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Rass

Bass playing advice?

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Hey y'all,

Having played guitar for many years and bass (poorly) for about 3, i've recently been trying to rid myself of the pick. Just wondering if anyone has any good advice on exercises for tightening up my right hand technique (all wanking euphemisms can be left at the door, cheers).

Naturally coming from a metal background I immediately looked up 'finger' players I'm familiar with like Steve Harris and John Myung and pretty much scared the shit out of myself.

for example

I know there are heaps of lessons out there, but if theres anything people recommend that won't break my spirits (and fingers) from the word go, it would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers!

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Dunno what to tell you, I've always played bass fingerstyle - I find playing with a plectrum rather strange!

I guess a good exercise would be to practice moving up and down the strings using alternate index and middle finger (play E string with 1, A with 2, D with 1, G with 2 etc.) to get used to using alternate fingers.

This might be useful: Plucking

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I've always been a finger bassist too and it's probably going to be a bit of a transition from playing as if you're palm muting to the more open finger styley.

My advice is probably pretty shit but, just start slow, play along to bands that have a reasonable pace. A good point to start is any of the Jason Newstead Metallica stuff. The hard rock riffs will be perfect to break in your fingers into something at a medium pace, whilst still retaining some complexity.

It'll take a couple of weeks for your calluses to come in on your index and middle fingers, which might be really annoying and hinder playing. Just play through them and battle on, they'll soon pass, and you'll be ready for much faster epic stuff :)

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ace cheers guys!

the callus on my index finger is coming along nicely already, I mean one of the first things i (foolishly) did was learn Phantom of the Opera ala Harris with fingers, and while it's ok and up to speed now, theres no technique whatsoever, the right hand is a bit of a clusterfuck hitting notes in no order and thus the rhythm isn't particularly solid. Did wonders for strengthening up my left hand mind you. But yeah, Black - Garage Inc Newstead stuff might be a good place to start for getting my rhythms in order, good call! cheers min!

Also i'm finding im getting hella cramp in my thumb, i figure it's from leaning too heavily on the pickup when stretching over to the higher strings, tho i notice some people root their thumb on the pickup and play from there, some move the thumb up to the string below the one being played and some just kinda float. Is there a right way to doing this or is it just what feels comfortable? At the moment it's killer but i'm sure with practice it may pass. Don't wanna end up getting comfortable with a bad technique mind!

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I play a 5 string so my thumb rests on the 5th string to provide support most of the time although I do sometimes rest on the pick up.

The most important thing is comfort, as you don't want to damage your wrist etc. So make sure you're not battering the strings with your fingers, you don't have to pluck hard to get a good hard sound. Your wrist should be relaxed and flexible, you will eventually find a position that won't hurt.

Also your hand is used to playing at an angle to hold a pick rather that the stright down position for finger playing, so that might have something to do with why you're feeling a bit of pain.

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Half the battle is co-ordination between the left and right hands,try running scales like c d e f/d e f g/e f g a/f g a b and so on then back down when you reach the octave.Do it with a beat at about 60bpm then gradually speed it up.

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I have exactly the same problem!

I don't really play bass outwith messing about with them in R&B when I'm in or such but have noticed that I seem to do in my thumb really easily and get frustrated trying to play with fingers as I know that I am so much more accurate/articulate when using a pick so I tend to fall into that trap of knowing I can play the stuff better with a pick so I flake and do so!

I guess what to think dude is how you were on guitar initially compared to now! It'll take time (you said you've played 3 years, but I'm assuming sorta on the back burner to guitar even in that time?) but you'll get there and be up to a commendable standard in no time.

(Sorry Rass, realising in hindsight that this post offers no advice as such whatsoever, just rambling! :laughing:).

Best of luck :up:

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Ja, I havent got into playing with my fingers yet either, I do mess about with it when I play my bass (not often), but I have very little patience so I dont spend long trying to perfect things. I found stuff by the band 'Sleep' good fun to play with my fingers, not sure if you're into them at all...

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As droid says, co-ordination is key...slow scales will help with this. Try to alternate index-middle at all times, including when crossing strings.

Personally I would advise against gluing your thumb to the pickup like a lot of players; there are different methods but I try to use a 'floating thumb'. Resting your thumb gently on the string below that which you are playing on, ie when playing the A string rest your thumb on the E, and let it move up and down strings in synch with your fingers. Your fingers take a c.45degree angle across the strings. This allows a more relaxed hand position, as you avoid arching your wrist, and your arm is fairly straight; the action of your fingers is also consistent for each string.

Hope this makes sense some sense! Be patient and persistent, it'll pay off ;)

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One thing worth trying is to play along with a metronome or something at like 120bpm and just play a simple moving live (12 bar blues for instance is perfect)

And just do

1 + 2 + 3 + 4

I----M---I----M Where I is index and M is Middle

Take the tempo down even lower if needed. I used this method when i moved from pick to 2 fingers then 2 fingers to 3.

Hope this helps at all.

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The floating thumb is cool if it works for you,it worked for Jamerson with his hook style of one finger picking.I personally advise anchoring your thumb on the pickup and dropping it on to the E or A string when needed.This mutes strings and also gives you less of a distance to pick your D and G strings,try pull up rather than out when playing finger stylee.Also it's better to start real slow and build up the tempo when playing to a beat.

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I found stuff by the band 'Sleep' good fun to play with my fingers, not sure if you're into them at all...

I've vaguely familiar with them, boazy used to come back to the flat hammered and put them on and promptly fall asleep in the middle of the floor, muttering about how they were the greatest thing ever. They were pretty cool but a bit slow for me from what i remember, i might yet give them another chance!

Anyway, ace, cheers dudes, all awesome advice. Having gotten pretty into it now, i've noticed where the problem is. Alternating is no bother on one string but like someone pointed out, it's string changing thats the problem, i'm having bother not always leading with the index finger when going up the strings, and coming down i'll always use the finger i used to play the last note on the string before, and 'fall' onto the next note. this seems to be where the crappy rhythms come from, as falling into a note isn't quite as precise as hitting it when it's meant to be hit.

So i'm gonna bite the bullet and pretty much try starting from scratch with scales and blues on a metronome, as everything i can already play is pretty much in bad technique, im sure when i get the alternating fingers locked into my playing it'll all be a lot easier and better.

Oh and i noticed the other day also, the whole thumb pickup thing must be from guitar playing, I've tried floating my hand and resting it on a lower string and within about 2 seconds my hand just moves naturally back to the pickup. Not to say there's anything good about my guitar technique, but i've always like pushed my wrist into the instrument for picking or rested my arm on the curved part of the body (on a strat) for strumming, so i suppose it makes sense that i'm immediately looking for a place to rest or base my arm/hand. I'll persevere with the floating, but i think that may be a bigger mountain to climb, as far from an all new way to play, that's more like 12 years of bad habit to break.

Cheers again for all the advice, you are kings amongst men :)

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The floating thumb is cool if it works for you,it worked for Jamerson with his hook style of one finger picking.

Yeah, meant to also say it's down personal preference really, but as you say dropping the thumb onto the lower strings is an effective mute too and saves stretching fingers ;) I picked it up from Peter Stewart who only taught me for a year at college but I learnt a lot...I think Chuck Rainey's tutor book has a similar right hand method.

The falling/raking thing is fairly common Rass, just take things a bit slower and be in control of your fingers, if you stick at it you'll find it comes naturally after a while!

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I've vaguely familiar with them, boazy used to come back to the flat hammered and put them on and promptly fall asleep in the middle of the floor, muttering about how they were the greatest thing ever. They were pretty cool but a bit slow for me from what i remember, i might yet give them another chance

:laughing: good times.

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Right hand tecnique is so important to making a good bass player. I'd give a plus one for the floating thumb technique. I used to anchor my thumb until my bass teacher made me stop. Things went downhill initially, but long term it means you will be so much more nimble across the strings.

The other thing I'd suggest is turning your amp up and play more softly - relax!!

Economy of motion is important too. You'll probably be familiar with "The Spider" exercise from playing guitar? It works a treat on bass.

I'd also recommend playing some music in a style you don't normally play to get you thinking like a bass player!!

I hope that's some help:-)

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