Right-hand styles of the greats

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by RunngDog, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. RunngDog

    RunngDog Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    It seems to be that there are a few basic right-hand playing styles or techniques that most bassists use:

    1. Picking notes with the index & middle fingers
    2. Playing with the thumb only
    3. Playing with a pick
    4. Slap & slap variations using a combination of thumb and fingers
    5. Fingerstyle playing (which also may involve use of the thumb)

    There are obviously lots of variations on the above (e.g., Jamerson's single-finger version of #1), but generally this would seem to capture most of the options.

    I'm curious as to which style or styles have been favored by famous bass players both today and in the past. Which players have used picks? Which their thumbs? And is there any "standard" that's used by a large majority of players?

    Can anyone help fill the gaps in my historical knowledge?
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Most of the players I know & like use their index & middle fingers(Stanley, Jaco, Rocco, Berlin, Will Lee, George Porter, Jr, Paul Jackson, Bootsy, Rainey, Anthony Jackson, JPJ, etc on & on).

    Thos who used a pick-
    McCartney, Carol Kaye, Joe Osborn, Peter Cetera, Monk Montgomery, Jack Casady, Anthony Jackson, JPJ, etc).

    Fingerstyle playing(I'm assuming you mean the index/middle + the rest?)-
    If so, check out Gary Willis & Matthew Garrison(you gotta see Herbie Hancock's Future 2 Futures DVD or maybe Garrison's just released DVD/cd).
  3. well ive found my right hand style is really jaco-ish using index and middle while my ring and pinky mute my E and A.....if im playing on my G or D my pinky will be on E and my ring on A and if im playing on my A my ring will be on my E...kinda wierd (from what ive been told), but i find it comfortable..and my slapping i seem to strike my thumb vertacle to the string and i keep my hand horizontal to the strings, unlike stu hamm who keeps his hand moving in a circular motion, but when playing faster slap songs ive noticed i rest my pinky on the body of my bass for leverage, but when popping i alternate between my index and middle fingers and if im playing a lick like stu hamms count zero i roll my wrist after slapping the E and pop with the next 3 fingers.....

    but im not a great? so what am i talking about :D
  4. Tony Levin uses them all... and more.
  5. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Billy Sheehan and Steve Bailey's three finger technique is amazing.
  6. slapNnap420


    Aug 23, 2004
    Speaking of that, i have no clue how i can do it, but i have always been able to play with 3 fingers, even when i first started (and i used to play with a pick). Its kinda weird.
  7. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    Some more pick players: Phil lesh, Mike Gordin, Barry Oakley

    I play style 1: index and middle. But I think a good bassist, which I am not, can play all style and knows when to use each.

    Oteil Burbridge is a perfect example. I've seen him play style 1 with Vida Blue, with a pick with the Allman Brothers, and slap and pop with Aquarium Rescue Unit. Always fitting and always perfect.

  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm thrilled to be getting better at finger-playing all the time. It's way more versitile then I would have thought, and much tighter and more controllable than my old pick style - I use it for almost everything now - but I must admit: I can get a certain raucous, pitbull-on-a-short-chain sound with a pick by using muted strokes and picking at a 'squeeky' angle to the string, that I don't think can be duplicated with fingers!


    (Oh! Ahh... Now that I re-read the title of this thread, I suppose that I should make clear that I'm NOT one of "The Greats". I suppose that might make this post off topic?)
  9. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    Abraham La Borial, like Tony Levin uses all of his fingers as well as hand rocking and bolaros etc., all while dancing.
  10. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Sheehan's 3 finger style is awesome...scary technique from a guy who has been playing for 30 + years. The question you should ask yourself is this..am i learning these licks to serve myself or serve my band?
  11. john myung (dream theater) used 4 finger picking for amazing speed
  12. invisiman


    Feb 22, 2004
    He only uses three fingers, or that's only what I've seen him use.
  13. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    I'd have to put Roger Waters and Allen Woody up there with the best of the pick players. Very differenet, but both created a unique style that was all their own.

    Bill Dickens needs to be mentioned in this thread - somewhere.