Regarding two-fingered right hand technique...

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by AZNBassist, Feb 21, 2007.


  1. AZNBassist

    AZNBassist

    Jan 14, 2004
    Denton
    Hello Mr. Seaton,
    First, I just want to say I attended your Bass Workshop and found it to be an amazing experience and I learned a lot. One thing I remember you talking about is using two fingers to play perpendicular to the fingerboard.

    However, I'm having trouble getting a good sound out of the double bass and I'm curious on how exactly to get a good tone and still use two-fingers perpendicularly. I know its possible from listening to your playing on your CD's (which sound great by the way) such as "Indiana" on the album Puttin' on the Ritz , but I can't seem to figure out how to do it. Would you happen to have any suggestions? Thanks!
     
  2. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Hello,
    In a previous thread on this forum, a reader posted a wonderful picture of Dave Holland with perpendicular fingers. Look at that. When doing two fingers, go for having one finger up in the air preparing for the next note while the other is plucking. This is just like what you would do if you were tapping your fingers on a table- one up and one down. Alternate every finger when ascending a passage or scale and rake with the same finger when coming down from one string to the next lower one. As an example, if you are playing down a C scale and the open G string is plucked with the first finger, then the F on the D string would also be with the same finger. Use the same stroke, not re plucking, but raking the finger. The E would then be plucked with the 2nd finger etc..
    Make sure your right hand position is near the end of the fingerboard for good definition of the notes.
    I hope this helps.
     
  3. AZNBassist

    AZNBassist

    Jan 14, 2004
    Denton
    Thanks for the explanation Mr. Seaton. However, I still find that whenever I use two fingers to pluck perpendicular to the strings or use "electric bass" right hand technique, the tone sounds wimpy, pointed, or thin at whatever part (edge of the fingerboard) compared to using the whole side of the finger and plucking with more "meat".

    Is this suppose to happen when I pluck with my finger tips perpendicularly instead of using the entire side of my finger to pluck and how do I cope with this loss of tone? Or is there a way to get a "full" sound (with side of the finger and more "meat") by plucking perpendicularly with my fingertips? Also, when you use this two-finger technique, do you also use your arm to help pull/pluck? Or do you only move/use your fingers?
     
  4. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    The sound will of course be different with different plucking techniques! Yes, I think it is possible to get a good sound with the two finger method. Bassists have been doing it for years. The one finger is my home base/default mode for playing jazz, but I use the two finger a lot too, especially for speed and for relief. With both methods sometimes I use only my fingers, sometimes adding a pinch with the thumb against the fingerboard for more sound, and sometimes adding arm motion and even back muscles for shout choruses. I don't bounce my wrist up and down. I attached a recent photo of my hand in two finger position, about to strike a string with my first finger. Notice that the finger is coming from above. The motion is "through the string", not starting on the string. I hope this helps.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Here is another picture with motion.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    Hello Mr. Seaton,

    That's interesting I didn't realize that...but I want to make sure I understand what you mean.

    I've been doing a "pull and release" motion with the strings, and there's that finger-on-the-string preparation that has to happen first. It seems like you're getting to skip a step in the process with your description. Am I correct?
     
  7. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    It sounds like you understand it correctly. It is a challenge to talk about some of this stuff without a demonstration in person!
     
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    No doubt...but still thank you very much!
     
  9. It's strange, having learned on the DB, I had been using this technique for years on BG (which is why I now use a pick). I came back to DB last summer, and it took about two weeks for me to get back into that motion, but people always look at me as if I am flogging the instrument. It is nice to have some technical back up for this now. Thank You Mr. Seaton
     
  10. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Would you say this also applies when your fingers are parallel and not perpendicular to the strings, like say in a more traditional right hand orientation for pizz?

    I think I tend to 'start' on the string with each note, without even really thinking about it. Some of that may have come from looking at pictures in Ray Brown's Bass Method book, esp. pp. 6-7. But I can certainly try the “through the string" approach if that’s what you typically recommend to your students.

    Thanks very much for all your helpful descriptions and advice.
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    I learned it from one of Bunny Brunel's bass books, which was available at my local library. Of course, that was electric bass technique...but that's how I got my right-hand basics, and when learning the double bass it just sort of got transferred over.

    Just thinking about that book from a teaching POV, I can see learning that way as being quite good for teaching rakes and various 2-finger patterns...as well as offering tactile references...I was very receptive to it all as an electric bass beginner wanting to get away from the pick and play James Jamerson lines...but as far as economy of motion and velocity concepts go, I can now how it could slow one down to some degree.

    Anyway pretty cool stuff wow!
     
  12. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Yes,
    I recommend playing "through the string" and starting above the string for both one finger and two finger approaches. If one starts on the string, then the string is muted. That would shorten the previous note if on the same string. We want to play long notes usually when walking. If you rest on the string before plucking it, there will probably be a buzz sound as the vibrating string hits your finger. By playing through the string and starting from above, your contact time with the string is minimal. Of course, if there is a rest between phrases or notes, one can rest on a string. Here are links to a couple of You Tube videos where you can see a varitey of picking techniques. Notice the playing through the string idea and how minimal the finger time on the string being played usually is. (Yes, there are exceptions to anything!),
    Ray Brown:
     
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