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speeding up fingerstyle

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by snowy, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. snowy


    Jun 14, 2005
    i've been playing bass for about 2 years, not long i know, n for about the last year i've been trying to speed up my fingerstyle playing, i've practiced loads and don't seem to have made a dramatic increase in speed, i was wondering if there are any techniques you guys know that could help or if i should just keep practicing?

  2. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    keep practicing, i'm doing scales about 4hours a day and i dont see a big difference either lol..
  3. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    get a pick!!
    Just Kidding!!
    Many people get hung-up with their right hand, but it is most benificial to approach speed with your fretting hand. Good technique than applies ease of motion, in other words have your hand and fingers already in the position they need to be ahead of time so all you need to do is lightly press down to make the note available for your right hand to play. The difficult thing is that applying this to it's full effect requires SLOWING things down. I can't really ASSume anything about your technique as it stands now, but if you are practicing alot and not getting anywere you may need to "break yourself down" a bit and start simple. The other thing that can be frustrating is the rate at which "plateaus"(sp?) are reached. At first we are making huge leaps in our playing ability regularly, but things slow down a bit after a while and the practice time we need to devote becomes greater, and sometimes we find we have less time to practice as we start playing more. Some of the improvements we make may be in theory or musicianship and aren't emmediately obvious to us when playing our instruments.
    Oh yea, write this down on a big piece of paper and stick it somewhere you can see it at all times when you are practicing:

  4. Jaxler


    Jun 14, 2005
    my teacher showed me this one stretch where you put your hands in a praying type way, palms facing eachother with your fingers as vertical as possible and then you slowly pull your hands away, like two positive magnets next to eachother, all the while trying to keep your fingers as straight up as possible, you get really loose doing this. also another good one is imagine you were stuck inbetween 2 walls, now try to push out, still keeping your fingers straight up. my final advice is try to use three fingers. since its an odd number, you have to take it slow to get the one-e-and-a feel in stead of a triplet type if you play it too fast, then just work your way up
  5. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Some resistance training using rubber bands will help enormously. What I do is loop one end around the thumb, and other end around the finger you want to strenghten. You may have loop the rubber band around the finger a few times so it doesn't slip off. Then just stretch your finger in and out, working against the resistance of the rubber band. It works really well, and you can train all day long if you want.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You have all the strength you need to play bass already. What you need is dexterity, and that comes with slow, careful practice. It seems counterintuitive, but you'll get faster if you practice slowly.
  7. mattmcnewf


    May 27, 2004
    yes u have to break down each movement of ur plucking. you have to learn which part of ur plucking is slowing u down and compensate
  8. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    1. Keep your plucking fingers curved at all times - and as relaxed as possible. As others have said, relaxation is critically important.

    2. Pluck lightly, using only the very tips of your fingers.

    3. Maybe use the floating thumb approach to keep your plucking-hand position essentially consistent.

    4. Consider using strict alteration (i-m-i-m ...) as opposed to raking.

    5. Practice difficult passages at slow speeds to develop the proper muscle memory that economizes your motion.

    6. Finger strength-training exercises probably aren't going to make a big difference (but perhaps I'm wrong here).

    Good luck.
  9. +1 to the last 3 statements.

    Pacman beat me to it. My (double bass) teacher used to always tell me to practice things slow in order to be able to get things fast...as a matter of fact, ALL of my teachers from both basses told me this. Hrmm...memory going...I'm getting old (17).

    Doug Miller, a first-call jazz double bassist in Seattle during a workshop told everyone about a drill that involves starting a metronome at about 38bpm and playing one note to a beat, two, three, and all the way up to as many as you can. (He could get up to 12). He stressed relaxation at all times. (hehe oxymoron).
  10. it sounds like your using two fingers, but im not positive. Try using 3 fingers. It took me a while to get used to and the speed change wasn't that drastic, but I did get faster.
  11. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I forgot to mention that it's an incredible long process. It can take years to get the speed and consistency you're looking for.
  12. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Slow daily practice with a metronome. Slow being the operative word. Speed up in very small increments only after an interval of several days.

    Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
  13. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Steady as she goes mate! Just keep on keepin' on. Find a bunch of fast songs you really like and start learnin' 'em. Or better yet write a few! But as the guys above say just practice a little slow and steady and build up. Time/speed
  14. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

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

    After so many years I'm still unhappy with my "speedy fingerstyle" abilities, but I feel that something that helped me a lot to improve was practicing the "Donna Lee" theme. Start by setting your metronome at a REALLY SLOW tempo. The purpose of this is to make sure you're building "muscular memory" for the piece. Practice it phrase by phrase, moving to the next one only when you feel you have the previous one perfectly memorized. When your fingers "know" the piece in its entirety (that means, you don't need to look at the notation for playing it and don't have any doubts about the fingerings), then start speeding it up extremely gradually. Patience is one of the keys for accomplish this, but it definitely pays off. Jaco plays it at 218 beats per minute. I started at 55 bpm and although it still sounds sloppy when try to play it at Jaco's tempo, I know that it's just a matter of "polishing" for getting it really good.

    Hope this helps.
  15. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Pacman is right. Dexterity is probably the better word, to describe the process. "Strenghtening" could be a bit miss leading.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    But you must understand, resistance will build strength, not dexterity. You're better off practicing, slowly.
  17. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    +1 especially to the relaxed and light plucking. During a certain song of a show I couldn't hear myself, and I thought I wasn't loud enough. So I plucked as hard as I could (btw this song was quite a long song, including mostly 16th notes). Halfway through the song my right had cramped and I physically couldn't play properly (it just so happens that halfway through the song was a trombone/bass soli). I completely f*ed it up. Turns out I was already too loud to begin with on the PA, just that the combo amp (used as a monitor) wasn't turned up enough, giving the illusion that I wasn't loud enough. The next night, during a second performance, I played alot lighter on the strings. I played at my normal relaxed plucking way knowing that I was loud enough. I was able to play faster, and for the whole song, not f*ing up.
    Keep yourself relaxed.
  18. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    All of the above are good stuff!!
    I would like to add a few more things that helped me getting some speed:
    -Play scales and arpeggios using strict alternation 1-2-1-2 and 2-1-2-1
    -Practice on one note only like an open string.
    -Write down in a book all the exercices you do daily and the max speed. Then the next day start slowly and go to your max then add one click or few more. You'll be surprise how much improvement you'll make in a week.
  19. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    economize the motions as much as possible
  20. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Disagree greatly.

    Resistance training is a type of recovery process. Working the mechanic's of your hand in the opposite direction will build dexterity and consistancy. Playing aggressively is a "pulling-in motion", so you need to do the opposite in order to grow the skill. Another thing I disgree with you, is if you play slowly all the time, you WILL end only being able to play slowly. If you want to play fast, at some point, you must practice aggressively

    I practice both ways - deliberately holding back and aggresively. So I do agree with on some parts, but not all.

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