different every time...I think....

    But what I try to practice the most is: to not, I repeat: NOT anchor the thumb.
    And when the thumb trails, it is naturally muting, and always available for plucking low strings, the classic guitar way. Prefect for chords, of course (I never do chords in songs, just for fun & learning), but also when yuo have this flare of inspiration, and...and...you know:)

    Otherwise, I go with SheepMan. Play known tunes with different techniques, different fingering, different positions, etc. The thing is to find all possible ways, to be able to make unconsious but sublime choises, to make expressive music. Right?
  8. work out a pattern for your plucking hand, i always use the pattern thumb-index-middle-ring-pinkie. no matter what you play use this combo. try playing the stuff you already know with this technique.
  9. Hi gents, and thanks for the trouble.

    Using 4 fingers seems like it's quite possible with practice. But using the thumb for plucking as well seems to me like a sort-of quantum leap. Sure, many great bassists do it. But how?

    Is the technique to kinda dangle the plucking hand over the strings so that all five can make contact with the strings: can't see how else it can be done? (I tend to use the E string as the thumb's anchor, or the pup or the heel of the fretboard).

    With my set-up as it is, anything that takes my plucking hand from the body of the bass is a complete no-no. My Squier P bass is neck heavy so I counter that with my plucking hand. That can be solved one way or another, of course, but right now it's limiting my technique and it's improvement.

    Any thoughts on 'dangling the plucking hand' ?

    Rockin John
  10. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    So, still haven't got rid of the neck heaviness? Naughty boy...

    Anyway, there are two possible fix points for your arm, namely your body and the P-body.:cool: For you, it would be the latter, then. Just find the position when you play as usual. Remember it! Keep everything the same, except fold the thumb into your palm. Practice that, 'til it's natural not to hook up that thumb. Will take some time......
    Then you can relax the thumb, letting it trail and mute - and *don't* let it back to old habits!!!
    When this comes natural, you are ready to play five fingers.

    Long way to go? Yep. But on that route there are lots of awsome sights to be seen, like the easy muting...

    So, take a hike;) (and fix the balance of that P)

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