the online magazine for bass players

Search Menu

Talking Technique: Fast Fingers

Today we’re talking technique with the right hand and getting those fast fingers. I’ll be going over the two finger alternating plucking style, which will get you through most playing situations.

Oftentimes, players get wrapped up in coupling their right hand and left hand processes when playing patterns. I recommend making alternating your fingers an automated process so you don’t have to think about which finger to use. That decouples your left hand from your right hand to free up your creative flow and timing.

We’ve got several patterns and approaches to clean up your right hand technique.

Austrian-gone-Californian Ariane Cap is a bassist, educator, blogger and author. In her book "Music Theory for the Bass Player” and corresponding 20-week online course, she teaches music theory, bass technique, bass line creation and fretboard fitness in a systematic, practical and experiential way. Contact her via her blog or website.

Get Talking Technique in your inbox

Don’t miss an episode of Talking Technique. Sign up for email alerts (every other week).

Related topics: , , ,

Win an Ampeg Portaflex Bass Rig and SCR-DI Bass DI Pedal

Enter for your chance to win one of these awesome prizes from Ampeg!

Enter Now

Share your thoughts

Mark S B.

Mark S B.

Ariane did I hear Stratus in there . Over the last month I played the song Stratus over and over and over and I will most likely play it again tomorrow now that its ingrained in my head.
I was told to hold a small apple in my picking hand to keep it round and just not drop the apple.
Then when your done you eat the apple if you don’t drop it.
I enjoyed this very much , thanks .

    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Cheers Mark, Stratus! Great one. You can actually play that lick in all five pentatonic shapes by way of staying inside the shapes. A challenge to do the lick at tempo in the different positions. Funny about the apple.

mojobass

Hey Ariane ….Another winner. I am an advocate of this approach and it serves me well .Cheers and thanks for the exercise suggestions🌹
On a related note,it always amazes me to think James Jamerson ” The Hook” laid down some blistering notes with that HOOK of his 😎

    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Cheers Mojo! yes, that hook is legendary!! Many players find their unique approach.

    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Thanks for commenting, Charles. I find the best way to change engrained habits is to systematically and regularly practice the item to change, and let go of thinking about it when gigging/playing songs. The first thing that starts to happen is that your awareness shifts and you recognize the “bad” habit as it creeps in in playing situations. Pat yourself on the back when that happens, change, then forget about it again. In other words, don’t fight the bad habit. A baby does not fight crawling before it learns to walk. Happy shedding.

Charles desjardins

Charles desjardins

This video make me realize that I have a bad right hand technique, I always rake when descending a scale..I need to practice those excercises to reprogram my brain !

davehammers

Exactly what I was looking for, thanks Ariane!

Eric Brewington

I am primarily left handed but I play a right hand bass. Because of that my fretting hand has always been pretty efficient but my plucking hand is a dumpster fire! Alternating fingering has been a problem for me. I work on it with some exercises but I will incorporate what you suggest as well. One thing I noticed is I can get good at playing the exercises using alternating fingers but the moment I’m in a band or musical situation it goes out the window for the most part. How long before it become second nature?

Thanks Ari! Love your lessons (and your theory book).

Ariane Cap (Author)

Cheers Eric, I’m curious about something: see if you can observe yourself (your mental/emotional states, how grounded you feel etc) in the practice room versus on the band stand. Maybe you discover that it does feel different and if so, maybe “porting over” the practice state to the band state is useful. Also, since you have my Music Theory for the Bass Player Book, check out The Principle of Rotating Attention in Chapter 12. It is of great help to change habits consistently.

Ariane Cap (Author)

Great to hear :)

JJ

JJ

Hiya Ariane. I get teased a lot because I dislike the fingerstyle because of an issue I have when it affects my job and patients. My right is the primary hand for starting IV needles in my ambulance. I have found that my left hand is ok being slightly calloused as that is my fretting and all I use it for finding veins under. The skin. I started out as a pick player but wanted to practice fingers. I spent about a month playing with fingers and i was making some improvement. Then i noticed the callouses the afternoon before my shift that night. I noticed the callouses prevented me from feeling the actual small poke as
The needle enters. I messed up three semi important ivs.

My.question is there a way to develop the fingertips as soft as what i need fork yet able to stand up to 6-8 songs etc in a row.

Sorry for the long winded question and about somethinh you may not be100% sure of.

Thanks for the time to read this and possibly form an answer.

    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Hi JJ, that’s a really interesting question and one I have not come across before. I know that my callouses decrease if I put my hands in water a lot or if I put something like this on (preferably with gloves over it at night): https://unternehmen.haka.de/unser-service/ratgeber/euterpflege.html?L=0%2525252525252F or this http://www.amazon.de/Xenofit-Hirschtalg-Sportcreme-second-skin-125ml/dp/B002ONP61Y sorry, I only know the German version of these products!!

      Tynn Neagu

      Hi Ariane! First, thank you for your free lessons! You are a charismatic teacher and I enjoy your short and to the point lessons. About the subject: I started play bass with the 2 finger style, permanently alternanting. A few years ago, I saw a lesson of a great teacher on YouTube ( I don’t want to give the name), about alternate plucking and raking. The last technique was recomended for achieving speed o bass solos and other fast riffs. I.ve started to practice it and got used to it quickly. The problem is that I use all the time now and I do feel like I feel that it affect the fluidity of certain bass lines, like the funky ones, with sixteenths and dead notes (like Francis Rocco Prestia does). I look forward your lesson on the subject, when I hope I’ll elucidate when appropriate and when not to use this “sick” technique :) .