Slap Bass - The Middle Finger

author: Bass_for_life date: 04/23/2014 category: bass lessons
rating: 9 / votes: 1 
Slap Bass - The Middle Finger
It's time to start using your middle finger for plucking. 

You CAN get away and play most slap bass lines (bar the extreme stuff) without using your middle finger but it’s so much easier and less wrist movement. If you start using your middle finger right now at the beginning then it’ll be second nature when you really do need to use it.

The technique behind using your middle finger (instead of your index finger) is identical to the previous plucking skill in my other Slap Bass lesson (The basics). The only difference is you're using a different finger. Go figure. 

This might take a bit of time getting used too as it's a little unnatural to start off with. One thing to watch and be careful about is not pushing down on adjacent strings with your intermediate phalanges for your index and middle finger (my middle finger seems to cause more trouble than my index). 

Your intermediate phalanges are the bone between your fingertips and your first finger joint (bending point).

To avoid this situation, just be careful of how much pressure you apply as you push down to get your finger under the string for each pluck.

You might not hear it at first and believe things are all good but in isolation, you will start to notice it whenever you pluck a single string. This is due to sympathy string vibration that is present underneath your actual note (pluck a single string and see if you can hear another string vibrating).

Exercise time

First things first, you need to be able to use your index and middle fingers to pluck after slapping a string. It sounds pretty simple and indeed it is but getting it consistent at a fast tempo is frustrating.

Just take it slow to begin with and you'll have this pattern down in no time.

Exercise 1 – Slap Index Middle

Practice the follow exercise at 70 BPM and gradually increase by 5 BPM (until you reach your limit e.g. 180BPM), once you are comfortable with the pattern.

TAB
G------------------|-------------------|-----------------|
D----X-X---X-X---X-|-X---X-X----X-X---|-X-X---X-X---X-X--|
A------------------|-------------------|-----------------|
E--0-----0-----0---|----0-----0------0-|-----0-----0-----|
S I M S I M S I M S I M S I M S I M S I M S I M
S = slap (thumb)
I = Index pluck (pop)
M = middle pluck (pop)

The open E string slap can be muted when playing the two D string muted plucked or it can be left to ring out. Usually you would mute the string to stop the note bleeding into the next.

As this is our first exercise I will let you decide which is easiest or which you prefer.

Exercise 2 – Slap Index Middle

This is the same as exercise 1 but we have changed to the A and G string. Practice at 70BPM and gradually increase by 5 BPM (until you reach your limit e.g. mine is usually 180BPM) once you are comfortable with the pattern.

The same rules and conditions apply so it's up to you if you want to dampen the A string after each slap or leave it to ring out.

I haven’t included a key for the following exercise (indicating which notes are slapped or plucked with index or middle finger), as the exercises follows the same pattern as the previous one.

Each note follows the S I M (Slap Index Middle) sequence.

TAB
G----X-X---X-X---X-|--X---X-X---X-X---|--X-X---X-X----X-X--|
D------------------|-------------------|-------------------|
A--0-----0-----0---|----0-----0-----0-|------0------0------|
E-------------------|------------------|-------------------|

Example 3 – Same string

This exercise changes things up by reducing the exercise to solely one string. This looks simple and easy but it will take a bit of practice to get everything consistent rhythmically and dynamically (volume wise).

TAB
G-------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------|
E--0-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-|-X-0-X-X-0-X-X-0-|-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-X--|

Exercise 4 – A string

TAB
G-------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------|
A--0-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-|-X-0-X-X-0-X-X-0-|-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-X--|
E-------------------------------------------------------|

Exercise 5 – D string

This is the same as exercise 3 and 4 but we have moved another string up on to the D string. This exercise still uses the same S I M sequence.

TAB
G-------------------------------------------------------|
D--0-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-|-X-0-X-X-0-X-X-0-|-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-X--|
A-------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------|

Exercise 6 – G string

This is the same as exercise 3, 4 and 5 but we have moved another string up on to the G string. This exercise still uses the same S I M sequence.

TAB
G--0-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-|-X-0-X-X-0-X-X-0-|-X-X-0-X-X-0-X-X--| 
D-------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------|

Additional notes

For 5 and 6 string basses (bassists) or even guitarists, you should practice all of these exercises on all strings.
More Bass_for_life lessons:
+ Slap Bass - The Basics Bass Lessons 04/21/2014
+ Bass Three Finger Right Hand Technique Bass Lessons 08/27/2013
+ The Rule of Fives Bass Lessons 08/14/2013
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