I am learning to use my 4 string bass(after 'playing' for years now) , and I have been learning the 2 finger method.

-In my book, at first, on top of the music it had a number for right hand finger number(it literally says right hand fingering). At first it was just 1 and 2, and it said if you go from High to Low you use the same finger, besides for that its back and forth between the two. It also had practices to learn this, including a spider walk.

I got to another section learning the scales and now in the same spots it has 1-4(even in later sections also). After a quick glance over, it was easy to see that it was now talking about left fingers(like what finger to put on each note), but it didn't say anything, I even triple checked and read everything to this point, and no info. The way I first started interpreting it, was a 4 finger style instead of 2, and I figured I was to play with the same finger on both hands, but this contradicts the 2 finger.

Q: Is there such a thing as a 4 finger method, and if so, is there a traditional technique to it(or does it have any use)?? I found 3 finger method on the internet, and I like it, I was wondering if others enjoy it better than 2?

Personally, I like 3 fingers and find it to be very comfortable even if I don't know exactly how to use the style. I can't tuck my ring finger, but can tuck my pinky easily, and use it as a brace, making it very easy to play with 3 fingers out, even if I don't use the ring finger.
There are as many methods as you have fingers man. there are, off the top of my head:

1) One finger
2) two finger
3) Three finger
4) Four finger (With pinky)
5) Flamenco (Four finger classical method using thumb)
6) Thumb only
7) Slap (Multiple techniques)
8) Pick

I'm sure there are more but I'm sleepy.

Asw far as I am concerned I will often use my pinky when I jump multiple strings, for instance jumping from the 4th string to the 2nd, or when I play ghost notes. I also use my thumb quite often as well, especially when I want an old 50's thump or when I play flamenco.
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I think he's a Fender Jazz guy.
I tried to get 4 finger technique to work for the longest time and just couldn't do it. Plus, I've never actually seen anyone else get it to work smoothly (as in p,r,m,i or i,m,r,p etc). I've seen when they just change out their index (because it got tired or cut or something) for their pinky doing the 3 finger technique at a different angle. Which that seems to be the problem with 4 finger technique is the pinky is so short you pretty much have to change the angle of your hand every time you use it.

As for me, 3 finger technique with both thumb and pinky used to help mute. Playing 2 fingers feels too weak.
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I got to another section learning the scales and now in the same spots it has 1-4(even in later sections also). After a quick glance over, it was easy to see that it was now talking about left fingers(like what finger to put on each note), but it didn't say anything, I even triple checked and read everything to this point, and no info. The way I first started interpreting it, was a 4 finger style instead of 2, and I figured I was to play with the same finger on both hands, but this contradicts the 2 finger.

I think you're right about the fingering being for the left hand. And I don't see how using the same finger on each hand is going to be practical. If you have to repeat a note, are you going to be plucking it twice with one finger? I reckon that would trip you up at speed.

A better method for right hand fingering is with letters: i, m, a for index, middle, ring (in Spanish). That lets you put both fingerings on a single note and avoid confusion.

I don't pluck with little finger on bass. I've done it a little on guitar, especially with hybrid picking. But never found a need on bass.
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Last edited by QPC_Sam at Feb 11, 2013,
Flemenco is like how I play guitar, where your thumb does the top strings and your other three main fingers do what ever melody you want. Even then you don't use your pinky. I don't know if you play bass like you do finger picking on guitar with thumb and 3 fingers, then again I am not using a 5+ stringed bass?? I mean you don't really play chords the way you do on guitars, unless you can on the 6 string bass??

I mainly use my thumb when I slap, and use one or two finger with it, mainly to do a slap pluck, like for Mudvayne's Dig, that Slap SLAP Pluck(double with two fingers and two strings).

I did realize that people only use thumb, when I watched a Paul McCartney video, where he teaches you one of their bass lines. He just did a slight thumb rub. His thumb only method was for a very slow song, that wasn't all over the place. Even then, Its easy to use your thumb like a pick, so under normal situations a thumb is fast enough, but more tiring.

I can go fast enough with 2 main fingers for just about anything. The only time I like to do 3 fingers, is when doing stuff like that Dig Song, where I use my thumb for the top string, and my main two for the rest.

As far as learning the "art" and "science" behind bass, the two finger seems to be ideal and most logical especially when learning the basics like scales. But once I get into way more advanced stuff, flemenco and slap pluck will become more fine tuned up so I can play Primus type stuff, which involves some of the most complex bass I have heard.
As far as I am concerned the right hand pinky is completely useless for playing bass. Its not strong enough to pluck well, and if you do it would not be well balenced with the other fingers.

I personally prefer 3 fingers, though I use mostly 2. Alex Webster said he can get 16ths at 160 np with 3 fingers, so thats no issue.

I even heard people argue that you don't even need 3. My old bass teacher would only ever use 2, and I will admit I only really do 3 in metal where Im playing lots of gallops and stuff. I hardly ever use it in solos.
Yeah those tri notes or what ever they are called, where its just three fast notes together, and are played in sets of three.

I didn't think there were any other styles worth trying until I have mastered 2, and flemenco.

I looked up Primus, and your better off learning how to use your main two fingers on both hands, then to try and figure out the third. I think the flip finger can be used for tapping, I find it one of the nicer fingers for tapping cause its your longest finger.
I play 4 fingered and cleanly. I'll admit, the pinky was tough to get to play nice. It took a solid year of practice devoted to just the right hand. The pinky is much shorter in most cases and requires a little shift in position to be accurate.

The long and short of it is if the songs you play necessitate the technique, you should work on it. I played in a very technical death metal band and really needed the 4 note groupings as well as the speed that 4 fingers could potentially offer.

Just as a side note, until you can really do it, you'll feel like you can't. However, that's the way EVERYTHING is. You suck at it until you can do it. The real question is: does 4 finger technique work for you? Only 1 way to find out.
I actually have a crazy strong pinky from my Planet Waves finger work out machine. I use it a lot especially when driving. I don't know how strong it is, I just know its way more stronger than my left.

I started looking into 3 and 4 cause of Rush and Classical stuff that I looked up, actually lots of music uses the 1/8 and 1/16. I knew of them from guitar, those triple notes, that are like crazy, cause 1/8 barred together are played on these counts: "1 and 2 and" etc

120 doing this is pretty damn fast, and not bad with guitar or picking. But then you get the 1/16th, guitar is still easier and with a pick but it gets incredibly hard finger picking.

I think if your doing lots of these, two fingers get very tired. I have been mastering my main traditional fingers, but I am getting slowly into the other methods. When comes to the 16th and 32nd notes, I think you got to do at least 3 fingers, especially when doing triplets.
learn to do all possible combinations of styles in various ways and experiment. you should be able to adapt your technique to the tone you're trying to accomplish

4 finger style sounds different from 2 finger. strumming sounds different from thumb picking. straight slapping sounds different from thumping. do whatever fits the context you're performing within
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I was doing some digging and kind of unearthered some vintage stuff, pre-leo fender p-bass(first major electric solid bass that was used).

The dudes got mad skills, and I finally found the video I watched the other day to show you:


This dude has some major skills. I am not even sure if this guy is slapping because he wants to make the beat or if he is just cool. This how far I am looking for all the major techniques for right hand.
I tend to use two fingers and add in the ring finger occasionally. One of the things I've decided to work on this year is using three through entire songs. I'm not looking forward to adding the fourth. Strengthening my left pinkie is proving to be a lengthy process. But then I did break it right in the middle when I was about ten years old so I do have a bit of a weakness there. Maybe the right will be slightly easier.
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I have a planetwaves finger work out machine. It allows you to target each finger at different strengths.

I thought of methods to use all four. I tried finger picking identical fingers of the ones I use on the frets, index on fret 1 E string, I would pick with right hand index finger, same as pinky on both hands. It doesn't work for continued use at pinky level, but a good way to work it out.

2nd technique was assigning each finger a string. This works out cause your pinky never does anything but the smaller string. I thought this was good for starting out.
Even if you use normal 2 fingers on all the top strings, than to just let your pinky handle all G string stuff, that works ok.

3rd technique, is 2 finger technique but with 4. Almost like you were legato'ing with your right hand. Starting with either pinky or index. I start with pinky and go into my main two fingers. Kind of like a combination in some situations.