I am a long-time guitar player who bought a bass and began fiddling about 6 months ago and now I've been approached to play in a band so I'm trying to get better fast. I play reasonably well with a pick but I'd like to learn to finger pick better. Note that I read the FAQ on these topics and I didn't find it to be overly helpful.

One of the largest things I struggle with is the precise finger technique for finger picking. Should my entire finger be straight and hinge on the knuckle closest to my palm? Or should half of my finger be straight and hinge on the next knuckle down? Does it matter? I've watched a number of youtube videos and read some stuff but these picky questions are never really addressed. I'd prefer to not develop bad habits.

I also have this problem where I can play essentially what I want (nothing I am looking to play is crazy technical) but I don't know exactly what I should be playing as a bassist in a jam. Tips there? DVD or book recommendations in general for my spot?

Standard Fender Telecaster
Fender Blues Jr
For a quick answer, you should be plucking from the closest knuckle to your hand.

Edit: Something like this -> Link

As far as jamming with other is concerned...

Listening is very important. A lot more important than it probably is with any other instrument in this type of setting.

Your role in a band situation as a bass player is provide a support and foundation for the "melody" instruments.
Also, playing with and locking into a nice groove with the drummer is essential. A great rhythm section is the difference between a great band and an okay one. It's the difference between an awkward jam and a, "Hell yeah, this is jamming", jam.

So use your ears and listen. Respond with your playing and dynamics. Now, your dynamics will largely depend on what the drummer is doing. For instance, if it's a big and loud section, the drummer is probably hitting pretty hard. When the drums start pulling back that's everyone's, and especially yours, cue to also come down.

Basically, TL;DR Complement the others that you're playing with.

And if the others ask you to solo, fall back on to the drummer's back beat and then take off while doing whatever you want. Just make sure when you're done, you end and finish solidly on big beat 1.

Love the Low end
Last edited by Zeelod at Aug 3, 2011,
Great thanks for the vid Zeelod . I really like angling the bass quite a bit to compensate for the length difference between my middle and index finger (when it is more horizontal I tend to stray from the technique you demonstrated). Is that common, is it thought to be necessary?

Thanks for the jamming tips as well, that makes a lot of sense.
Standard Fender Telecaster
Fender Blues Jr
Ah I see what you're saying. It's not something I've really thought about until now. And I don't think most people really think about it.

Most people's middle finger is longer than the index finger. I subconsciously angle the bass (move the neck more pointed up to the ceiling.) in order to get both fingers to strike the string at about the same place on each finger tip.

I think it's fairly common to do this. However, watch for how much angle you put into it because this could affect what your fretting hand does; more specifically your wrist. Extreme wrist angles are bad for the health of your wrists/hand and can be bad for your technique.

Hope that helps some.

Love the Low end
I see a lot of players who don't really seem to follow your advice. For instance, is this simply bad technique? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIhrcAHGubU

Edit: This fellow even explicitly states not to let the joints lock... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIp_tbb9qO8&feature=related
Standard Fender Telecaster
Fender Blues Jr
Last edited by zipppy2006 at Aug 4, 2011,
Instructors say your finger tech is wrong.
Or he will say some other boob's tech is

But if they see John Entwistle, who's hand
tech is not like theirs, they just hold their
mouths open.

Strange stuff, this finger tech.

I never had a lesson. I learned by jammin
all night with the Bomb Squad, night after

I don't do it right either, but I like to play
non the less. And I use different hand

Last edited by tabdog at Aug 4, 2011,
I can't really comment on the first guy..

But like tabdog said, different people will tell you different things.
I should have put a disclaimer I guess.

But anyways, the guy from the second video does a lot of the same things I do and only slightly different. He pivots from the closest knuckle to his hand but his fingers have a "curve" to them.

Around the 2:27 mark, he talks about how he locks the first two knuckles so they don't bend back. It's solid advice and it's the exact same thing I do. I just do it with a fairly straight finger.

What it all boils down to really is getting the most out of your plucks without any entropy and also how your fingertip strikes the string. Generally, you'll want to strike with as little finger as possible but enough to still get a full sound.

When you start to nitpick things like this I feel like some things get lost.
Just sit down and play man, don't think about the technique intricacies and see what comes out.

Love the Low end
Okay thanks. I'd just like to get the technique right on the bass so I don't have to revisit it as I did on guitar.
Standard Fender Telecaster
Fender Blues Jr