#1
Hi guys

Bit of info then the questions.

I am an experienced guitarist however I have very little experience of playing without a pick. I don't play any fingerstyle guitar and until recently I have never tried not using a pick on bass. I have played bass on and off for around 10 years however I am definitely a guitarist primarily. I have an Ibanez SR305 5 string which I play primarily and also an Ibanez GSR-100 which honestly plays like a piece of crap in comparison, haven't really used it since I got the 305. Favourite bassists are John Myung from Dream Theater, Dan Briggs from BTBAM and Arif Mdfighdfjkgdgo from Protest The Hero.

I have started playing songs I can already play with a pick but using fingers instead, so my fretting hand is fine as I already know the songs. I am however having some issues with my right hand because I have no idea what is considered "good" technique when it comes to fingerstyle.

Is there a correct number of fingers to use for any particular piece? I have found that one is too slow generally, two seems to work for the most part, three I haven't considered. I can fairly comfortably play 16ths at about 150bpm using two fingers, any faster becomes sloppy. When playing at faster tempos are more fingers generally used or is it generally just a case of speeding up with two?

I seem to be struggling with ascending up the strings from low to high, so kind of like sweep picking but with fingers. The most logical way to do this seems to be to use my thumb instead of picking each string but again I have no idea.

Something else I have found myself doing if the speed of the song permits is using one finger to play the low E exclusively and then use another finger to play odd notes on higher strings. Is this an efficient way to do this?

Finally I will say that I don't really care so much about how something "should" be done, and as a guitarist I am well aware that if it works and sounds good then whether it is considered good technique is irrelevent, I am more asking about efficiency and whether I am heading in the right direction. I don't want to be making things harder by trying to play something using the wrong technique.

Any advice greatly appreciated. Cheers guys.
#2
Some people only use two fingers, some use three or even four fingers when they play really fast stuff. Some people pluck the strings with their thumb.

I always use two fingers when I'm playing with fingers. In slower parts I'm actually not sure, but I think I may use two fingers at the same time.

But yeah, what feels comfortable to you is good.
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#3
The advantage of using three fingers is you move your hand less playing faster lines. The disadvantage is that it's kind of awkward in 4/4 time, which is, of course, the most common time signature. That can be gotten used to if you're thus inclined. Four fingers seems to me like it'd cause a lot of contrary/straining movement in the hand in moving the fingers in different directions at the same time, as well as the pinky being significantly shorter than the other fingers, making positioning awkward.

Most players using two- or three-finger technique stick to one of the two fairly consistently, from what I've seen. Speeding up is just a matter of practice, but it helps to see how little force you can apply and still get a good sound through an amp. As a guitarist it's easy to get used to tugging more than you need to on a bass.
Quote by Random3
I seem to be struggling with ascending up the strings from low to high, so kind of like sweep picking but with fingers. The most logical way to do this seems to be to use my thumb instead of picking each string but again I have no idea.

If that works and doesn't feel too awkward, it sounds like a great technique to use.
Quote by Random3
Something else I have found myself doing if the speed of the song permits is using one finger to play the low E exclusively and then use another finger to play odd notes on higher strings. Is this an efficient way to do this?

Yup, that saves you a lot of inefficient motion.
Quote by Random3
Finally I will say that I don't really care so much about how something "should" be done, and as a guitarist I am well aware that if it works and sounds good then whether it is considered good technique is irrelevent, I am more asking about efficiency and whether I am heading in the right direction. I don't want to be making things harder by trying to play something using the wrong technique.

"Proper" technique does have its purpose and develops from how people play - after all, Leo Fender designed the P-bass with a tug bar because he thought people would want to pick with their thumbs, which nobody much has done in the last 50 years.

Since bass guitar has very beefy strings, it's easy to play in a way that wastes not just time but also a lot of energy. As long as you pay attention to avoiding that, and avoid putting unnecessary strain on your hands, as with the guitar, you're golden.
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#4
Use as many fingers as you can employ properly and fluidly. If you can use four, then by all means use four.

Most bassists use two fingers for plucking the strings, but the more fingers you can use properly and fluidly' the more things you can play and the easier it will be to play them.
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#5
i played fingerstyle guitar for a couple decades before i fell in love with the bass. i sometimes use 2 fingers, sometimes thumb and three fingers, sometimes three fingers. it all depends on what i'm playing and what works best. usually i know without thinking about it after all those years on guitar, and chances are you will, too, if you don't overthink it.

just keep on playing!
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#6
I started Bass when I was 9.
2 finger technique (walking) was the thing, but learning the solo to My Generation caused me to naturally use 3 fingers.
I never went back unless the part required a smooth walk that the third finger did not provide somehow.
I use single finger when there is time and a note to note consistency is called for in the piece,
Since getting some really well set up BTB's my thumb has become active on the pad and nail, the pinky nail will be used for sweeps now and then, I use more of my fingernails.
Strangely, speed is easier for me with two fingers, where three makes a nice gallop.
With the 18v preamp on board, sometimes I just pick by wiggling a single finger nail back and forth on a string.

Now, alternate fingers are used a lot for octaves, three at a time for chords, or add a thumb on a 4 part chord, rarely adding the pinky as well.

Flamenco style playing like this will not get you any gigs really,

I got lucky, and the Gtr Player says There is one thing this 3 piece band does not sound like, and that is a 3 piece Band. He cannot believe how huge the cover tunes sound.

Again, this will not be received by most bands needing a bassist.
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#7
Hey there,
I never learned how to play professionally or anything, when I first started playing I started using finger picking by falling into what naturally felt comfortable for me. I use two fingers and I rest my thumb on the top of the pick up- and I find that when I have to alternate quickly between the strings I use one finger for the low E string notes (if you're looking at it in standard tuning) and the other finger for the other strings. I never consciously started doing this, it was just what felt natural. I would say almost any way of finger picking is fine if it works for you and there isn't a real "right or wrong" way of doing it. If it ends up not working for you, you will probably naturally end up adjusting the technique anyways. I still have no idea if my technique is regarded as typically right or wrong by professional players or teachers.
I don't do anything fancy but that's just my thing. I very occasionally use my thumb and third finger if the song calls for it. It'll be different if you're doing the slap bass technique but for standard picking this should work. Try it and see what's comfortable for you and don't focus too much and what you should do. You'll probably naturally start playing it some way.
#8
if it sounds good and doesn't cause you to tense up, it's right.

you can play at the bridge or right by the neck or anywhere in between. you can use 1 finger or all 4 and your thumb in conjunction. you can have a mellow tone, you can have a sharp tone as if you were playing with a pick, you can have a booming, muted tone, all are valid if it fits the music you're playing.

optimally, you can do all of these things and switch between them without missing a beat based on what the song needs. to an extent, i find it important to prepare to do any given part i'm performing with my thumb, fingers, and with slap/thumping. not only does it make it easier to memorize the part since i'm learning it 3+ ways, but it keeps my chops up with techniques that aren't necessarily going to be used often
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#9
First of all I don't think any technique is 'wrong', I'm not going against the general 'if it works for you' message above and I don't think anyone has mentioned using two fingers and thumb which I've seen used a lot.

I'm going to argue a bit for a proper two finger walking technique as a starting point though. You need to make picking even to start with, that takes a little practice as the angles and finger strengths differ, you also need to get used to walking the picking fingers up across the strings as you've noticed. I think it's just more efficient to build a basic technique by treating it as a thing to learn of itself. After a few weeks it becomes second nature and you will naturally adapt it to your own songs and style.

If I had to do it again though I'd adopt a floating thumb technique, where your thumb moves across to rest on the string below the one you are picking completely damping it. It's a small advantage but I've found it hard to go back and change old habits.
#10
I've played finger-style for almost 30 years. One thing that immensely helped me develop my technique is infinite paradiddle - 1211,2122,1211,.... With some songs, I tend to assign my index finger to a lower steady note, while using my middle for the upper register. Paradiddle allowed me to essentially give those fingers two different "playing brains". Don't have to think about it, they just do their thing. When I was young and used to play things that needed raw speed, I would speed pick with one finger and could alternate between index and middle, if they tired or started to cramp. Another thing I do is tap out drumlines which often helps with writing. When playing, I tend to wedge my thumb under the E if I'm not playing it. I have tweaked all of my basses for extra space between the body and strings for that and the fact that I find higher sitting strings easier to play. All of my basses either have the micro-tilt engaged or a shim. Had to get longer saddle screws for some of them to accomodate the height that I want. I keep 'em high off the body but low on the neck.
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