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Two Questions...Technique & Muting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ninthwondernj, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. (This is only my third week practicing)
    1. im working on the E-String on the notes F(1st fret), G(3rd fret) & G#(4th fret), trying my best to use 1 finger per fret because thats how i was instructed to. but everytime i hit G or G#, the G & D strings vibrate and i cant figure out HOW to mute them? Help PLease..

    2. how come when i see bassists live i never see them using one finger per fret and they never have their thumb directly in back in the fret board. they have their fingers very close together(not spaced) and their thumbs are above,if not a little bit over the fretboard(and i dont really see them using the pinky either)? please explain.
  2. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    Go to Carol Kaye's website for some real tips on hand position and muting.The bass is not a guitar, and the one finger per fret thing is not correct for bass.I know alot of players (even here) will tell you it is correct, but Carol has been a TOP studio bass player since the '60's, and she will give you good advise on this matter.She will accellerate your playing tremendously.I love this site for the knowledge shared, but for a beginner, go there.
  3. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH

    1. To mute the G and D strings when fretting the E string, let the fingers of your fretting hand lightly lie across the G and D strings - gently "collapse" the fretting hand on the strings you wish to mute.

    2. Because the space between frets is pretty wide (especially near the nut), many bassists cannot comfortably use the one-finger-per-fret approach. Because my hands are only average in size, I seldom use my ring finger on the first 4 or 5 frets - the stretch is uncomfortable. Higher up the neck, however, I use the ring finger more. I think this approach is fairly normal.

    Most good bassists keep their thumb behind the neck most of the time. And most good bassists maintain at least a little space between the fingers of their fretting hand (and keep the tips of all those fingers fairly close to the strings at all times).

    Finally, most good bassists use the pinky a lot while using the ring finger only a modest amount of time (or at least less than the pinky).

    If the bassists you've seen do not usually do these things, perhaps their technique is a little weak and, maybe, you should avoid emulating them.

    Good luck to you. You're wise to address technique issues at this early stage of your development.
  4. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Many bass players use one finger per fret, but only when the part that you're immediately playing calls for it. Even with much experience and years of playing, bass is generally-speaking a WORKOUT compared to electric guitar. It's much more about conservation of motion and effort until you need it. (you'll notice all-too-frequent posts on TalkBass concerning various pain and stress injuries, and nerve and tendon problems - be careful!).

    I'm fairly new to SERIOUS bass playing myself (a little over a year), but in this year I've watched other bass players quite a bit (and some of the greatest on video). Advanced bass has much to do with tone and groove and feel. You'll see it advised constantly here that "there is no right way" (they mean that within reason; there are plenty of 'wrong ways' to do most anything). Even if you're going to play real simple, the feel of the groove is what's important, so it has to 'feel right' to you - the thing is; what you need to do when you're starting is to take a whole bunch of things that deinately DON'T feel 'right', and practice to MAKE make them natural.

    I saw a bassist lately who was with a headlining act brought in from California for a special Jazz day in Milwaukee's 'Historic Third Ward'. He was GOOD for-sure - He used much 'conservation'. It was impressive to see him playing with his fretting fingers glued together like a seal flipper - sometimes even sliding up and down one string of his Alembic sometimes, and then seeing his fingers just SNAP way-open for a killer tight-and-distinct scale run or tasty, masterful melodic fill.

    I can think of simple, classic rock songs that require pretty constant use of all-four... like Space Cowboy by Steve Miller, or Low Rider by War (that one mainly wears-out my PICKING fingers because I play a muted stroke about every other beat to try to throw-in more percussion-like sound, being that we're only a 3-piece band).

    Lately for my last several days of practice I've been doing an excercise that has been good for me. I've been playing a little two-part pattern that has two triplets in it - one for each chord change. Every other time around I play a three-fingered triplet, and every other-other I play a 'Wooten triplet' (thumb-down, thumb-up, index pluck); then I'll do two in a row of each, then four (I just spent a quarter-hour of my factory lunch doing this, in fact). It still amazes me; the difference in the feel of the beat - not just the tone!

    (I'd better get back to work; there are 'suits' in the area...)

  5. MicceO


    Aug 12, 2004

    Don't understand, could you explain a bit closer. :confused:
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    While Mrs. Kaye is a pillar of bass history, some of her views on technique are debatable, e.g. practicing with a tennis ball (squeezing).

    The verdict on bass vs. bass guitar is still out IMO.
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    What I mean by 'Wooten triplets' is when I do (or am learning to do) a double-thumb followed by an index finger pluck on the same string; thumb-down, thumb-up, index.

    Like I've said before: I always for-some-reason thought that if you use your thumb, you have to bounce it off the string and make it go "BAY-OWMP!!". Now it's recently occurred to me (epiphany for a simple mind) after watching the Live at Bass Day '98 video, that you DON'T have to bounce off the string - you can simply do a smooth pluck with the thumb - AND the fact that just because the last note you played is with your thumb, this doesn't mean that the next note that you play with a finger has to be a pop - it can just be a smooth pluck too! What was also valuabe to me was the the way Mr. Wooten emphasized the importance of being able to pop (or pluck) on the same string that you're thumping (or thumb-plucking) on!

    ...So: I'm working hard at becoming completely comfortable with playing with thumb strokes in both directions, and index on the same string; I'm trying to 'reserve' my middle finger for plucks or pops on strings more than one string away from the one my thumb is working.

    You know: I see what some of you mean when you say "Practice with a metronome!". There's a verse-part of one song our band does that I'd been practicing doing this thumb-style for hours over the last few days, and thought I had it pretty smooth, but at practice last night... eesch! I swiched back to two fingers. It's not that I was practicing it at a different speed, it just seems to be that playing a part, and playing a part in a groove uses a different part of the mind or something. In this example from last night I'm not saying that it was just loose or off-beat or something - I'm saying that I just couldn't even hit the strings right; I mean I was practically lost! ..Then when we finished the tune, I could do it fine again when I played the part by myself.