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Two Finger Picking and pinkie problems

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by confedx19, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. confedx19


    Jan 20, 2005
    I've been playing bass for quite a few now, and I taught mayself to play. I have two problems, I just can't get myself to either use two fingers on my right hand, or use my pinkie, which has made it very difficult to play anything past medium tempo. I have tried alot of excerzies people have posted here, and I have been doing them for about a year every day, and I still have gotten nowhere since then. Whenever I try to use two fingers, I stumble over myself, and its difficult to try to think about using two fingers, and whenever I try to play with my pinkie, I just mess up completely. Am I doing somthing wrong? Have I just been playing incorrectly for too long? Any help is good. Thanks.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    What fingers do you normally play with-just your index? And what's this about plucking with your pinky? VERY few bassists pluck with their pinky (I can only think of Bill Dickens, who doesn't even use it all the time, and a couple of death metal bassists) and it's not at all necessary for playing fast.
  3. confedx19


    Jan 20, 2005
    Sorry, that was confusing.

    1. Can only pluck with index
    2. Can't fret with pinkie

    Two different problems.
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Okay, that's much clearer :D Using the pinky is pretty essential...if you're really having a hard time getting it's use in there, I would suggest doing a very focused, and then later an almost unfocused way of practicing with it.

    In practicing, don't give yourself an option to NOT play with your pinky. Practice hammer-ons from your index to pinky, middle to pinky, and ring to pinky, and then practice pull-offs from pinky to ring, pinky to middle, pinky to index. Play chromatically up the neck using one finger per fret, so you have to use your pinky at every new position. Practice trills between your ring and pinky. Don't let yourself NOT use it. If you're playing scales, use it on every string, even if that means you have to play an extended version of the scale (ex. when playing a natural minor with fingerings in patterns 1 3 4, 1 3 4, and 1 2, add the 9th in there so you're making yourself use your pinky on that last string).

    And then when you're not practicing, and are just watching tv or something, keep your bass strapped on or in your lap, and keep your hand on the neck with each finger on a fret, and just keep your pinky on there. Play little trills with your pinky and ring finger-you don't really even have to pay attention to it-just know in the back of your head that whatever you're doing will involve your pinky. The main thing is to get the pinky to be an ingrained part of your playing, not something you have to always work at to use properly, so taking a little break from focused practiced but still using it will help ingrain it into your subconsious.

    A lot of newer players have trouble using their pinky, when in reality it's much more difficult to become adept with your ring finger, as it has much less strength and independance than the pinky.

    I'd suggest a similar route with the plucking fingers. I started out playing with just my thumb, and then a couple months in realized that I should be using my fingers for more speed, so I pretty much did as I described above-focused practice that would not allow me to not use both, and then in off time I'd lay my hand over the strings with both fingers in plucking position. You can even practicing plucking 1-2-1-2 over and over while watching tv- but you have to be a little more wary of this and look down now and then to make sure you are alternating and not just using your index.

    Right now I'm trying to learn to pluck with three and four fingers, and after plucking with just two for nine years, it's taking quite a bit of work just for it to not feel uncomfortable, but I know it will be worth it.

    Hope that helps.
  5. Hello.......like the post above, do your scales. I had the same thing with the fretting hand meself. Try to relax and believe me, you will play the rythym without even thinking about it, Re the plucking fingers, if you don't already, keep your thumb on the pickup or on the plate..your natural instinct is then to use index and middle finger to pluck....it really helps me. Hope this helps but would be cool to discuss any further if you like.........

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