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Johannes

Using ring finger for plucking

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There seems to be widely accepted consensus about this, it's index and middle fingers, never ring finger. Thumb is now accepted for plucking too, ten years ago it was only for slapping. I started to play the bass (45 years ago) using index, middle and ring fingers. Later I involved my pinky and thumb too. My middle finger is much longer than index and ring which are much closer in lenght. If I must play quick triplets, 16th notes or something like that, I tend to use alternating index and ring. I remember reading (one of my great heroes) Nate Watts discovered the power of his ring finger after having an accident with his middle finger and not been able to use it for a while. Your thoughts?

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Sorry, there's no topic. It should be: using ring finger for plucking.

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2 minutes ago, Johannes said:

Sorry, there's no topic. It should be: using ring finger for plucking.

I’ve changed it for you 

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I've used index, middle, and ring finger for plucking for many years now.  I added the ring finger later after I first learnt to play with just index and middle.  I think my original reason for adding it was that I thought it would allow me to play some faster lines that I struggled with before.  Now I don't really think about what finger(s) I'm using but they all get used.

The thing that I found when I first started to add my ring finger though was to keep all the plucking dynamics even and not get tempated to play everything with triplets :D

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I don’t think there is a consensus.

Aston Barrett and Jamerson preferred to only use 1 finger. Others use 2,3,4.

I use however many the music needs. Each finger sounds very slightly different, not least because pinky and index are quite far apart on the string, so sometimes I stick to 1 finger for slow even notes, but will happily use all 4 for fast runs and rakes.

10 different players will have 10 different approaches. 

 

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I generally go ring, middle, index, ring, middle, index, etc

It took a while to get used to but now I don't have to think about it.

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I use those three fingers as well although I am not necessarily using them all at the same time, but they all get an equal look-in. The only time they get used in a sequence would be some sort of galloping line, so if it was playing something like Iron Maiden, all the runs would be three finger runs, so that would be ring, middle, index continuously. I can't do it the other way round 

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Me too, if I lead with index I go out of strict time and go all swing 

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Mainly index and middle, but sometimes ring finger creeps in depending on the song

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9 hours ago, Johannes said:

There seems to be widely accepted consensus about this, it's index and middle fingers, never ring finger. Thumb is now accepted for plucking too, ten years ago it was only for slapping. I started to play the bass (45 years ago) using index, middle and ring fingers. Later I involved my pinky and thumb too. My middle finger is much longer than index and ring which are much closer in lenght. If I must play quick triplets, 16th notes or something like that, I tend to use alternating index and ring. I remember reading (one of my great heroes) Nate Watts discovered the power of his ring finger after having an accident with his middle finger and not been able to use it for a while. Your thoughts?

Theres an early 50s film from the Fullerton factory showing a group of people playing various Fenders, the bloke on the Precision is using his thumb, and the Tug bar has always been placed for thumb playing

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7 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

I use those three fingers as well although I am not necessarily using them all at the same time, but they all get an equal look-in. The only time they get used in a sequence would be some sort of galloping line, so if it was playing something like Iron Maiden, all the runs would be three finger runs, so that would be ring, middle, index continuously. I can't do it the other way round 

I use them for regular playing, for solid lines of quarter notes, eighths and sixteenths, etc. I watched the Billy Sheehan video (the one where he plays the pink Yamaha) back in the day and, while most of the flashy stuff didn’t resonate with me, getting the right hand technique together that way made a lot of sense.

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Posted (edited)

I'm normally a pick player, but every practice session I do 5 or 10 mins with my fingers and do use my ring finger.  Considering the bass is a relatively young instrument, brand new at inception, theres no one who can say what is "right". What works you you as a player is what is right.

I have the opposite problem to Nate Watts, in that I cant feel my pinkie or ring finger, and this affects how my middle finger feels and behaves, hence be being more comfortable with a pick.

Edited by Bassfinger

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When playing funk I do a quite a bit of double thumbing and use my ring finger along with the index and middle ones when plucking triplets. Also use it quite a lot when playing New Wave type rock that needs the attacking sound you can only get with picks

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38 minutes ago, Bassfinger said:

I'm normally a pick player, but every practice session I do 5 or 10 mins with my fingers and do use my ring finger.  Considering the bass is a relatively young instrument, brand new at inception, theres no one who can say what is "right". What works you you as a player is what is right.

I have the opposite problem to Nate Watts, in that I cant feel my pinkie or ring finger, and this affects how my middle finger feels and behaves, hence be being more comfortable with a pick.

The bass guitar will be 100 in 15 years having been invented by Paul Tutmarc in 1935

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Posted (edited)

Yes indeed, we all know its history. The electric bass is a very young instrument, a piffling 85, so thanks for agreeing with me on that point.  A fraction of the age of most other stringed instruments, and a positive amoeba compared to some of the really ancient percussion and wind instruments, some of which can trace their ancestry back to prehistory.

One day in 1935 the electric bass didn't exist, then the next it it did, and along with its invention there was not suddenly also invented a set of "correct" rules and methods for its use. 

Edited by Bassfinger

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1 minute ago, Bassfinger said:

Yes indeed, it is a very young instrument, a piffling 85.  A fraction of the age of most other stringed instruments, and a positive amoeba compared to some of the really ancient percussion and wind instruments.

One day in 1935 it didn't exist, then the next it it did, and along with its invention there was not suddenly also invented a set of "correct" rules and methods for its use. 

I've been thinking about where the thumb came from, Upright Bassists use fingers but the Bass Guitar is a guitar, fingerpicking guitarists use their thumb for the bass parts, Leo Fender wasnt a player but he decided that that's the way it would be played

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I’ve always used index, middle and ring. The pinky is too short to join in but would if it could.

They do each seem to have a slightly different attack tho, and the quest for me has been getting them consist, in terms of strength, timing etc.

I don’t think about it that much when playing tho. I don’t usually start on a particular finger and sometimes find the middle and ring finger work as one for an extra thick thump. 

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I just use the traditional 2 fingers. A 3 finger technique is capable of playing notes faster than my brain can think of them.

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10 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I just use the traditional 2 fingers. A 3 finger technique is capable of playing notes faster than my brain can think of them.

I use it more for string muting than speed tbh. Thumb resting on lower string, ring finger resting on higher string, and performs the first pluck when crossing in that direction.

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I started to use all my fingers when i started listening to Jack Bruce back in early 80's. I was reasonably good at that technique too but over the years i've kind of fallen back to 2 fingers if playing with my band or gigging. 

At home i still dabble a bit for fun with all but my little finger. I don't use that technique enough nowadays to do it live tho.

Dave

 

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Unless it's a slow bass line, then I'll use 3 or 4 fingers.  It just makes quick bass lines easier.

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