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Old 12-30-2007, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Which way to play?

I'm learning bass, and i was wondering if its easier to learn/what's better in the long run to play with like your thumb, or using your pointer and index finger to pluck the strings...
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Old 12-30-2007, 05:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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learn both and then do both later.
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Old 01-02-2008, 04:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Bassists are generally divided into fingerstyle players and pick players (and some use both). Fingerstyle players can be divided into players who use 2, 3, 4 fingers... some use more unorthodox techniques and some use their thumbs too. I've never heard of any bassists who use their thumbs solely - I imagine that technique would limit you for speed and probably tone as well.


Examples of Different Techniques:

1 Finger - James Jamerson: This guy is unusual in that he only uses one finger. While it works for him, I imagine it would be quite difficult to build up a technique which uses only one finger. Nevertheless, it is preferable to use as few fingers as possible to maintain an even tone (fingers are of different lengths and thus don't perform exactly uniformly). I use one finger for slower parts for that tone advantage, although two fingers really shouldn't make your tone too uneven so I wouldn't worry about it. Using one finger for everything is probably unrealistic.

2 Finger - Steve Harris (Iron Maiden): Has excellent 2 finger technique and stamina, and can play faster and with better tone than many who use more. Jaco Pastorius is one of the greatest bassists ever, was mighty fast and used only two fingers too.

3 Finger - Steve Di'Giorgio (Death etc): Some people like Di'Giorgio go on to use three fingers, especially if speed is required. There are many variations on the 3 finger technique.

4 Finger - Billy Sheehan: Few players use this technique as it is most often unnecessary. Mainly for virtuosos.

Unorthodox technique: This guy uses his thumb too.



If you choose to play fingerstyle, mastering the 2 finger version is essential and is sufficient for most bassists. Gradually you can incorporate other fingers if you need them. If you choose fingerstyle, use your index and middle fingers and practise alternating them. Start with either one so that you're playing mimimimi or imimimim. You'll get used to it.

If you choose to use a pick, make sure that you're doing it because you prefer the tone and not because it's easier. While using a pick will be easier than fingerstyle, you can ultimately play faster with fingers. Using a pick gives a sharper tone and is often used in a punk setting. Using a pick limits your ability to use other techniques like popping and slapping, and tapping etc.

Most bassists look down on pick players and consider using a pick as an easy way out - but it really depends on what kind of player you are. There are many good bassists who mostly use picks such as Justin Chancellor (Tool), Chris Squire (Yes), Paul McCartney, Andy Rourke (Smiths) and some who use both (but mainly fingerstyle) like Flea, Juan Alderete (Racer X, Mars Volta) and Billy Gould (Faith No More).



I primarily use 2 fingers but I use 3 finger technique for triplets. I'm teaching myself the Steve Di'Giorgio 3 finger technique so that I can play non-triplet stuff with 3 fingers. I'm looking into practising with a pick as well, to add more variety to my technique.
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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ive seen many people who only use their tumb
Victor Wooten uses only his tumb in alot

its basically like using a pick but with your tumb
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Old 01-07-2008, 04:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebassistX View Post
ive seen many people who only use their tumb
Victor Wooten uses only his tumb in alot

its basically like using a pick but with your tumb
That's because Wooten slaps a lot - that's when he uses his thumb. When he's not popping/slapping etc, Wooten uses regular fingerstyle.
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Definitely want to learn using your index, middle, and fourth finger first. If you want to go into slap, pop, and other techniques later go for it, but easiest would be to learn simple techniques first.

I'm a bassist myself BTW. What kind of bass do you have?
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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What ever you are confortable with. It up to you.
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I prefer to use a pick for the extra attack it gives, (I play rock), while using my 3rd finger and pinky too add extra notes - a sort of amalgum of the two styles - as said before try and learn both styles, because the difference in dynamics you can achieve are amazing
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Old 01-18-2008, 04:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dont use your thumb man. Ive been playing bass for like seven years, and currently teach bass lessons part time. All the best bass players Ive ever met (and Ive met alot of world class bass players) use their fingers. I would also condone using a pick occasionally, if your using an electric bass. The sound cuts through better and can be benificial as long as you arent trying to play really tricky riffs.
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Old 01-18-2008, 04:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I never use my thumb, using your fingers allows you to do smoother runs and whatnot, but if you can play good with your thumb....
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