similtaneous 2 fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Wxp4759cb, Dec 16, 2000.

  1. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    sometimes i see people pluck with 2 fingers on the same note. Not to make 2 differnt notes, but just one. I usually see jazz players doing this. The only thing I can think of is it deadens the note a little bit. Is there any other technical reason to do this?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I think it's more of a funk thing - but jazz/funk have become a bit intertwined so I suppose you might mean this.
    There are advantages to playing funky syncopations, where you are playing very short notes or subdivisions of the bar - like 16ths, so you're sort of playing off the drums or other parts of the rhythm section - building a layered sound, where you don't want to let notes ring but rather cut off to emphasise the accents - it's easier to demonstrate than write about!!;)

    There is a Brazilian funk tune I play called Kalimba, (original has Nathan East on bass with Sergio Mendes, written by Ivan Lins) which is typical - the main part of the tune has a Paul Jackson Jr. rhythm guitar thing which fits precisely with drums and the bass, which is just one note but played at a very precise part of the bar or it doesn't work. Playing it with one finger is just impossible, but using two it is very easy to get into the groove and make it very relaxed, but funky. So it's like quarter note on the one, then 8th note rest, 16th note, 16th note rest, 16th note, 8th note, etc. But all on A.

    You've also got the ghost note thing and getting a percussive feel to the notes, which is easier using two fingers or more.

  3. I think you got him wrong, Bruce. What I understand is plucking with two fingers, as in "more flesh" rather than muting. I do that sometimes when walking. It produces a softer sound, it's a bit similar to double-bass player who pluck with the side of their finger.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Actually I can see what you mean now - if we're talking about double bass. I've never seen anybody doing this on bass guitar, but upright players do it a lot - I think it's about leverage as well. Maybe it should have been posted on the double bass side of the forum - usually it's the other way round, people post on the DB side by mistake when they want electric! ;)
  5. Yes it does! I do it myself and I play electric. I don't do it often though. Usually, when I don't alternate fingers, as in some walking bass, the other finger follows and it looks likes two-finger plucking but it's not.
  6. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I do it sometimes but only because my electric technique is coming to a large degree from the upright. It isn't really plucking with two fingers as much as plucking with the middle with the added strength of the index. It also lends a subtle consistency of tone on slow and medium tunes where the difference in sound between the index and middle can become noticeable.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - in over 25 years of going to hundreds (maybe thousands)of gigs, I've never noticed any electric bass player using two fingers "together" - whereas a lot of funk and other players use two fingers alternating on one note to play 16ths, ghost notes etc. But almost every upright player I've seen at Jazz gigs, has used this "two fingers pulling together" technique - I think it may be to do with the fact that upright strings are thicker and harder to shift, plus a lot of upright players are going for a big sound and trying to get more acoustic volume; whereas most electric players use the amplification for tone/volume and develop their technique more towards fluency and speed.

    I've no doubt you can do it on electric, but I can't see (hear?)any advantages or significant change in sound - palm muting, using your thumb or playing closer to the neck has more effect on the sound when I try it, than using two fingers together. If you have a low action or tight string spacing, this might be very difficult to achieve at all on electric, or at best hamper your technique significantly, whereas on upright there is almost certainly always going to be room to do this.
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i do it on fretless sometimes to encourage a great deal of fundamental out of the sound - helps encourage the "mwah" and accentuate an upright-like sound. i sorta use my hand as a flipper - don't specifically use 2 fingers - maybe 3 get in there.
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    You hit on something really fundamental here about using amplification as part of your sound rather than using it to make louder what is coming from yer hands; I'm definitely of the "yer sound is in yer hands" school. The advantage of playing two finger pizz on the electric is that if you want to simulate the sound of the upright in walking or country 2/4 type lines it's much more important to cop the natural articulation of the upright than it is to twiddle knobs on yer amp.
  10. this might be diferent from what your all talking about but sometimes i will lock my first two fingers together for a tone variation i.e. when i am going for some smooth jamerson with the beef of two fingers, i helps me to not get the slight tone diference of two alternating fingers but gives me the punch of two finger tips
  11. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    One other reason is injury, as in using an extra finger for support or "leverage" as was suggested.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well you have selected only a part of my post and I too am a believer in the idea that the tone is in your hands and set my amp and don't touch it or use any effects during peformance.

    But I did say - in other parts of my posts that I find that using your thumb and palm-muting have far more effect on the tone and get more of an upright sound than using two fingers does. I tried using two fingers together after reading these posts and it really doesn't make much difference to my ears, whereas palm muting can make a big difference and is actually more controllable - depending on how much of your palm you use and where exactly you plant it. A lot of educators recommend the thumb/palm muting approach - like Ed Friedland in Bass Player magazine and Gary Willis I think.

    I think if it was a useful technique then I would have seen at least some pros using it or recommending it, but I haven't - if you could provide any examples, I would be surprised, as I have looked at as many videos etc, on technique as I could find!
  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I have: me. Never heard of me? So what?
    Very simply if you wanna make yer ebg sound like an upright then play it like an upright just like if you wanna cop a tuba feel you have to think about the capabilities, limitations and practicalities of the tuba (ie. embrasure, breathing etc) and stay within them. Let me very clear, I'm not talking about tone per say but about doing something on the ebg that is physically more appropriate to the upright in order to present the sonic illusion of playing the upright. One reason you haven't seen any of the "pro" subjects of yer hero worship doing what I suggest is that it's likely many who would agree with me just play the damn upright if they wanna sound like one. It's occurring to me that maybe being able to effectively play the one finger thing on the big bass would be helpful to really see what I'm talking about. I have an idea Bruce, why don't you go study that instrument for a decade or so and then get back to me; or not.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I use two fingers on electric when I want a real fat sound. I usually only do it for very slow grooves when I'm trying to lock in with the kick drum to crate a BIG note.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, with all respect to Brian, Jeff etc I haven't heard or seen them play and I can't make a judgement or comment, based on something I haven't seen or heard. ;)

    If they could point me to an example that anyone can see or hear, in a video or on CD for example, then it would have been more helpful to everyone rather than just getting annoyed and making sarcastic comments.

    If there are no examples that anyone can give apart from themselves (!) then it seems to me that it's not a very widely-used technique. I tend to agree with Jeff that people doing this are more likely to actually be playing upright than electric.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So have you actually tried the thunb/palm muting technique? Do you notice any differences in the sound with this more or less? And why go for an "illusion" - why not go for the technique that objectively sounds most like an upright, rather than just looks/feels like it - after all, surely in music it's better to to go for what sounds right rather than how it looks/feels?
  17. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I can't say as I have used thumb/palm muting much so I can't really comment on it. Most of my concept of muting comes from the Rocco Prestia school of the left hand so the palm/thumb thing is kinda foreign feeling. I'll make an effort to try it some more though as one can't have too much technique or too many of them. As for "illusion" getting an upright sound out of an ebg is just that, a sonic illusion no matter the technique used. Please note the sonic as opposed to visual. I could care less how something looks as long as it sounds good to my ears. Also I find it impossible to think objectively about a thing to me so fundamentally subjective.
    I think you and I are coming at this problem from different directions (philosophical as much as physical maybe) but perhaps both with satisfactory results.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was thinking of the article by Ed Friedland, "How to get an Upright sound on Electric Bass" where he does mention about thinking like an upright player, but recommends the thumb technique :

    I have no doubt that you or other people get satisfactory results, and that it works for you, but the original post was asking what the advantages were and thinking "objectively" I can't see many over something like the approach Friedland offers.
  19. I've never heard an electric bass that sounds like an upright. Palm muting sounds just like that, palm muting.

    You're right Bruce, plucking with two fingers doesn't change your sound as much as palm muting and/or playing with your thumb, but what's the point? They're simply not the same thing. Granted, two-finger pluck doesn't add much to the sound and as I said, I rarely do this and most times, it's almost "by accident", while playing over the neck. I've seen gary Willis and Alain Caron playing that way (I don't understand why you need an approval from the greats).

    BassMasterG, I think that it's safe to say that 95% of the time, only one finger is actually plucking the string even it looks like 2. It doesn't deaden the string at all, it just add more flesh on the string, thus producing a slightly softer attack. Don't lose your sleep over this.
  20. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I'm sure Ed is a fine player but there are ways other than his and can't hold him as an example of "How Things Are" or even "What Is Best". These are personal things and I was just throwing out my findings as one way, not as "How Things Are" or "What Is Best". And besides why would I or someone else wanna do something simply 'cause that's the way everyone else did it? Eat s*h**t, 50,000,000,000 flies can't be wrong?