Rest strokes verses Free strokes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skel, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I've always wondered if finger style players use a rest stroke, where your finger is basically straight, and lands on the string below it, or a free stroke, where your finger is more curled and doesn't land on anything, but comes towards you after plucking the string. Obviously both ways work - I have found that using a rest stroke produces a deeper, thicker, less defined tone, and comes naturally to me. Using a free stroke produces a slightly thinner, more defined sound, and would seem to enable faster playing. Is this something you guys have ever thought about, or should you just play whatever way comes naturally to you?

    On the same note - Should you always have your thumb secured (like on the edge of the pickguard), and if you catch yourself where your thumb is not secured, should you work on this?

    Last, should you postion your hand where it can reach all 4 strings (in my case 4 strings) without having to move your hand up or down, or is moving your hand up and down just part of playing bass with your fingers?

    Thanks - Skel
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Did free stroke for about a year when i started, then i went to rest stroke and its the way to go. It may seem slower at first but once you get used to it, it isnt at all.
  3. eekmo


    Feb 13, 2004
    Sachse, TX
    I played for 20 years using the "rest stroke" and switched to "free stroke" about 5 years ago. Obviously, I prefer the efficiency of the "free stroke".
  4. I did all rest strokes for a while, and then I did all free strokes. Now I mix it up, and my teeth have never been whiter!
  5. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    I smell a classical guitar convert. Yeap, that's a classical guitar convert, I know that smell.

    Never heard bassists speaking in those terms but hey, it makes sense, especially with extended range basses and the trend tward chordal and melodic playing on bass.

    I think how a phrase is articulated should be dictated by the style of music. Play the 16ths in "What is Hip" by Tower of Power with a free stroke and you will have a ringing mess. That tune requires staccato stinging little notes played very evenly. Some other compositions may require arpeggios that you want to ring and maybe a free stroke is prefered. Let the music dictate the proper technique.