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Three Fingers

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CBNJ, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. CBNJ

    CBNJ Sorry brother.

    Feb 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Never really had a need to play with three fingers, but I'd like to learn. Always stuck with 2, and it's been enough 99.99999% of the time. Where do I start?
  2. slowly
  3. Btone


    May 5, 2001
    Does thumb count as a finger here?
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I only play with only one it works for me
  5. CBNJ

    CBNJ Sorry brother.

    Feb 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Really? What finger? Ever run into any trouble with fast parts?

    I use index/middle, so I'd like to move to the ring finger.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I use the index never had a problem with fast parts I have really big hands so that may help? I also play with a pick and I can move between the two styles without thinking about it.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I sometimes play with one without realizing it. I had a drummer tell me that my technique reminded him of James Jamerson. I actually mostly use two fingers and my thumb. I occasionally use three fingers but that is rare.
  8. ExaltBass

    ExaltBass Just a BassGuy! Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Twin Cities, MN
    Where do you start? I'd suggest here...

  9. Braddock


    Aug 13, 2010
    East Kentucky
    If you want to use 3 fingers, I highly highly suggest you watch this video, this is a good bit of info and a good place to start. Weather you want to use this technique or not, this video could still be of use to you. Goodluck and enjoy!
  10. I use 3 fingers pretty much exclusively.
    I started playing 4 notes on one note (say A) then four notes on A#, then four notes on B, then four on C and then move to the next string.
    I start finger next to little finger, then middle, then index, then next to ring finger again. So for every count of 4 the beat will start on a different finger.
    After I got that sorted, I did 3 notes per note, then went to 2 notes per note, then one note per note etc.
    I ALWAYS used a metronome, as I didn't want to end up with a gallop.
    This way worked for me, but if you watch Steve Bailey, he goes finger next to little, then middle, index and the middle again.

    So no really right or wrong way, but Steve's way, the middle works twice as hard. Whichever way you want to try, use a metronome, and start slow & clean, then build up your speed. If you have a passage that you find is difficult and not clean. Slow it down, right down, get it clean slow & then build up.

    Good luck
  11. DaRQsiDe


    Jan 17, 2008
    Istanbul, Turkey
    What I used to do when playing death metal is EAT these alterations, so that I don't have to think about them.

    AND ALWAYS USE A METRONOME (Between 60bpm and 240bpm)

    First, muted empty string to just get the fingering down...

    i - index
    m - middle
    a - ring

    3/4 - ima, mia, aim, mai, iam, ami
    4/4 - a*mia/m*iam/i*ami (like the Billy Sheehan trick up there), amim, imam (middle finger workout, i used these for let's say very fast triplets and a single note following after that, listen to Dream Theater - Dance of Eternity's beginning - I play it like amim - i - m - amim) and every other combination in 3/4's stressing different fingers each time with the 1st beat

    When you're comfortable on the open muted string, start chromatics up and down, but especially when coming up from the treble, do not slide the finger up, keep the correct fingering order.

    than incorporate scales, mix and spice up :)
  12. Sassafras


    Jul 6, 2012
    Instead of making my own thread, I'll hijack the tail end of this one:

    So I was wondering about three fingers and practice methods.
    First, when you guys say use a metronome, do you just mean play a note every time the metronome ticks? Then up the speed after 10 minutes?

    next the technique. I hear all about the different ways of doing it like:

    123 123 123
    321 321 321


    1232 1232 1232
    3212 3212 3212

    OR the weirdest one I have been told but the most comfortable for me:

    321 321 21 321 321 21
    and reverse.

    Which are dumb and which are actually decent?

    And on a side note, people often play with this really fast runs with two fingers, and it really seems impossible to me. So is it just that they hit the strings with the pads of their fingers first and then back up with their tips or nails?

    Thank you!
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Yes when developing the technique play a beat a click, then lose the click once you have it.

    All the techniques are basically the same....it is the placement of the '1' that trips a few up in these techniques.

    In a folowing technique (where the fingers follow in one direction) the '1' changes finger in 4/4 based music.
    So in 1231 2312 3123 shows the placement of the leading finger to the strong beat, and the relevent fingers movement to the '1'.

    3213 2132 1321 shows the placement of the leading finger to the strong beat and the relevent fingers movement to the '1'.

    So whether the leading finger is the fore finger (123) or the ring finger (321) it is exactly the same thing so don't worry about what finger to lead with.

    Alternate picking sees the leading finger alway on the '1' of 4/4 based music.
    Again, as before, it does not matter what finger leads, but even more so in this use.
    The fingers alternate and follow each other regardless of which leading finger is used.
    Look at the use below, pick any finger to start on and look at how the fingers flow....it is exactly the same for leading fingers...the only thing that changes is which one you relate the strong beat to.
    Which group of four you put the bar lines between to will detemine where the 'one' of the beat goes.


    The real skill of any fingering technique is that any finger can lead, this means you are free from 'pattern' playing and can use your technique to play free flowing music...not shapes within music, or find yourself tripping over fingers when time signatures change or the music has sycopation that is not divisable by four.

    The other technique is what i call, three finger ocassional, is a standard two finger use, but just add the other finger when needed.
    In all cases the need for a better technique will show better and faster results than just the idea of having one for most players.
    They de-fault to the easiest use, so three finger use for Motown will lead to the eventual comment that "Jamerson only use one".
    Correct fingering technique are efficient ways to use the hands in a given situation, so the ability to change them to suit is the way to master them, not just stick to one style, any group of fingers from two to all five will work, but it will be about where that leading finger goes in relation to the stong beat everytime for most.:)
  14. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    There is no specific order to develop, you just use what's most comfortable for what you play. Typically I play 1234 for groups of 4 notes and 321 for groups of 3 notes.

    I pretty much always play 3 fingers. The idea at start was that I could still play the gig if I injured a finger. I worked on construction sites back then and it proved several time to be a good idea.
    Work with 2 fingers using index and ring instead of index and medium. No need to train, when you play you just use these 2 fingers all the time. Easy as pie.
    Then do the same with medium and ring, which is a bit trickier.
    From there, you start gaining enough mobility and you can start using 3 fingers all the time, or when the song calls for.

    Remember, even if you can play with 3 fingers, you can choose to only use one. It's all about options.
  15. jabsys


    Mar 30, 2011
    I play mostly with 3 fingers, it's always 321 321 321 with an accent on the first beat so it doesn't sound like triplets, it's the same way Alex Webster and Steve DiGiorgio play.

    I used to play 3212 but that way your middle finger is doing twice the work, I found it too limiting in speed & my fingers got tired quicker.