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Ring finger?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by djero44, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. djero44


    Mar 3, 2009
    Paonia Colorado
    There is probably another similar thread, but for the sake of conversation i'm going to start this one.

    How many of you use your ring finger in your picking technique? I have some dexterity in mine from many years of fingerstyle guitar, but it seems reluctant to become part of my bass playing style. I love the two fingered approach; it's like playing a drum with two hands. For the sake of simplicity we'll leave the thumb out of this query. I think it is truly it's own creature anyhow.

    To two or to three, this is the question...
  2. first off, that's what she said

    but yeah i often use my ring finger, mainly because both bands i'm currently in play either fast rock or metal so it's just too much work for the 2, so slap the 3rd in there especially for hitting triplets
  3. Bocete

    Bocete My E string is 36 1/4" long

    Sep 30, 2006
    There is a ton of threads regarding three finger plucking.

    As for the question, two or three? I started plucking with three very early, and it took a lot of time (really, a lot) to get comfortable with using them in any situation. So I pluck with three exclusively. Was it worth it? I'm not sure :meh: Time spent on synchronizing three fingers might have been spent on different issues, and I believe I might have been a better bassist.

    And, it takes a lot of practice to outspeed two finger plucking, much more than I anticipated in the beginning. My mind was slowing me down, as alternating two fingers is natural and goes with the music; synchronizing three fingers, while raking and string skipping and not playing triplets might not be natural.

    I guess that one should be able to play solid triplets with three fingers, while two is enough for most applications. If you want to go Billy Sheehan/John Myung etc, a solid all-around three finger plucking technique is fundamental.
  4. What ever floats your boat. It's all about finding your sound.
  5. djero44


    Mar 3, 2009
    Paonia Colorado
    Well, my boat usually is floated with a level of rythmic insanity that isn't suitable for many, if not most, projects. Even after many conscious years of analyzing and considering my own musical intentions and also what pleases my ear this fact remains. As a bass player i'm taking a bit of a different approach to playing than I have with other instruments; really wanting to cultivate a truly supportive musical presence as a part of a greater whole. This involves (imo and ime of course) using a lot more space than sound than my more common solo, "fill the space" mentality.

    (I cited the two following examples in a different unrelated thread, but i want to go a bit deeper into it, so...)

    I studied tabla for a year or two about ten years ago and was surprised to find out that the smaller drum is generally played with only two fingers. I was astounded that such an commonly high speed percussive style was crafted around a minimalistic approach. The same can be applied to certain classical indian sitar music as well. The fretting hand only uses two fingers. "Why limit yourself?" was one of my first thought processes; especially coming from a complex fingerstyle and polyrythmic guitar perspective. In that context I feel like I want to make use of all of my resources, i.e. every digit available.

    Years later, around the time I first started playing bass seriously, I was exposed to a similar approach (two fingered style) watching the Funk Brothers in Under the Shadows of Motown, and really began to contemplate the deeper potentials of restrain, even in what might sound to be a really "cut loose" groove. (I'm not sure restrain is the best word, but you know what I mean), Keeping my lines less busy has been really helpful for me in certain band situations, undoubtedly.

    So anyhow I asked the question because i'm curious how different players feel. I know the process of finding my "own" voice as a musician, i'm wanting to know how to be a part of a group now, and the bass has been instrumental and wonderful for me in that way. I've never had the ability to make people dance before! Yeah, I need a good drummer too. :)

    Shawman, your post inspired me to check out some three fingered experimentation; i've had a lot of fun, especially with the triplets. I can see why many players would adopt this technique. I can go ring to first way better than vice versa, though! Anyhow it was worth posting the thread just for that inspiration.
  6. awesome, think this is actually the my first post which has been helpful instead of just being a crap joke :p

    glad i could help out, hope you keep enjoying it!

    also, just to ask instead of starting another thread about it, anybody else use their 3rd finger and/or pinkie to hit pinch harmonics? was playing with a friend who said he's not seen it before, surely this is quite common?
  7. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Alta Loma, California
    a good thing to know is how to use three fingers to do straight 16ths and 32nd runs.

    a good excercise:

    -start with a tripplet going from frets 7-8-10 on the E string.

    -using your middle finger on your fretting hand, go to the 8th fret on the string below. Hit that note with the middle finger of your plucking hand

    - restart this pattern on that same string and keep working your way to the bottom string [G]

    it'll be really slow at first, and it'll take you a few months of constant practice and doing different variations of this technique [up and down the neck w/ different patterns] to be competent. Once you do though, it's an awesome feeling to be able to do 32nd notes @ 120 BPM.
  8. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    There are occasional applications like the "My Generation" solo where 2 is just much trickier.

    Working on 3 fingers? Practice groupings of 4.

    Working on 2? Groupings of 3.

    Or.... just cop some Entwistle, Trujillo, and Sheehan!!!!!!!:bassist:

    For my bread Alain Caron is one of the true masters of this wierd technique.

    Me, I make most of my money with just the index.
  9. I use three fingers whenever I need the speed. I started using three fingers to play Scarified by Racer X, now I use it when my band plays My Generation for a bass solo.
  10. I stick with 2 its simple and clean.
  11. Tehrin Cole

    Tehrin Cole

    Mar 6, 2009
    Brooklyn,New York
    Endorsing Artist:Kustom Amplifiers
    On my picking hand,I'll use as many as 4 fingers(thumb,index,middle,and ring),....it depends on what I'm playing,really!I'm at a point in my playing where,I don't necessarily"think"about it,so to speak,but early on,I noticed that my ring finger was becoming involved in many of my passages,...especially when I take solos on some really fast bebop tunes(Donna Lee,Quicksilver,Cherokee,etc.)
  12. I went to Booker T and The MG's March 21st and I noticed Donald used mostly his index finger and sometimes his ring finger when needed.
  13. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    About two years into playing bass I decided to go to three, and I'm glad I did. I can play fast 8ths on rock tunes beginning to end without any "breaks" ... when you spread the work out between more digits it really helps fight muscle fatigue. I am 53 and can rock out harder for a lot longer than a lot of young guys I see out there. I've been playing for 38 years at this point. :D
  14. I've used 3 fingers from day one - never given it a thought!!. In the past I've experimented with using my little finger as well but that didn't appear to add anything to the mix. I with nysbob on this - in my pro days I'd be playing 5 plus hours a night 6 or 7 days a week so I needed all the tools available!. I also pick with my thumb sometimes when playing fast octaves, I slap and pull and I also use a plectrum where its appropriate.
  15. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009

    Well not for harmonics but I'll use it snap the octave while playing the route. Not much for slap bass but a little here and there is more my style.
  16. mrbass02


    Nov 15, 2008
    Just the way you said that made me laugh a lot. nice one.
  17. Pitbull Growl

    Pitbull Growl

    Jan 6, 2009
    There's a GREAT tutorial on Harmony Central called "Hanging 10 on Bass" or something to that effect ( http://harmony-central.com/Bass/Articles/Hanging_Ten/ ) that offers ideas on ways to develop and improve finger dexterity/strength. Might be right up your alley... definitely helped me out when I first read it. (The band I was in @ the time I found it wanted to add some Blues Traveler tunes to the set and I was struggling w/the material... that tutorial got me thru it)

  18. brachal


    Jan 7, 2006
    New Orleans, La
    I use my ring finger when the blister on my middle finger pops and tears off.

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