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RH 3 Finger Technique

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by ImAGoodDuck, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. I thought I saw a post of this earlier but did a search and couldn't find it. For some reason, I've been interested in the playing with the index, middle, and ring finger of the right hand, ala NHOP. I've been trying it out a little bit here and there but I've found some stumbling points though, so maybe those who know a little of it or practice it yourself can help out. First is the string crossing. It seems to be pretty difficult to cross strings with 3 fingers, so how do you guys do it? Do you only cross the strings with say the index or middle? Second is when do you use it? I don't plan on using it when say I walk a line only when I blow and when I hear something fast. Third and last is what kind of finger pattern do you use? The only person I know of that I know how they do it is an electric guy and he will go index, middle, ring, middle, index, ect. Any other way you guys know to do it? Thanks
  2. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005
    I use the 3 finger technique, but only sometimes. Using three finger is a whole "new can of beans" and would really require a lot of time and dedication. My classical studies take up most of my time right now, especially with upcoming auditions. But I have started to explore the three finger technique and I'll try to explain what I've been working on. Here are some excecises for three RH fingers.

    The "right hand proceedure" is as follows
    index - middle
    middle - index
    middle - ring
    ring - middle

    Only two alternating fingers are used at once. Then in any position play across the strings (these are LH fingerings).

    Add thumb and extended 3/2 if you use them. Its important to start slow and make sure that your two hands are together all the way. After all, your LH can only play as fast as your right can.

    Doing this will not define the order of your RH technique. Rather, you will be able to use the third finger just as fluently as the index and middle. This really opens up a lot of technical possibilities; three finger rakes, insane tremolos and really quick articulations become a lot easier.

    Its difficult to get a really great full sound playing with three seeing as there is even less flesh to dig in with. What can I say? Its a work in progress.
  3. bassame


    Mar 25, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Justin's post is a great start. If you want a bit more Sigi Busch's Jazz Bass Compendium has a section - here's a link to Lemur:

    Also, you should see NHOP on the Kenny Drew DVD "Trio at the Brewhouse" (1992) where you can watch his right hand, and get a sense of how he set up his amp and pickup.
  4. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005
    ^^Edit^^ to clarify the practice procedure.
  5. I was fortunate to study with NHØP, RIP for 2 years, and his approach was pretty intuitive. The only specific exercise he gave me was a simple
    2-oct scale exercise:
    at about 80 bpm, you alternate fingers 1-2-3 starting out on a 2 oct E-major scale playing two eight-notes per step, i.e repeating each note of the scale up and down. When you've come back on the low E, you go up again straightaway, this time doubling your left hand speed, thus playing only 1 eight-note per step. 3rd time, still without stopping the time, you double the speed of the right hand, thus playing 16-notes again repeating each step. Last time, simply double the speed of the left hand again, so you play only one 16th per step.

    Coming back last time, you move up a 1/2 step and repeat it over again in the key of F major, and so forth until you've reached and finished Eb major.

    It should take about 20 minutes....

    I hope you can make sense out of this description.

    The exercise is quite effective, and one NHØP himself used on a daily basis.
  6. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005
    I like it.

    What else did he tell you, I'd be very intrested to know. A lot of guys can play fast bu no one could shread like NHOP. Did he "always" play 1-2-3-1-2-3 etc or 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2. I usually find myself playing 3-2-1-3-2-1.

    What did he do while walking? Also how did he approach the problem with the middle finger being longer than the other two? How do you get an even sound?
  7. As I've seen in a great clip with NHØP, Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson (sic!), he used 2 fingers for walking, the index doing the quarter notes and the middle finger for accents, and all 3 fingers for that trademade waterfall raking cross the strings.
    The strict 3-finger technique, he mostly used for blowing and melody.
    His hand was pretty perpendicular but angled (is this contradictory?)to the strings in order to get that short ring finger to reach. There is a certain angle where the three fingers are almost equally long, especially with a little wrist/elbow movement between each note. And then: practise, practise, practise....

    I myself feel that the 3rd finger comes in handy especially on the E-string coming from the higher strings such as octave jumps etc.

    As for alternating, his thing was 1-2-3, but as I stated earlier he was very intuitive about it, so he could probably alter it at any given time.

    A funny thing: I once asked him about having a problem muting the E-string with this technique. It rang when I played on the D-and G-strings.
    He just looked incredously at me, not having any advice! To him, playing the bass was second nature, and he couldn't always understand the problems we mere mortals were having.
    That being said, he was a very kind and supportive man.