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Why I-M and not M-I right hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DeepSouth, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. DeepSouth


    Aug 6, 2008
    It seems like most guys use the fingering of index then middle finger to pluck with. Are there any real reasons for the I-M fingering?

    Try tapping your fingers on a table, you will notice that your fingers *if your right handed* naturally move from left to right going from pinky to index finger. You can tap your fingers pretty darn fast but try reversing the motion. Not as fast and more stressful on the hand.

    It makes me wonder why most bass players pluck i-m-i-m ect vs m-i-m-i.

    When I first started learning blues styles I was not happy with my shuffle. I asked a guy who had written a book on technique how I might improve my shuffle fingering. I cant remember the man's name it was years ago.

    Anyway, he suggested trying m-i-m-i for my shuffle patterns. It worked great for me. I can play my shuffles much faster and freely using the m-i fingering.

    Here is the odd part. When not playing things that shuffle I go back to i-m-i-m. Lets say I'm playing SRV "Pride and joy" I literally cant play that song right without m-i-m-i. But, if I play "Love struck baby" I cant seem to keep my eighth notes straight unless I use i-m-i-m.

    I can't decide if im just wierd or if I have developed a nice way to keep my shuffle and straight feels in their own lil worlds. Of course some days I just use a pick and forget fingerings :rolleyes:
  2. I use MIMI, just the natural way for me
  3. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    I've played bass for about 30 years and I've never even heard of this issue before. No audience member or musician has ever interrupted my playing to say "Excuse me! You plucked with the wrong finger!". I can't even tell you which way I do it- I just pluck without thinking about it.

    Does anyone really care which finger is first used to pluck? Just use whatever works!
  4. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    I use MI most of the time. But lately for whatever reason I've been groovin on trying to just use my index finger (not alternating) for slower passages. It feels a little more controlled once you get used to it. I used to try and play everything both ways but I've since realized that that's not needed
  5. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    I always pluck MI. Always have.
  6. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Funny, I read somewhere a while back that when fingering MIMI it becomes easier to alternate consistently. I tried it and it really helped me: now I usually start with my middle finger. it also feels more natural.
  7. DeepSouth


    Aug 6, 2008
    Nice, seems im not alone then. Its just that every book or instructional vid I have seen the guy tells you use I-M.
  8. D Rokk

    D Rokk Banned

    Feb 19, 2009
    Delta Quadrant
    do whatever feels natural unless its going to undermine your development
  9. I use MI, because I find that the middle finger just has more natural strength, so it sounds better on the downbeats etc..
  10. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    MI exclusively, here. I don't think the order of fingers is the point, per se, but moreso that you keep them alternating.
  11. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Another vote for MI... Just flows better. I'm not sure where the "right handed" part came up. I'm left handed and play rightie and still play MI...
  12. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009
    it's the other way for me - i always start with index, and index finger is stronger for me than middle, something that I've been trying to work on...
  13. Proton Lenny

    Proton Lenny Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Portland Oregon
    I have always found it important to be able to do both. Every pattern/scale/line/lick that I play, I make sure I can play it starting with either finger. The obvious reason for this being that when playing live I don't know which finger I will have to use. :)

  14. Ramstien


    Aug 19, 2007
    I don't really notice when I play, it's that much of a big deal.
  15. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Left handed playing left and still MI.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I had to pick up my bass to figure it out...I use MI all the time. Very natural.
  17. PBass101


    Jul 3, 2008
    Ditto, never thought about it before. I guess I'm M-I 80% of the time and I-M about 20% of the time. I don't really concentrate on my right hand plucking pattern when I play, because my right hand has always felt more natural when I'm playing than my fretting hand, which is where I spend much more time trying to remain conscious of what I'm doing. M-I or I-M just depends on the particular bassline and how I 'naturally' develope the plucking pattern when I'm learning a song. Sometimes I-M feels better than M-I.

    When I'm using my ring finger, it's always R-M or R-M-I.
  18. Psycho


    Jun 24, 2008
    It's just what we're used to and how our muscles contract and the order in which they do so.

    The index is one of the most common fingers used along with the thumb to grip an item. If you play with your thumb resting on a string or pickup, you're getting the whole "grip" instinct into play. You just naturally use that finger.

    And besides, it's a bit superficial isn't it?:p
  19. perhaps that's why I find it natural to use my middle first. When I was younger I would get psoriasis outbreaks in the summer, and it usually went right for my index fingers, which would cause the skin on them to peel and hurt, so I always used my thumb and middle to pick things up, I still do by habit sometimes.

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