right hand technique q's

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by twiz, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. twiz


    Jun 4, 2003
    Los Angeles
    1) my teacher instructed me to rely on gravity to let my right arm fall when plucking the strings. Specifically, i almost completely relax my right arm and let it's weight move the string parallel to the fingerboard then rest my finger on the next lowest string. i'm curious if you guys have any tips on preventing my hand from falling all the way to my waist, when playing the e string though, because it's difficult to slow down such a powerful motion.

    2) when attempting to play up tempo songs, can someone specifically describe their right hand technique? are you still playing with both fingers beside each other? just the index by itself in very very rapid motion? or trading between index and middle?

    yes...i already read the newbie faq and i'd still appreciate more detail...thanks!
  2. MacDaddy


    Jan 26, 2002
    Provo, UT, USA
    I usually switch between both and index finger, depending on how fast I'm playing, but it generally doesn't matter how loud I am, we've got 7 other guys playing along so my input doesn't matter quite as much. But if it's just me I'll try my hardest to use both for more volume but this isn't always possible.
    When you're on the E string brace your thumb against the side of the fingerboard and when you pluck the string (in a horizontal motion) hit your fingers against your palm. Works for me, but try different ways and see what works best.
  3. My personal philosophy is:

    you have to develop a personal knowledge of what works for you.

    One thing to try is to put wrist/ankle weights on your right arm - things actually get easier!

    Side pulling is a way of life and religion - often for pseudo-scientific reasons - this is tosh - try as many different ways as you can manage and HEAR what happens.

    To play fast I use two fingers alternating - this also alters my tone - it has a harder edge and is poor slow, but IMO the edge makes for definition at speed.

    Beware, dynamic tension will leave you with RSI, pain and immobility if done all the time - this is a practise used deliberately in martial arts and most else by accident where the muscles in a static limb pull against eachother.

    A v low action can slow speed because your RH can only move sideways away from the string and has to spend time moving back - the RH is often the limiting factor in speed, not the left - just check out those classical guys!
  4. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Amplifiers
    I have a similar problem with I am playing on the "E" String. I am plucking into the next lowest string on the upper three strings (i.e. when plucking the "G" string my finger comes to rest against the "D" string), but when I play the "E" string the feel and sound are both pretty poor. I am sure some of the problem is due to my kind-of-cheap chinese bass, but it's been setup pretty well by Jim Ferguson.

    I have often experienced the "palm-slap" effect mentioned by MacDaddy, but it only increases my displeasure in the sound and feel of the note. The tone across the rest of the bass is really pretty decent for the kind of instrument it is.

    Thanks for any help.
  5. mattfong


    Jan 14, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    It's hard to describe, but when plucking the E I curl my 1st finger and pluck the string with my knuckle (the second one from the tip of my finger). Its sounds good and works well for me. It's a combination of arm weight and turning my wrist slightly inwards.

    My teacher plays this way too, thats where I picked it up.
  6. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Amplifiers
    It does sound hard to describe =). Thanks for the input. I may have to pony up for a lesson at some point. I'm just not sure where that $50 is gonna come from!
  7. I just let my hand come off when playing on the E string. It is easy to get it back.
    For the rest I use my arm for the power with 2 fingers together as one until gets too fast then I use alternating fingers.
    My feeling is the bass is going to wear on the body, but don't use resources like tendons when you can use the weight of your arm.
  8. Weight of the arm for G, D and A using one or two fingers until it gets fast and then some form of alternating first and second finger. I usually don't use a strict alternating finger pattern but use one or two fingers together as much as possible and actually alternate only when necessary. It's mostly a sound and feel thing and mostly for me because I seriously doubt anyone else picks up on the sonic differences between one/two finger pizz and alternating pizz. I do though and it helps keep me in the zone when playing. For soloing, I use a lot more alternating plucking for facility.

    With the E, instead of just dropping my arm, I kind of twist it around the fingerboard. It's a short, snapping motion. It gives it a good pop like with the other strings and keeps my hand in position to keep going. It's very efficient. Check out Rufus Reid's The Evolving Bassist DVD. He demonstrates the technique very clearly.

  9. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004

    I think he describes it as turning a key.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yeah, Mr. Reid explains it very well calling it the "chicken wing". Check out this intervew and I think they talk about the chicken wing in the 1nd vid.


    In the way that I was taught, you should also imagine that it's not just your arm but it's your entire body pulling that string... back muscles, leg muscles, etc.
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 22, 2022

Share This Page