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Right Hand Technique for Walking Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Kiz, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. Kiz


    Sep 17, 2005
    I am hoping some players experienced in jazz, particularly big band can offer some advice concerning the right hand 'attack' when walking.
    I try to replicate the upright approach by using one finger to get even long notes, is this a good technique? How can I improve my feel and make the lines 'bounce' and swing as much as possible?
  2. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    play legato on your lines and think of the whole phrase as a whole. also dont forget the other techniques like the "kick" (emphasizing the 1st and 3rd beat)

    for right hand i always advice the alternation of your fingers when walking (or even in general groove).
  3. just like to add that when i play walking on electric my right hand usually sits right at the end off the fingerboard. it gives a smoother, rounder attack. as for 'bounce and swing' i'd say try practising with a metronome on beats 2 and 4, and practice not only sitting right on the beat, but a little in front and a little behind the beat as well..
  4. In my opinion, I think its better to use 2 fingers on walking lines. One finger playing doesn't give it the right "feel". Just practice alot with a metronome, concentrate on each note being on the exact timing and make it sound bright and crisp. Keep it all sturdy.
  5. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Yes,play over the fingerboard and I tend more and more to walk with the index and adding rhythms and ghosts notes with the middle one.

  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    The advise I'll give you is as follows:
    When it comes to walking, FORGET the "KICK" and/or anything having to do with emphasizing any beats over the others. Concentrate on EVEN 1/4 notes. Trying to give the "illusion" of swing by pushing 1 & 3 is a BAD THING, don't let anybody tell you any different!!!!! While there may be situations when the emphasis of particular beats is desirable, as a regular practice it is quite the opposite I assure you!!
    A bass guitar is never going to sound or feel like an double bass, and that's O.K.!! There has been plenty of swingin' big bands that featured bass guitar and there's no doubt it works. I would go with the sound you find most appropriate 'cause there's nothing wrong with that. Having played double bass in jazz situations almost excusively in the past I have made peace with the fact that I can't get my bass guitar to sound, or just as importanly FEEL, like a double bass. There are situations where the "percussive thump" is a good way to go, for example where the arrangement is more traditional and the bass should be more "felt than heard".
    I would recommend spending your time and energy placing your even 1/4 notes directly on the beat, set your metronome to click on the quarters with you. Building meaningfull and effectice walking lines really goes a long way to make the band swing and groove. It may not sound like it makes sense but I promise you your note selection is key in pushing the harmonic content forward comfortably, and that is what grooving is all about. Also, spend as much time as you can listening.
    Oh, to answer your question, I would recommend using at least two fingers. You may also consider posting questions regarding jazz and big band in the DB theory or technique forums. The folks down there may be a bit grumpy at times toward us BG folks, but there are alot of great jazz players down there who are always willing to help.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Great post, Lophat.

    I have to foot-stomp the advice to forget leaning on two and four - just work on 4 even notes.
  8. Re alternating, I tend to alternate almost everything once the tempo rises above a certain point. But still, I've found that as a practical matter, walking with one finger can sound and feel really good, if the tempo is slow to moderate and within your comfort zone. I'm not sure why. Maybe, for me at least, it's a psychological thing--perhaps using a single finger helps reinforce the concept of 4 equal beats, rather than a one-two, one-two kind of thing.

    I'm a believer in being able to use various techniques to get the effect you want. If I decide to use a single finger approach in a certain context, it's because I choose to, not because I know no other way. I'd say, practice alternation and get it down, but be open to using other approaches if they work, and be able to switch as needed or desired.

    But to get back to the original post, I don't think swing is strictly a matter of how many fingers you use. You can get it with one finger or two or three, but it really comes from your internal sense of time and groove. How that internal sense is expressed is *relatively* trivial. Shoot, you can swing with a pick.;)
  9. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Also, when I played jazz, I found it beneficial to play with my fingertips on the right hand pointing at the body, plucking the strings up towards your face, rather than laying parallel to it, pushing the strings into the body. Also, try to pluch with the fleshy part of your finger tip, slightly below the tip. A medium light touch seems to yield the best tone and response to me, but I prefer to play somewhere further back towards the neck pickup, rather than over the fingerboard. A floating thumb technique helps me as well.

    Just as much though, left hand technique is important. Muting the strings effectively is VERY important.