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Right hand fingers: stiff or loose?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Dantes, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Dantes


    Mar 30, 2009
    Hi folks,

    This community is awesome, been digging through the posts but couldn't find any advice on this:

    When using your right hand fingers to pluck the notes, are your fingers relaxed and loose or tense and stiff? That is to say, do you want your knuckles closest to the finger nail to stay relaxed and bend in as it pulls the bass string up, or do you want to keep it stiff and pull through.

    Appreciate the guidance!
  2. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    relaxed. Just releaxed. And you don't really "pull the string up" - you just stroke it with your fingertips. All of my motion is in the the 2nd joint (The proximal interphalangeal joint), with a bit in the main joint (metocarpal-phalangeal joint)

    But I think your focus should be on hand position and relaxation while you play. Rest your thumb on a pickup, keep your fingers at about a 45 degree angle to the body and perpendicular to the strings and pluck. Start slow, and always try to play to a beat (be it internal, radio, CD or metronome/drum machine).
  3. dangerkirk


    Mar 31, 2008
    Owensboro, Ky
    loosey goosey
  4. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    well you have to have enough tension in your finger joints to actuate the strings :p ... but I would say keep it minimal.

    The longer I play the looser everything gets... fingers, hands, shoulders, back... it comes with time. My right hand action is getting more and more upright-like, in that there's a stroking across the strings with more of the sides of my fingers. It allows more attack without striking down on the strings which can cause fret noise. Plus it gives a great range of dynamics...

    Hope this helps.
  5. rootshock


    Feb 17, 2008
    My preference would be for floating thumb as opposed to the plant on pickup style, especially if you're just starting out, or already have or plan on going to a 5. My wrist never liked the angle, I like the wrist straight. It seems like that almost dictates my finger attack. You can definitely keep your wrist straight with your thumb on the pickup, but I also like to work on 3 fingers, so...

    In any case, the most important thing I'd say would be listen to your body. There are a lot of different approaches. Many of the "virtuosos" have dissimilar styles, even those in the same genre.

    EDIT: check out this page: http://www.studybass.com/lessons/bass-technique/plucking/
  6. My teacher has me staying relaxed, but keeping the end-most joint (distal interphalangeal?) under tension. That is, when plucking the string, that last joint shouldn't ever be so loose as to bend back.

    I've just started so I can't form my own opinion of this, but this is what I'm being taught by someone I respect.
  7. Dantes


    Mar 30, 2009
    Appreciate the replies...

    The post before mine is where I'm a bit confused...

    When I lock the last joint, nearest the finger tip, my playing is not as fluid. When I let the joint bend inward it's smoother and easier to control.

    Is keeping a certain amount of tension on the last join a good idea to maintain my practice? Or is it preference?
  8. Cyber Soda

    Cyber Soda

    Sep 24, 2008
    Personally when I play, I get relaxed and loose, but I suppose whatever makes it easiest for you to play? I dunno, I'm not a good teacher to any extent.
  9. deckard


    Apr 4, 2003
    Loose & relaxed por moi...

    I'm specifically working on picking lighter & turning up my volume to get a fatter sound.

    p.s. - as one of my kung fu teachers used to say repeatedly:

    "Speed and power come from relaxed and co-ordinated repetition."

  10. I keep (try to keep) all of my fingers (right and left hand) loose. Actually playing pretty soft with plucking hand. Just seems to be easier and sound better to me. But I'm no pro, so take try both ways and see what you like better.

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