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Where do you pluck the strings and why?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 3bc, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. 3bc

    3bc Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Chicago Burbs
    So picture the “plucking zone” of your bass. Now lets pretend that where your fretboard ends would be “1” and the bridge would be “10”, where between 1 and 10 do you prefer to pluck the strings with your fingers (in fingerstyle), and why?

    I am usually about 6 out of 10. I like the rounder, warmer tone you get here. But most players seem to hover around 8 out of 10, darn near close to the bridge. Not only does the bass sound too thin to my ears when I play it here (but ironically not when watching great players on YouTube) but the strings have some extra tension here I’ve never spent enough time with to get used to and it slows me down.

    Seems like maybe that’s the place to be when you get used to it as most of the top players seem to stick in this zone for fingerstyle playing.

    What’s your preference and why?
  2. Exactly between the bridge pickup and neck pickup for most playing. I move over the neck for an attack-less upright sound, and down next to the bridge for a Latin or Steinberger-ish sound.
  3. Between 12th fret and the bridge.

    Why? Because it sounds good and because I can.
    MattZilla, BassChuck, aldaa and 18 others like this.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    My favorite zone would be a 4, so in P-Bass terms in front of the pickup coming from the fretboard side.

    However, I vary the plucking position to get different tones out of it (instead of fiddling with EQs) - if I need a more funk inspired or even Jaco-ish tone, I play closer to the bridge, so like an 8. So most of it is somewhere in between 4 and 8.
    TheBear and ELynx like this.
  5. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    I pluck at 3 to 4 on a 24 fret bass, and 1 to 2 on guitar. That's usually over the neck pick-up but my hand will also move depending on the string and where it is fretted. The lower the notes, the further down I'll pluck, keeping some consistence in the relation to the length of the string. Then I'll pluck an E or B string closer to the bridge and a G string closer to the neck for some compensation of the way these strings sound in relation to each other.
    All this is motivated by the way it sounds and happened empirically, not theorised.

    Then of course, I'll move closer to the bridge if I want that kind of sound but it's not what I prefer.
    Trevpunt likes this.
  6. I usually pluck with my thumb jumping up and down along P pickup. That will be 3 I suppose. For reason that it is place where I can pluck fastest.
    Closer to bridge and I get slowed down by tension, closer to the neck and strings are too slow (if you know what I mean, try it).
    I do move a little in some parts of some song, for a mellower or harsher sound, but otherwise I land on P 98 percent of time.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    My go-to spot is around 6 or 7. I tend to play a little hard and the strings feel a little more stiff the closer to the bridge that I pluck.

    But I use it all. I tend to set my EQ and leave it. I play passive basses with the tone wide open most if the time. And I adjust my sound with plucking technique and position. So one minute I playing a pick near the bridge for some cut, and the next I'm using the side of my thumb up near the neck for some thud.
    MattZilla, RyanOh and Element Zero like this.
  8. Generally use pickup as thumb rest. P bass is what i play usually, or J neck pup if im playing that one. Ive grown accustomed to the security of the pickup as a rest but trying to break the habit. I also like the subtle bite it provides. I guess thats a 5.

    For country tunes i move up to 2-3. It takes away some bite and gives me a chance to practice my floating thumb.
  9. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    In my opinion, it's just a matter of tone you wanna reach.
    Usually you can get warm tones with less attack close to last fret, great place on fretless for example, if you wanna sounds more like an acoustic bass, even on the last fret.
    Close to the bridge the tones ussually have more attack, more mids and less bass.
    I like to experiment and use any part of the bass to get different tones, just experiment and see which you prefer most.
    I attached the video to explain better my ideas. Hope it will help you and if you need more help just let me know.
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The whole area from 0-10 is my "tonal pallette" of different sounds. I couldn't imagine restricting myself to just one!

    As a practical note, if you want a consistent tone over the full range of the instrument, then your plucking hand should follow your fretting hand as it moves up and down the neck: Pluck closer to the neck when you are playing open strings and low notes near the nut, and pluck closer to the bridge when you are playing higher notes farther up the neck.

    A lot of players don't realize this simple reality, and buy fancy compressors and EQs to "even out the high and low notes," not realizing the tone is in their fingers. :)
    MattZilla, Scoops, IamGroot and 6 others like this.
  11. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Somewhere between -2 and 9, depending on what attack I need.
    mrcbass and Element Zero like this.
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Pluck where it sounds right for the song. For some songs that's at the 12th fret. For some it's near the bridge. Your hand position is your first tone control.

    There are songs I play where I pluck each note in a different spot. Exactly 12 frets up from the fretted note yields something Mike League calls "anti-harmonics". Try it. It's sort of freaky.

    Also, your string tension is exactly the same the whole length of the string, regardless of where you pluck. They feel a little stiffer closer to the bridge, but that's flexibility not tension.
  13. primusfan1989


    Jan 17, 2005
    new jersey
    I generally hover right about the pickup (on a Pbass) but will utilize for 0-10 depending on the desired affect. If I'm playing reggae ill be plucking over the 20th fret or if I need that "Jaco" tone, ill be at the bridge. Im all over the place.
    Blankandson and funkinbottom like this.
  14. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Anywhere between -5 and 8 depending on what sound I want.
    mrcbass likes this.
  15. I pluck from 1 (or “less” even- pluck over the bottom of the fingerboard) up through 8. I rarely get closer to the bridge than that. Depends on the tone and feel that fit the music currently being played.
  16. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    On my Jazz and P/J I normally choose to rest my thumb on one of the pickups and pluck in one of those areas, unless I'm going for a particular tone that moves me more toward the bridge or neck. I tend to avoid the area closest to the bridge because of the stiffness, but if I really need that growl I will go there.
  17. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Medicine Man likes this.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Wherever I need to. :thumbsup:

    Depends on the bass and the pickups.
    wildman2 and jamro217 like this.
  19. BurtMacklinFBI

    BurtMacklinFBI Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    For me it's around 2 or 3, over the neck pickup on my Attitude and between the neck pickup and the end of the fretboard on my other basses. I like the dark, thick sound there and prefer to get what attack and bite I need from my picking/plucking technique and my gear.
  20. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    Ditto on the 12th fret to the bridge. Some of my favorite tones are when I'm plucking over the fretboard. Nice way to get a different sound while changing dynamics.
    Groove Doctor and TrevorR like this.

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