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Zep's "The Wanton Song"

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Lyle Caldwell, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    This may belong in technique, so I'll let the mods decide.

    Anyway, in the verse part, I'm having a devil of a time playing the part fingerstyle. The part would be simple if the tune were slower, but at tempo the sixteenths on alternating strings are tough.

    Here are the notes:


    I've been trying to just alternate my index and middle finger. Do I just need more practice or is there a better way? I've also thought of using the thumb for the notes on the E string and alternating index and middle on the D string, but if I should be able to do this with just the two fingers, I'll practice more.

    What do you guys recommend?
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    You're not the only one.
    Playing this at tempo & cleanly can be tough.

    I have played it(in the shed) using-
    a)All INDEX finger.
    b)Index finger for the notes on the "E"; Middle finger for the notes on the "D"
    c)Leading with the MIDDLE finger...
    On the "E" this would be Middle-Index
    On the "D" this would be Middle-Index
  3. I can stumble through it with a pick. I think this was one of the songs that Jones used a pick on , im not sure though.
  4. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    I'm sure he used a pick on it. I can play it with a pick (20 years of guitar). I just want to be able to do it with my fingers.
  5. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    I always thought JPJ just played that tune with his fingers (it's pretty do-able with some practice), but listening to it again right now there are parts that sound like a pick. Check out the distorted note at the 2:15 mark. I don't know for sure, though, as there are patterns elsewhere that definitely sound more fingerstyle.

    Jaco played a similar pattern also at a very fast tempo on the Weather Report tune "River People". That one's a real workout.

    Lyle, I think index-middle index-middle is the way to go. Practice it slowly and build it up steadily, and it'll be tight.

  6. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    Try doing it "typewriter" style, where you bang the notes off the fretboard. It's almost a tap. It gives you a bit of piano-style attack.
  7. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    So far I've isolated my problems down to two areas, using index-middle alternating.

    First, the string skipping. That will come, but it's exacerbated by my second problem: the lower tension on the low E string makes me fumble on the sixteenths. I can play the part at speed if I stay on the D string, but if I play it on the E string, even just doing straight sixteenths on the E string gets really sloppy. Part of that is there's no lower string on my bass (4 string Jazz) to stop my finger strokes like there is on the D string with the A beneath it.

    So, I obviously need to work on playing all the strings without relying on the lower adjacent string to stop my strokes. I never realized that it was a problem before, but I can see it now. Control and economy of motion- I need to stop the stroke myself and bring the digit up for the next stroke without letting the lower string do half the job for me.

    Sean, thanks for the encouragement. As far as Jaco goes, I'm trying to get "Come On, Come Over" and some of the Hejira stuff, but haven't really tried his more "athletic" bits (not that "Come On..." is that easy). Wth everything I practice, I create a slowed down version (pitch stays the same, tempo goes down up to 15% before the audio degrades to distraction) so I can get the timing and notes down before trying things at tempo.

    So I'm going to work on steady eighths and sixteenths on the low E string until I don't have to think about them before resuming "The Wanton Song."

    Hmm, I also notice that without a string to rest my thumb on below the E, I'm attacking the notes on the E string from a different angle than I am on other strings, which makes the tip of my finger contact the string more than the finger pad. So the sound is brighter and "boinkier". I'll need to address that too.

    So how many of you anchor your thumb and how many of you float your plucking hand? Obviously I'll need to continue to mute strings with my thumb, but I don't need it to be an anchor without which my strokes are uncontrolled.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I guess I am the oddball.
    I tried this last night...I think I prefer Middle-Index/Middle-Index because my middle finger is longer & allows me to strike the "D" strike quicker(at tempo) as I slightly pivot the plucking hand(with the thumb anchored on the "E").

    For "S's & G's"...be able to lead with either the index or middle; IIRC, leading with the middle initially felt 'weird'. ;)

    "The Wanton Song" & "River People" & maybe even "Everbody Dance" are good tunes for practicing the 'floating thumb' method.
  9. isnt that song in F# not G?
  10. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    You may be thinking of "The Immigrant Song" which has a similar octave riff on F#.
  11. you right, G it is.
  12. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    I tend to have the same problem. My practicing / challenging tune to start with is "What is hip" by Tower of Power. I mean I can play the alternated 16th, but takes me some practice to play it fluidly. "Right on time" by RHCP is another finger challenge for me (still can´t nail it properly)