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Third Finger

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by bassfish, Feb 21, 2003.


  1. bassfish

    bassfish

    Jan 31, 2003
    Helena, Montana
    My bass teacher has told me to not use my third finger, because he thinks I might want to play standup but I don't think I will. Should I start practicing vigourously with my third finger.:bassist:
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    What does the 3rd finger have to do with standup? If your talking about the fretting hand, use all your fingers. If your talking aboutthe plucking hand, use at least two, but use them all if it works for you. When your teacher can say that Gary Willis is doing it wrong (and back it up) - then he might have something going

    Mike
     
  3. bassfish

    bassfish

    Jan 31, 2003
    Helena, Montana
    yes i'm talking about the fretting hand. On standup you want to use only three fingers because your second finger and your third finger hit the same note, but your fourth finger hits the next note down.
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I'm sorry, I misread your post. The standup and the bass guitar are totally different animals and should be treated as such. Why compromise your technique because you also play standup - makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Mike
     
  5. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Your hand can be more relaxed if you don't try to cover 'one finger per fret' in the lower positions. With my hand, I can get a roughly equal stretch between 1, 2 and 4 - 3 sits somewhere between 2 & 4 and is useful when a note falls under it, but doesn't significantly increase my reach.

    Maybe that's what your teacher is getting at - but I certainly wouldn't say that I never use my third finger.

    I'd be interested to know what fingering technique Stanley Clarke and John Patitucci use - both of them are successful 'doublers' (understatment ;) ).

    Wulf
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Consider the fact that you only have 4 fingers. If you use only three of them you are working at only 75%. Is 75% good enough for you? It's not good enough for me.

    You cannot approach the upright and the electric the same way. They really are two different instruments that happen to serve the same role in the band. Just like upright and tuba. If you are a doubler than approach each instrument with its own technique and nuances.

    I feel rather strongly about this. I feel that bassfish's teacher is really doing him an disservice.

    BTW, Stanley uses all four fingers. Check out the recent BET special on him.

    Mike
     
  7. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Certainly a rigid 'only three fingers' rule is an unnecessary limitation on the electric bass.

    Out of interest, Mike, do you use 'one finger per fret' all the way to the lowest notes? I tend to use 1 2 4 lower down and 1 2 3 4 higher up, making the transition somewhere between the 5th and 8th frets and allowing me to avoid over stretching my fretting hand.

    Of course, that's not to say that I completely avoid using the third finger - for example if I'm playing something like the good ole root - five - octave pattern, I'll probably use 1 3 4.

    Where do you come from on that?

    Wulf
     
  8. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    wulf,
    It really depends on what I am playing. If I'm playing a simple box pattern I will, out of laziness, revert to playing a 1,2,4 or 1,3,4. If I am playing something more difficult I will go to 1,2,3,4. I totally understand that it is out of laziness on my part and nothing more than that. I put very little strain on my hand when I play. My bass is set up with action that barely requires touching the string to make a sound. The relief is 6/1000's of an inch and the action at the 24th fret is between 1/32nd and 2/32nd's of an inch.

    Mike
     
  9. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Is it laziness though - or simply a more efficient way of using the fingers?

    For example, below is a line I play with my band - just this one lick, time and time again throughout a four minute song (that's contemporary R&B for ya.... I get to vary the intensity but it relies on the other instruments and voices to maintain the interest):

    Notes: C Bb G F Eb C F F G Bb

    Tab: (rhythm not indicated - numbers below tab represent LH fingers)

    G+------------------------
    D+-10-8-----------------8-
    A+------10-8-6---8-8-10---
    E+-------------8----------

        4 1  4 1 1 3 4 1  4 1


    By keeping my fingers relaxed, I can maintain the groove for as long as it's needed. Rather than stretching, I throw in a downwards shift between the F and Eb, cross from the E string back to the A string using the 3rd and 4th fingers next to each other and then, in the convenient pause between those two consecutive F notes, shift back to my original hand position.

    Like you, I've got a light action - but I'd call it 'deliberate' rather than lazy. I can play it with a 'one finger per fret' approach:


    G+--------------------------
    D+-10-8-------------------8-
    A+------10-8-------8-8-10---
    E+-----------11--8----------

        3 1  3 1  4  1 1 1  3 1


    but it doesn't 'breathe' in the same way.

    What would be an example of a 'more difficult' passage, where you'd break back to 1 2 3 4?

    Wulf
     
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I guess that I've always felt that shifting positions is not very efficient. Ron Carter syas in hie book to try and remain in one position as much as possible. If you also read through Willis' Fingerboard Harmony for Bass, he is also a proponent of staying in one position. The line that you outline is based on aminor pentatonic line, my opinion would be that it is easy enough to play w/o shifting.

    Shifting can also be more innacurate, especially if you miss the fret that your having to switch to.

    I play a lot of the heads of tunes, as well as chord/melody solos. I couldn't do it with out using 1,2,3,4. As for more difficult passages that I would use 1,2,3,4 on:

    bass head fromTeen Town
    the head to Scrapple from the Apple
    the head to Take 5
    Bass line to "The Chicken"

    Mike
     
  11. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I guess I'd politely disagree with you on some things, Mike, but maybe that's why they call me shifty ;)

    I think we're probably both working with the same aim of using all the available resources to work out a fingering pattern that makes efficient use of our hands. I don't know any of the examples you gave well enough to make an informed comment, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were points in them where I'd be using 1 2 3 4 even in the lower positions (leaving aside string crossing like the first couple of bars of Teen Town).

    I did once see a guy who only used the first three fingers on his fretting hand, with the pinky doing nothing - that was kind of painful to watch, especially when the bassline stuttered because he didn't have the reach!

    Wulf
     
  12. bassfish

    bassfish

    Jan 31, 2003
    Helena, Montana
    Thanks a lot for your suggestions.


    __________________
    Slap, tap, and pop!!!!!
     
  13. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    So, bassfish, how are the lessons going?

    Wulf
     
  14. Billdog

    Billdog

    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    I'm going to throw in my two cents even though I'm hardly "experienced". I'm not even a gigging musician! But my teacher told me less motion=better for speed. But, as wulf said,it helps him play without getting tired, so there is another kind of efficiency in doing it that way. I think whatever is easiest is what you should do live/recording/whatever, and you should practice with what is more difficult if that makes any sense at all.:D Just my 2 cents.