Poll: How do you do fingerstyle
Poll Options
View poll results: How do you do fingerstyle
Index finger as mush as possible
6 4%
Use both as often as you can
79 57%
3 fingers
44 32%
other (please say what)
9 7%
Voters: 138.
#1
When I play bass I mainly use fingerstyle, and when i play something, as a beginner I was always playing it as much as I could with my index finger, but now I am trying to use both fingers as much as possible as it just seems to make it a lot easier when I get something faster or harder to play.

I have heard that some bassist play the way I did originally (Geddy Lee, Tim Commerford) and some don't. I wondered how you all play and what you think is better way to do it.
#2
The most famous proponent of that style was James Jamerson of Motown Funk Brothers. It got him the nickname "the Hook" for that very reason.

I did that when I first started playing bass and unless you have an amazing speed and strength with your index, its going to hold you back. Keep at the two finger technique--it will feel odd at first but it becomes second nature after a while.
#3
you can also use your index finger like a pick if you prefer fingers and need to pick that fast. But that's like trash metal stuff like Rob Trujillo does. Geddy Lee also will flick the whole thing with his hand too, but he usually only does that in his later career.

i like to use two or three fingers when playing something with a steady beat and easy time. I might use a pick for some faster stuff or maybe things with harder time. But using a second finger is definately something to learn. It'll widen your playing range tremendously.
#4
If you're going to favor any finger, I say favor the middle, because it's the strongest finger. Its power is maximum.

Of course, index and middle is tried and true. The only thing it can't really cut it with is extreme, progressive or technical metal.
Squier VM Fretless Jazz
Warwick Rockbass Streamer 5
Ashdown MAG 300 210
#5
I use four. My middle is my strongest, but I try to be equal in my use. I roll, so I (try to) always go IMRPIMRPIMRP in my bass playing, though it is more like IMRIMRIMR with the pinky thrown in as an afterthought sometimes. When I'm playing slow (uncommon) it's OK, but when I play fast (nearly exclusively) I'm not that efficient with all four.

Ibanez SR506BM
Ashdown Little Giant 1000w
Peavey TVX 115+410
A big ass upright

#6
I just started getting into finger again a wee bit (I'm still a pick devotee!) but I play with three, and my thumb sometimes...

I'm considereing fitting a thumbrest to my bass, it seems like I'm always resting my thumb on the pickup which doesn't feel ideal and i don't think it's too good for the top of the pickup. considering more people play with thier fingers I'm surprised every bass doesn't come with a thumbrest actually - resting my thumb (on P/up's - I haven't actually used a thumbrest yet) seems so natural to me, how do all you's fingerytypes manage without one?
Last edited by jimRH7 at Dec 21, 2008,
#7
a mix of 3 fingers and 2 depending on the speed or rhythm of the song, i also use a pick for some songs eg, nightwish
EDITTOABOVE: i rest on the pick-up, or on the E-string, although sometimes i do rest my pinky on the bridge pick-up. i used to rest my thumb on one pick-up, with my pinky on the bridge pickup, but have recently stopped doing that
DONT RISK IT, BUY A BASS AMP
Last edited by moody git at Dec 21, 2008,
#8
Quote by jimRH7
I just started getting into finger again a wee bit (I'm still a pick devotee!) but I play with three, and my thumb sometimes...

I'm considereing fitting a thumbrest to my bass, it seems like I'm always resting my thumb on the pickup which doesn't feel ideal and i don't think it's too good for the top of the pickup. considering more people play with thier fingers I'm surprised every bass doesn't come with a thumbrest actually - resting my thumb (on P/up's - I haven't actually used a thumbrest yet) seems so natural to me, how do all you's fingerytypes manage without one?


Thumbrests aren't for resting your thumb. It's for resting your fingers so you play with your thumb. Sting does that, I think.
#9
Quote by InvaderTSN
Thumbrests aren't for resting your thumb. It's for resting your fingers so you play with your thumb. Sting does that, I think.


nah, they're called something else, it's the same bit of plastic but it goes on the other side of the strings...
there was a thread on them a while ago...

EDIT: "tug bars" - see anarkee's post, 1st page: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=875888&highlight=tug+bars
Last edited by jimRH7 at Dec 21, 2008,
#10
I like 3 fingers.

It makes kind of a cool pattern when playing a straight row of even notes, every third note gets a slight bit more treble (because every third note is played with the ring finger and the ring finger is closet to the bridge), but that only seems to happen when playing the bridge pickup.
My Rig:
Yamaha RBX 375 bass
Peavey Millenium BXP bass (won at Summer Slaughter 2010, signed by all the bands)
Eden Nemesis NC410 320w combo amp
Check out Tyrannicide, my death/thrash metal band:
http://www.myspace.com/tyrannicidemetal
#11
Quote by jimRH7
it seems like I'm always resting my thumb on the pickup which doesn't feel ideal and i don't think it's too good for the top of the pickup.

there's nothing at all wrong with resting on the pickup. i'd even say that a lot of teachers would recommend it. ideally, you should be in a position where you can slide to mute your lowest string quickly and efficiently.
^^not necessarily helpful.
Quote by the humanity

think pokemon
Pete Wentz sig reaches level 32, it evolves into Mark Hoppus bass.
Mark Hoppus bass uses tone knob!
it's super unneffective!
#12
Quote by jimRH7
nah, they're called something else, it's the same bit of plastic but it goes on the other side of the strings...
there was a thread on them a while ago...

EDIT: "tug bars" - see anarkee's post, 1st page: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=875888&highlight=tug+bars


Oh. Thought the thumbrest was the tug bar. My mistake.
#13
I find that two fingers(index and middle) suit my playing needs...for everything except some metal. For metal I use a nylon pick so it still sounds like I'm playing with fingers but i'm more consistent with a pick.
Fender FSR Standard Jazz Bass(Sapphire Blue finish!!)
Squier VM TB Bass
Squier Precision Bass(heavily modified)
Behringer 180 Watt Combo<--My EQ pedal made this sound decent O_o until I get my Gallien-Krueger half stack
#14
It's all about preference. Geddy Lee and Tim Cummerford use one finger. Steve Harris sometimes uses three. And a lot others use two fingers. Just do whatever you feel comfortable with. When I play bass, I use my index and middle finger and do the "walking fingers" thing.
#15
Quote by patbuck2
It's all about preference. Geddy Lee and Tim Cummerford use one finger. Steve Harris sometimes uses three. And a lot others use two fingers. Just do whatever you feel comfortable with. When I play bass, I use my index and middle finger and do the "walking fingers" thing.


Steve Harris only ever uses two fingers. It's just when he is playing his gallops, he has such an exaggerated motion his ring finger moves considerably, but does not pluck the strings.

I think every finger style bassist nowerdays should be able to play with at least 2 due to the increased dexterity you get at higher tempos. I use 2 most of the time, but I bring in the ring finger for some sections and various galloping rhythms. However, for most stuff, 2 is enough.
Warwick freak of the Bass Militia. PM Nutter_101 to join

Quote by elliott FTW
Damn you and Warwickyness

Quote by ScottB
Quote by CLIFF_BURTON
gm jack knows everything
+1
#16
I learned on an acoustic guitar when it came to finger picking so I use a weird, or so I've been told, style. Play with my thumb and index and middle fingers. I like it, really helps me with string skipping so my hand isn't always moving between strings. Call me a guitarist turned bassist, which I am, but there's nothing wrong with that. I can still play decently well, at least compared to other guitarists turned bassists that I know.
Gear:1991 Fender MIJ Jazz/Squier VM Fretless Jazz -> Pitchblack -> Way Huge Green Rhino -> Boss OC-2 -> Boss DD-7 -> Markbass Tube 800 -> SWR 4x12.

Flat wounds. Flat wounds on everything. Everything is a little fatter when it's flatter.
#17
The thing is, I've essentially done the opposite to this. Once your first finger builds up enough strength, it's more tonally sound and better for timing to use only one finger. However, this is only useful if you can already play VERY fast with two fingers as otherwise you will simply be holding yourself back. So, alternate fingers until you're faster than you effectively need to be, then when you play something slower, you can use your first finger when necessary to improve timing/tone etc. Of course, you might never get to that point anyway, and really the difference isn't that huge.
"I hope I die before I get old"-Words of Pete Townsend, 1945-

"I hope I die before I turn into Pete Townsend"-Words of Kurt Cobain, 1967-1994

Funny old world eh.
#18
Torn between the second and third options

I primarily use two, but I like to add in a bonus note with my ring sometimes
(mainly for 4 sixteenths played in a row (ring to middle to index to middle)
example im i i rmim i m i i m i)
Lord Gold feeds from your orifices and he wants to see you sweat.
Lord Gold probes you publicly and makes your pussy wet.
Now say his name.....
#19
Quote by gm jack
Steve Harris only ever uses two fingers. It's just when he is playing his gallops, he has such an exaggerated motion his ring finger moves considerably, but does not pluck the strings.

I think every finger style bassist nowerdays should be able to play with at least 2 due to the increased dexterity you get at higher tempos. I use 2 most of the time, but I bring in the ring finger for some sections and various galloping rhythms. However, for most stuff, 2 is enough.

Ah, I see. Thank you for the correction.
#20
Quote by failedstagedive
there's nothing at all wrong with resting on the pickup. i'd even say that a lot of teachers would recommend it. ideally, you should be in a position where you can slide to mute your lowest string quickly and efficiently.

While there's nothing wrong with it, I wouldn't say it's very recommended. When you rest your thumb exclusively on the pickup, your hand and finger positions will change depending on what string you're playing on, whereas if you use a floating thumb, (move it to rest on the string below what you're playing on, but kind of hanging naturally) the position should be the same no matter what string you play one.
The added bonus is that every string below what you're playing on will be muted by your thumb, which is pretty important especially on ERBs.
Quote by Metalfreak777
Dude if i were you i'd look more at bands like Dragonforce, Dragonland, Dream Theatre and Power Quest, most of their songs are either in E major, A major, C major or D majhor

#21
I play like Alex Webster(Cannibal Corpse) He is kinda teaching me how to play his 3 finger technique
CANNIBAL CORPSE

When the silence is gone, what have we become?
#22
Quote by Mayano
While there's nothing wrong with it, I wouldn't say it's very recommended. When you rest your thumb exclusively on the pickup, your hand and finger positions will change depending on what string you're playing on, whereas if you use a floating thumb, (move it to rest on the string below what you're playing on, but kind of hanging naturally) the position should be the same no matter what string you play one.
The added bonus is that every string below what you're playing on will be muted by your thumb, which is pretty important especially on ERBs.


also true and surely worthy advice. it seems to come down to opting for either the uniformity of the hand position, or very little extra thumb movement. i've learned from peter murray's book to rest the thumb on the corner of the pickup when playing the E string, and slide up to mute when playing any other string. it never has to move farther than the pickup to the bottom string. the disadvantage is having to use the fourth finger to mute the A string when playing on G. and there's no wrong way to play bass guitar, especially since it's such a young instrument. but there are definitely better ways than others.
^^not necessarily helpful.
Quote by the humanity

think pokemon
Pete Wentz sig reaches level 32, it evolves into Mark Hoppus bass.
Mark Hoppus bass uses tone knob!
it's super unneffective!
#24
I use two fingers and gallop with three and I can play decently fast.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#25
(answered "other")
if its fingerstyle, i can probably play it. not so bad at hybrid picking either if i may say so. and i try and play with all my fingers as often as i can, it usually can make it easier to play things.

most songs made fingerstyle are made using thumb, index, and middle fingers if its stuff like... blackbird by the beatles, or crazy on you by heart (the only good part is the intro...). but things that are basically an arpegio are played with fingers basically assigned to each string and can be done with every finger depending on the song of course.

now i usually try to use every finger i can and spread out and away from just my thumb, index, and middle fingers more often than just for chords. i think this kind of question is probably one of the things that can make it really hard for people to learn things fingerstyle because it makes you think that there is a set way to use your fingers when you do things, well its not that way. the way i do it always is simply "if it works, it works". done ask anyone but -yourself- if you should "use your thumb for that note" "only play with 3 fingers" etc. by that i mean, its all up to you and what is natural to you.
#26
I primarily use two fingers, although recently I've been experimenting with my ring finger. Two fingers works generally well for me, although I do seem to falter more and more as the tempo of certain songs are raised higher and higher.
Hi.
#27
Index and middle primarily. I only use my thumb with my two fingers and pluck chords if I want to piss off people.
I don't know what I'm doing, but I still do it anyway...


Just for the lulz.
#28
i generally use just my index finger and middle finger except for some heavier stuff when i use a pick
#29
Quote by FenrirXE
Index and middle primarily. I only use my thumb with my two fingers and pluck chords if I want to piss off people.

, me too.

but it never works...
Quote by Hal-Sephira

We all have the rights to be mad

So does you
#30
3 fingers since ive started one of my first songs was The Trooper ... just came as a natural solution to playing the song.

I've been working on 4 finger (Index, middle, ring, pinky) for a while now but its a sonova bitch to get it.

I've also seen some vids on youtube that teach using the thumb index middle and ring fingers, that seems more promising as my pinky is ridiculously weak compared to the other fingers.
"Rome wasn't built in a week"

"Yeah but when they built rome, they didnt go "hey look, there's a functional building" AND ****ING KICK IT OVER AND PISS ON THE ASHES BECAUSE THE PEASANTS WERE CRYING THAT IT WAS TOO GLORIOUS AND AWESOME."
#31
I try to use both but i often find myself only using my index
"See you, you know you want to"
#33
mmm i go Ring, Middle, Index whenever possible.
Quote by Azgirio
Yeah, you definitely raped his churches and burned his women.

Quote by LordBishek
Forgive the bluntness, but what in the chucklefucking hell is this?
#34
Quote by Thegian
3 fingers since ive started one of my first songs was The Trooper ... just came as a natural solution to playing the song.

I've been working on 4 finger (Index, middle, ring, pinky) for a while now but its a sonova bitch to get it.

I've also seen some vids on youtube that teach using the thumb index middle and ring fingers, that seems more promising as my pinky is ridiculously weak compared to the other fingers.


o haha thats exactly how my 3 finger technique developed, exactly...
Quote by Azgirio
Yeah, you definitely raped his churches and burned his women.

Quote by LordBishek
Forgive the bluntness, but what in the chucklefucking hell is this?
#36
I lean more toward using my index finger, but still use it and my middle finger in tandem quite often.