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RH Technique

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Rob Downie, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. Rob Downie

    Rob Downie

    Jun 20, 2004
    Tualatin, OR
    I pizz on UB using either first finger alone or first and second together. The one-finger pull is vertical (parallel to the strings) whereas the two-finger pull is across (perpendicular to) the strings. Either way, just the tip of my thumb is anchored against the side of the fingerboard. This elevates my hand, gives me plenty of leverage, and keeps my fingers out of the way of vibrating strings. I have seen a lot of UB players pizz with their fingers resting right on (or between) the strings. I am guessing their thumb is UNDER the fingerboard. QUESTIONS: What are the pros and cons of this style? Is it any better for the hand ergonomically? With your fingers so close, how do you keep from inadvertently damping strings? Finally, how do you play on the A and E strings? Do you go to a different style for these strings?

  2. Hey Rob, I got your PM.
    I have two things going on when I pizz, and this is a real common technique.....when playing a real hard walking Ray Brown feel, I clip the fingerboard with my right thumb going underneath the board and the webbing of skin between my thumb and index finger resting on the very edge of the FB. (kinda like a vise) I do this on the G,D and A. When I get to the E, (in my case, it's actually a low B.) my thumb comes OUT automatically and rests on side of the FB, so I have a clearer shot at the lowest string.
    I've come to the conclusion that this is the most common way to do this jazz stuff.
    On Sambas and open solos, I just do what it sounds like you're doing....resting the thumb on the side of the board and use the tips of my index and middle finger. This is that Scott LaFaro style that really gives you some speed.
    When I watch guys like NHOP who play with four fingers, I really wonder how they do it. Especially with the little finger being so short. Some of these guys play as if all four of thir fingers are the same length!
    I stick to just two, and try to add to it by using some ornamentation with my left hand, getting a legato sound by using glissandi. If you can keep the tone going, you can get alot more mileage outta using some triplets and stuff with your left hand fingers.
  3. Paul,

    How far from the end of the fingerboard do you rest your thumb?
  4. It depends what kinda sound i'm going for at the time. When going for max volume, as close to the end of the board as possible. When you want a more mello round sound, further back up the board.
    I had my luthier, Bob Ross, ad a little extension ala Edgar Myer on the bottom of my board so I can pluck up a little higher toward the bridge for some more intense plucking sounds. One problem you can run into when playing up closer to the bridge is getting rosin on your plucker ( Ha! that sounded awful!) I hate that! :crying:
    Edgars board was done that way so he could get a few higher notes out of his Gabrielli Solo bass.
    You can see my FB extension on the John Sprague/Shen The Talkbasses vol.2 the sticky under the Basses forum heading.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Don't worry. It comes off with a little soap and water. :)

    Actually, this is an issue if you play arco and pizz. I don't worry too much about getting the rosin on my fingers, but it does slow your fingers down a bit, and if you wander down there long enough, it's pretty easy to work up a blister.

    The last Orchestra gig I did at Christmas, I forgot to stick a rag in my pocket. I trashed my tux sleeve knocking the rosin off the strings for the straight pizz stuff.

    I finally got around to taking it to the cleaners a few weeks ago. It seems none the worse for the wear.
  6. Now that I have my fb and strings in a more reasonable relationship, I'm trying to fine tune the string height along with my plucker.

    I usually use a single index finger pull the way Rob described in the first post.

    My question is, should the side of my index finger rest/slide on the fb as I pull the string or should it be slightly above the fb?
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I keep mine on the fingerboard both before and after the stroke, so that It feels like "playing the fingerboard". I like the meaty and consistent sound it gets...something about the angle of string vibration it sets in motion. YMMV.
  8. Tree


    Apr 14, 2005
    i sort of 'hover' my fingers above the board, this is as i have very small fingers and if i draged them along the fb they would probably drop of!!

    But in the end i think its just something of personal preferance

  9. hmmm, very interesting...
    I was thinking of adding an extension to my bottom of my finger board to the side so I could rest my thumb and hit the E string like I do the rest of the strings. I find that I can't get the same leverage when the string is too close to my right hand.

    Anyone ever tried this?
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    My Azola popsicle stick bass has that very feature.
  11. A lot of older slab basses used to have a thumb rest - a little piece of wood near the E string - for just that.

    Of course, like the pickup guards and the bridge covers on old Fenders, they were nearly always taken off and thrown away. My Jazz has holes all over the scratch plate where these things were once screwed down.