Struggling with my technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rockin John, Mar 13, 2002.

  1. As I (hopefully) improve I'm starting to believe my technique is lacking. There are serious issues pertaining to muting: I seem not to be able to do this at all well. But, way out front, I'm finding I have this mental block. I now subconciously want to use the same R/H finger to pluck, as I use the L/H finger to finger. 1:1; 2:2 etc.

    My L/H technique is the "Classical" style so I use all 4 to finger. That means I tend to want to use all 4 to pluck. Now, learned guys like Cliff Suttle (Lesson: hanging 10 on the bass) clearly believe in this. So I've tried switching from 2 or 3 fingered plucking to all 4 + no thumb anchoring, the flesh of my right hand now "anchors" it to the body. Whilst it's very early days, there do seem to be advantages. In some ways it's easier; perhaps because the mental block is removed. Plucking with the pinky is quite good, too. I fact the whole process is smoother, I think.

    Comments, suggestions, pointers on this greatly appreciated.


  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You really want to keep both hands operating independently.

    From what you said, it sounds like if you were to play a pattern requiring you to fret one string with the LH say 1, 4, 2, 1, 3 then that's the fingers you would also use on the right as well...wasteful!

    The two finger method works pretty well for most people, strict alternating becomes totally subconcious after a while, I never even think about what finger is plucking the string, it just happens. You can extend this to three fingers (cool for fast triplets) or even four but still the idea is you just use the "next" finger rather than a specific finger. On upright I switch from one finger (slow to medium tempos) to two (faster tempos or rapid licks) without thinking about it.

    Does this make sense?
  3. Yes. But, I guess, not absolutely strictly so. Perhaps what I should be saying is that I'm more comfortable using my pinky to pluck. And that mostly plucking and fretting is on a 1:1 finger:finger basis. Thing is, there's definitely something going wrong with my fretting hand technique when I'm not using all 4 on the right.


  4. sgtbaker


    Mar 14, 2002
    i never understood using 4 fingers. it never worked for me, i can see 3 fingers,...but using the pinky to pluck on your right hand?
  5. Whatever works Rockin John!

    I mostly use two fingers to pluck, sometimes three for 8th notes and triplets. Sometimes I'll use two fingers and my thumb "finger picking" style to do arpeggiated triads in quick succession. 4 fingers is a lot more difficult for me... I don't do it a lot. I sat in on a Billy Sheehan clinic one time and he was talking about his 4-finger plucking technique. He mentioned there's an inherent problem in that your pinky is about a centimeter shorter than the other fingers, and for that reason you have to sort of rock your hand each time to bring the pinky down to the string.
  6. Funny thing is, I'm now not so certain that the apparent need to pluck with 4 is the root cause of my problem. I tinkered about with the action on my bass last night, and lowered it somewhat. The fretting hand now seems to play a lot easier (perhaps no great surprise there) and that's somehow translated into making plucking easier; there's apparently no mental block anymore and I'm back to plucking with 3.

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