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RH technique; complete Newbe question...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MarkM13, Mar 29, 2015.


  1. MarkM13

    MarkM13

    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    Greetings,

    I am brandnew to the instrument. I've been a drummer for 35+ years but have always been fascinated with the electric bass.
    I finally stopped wondering and am jumping in. Ive been watching videos and looking at sites but still have a question about RH technique.

    When alternating fingers 1 (index) and 2 (middle) do I lead with the first or second finger. That is, if I am playing 1/8th notes will finger 1 be on the down beats and 2 on the upbeats? Does it matter? It feels more natural for finger 2 to play down beats and 1 to play upbeats. But, I want to make sure I'm not starting any bad habits.

    Thanks,
    Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2015
  2. If you are teaching yourself you will get some bad habits. I have a lot of friends that play some pretty good music with a few bad habits. I suggest you get to know your instrument right now, do what is comfortable or spend the money for three months of lessons. That should get you started correctly. Bass guitar for dummies is a great book for getting started. Your choice. I would not worry right now about bad habits. But that is my opinion, I know others feel they must be correct. At this stage of my learning I did not worry about bad habits..... and look at me now. LOL
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
  3. You could go either way. I usually lead with my middle finger, but there are plenty out there that lead with their index. I would say that upright players might be used to lead with their index because you can get more skin touching the string that way. Try both and see what tone and feel you prefer. You should be comfortable leading with both since some passages pretty much force you to do that.
     
  4. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    Plus 1. The important thing is the actual alternating itself.
     
    7dollarbologna likes this.
  5. MarkM13

    MarkM13

    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the prompt thoughtful responses. I'm excited to be starting. Seeing I make my living as a teacher (band director & private percussion lessons), lessons are in the near future. For now I want to lean my way around the fretboard and learn some scales I can apply to three chord tunes. This way I'm not just sitting on the roots due to lack of knowing where the other notes are on the neck.

    Oh and BTW Malcolm, I ordered "Bass Guitar For Dummies" and did some reading on line. Looks like a great resource.

    Thanks again,
    Mark
     
  6. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    You might find that you get a difference in attack with each finger. I think that, typically, the second finger gives a heavier attack. And, due to the angle each finger gives a slightly different tone. But sometimes it's hard to keep leading with the same finger, depending on the line and where the notes are, and on which string. I find myself trading off between them very often. It can get confusing, but don't worry too much right now. Rather keep the question in mind and work it out as you learn to play more.
     
    rtav likes this.
  8. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    From a technique perspective, I wouldn't be too concerned with which finger you start with. I usually start a section with my index, but I think that's habit and there really isn't a wrong order to start plucking your strings. Do whatever you're comfortable with regarding the order (something that isn't a bad idea is to try to integrate your ring finger in the plucking order early on - it's something I wish I did, but you may not have any need or desire to pluck with three fingers - just a thought).

    There is something that you should take very serious, especially as a new player without a teacher - and that is your health.

    Pay more attention to the PLACEMENT of your plucking hand/wrist to help prevent RSI stuff like carpal tunnel and to get the most out of your playing. You don't want to start on the road to injury - and it's easy to do. Fortunately, there are tons of resources to help you with good hand/wrist placement. Just go here and start browsing Technique [BG] | TalkBass.com or check threads like this Safe right hand and LEFT hand technique for building dexterity ? | TalkBass.com or Wrist/hand pain concern, questions... | TalkBass.com . Here's a similar thread to the one you posted about which finger to use, you might find some other advice useful: A question for the STRICT 1-2-4 fingering advocates | TalkBass.com

    Also check out the many discussions on techniques like "movable anchor" or "floating thumb" - those discussions/demonstrations might give you some pointers on how to prevent fatigue and maximize your dexterity.

    Beyond building callouses, dealing with the odd blister, and not being able to score groupies like singers can, bass playing should not hurt. If it does, something is wrong - stop and get medical help. Or take up vox (worked for Sting).
     
    Russell L likes this.
  9. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Good advice above. It made me think of something that has happened to me. A couple of times I have gotten what I would call something like a stone bruise on a fretting finger, mainly my pinky. It comes from either pressing the strings down too hard or from playing too long at one time. The last time it happened was on a gig when I was just simply getting into playing too dang much. I've been playing gigs regularly on electric bass since 1988, and upright for awhile back in the '70s and 80s during my orchestral days, so it can happened to anyone, even a seasoned player. But it can REALLY happen easily to anyone just starting out. Remember that it doesn't take much force to press a string down, and if your fingers begin to get sore at any time don't push on too much, but rather take a break for the day. Small steps are safer.

    One other thing: learn the difference between "rest stroke" and "free stroke." Most bas playing uses rest stroke, where you pluck across the string and then let your finger rest against the next lowest string. Free stroke is when you pluck the string more vertically and don't touch any other strings. Rest stroke will give more punch and volume than free stroke.
     
  10. todd0864

    todd0864

    Mar 9, 2015
    Twin Cities
    Does rest stroke hamper your ability to pluck faster. I've never heard of free stroke but I'm going research it now.
     
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    No, rest stroke won't slow you down.
     

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