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"raking" when descending

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by WillBuckingham, May 9, 2005.

  1. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I know I've seen posts about this before. But I've noticed that I always use the same finger twice in a row when I'm switching strings while descending. Besides that I always alternate right hand index and middle when playing fast. Right now, I can descend faster than I can ascend, but I'm worried that when I get faster this will slow me down. Anyone have any experience with this?
  2. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Indeed - I do the same, but am desperately trying to break the habit. It _will_ slow you down before you know it. I know it does for me, and I'm not a spectacular player as far as speed is concerned.

    One other thing of note, is that regardless of speed, proper alternating technique in this area will help you apply this to other techniques whether it be the whole wooten thumb-hammer-pop-pop thing or using more than two fingers in alternation. Good technique never hurts, something I learned well from my instructor who also taught classical guitar.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I would say that is probably true for 99% of us. ;)

    FWIW, there is a time to 'rake' & a time to use strict alternation(when descending).

    The 'floating thumb' technique may help you in employing strict alternation while descending.
  4. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I do this a lot too, and I do find that sometimes it gets in the way of how I want to sound.

    So I practice not doing it. ...over and over and over.....
  5. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Here a very good exercice to practice the alternation of the fingers:
    Play C on the E string on the VIII position with your second finger then play E on the G string a major tenth up with your third finger and play the descending C major scale like this and do a loop with this exercice.
    This way, you're working mainly on the descending portion of a Major scale. Make sure you are alterneting your fingers accordanly. Look at it because your fretted hand is not moving so you can concentrate on your right hand. First play the exercice 1-2-1-2-1-2 etc. then do 2-1-2-1-2-1.
    This will help!
  6. philiprst

    philiprst Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    I'm curious; are you guys suggesting that "raking" is a bad idea in the long run?

  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY

    As far as I know, it is proper to "rake" when descending.
    "Raking" when descending = economy of motion. Check out bassists that focus on right hand technique like Bunny Brunel. I think that this "strict alternation" thing comes from guitar players. Frank Gambale (guitarist) uses "sweep picking". This is raking ascending and descending. An ascending rake for us would be really tricky without a pick.

  8. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Michael Manring also rakes when decending. It is an economy of motion thing, which is beneficail.
  9. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I'm not sure we're gonna find a definitive anwer here, although I'm pretty sure Jaco always and consistently alternated fingers when he did tunes with repetitve 16th notes.

    While I understand the economy of motion thing, I feel like if you can get blindingly fast at alternating fingers, the raking thing will make your playing lumpy . . . I'm gonna experiment with both techniques. Thanks for the advice.
  10. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    yeah, i find the raking thing to be sort of like running down the street, and all of a sudden taking three steps in a row with the same foot. Really throws off the rhtyhm.
  11. EmmSee


    May 23, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Bruce Lee would favor raking... IMO. Econ of motion!

    Victor Wooten rakes... if Vic does, I'm sure Stanley does, too. Not too sure on that one, though.
  12. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I only rake if the leaves are really bad or if I let the grass grow too high before I cut it.
  13. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    I love that one!!

    Raking is a hell of an issue on bass. As a teacher, I make sure that my students get a really good technique and it starts with finger alternation.
    I'm not saying that raking is bad because there are some good uses for that. I would see it more as an effect or a special technique. But if you wanna play anything you want at any speed and control,then having a good control of your right hand is essential,IMO,
  14. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I've never heard of strict alternation with the right hand index and middle fingers when it comes to bass playing. Where did this come from and who is doing it? If you play a note on the G with your middle finger, then a note on the D string; you're going to use your middle finger again. I assume this is what you guys mean by "raking". In order to do strict alternation, you have to arch your right hand fingers.

    Check out this website with Bunny Brunel. He has some simple exercises for right hand technique as well as video demonstrating it. If you don't know Bunny Brunel, he has played with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Frank Gambale, Tony MacAlpine, and many others.


    Again, I'm not sure where this strict alternating thing is coming from. It seems so unusual. Can you direct me to an accomplished/pro bassist that is doing this? I want to check it out for myself.

  15. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    If your are serious about playing bass you need to learn this technique. It is essential to pro bass playing. It give you speed,control,even sounding notes and no restriction on any parts. Try to play Jaco's compo "Teen town" without alternate fingers for a example,you won't pass the first bar. This help a lot when the rythm is even like regular 16th notes,but, when you you play syncopated rythms,anything goes.
  16. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    He is talking about not agreeing with using Index-Middle alternations when single repeated Index strokes would fit and be easier to accomplish.

    Teen town is not a song that this "technique" would be an option with. Listen to Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads. The bassline is deliberate and almost forced sounding and one finger works as well or better for it. Geddy uses one finger for most Rush stuff and some of that is pretty fast kind of show that speed is possible without alternate plucking. John Paul Jones also advocates using one finger as much as possible, for uniformity of tone and attack, and if JPJ says it, it is worth listening to.
  17. IMO, there is no correct technique or method, there is preferred methods, but everyone is different, i always rake with the one finger when decending, but i alternate when ascending...and the speeds are rather close
  18. philiprst

    philiprst Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    I have been playing bass for several years, but before I switched to bass I had a very good guitar teacher. He taught me to play with a pick so that the up or down strokes corresponded to the particular beats in a measure. This was very hard to learn but it really helped with my timing and feel. My tendency has always been to do the same thing with fingerstyle bass although I have also taught myself how to rake too.

    It's true, of course, that raking gives an economy of motion which means that it is possible to play faster. However, unlike sweep picking on a guitar, there is a basic asymmetry on the bass; in other words raking only works when descending. I have always been curious about this because it seems to me that the most important thing is to be able to play evenly whether asending or descending. Maybe I have something wrong here; maybe someone can enlighten me.

  19. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    It depends on how you play, but you can rake upwards with your thumb if you use your thumb when plucking.
  20. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I've been raking since istarted playing bass and now i noticed that i
    never rake when i play guitar, i think it's harder to rake with a pick :p:

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