1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Rest stroke or Free stroke?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skel, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I asked this question about a year ago, but I think the answers I get will register better now; Playing fingerstyle, do your fingers land or "rest" on the string below the string you just plucked? So, if you play a "D" on the 5th fret of the A string, does your finger end up resting on the E string, or do you use a "free stroke" where your finger is resting on nothing after you pluck a string/note?

    I come from some classical guitar training where "free strokes" and "rest strokes" are both used, the "rest stroke" having a deeper tone.
  2. Lower-Than-Low


    Jun 7, 2006
    I personally use a rest stroke as you call it, it helps me mute and all that stuff.
    I have only been playing since last winter, and seriously from about 3 months ago when I joined school band. I am still learning quite a bit from everyone here.
  3. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Rest. Way too much momentum in my fingers to stop them mid air. That's not an absolute, if I'm using my thumb and playing arpeggios, then I'll play with "free strokes" as you call them.
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    When I'm using four fingers (most of the time) or just my thumb, then it's freestrokes.

    When I play with just my ring finger for a thumpier sound (or on the rare occassion of standard two-finger plucking), I do rest strokes.
  5. Rest almost always, unless perhaps I'm doing something chordal or playing harmonics. Free strokes just don't give me the meat I'm looking for.
  6. Free strokes . Rest strokes involve a lot of extra movement IMHO . I have to say I play very ligthly so I don't need more power in my playing . I also play with the floating thumb .
  7. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    i'm a rest-stroke kinda guy. i play rock and blues, and prefer a nice, meaty, heavy sound. and it just feels nice and natural.
    physics likes this.
  8. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    My main teacher on electric was really a classical guitarist, in terms of what he studied at school and performed anyway. I therefore learned both and the merits of each.

    For my everyday bassplaying (i.e. jazz, funk, R&B) it's almost all rest stroke. In more solo type playing, or intricate stuff, it's definitely both as needed. It's all about the tone, and to a lesser extent the differences in economy of motion.
  9. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    im just wondering how do people rake with freestrokes
  10. It's funny, unless it needs to ring out, when I play up the bass string to string (G to D to A) I rest my finger on the lower string. When I play on E, I rest it on the body or pickup, but lately I've tried floating the hand/fingers.

    When I go up in strings (E to A to D to G) then I tend to mute the lower ringing string on the next string strum, say during Black Sabbaths' Paranoid when the bass plays:


    I will play that note for note and it will sound right...but when the bass skips a string and plays:


    then I have a (bad?) habit of letting the lower string ring out and the higher note gets buried by the A. On slower songs I can kill the lower string, but on pieces as fast as Paranoid I don't get away with it and my attempts at fixing it are often worse than letting it ring...

    I'm a self taught bass player of about 10 years on and off...so any advice on how I can improve is always welcome, and may even be tried one day :D
  11. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    This one is easy - you have to take care of that with your left hand. Just lift off the note so it doesn't ring out :)
  12. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Thanks for all the help. It's especially good to have comments from people who have been taught both ways. I like the rest stroke and it comes naturally to me, I just get more "clicky" finger noise, I guess because my fingers are slightly more extended and stiffer but I'll work that out. And the rake - yeah, that is the foremost example of a rest stroke.
  13. vcs700s


    Nov 17, 2006
    Stephenson, VA
    Good question. I studied classical guitar for awhile and had to learn how to do the rest stroke. The free stroke came naturally as I already knew how to fingerpick. I used the rest stroke most of the time, but honestly it never felt as natural to me.

    Since I picked up the bass I have been playing almost exclusively with the free stroke. I have watched some players and some videos and see that both are used. I have decided that I am going to play my style, if you will, and not what someone else says I have to do. In classical guitar it is very disciplined and frankly I got tired of that after a year or so. Hope this helps.
  14. Cheers!! I'll try and practice that some more ... I've been trying to use my right hand to fix it ...

    Actually running through it, that whole left hand stop/start dance on the fretboard type playing is rather reminiscant of Unchain My Heart (Jo Cocker)....well to me anyway...sorry, back to topic :)
  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    I've always free stroked. :p

    I play aggressively to get a punchy sound and usually mute my notes.
  16. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    yes and yes
  17. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    You don't really :p
  18. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    I always use rest stroke. It helps a lot with muting, and is in general a better fulfilment of the priniciple of economy of motion, since you can rake with it.
  19. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Not really... the free stroke allows greater economy of motion in the end because less energy is expended. This of course assumes you're using the same number of fingers with each stroke.

    The most efficient stroke is free stroke using various combinations of p i m & a (I believe it's actually pami that is most efficient in theory)

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.