1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

update on right hand four finger techique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by electricdemon3, Aug 31, 2000.

  1. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    A while back, someone posted about learning to play with three fingers instead of two and I mentioned how I have been practicing with four for a few months now. The technique I have been using is alternating from my index to my middle to my ring to my pinky creating a 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 pattern. I got to the point where my speed has exceeded the speed I used to achieve with two fingers. However, that is comparing to how fast I was at two fingers before I started practicing with four. I recently went back to two and realized that even though I wasn't practicing that way, my speed has increased over all no matter how many fingers I use. I can still play fastest with two.

    Anyhow, I watched closely when I played with two and when I played with four and noticed what was slowing me down when I used four. Its finger independence. My first finger is completely independent from my middle finger. However, when I use my middle finger, I find that my ring finger goes down slightly with it. This makes me slower since I have to reposition my ring finger to play the string, so its like I have to do an upward motion before I go back down to attack. This same codependent problem occurs with my ring and pinky fingers.

    I am sure that its possible to do exercises to gain more finger independence but I thought to myself, why should I teach my body to do something that is not natural when I could use what already feels natural and just build on that. My ultimate goal in using multiple fingers was to try and achieve the speed I already gained with using a pick. I am much faster with a pick but I prefer the sound of the fingers. So I have been exploring what feels most natural using multiple fingers. For me, It is using my index, middle, and pinky fingers! It probably sounds odd since the pinky is much shorter and far less powerful but I found that my pinky is just as independent as my index and middle fingers. Plus, it has gotten a lot stronger since I have been practicing and the length problem is easily solved by curling the index and middle fingers a little and putting a slight angle in the hand position.

    Now I have been practicing with the pattern, 1-2-4-1-2-4 and so far, it is much faster than all four. But hey, I might just end up going back to two. With a pick, you only have two motions, up and down. Maybe all you need to get fast is two fingers and plenty of practice. I'll post my results later on to let everyone know how its going.
  2. ed3 -

    Interesting post. I have used a 4 finger right hand technique for 6 or 7 years now, but I never did it with the intention of gaining speed (although I'm sure it was a happy "side effect"). The biggest thing for me was the added ability to make BIG jumps (I play a 6), not to play faster.

    I've noticed a couple of things. One is that you're doing a 1-2-3-4 pattern, and I tried both that and a 4-3-2-1 when I first started out. Guess what? the 4-3-2-1 worked better for me, seemed to "flow" better. Also, I have a tendency when I'm in "cruise" mode (not playing very fast) to eliminate my 3rd or ring finger from the pattern, thus playing a 4-2-1 right hand pattern. It's not a conscious decision, it just sorta happens.

    If your goal is speed though, I don't think 4 finger technique is the answer. It won't hurt or hinder your ultimate quest for velocity, but it could slow you down a bit in the short term, trying to get your coordination together. The fastest bassist I know personally (Dave LaRue) uses a 2 finger technique and absolutely destroys me, speed-wise. Hope my observations are some use to you.
  3. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    It's funny that you mentioned starting with the pinky. That is the way I used to practice but I read somewhere that someone else was starting with the first finger. I thought that that was a more "proper" approach, since I have studied classical guitar and flamenco and generally when you play tremolo with two or three fingers, you start with the first finger. However, I went back and played staring with my pinky and I realized that it solves my finger dependancy problem I get when I start with the first. I agree that alot of fast players only use two but I still want to try this out. If I just can't get my coordination together, I will go back to two.
  4. phill gray

    phill gray

    Sep 4, 2000
    i use almost exclusively 321 a technique i picked up from billy sheehan(gasp!!!)i find it so natural and strong for any type of plucking.i just never seemed to be able to effectively use the pinky(beyond raking).
  5. I started using three fingers a while ago. I tried to avoid it at first because I felt like I was cheating somehow! I got over that when I started easily coming up with some cool lines that would be tough for me to pull with two fingers. I still try to avoid it when playing existing songs, just to make sure I don't become too dependant on it. However, when improvising I let the three fingers fly. I don't think I could effectively use four fingers simply because my fingers are pretty short and my pinky fingers are a tad crooked.
  6. 5156246


    Sep 6, 2000
    I use the three finger technique VERY often.

    It's 3-2-1 for me. And when I play this standart disco beat riff (ovtave bass, e.g. deep c (8') and two times the high c (16')) I use 1-3-2.

  7. Yup, I use the 4-3-2-1 approach as well.
  8. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Think I'm in deep doodoo here...I play a 4-stringer with 2 fingers, and you guys are on 6-7 strings and 4 fingers...I'll prolly catch up by the time I hit 90 ;)

    PS. I do 1-3-2 on disco thang too
  9. Down


    Sep 11, 2000
    I have just started to learn this "spider-walk"-technique, and I readed from somewhere that it may take about a 6 months to learn it fine , so, all of you gurus tell me;is it worth it??
  10. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I have also found the 4-3-2-1 technique easier to play than the reverse. It seems that I naturally sweep across each finger without having to fight the dependence of the ring finger on the middle. I don't play 4 fingers very often, as I neither have the need nor the comfort level to do so in a song setting.

    But, I do use the 3-2-1 approach a little more frequently, depending on the situation. Sometimes if I'm playing an eighth note groove and want to play a quick pair of sixteenth notes, I'll sweep the 3-2 fingers as the two sixteenth notes then play the index finger as the eighth note. This allows me to keep the motion of my right hand more consistent.
  11. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    I have also found that playing small groups of 16th notes have a cool effect with multiple fingers. I like to immitate a drummer when he does John Bonham style rolls on the kick drum. For example, instead of just playing a root note at the first beat of the measure, sometimes I will roll it with two(2-1) or three(3-2-1) fingers to give it more punch. This sounds especially cool if you can play it in sync with a drummer who knows how to roll the kick drum.
  12. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    The 3-2-1 technique being easier than 1-2-3 was explained
    by Steve Bailey on one of his videos.. As you absentmindedly
    strum the table with your fingers, you do it in 321
    order, so it is more natural than 123. But perhaps
    practising to strum in 123-pattern would help you in finger dexterity, ponder.
  13. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    Well, I've now come to the conclusion that for me, 3 fingers is more efficient than 4. I guess it is because of the length of the pinky and the lack of strength. I mostly play metal so I like to play hard and my pinky feels like if will fall off when I play hard, it feels like I could easily dislocate it with enough pressure, I have very long thin fingers. The thing that bugs me most about using my pinky is the angle at which I need to hold my fingers to the strings. I think I get the most power when the length of my fingers are perfectly perpendicular to the length of the string. So now I am practicing with a 3-2-1 pattern and so far it feels much more natural than 4 fingers.
  14. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    I think four fingers is ok as long as one of them is a thumb :)

    If you sweep the fingers pinky end first, it makes a nice flourish and Triplets or quads are quite quick this way. I use several distinct techniques, but usually try to have my hand in a position that will support going to a quick triplet when I need to.

    But if you are using the thumb, then the opposite order is nice too, as starting with the index finger creates an upward hand motion that can be complementary to the downward hand motion brought by the thumb.

    I think that playing both up and down strokes with your finger on the string would be one way to play quickly and efficiently. Incorporating the thumb and multiple fingers being the next step. Classical guitarist have a head start in this area. I have yet to get this method down using only my index finger and thumb. I am getting close... Its just not automatic yet.

    I saw the Fabulous Thunderbirds over the summer with this bass player who really kicked butt by flailing his whole arm and holding a finger out doing the back and forth motion. It seems like using primarily the arm muscles he was able to both achieve an impressive groove and ample speed. I think the arm is capable of moving a baseball held by the hand at over a hundred miles an hour. I thought I read something that said the body and nervous system have more hardware devoted to the arm moving quickly than the fingers, but I forget the source.

  15. You're getting it now. Read my comments on this subject in the 3-finger thread http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=6584

  16. Nack S.

    Nack S.

    Sep 1, 2006
    Hey guys i started using the four finger right hand technique (4-3-2-1) around March... at first it was pretty difficult,then it got alot better. But it seems like once you get to a certain point (speed) you cant get any farther no matter how much you work on it. (not meaning out of this world speed either) Sometimes its about equal to my fastest three finger i can do, and other times its barely shy of it.One thing that keeps me from practicing this technique for hours at a time is the pain in the forearm/wrist i experience after maybe ten minutes of full speed four fingers. So i can practice it, then i have to take a break, and so on. I havent used two or three fingers in months, but im looking for a way to take it to the next level.

    Im already pretty good at different groups of picking (for example: three picks per note 4-3-2,1-4-3,2-1-4 etc.
    two picks per note 4-3-,2-1,etc.

    Anybody know any excercises that could help me improve my speed?
  17. davesisk


    Aug 30, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey guys:

    I use 4FP (4-finger picking) by sweeping 1-2-3-4 and it works really well for me. It took quite a while to develop (like in 2-3 months to get it up to about 100 bpm and consistent), but after that just using it in your playing helps it solidify.

    My goal was to achieve an easy to execute method for staccato playing. With 4FP, the notes come out auto-magically staccato...no other muting effort necessary. It so turns out that, with a little time, speed can drastically increase as well. I can rip out 32nd notes at around 80-90 bpm now (depending on how warmed up I am and if it's a good day or not), and I really haven't been putting any extra work toward building speed. Of course, I rarely use a structure like that....occasional fills, etc.

    I think that one idea that will really help in building and solidifying this technique is to take some of the straight 8th note lines that you inevitably play as a bassist and do them 4FP rather than 2FP. Once it becomes second nature, then speed will start to develop without much effort.

    All that said, the best part of 4FP for me is the auto-staccato effect...that in and of itself was well worth developing this technique.

    Go here and take a listen to "Funky Birthday"...it's short...the middle fingerstyle groove section is 2,3, and 4-finger picked (you can easily tell which is which).


  18. I've said that many many times. More fingers doesn't get you more speed. It helps with other things. OTHER THINGS! Things like muting and string crossing. I use all five fingers but some rarely pluck a string. Actually, every finger spends more time muting than plucking as plucking lasts only a fraction of a second.
  19. I am using 1-2-3-4 and I am trying to add now my thumb playing like t-1-2-3-4 a la flamenco style. 4-3-2-1 maybe more natural for hand but 1-2-3-4 gave me the chance to add my thumb easily (otherwise playing t-4-3-2-1 looks more difficult). Also attacking the first note with my index (or thumb in 5 finger) looks more natural rather than to play the first note with my pinky. So If I am playing slowly I can always use 1 or 1-2-1-2 or 1-2-3 etc and add my pinky when going faster parts.

    This is what I've written a while ago discussing where my technique falls weak: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2947508&postcount=24

    When I have first begun to practice this 4 finger technique, I've seen nobody playing with 4 on a bass. So I was feeling that I was opening a new era in bass playing :D :D Now it looks I was too much overestimating myself, very childish :)
  20. metalhead1011


    Mar 13, 2009
    I've been trying to get 4 for a while now. I've been playing bass 1 1/4 years. 3 fingers just came naturally to me, first week and I was there. I've recently started on the 3 finger walk, alternating between 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1-2-3 etc etc.. And It's not as fast as my 3 finger gallop 3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1. I'm nearly at good speed for 4 finger gallop 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1 and after that, I shall try the 4 finger walk. I only just joined this forum, so haven't read much. Is there any excersizes to help me with 3 finger walk, 4 finger gallop and walk? Anything would be appreciated.

Share This Page