View Full Version : Tapping & 3-Finger Picking

12-25-2006, 02:44 AM
Hi, 1st thread for me. So some old fat guy comes in guitar center, grabs the most expensive bass he can find, and plants his butt right infront of an ampeg fullstack. Then, once he has made as much of a scene as he can to get people's attention, he starts tapping simple major scale warmups in the 10th+ frets at lightning speed. Everyone around quietly oo's and ah's to themselves and whispers each other "man, he's amazing!"
So how does he do it? What is the proper technique for between-string tapping? Single-string tapping is a breeze, but I can't seem to figure this one out. Can anyone tell me where I can learn this technique or at least explain it in this thread?
Another curios thing: has anyone who knows who Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big noticed that he periodically picks with 3 fingers? Has anyone out there mastered this one as well? Can this be efficiently done between multiple strings in your runs, or is it even worth learning? Are there some sort of ring-finger stretches you have to do? Should I even think about using 4 fingers?

-Thanx, Metallidude

The Trooper
12-27-2006, 03:43 PM
He actually uses all four for shredding if you look closely.

First, the three fingers. I'm currently training mine up now because I'm into Iron Maiden and like playing the "gallop" basslines. It's so much easier with three fingers. The way to train that up I've found is to put concentration into making a "separate" finger. If you haven't trained, I guarantee you your third finger will probably move more or less with your second (middle). If you ocncentrate on moving it separately, you iwll eventually be able to do it effectively (I played "The Trooper" to family last night after a little third finger exercise and it came out very well). Run-wise, I don't use it eprsonally because I use the fast fingering tehcnique I got off Vic Wooten. I can do it fine with two fingers and thinking of three just breaks my ocncentration atm (and the third gets in the way too. Might not when the muscles tighten up eventually though)

If there's two things on bass I'm not very good at it's tapping and slapping. Slapping is a no-go for me because it usually breaks my strings anyway but tapping is another story. I can do it but it's so boring, I don't get how to make it interesting. Anyway, the actual method. How do you tap now? I tap on one string only usually but looking at Billy Sheehan and a few tapping vids, I can say that the way to swtich strings is to watch which stirngs you hit (i.e. don't hit any others!) and keep your thumb BEHIND the neck. To get more power into your tapping,press your second finger into the nail on the index finger like a hook and it's much easier. Keeping your thumb out of the way behind the neck will provide something to push against and should make it easier by keeping it out of the way. Sorry for not being able too much with tapping, but see if any of it works.

Hey, if it does, you can show me how to do it : )

12-28-2006, 08:46 PM
using four fingers is entirely possible. I do it on guitar where there is a lot less room for error because of less distance between strings. The way I do it is I always use the same pattern for my four fingers. If my pinky is finger 4 and my index finger is 1, I always move in the direction of 4, 3, 2, 1, regardless of what my left hand is doing. Once you have independance between your two hands (which I'm sure you probably already have) that one motion will just get faster and faster the more you play. After that you can work on different right hand movements if you want, but besides chord melodies I can't think of anything that can't be played using that one fingering, except maybe some string skipping. It's like using a classical tremolo for everything you play.

The Trooper
12-29-2006, 12:08 PM
Try that, but of course it does all depend what you're comfortable with. I mean, for some riffs, Cliff Burton used one finger only. Why? probably because it was comfortable for him. I use three for gallops and mainly two for other basslines. Sometimes I might add in a third to make it a bit smoother or to do a quick fill in which it's easier to hit 3 2 1 rather 2 1 2

01-18-2007, 12:56 AM
If you want a good example of what tapping is good for and how to make it interesting, I suggest you do some research on one Stu Hamm. That man is nuts, I would give my left nut to be able to play half that good.

For example, there is a video of him soloing with Joe Satriani, his slapping and tapping is mind boggling.

I myself can't slap to save my life, and I agree, tapping isn't all that hard, but I really can't make anything sound... special with it. I tapped the star spangled banner, then after i finished laughing, decided never to do that again.

I would like to get my third finger into the mix as well, but as someone mentioned, my middle finger and ring finger... act as one half the time, its getting better, but its more of an annoyance at the moment. You have to do what is comfortable for you. If you are uncomfortable with playing with three fingers, then your sound quality is gonna drop. Stick with two if thats what works for you! Its not like there aren't 100s of great bassists that only use 2 fingers... then there's the ones that use picks, we won't talk about them :P Actually, i just can't use a pick, never got comfortable with them.

02-07-2007, 09:40 AM
One thing I realised lately while trying to master the three-finger technique is that it is far more effective to go 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2...etc, rather than 1-2-3-1-2-3 or even 3-2-1-3-2-1. For some reason this really helps you separate the middle and ring fingers. Maybe this is common practise, and i'm just stating the obvious, but it was quite a turning point for my 3 fingered playing. That said, I still find my ring finger sometimes brushing past my middle finger, which slows me down and makes it much less comfortable..

02-15-2007, 04:01 PM
It's not necessary to use 3 fingers to play fast, Stanley Clarke doesn't, Jeff Berlin doesn't, Percy Jones doesn't, Jaco Pastorius didn't, and they don't have any problem playing fast with just two fingers. Just because Billy Sheenan does it, doesn't mean it's the only way, and only play if it feels right. John Myung? He can play fast with both two and 3 fingers, so go ahead and learn both ways if you want. I've never heard of 4 fingers though, and I watched a video of Billy Sheehan where he said he barely used his 4th because it's obviously just weak and much smaller than the others, but if you want to use your 4th, again, go ahead and try, but try getting each finger of your 4 fingers to produce the same sound, that's the hard part, but it's just not necessary anyway.

The Trooper
02-15-2007, 04:21 PM
I find it hard to play fast with my third because it's always hitting other strings. I use my third for fast rhythmns like gallops and 16ths etc but when it comes to the speed soloing and jamming I use two. Just see what works for you.

03-18-2007, 12:52 AM
im heavily influenced my dream theater and john myung, and in the past 3 months ive found its my only direction to go in, is to learn with 3 fingers, and i did just that. it takes some getting used to, but if you practice with your third finger correctly you can nail down the technique in no time. ill give a list of things to do to increase finger independency and get smooth at using 3 fingers.

1. pluck in this pattern- ring, middle, index. now, you can do any combination you want to practice or get your ring finger warmed up (as i state in some of the tips further below), but i suggest using a 3-2-1 combination for playing. its a lot more natrual and much more easily accomplished, in my opinion.

2. practice using 3 fingers going up and down modes and scales. yes, it is really hard to get used to using 3 fingers on scales going up and down switching strings, but doing this in combination with other practices and excercises will benefit you in the long run.

3. i suggest playing up and down pentatonic scales, whilst doubling up the notes, so everytime you get to a note, you play it 2 times instead of 1, and keep increasing speed. this is what i do with my 6 string all the time, while going up all 6 strings, and down all 6 strings. it is benificial to do 3 different combinations to increase your overall right hand strength and speed- index and middle, index and ring, and all 3. practicing all three of these combinations and applying them to the pentatonic technique will help you improve.

4. try playing random combinations with 3 fingers. a good thing to get rid of the dependency of your ring finger on your middle, is to play cycles of four notes. for instance, play on one string 3-2-1-3, 2-1-3-2, 1-3-2-1 (in terms of right hand fingers, not frets). this will teach your ring not to become dependant on your middle finger. if you were to play 3-2-1, 3-2-1, all the time, your ring finger would get used to becoming dependant on your middle, which is exactly opposite of what you want.

5. whenever you are forced to play groups of four notes in a song, DONT use the above technique, thers an easier way. what i prefer to do if there is 4 notes, a pause, 4 notes, a pause, etc., play each 4 notes with 3-2-1-2. think.... if you played it 3-2-1-3, it would be possible, but not the most comfortable in my opinion, especially if your ring is still dependant upon your middle and is still weak. you could not do 3-2-1-1, because if your plucking out fast notes, theres no way you can pluck wiht your index with that fast of successtion. i prefer to pluck that last note with my middle, it all just flows a little easier.

6. HOWEVER... if you are playing groupings of four notes in continuous succession such as 000022223333 on one string, do play with continuous cycles of 3-2-1 and keep doing that pattern for the sake of your speed. what i do when i play parts such as this is i keep strumming with my right, and i count out the notes in my head. when i have to switch strings or stop or whatever, i just think in my head exactly when ill ahve to stop, and know to change my course of action on the spot without planning in the future. its kind of hard to explain, but generally just play with a 3-2-1 pattern when playing continuous notes.

its kind of hard to describe what i mean with some of the tips above, but i hope i helped. these are all the things ive done to get better with 3 fingers, and i hope they help you improve too. good luck! :cool:

06-12-2009, 06:02 AM
I find a simple way to practice the Three Fingered technique would be drumming your fingers on the table. D-D-Dram! I did that a lot as a kid and I don't find Three Fingers so hard now [Shrug]

06-12-2009, 02:44 PM
I find a simple way to practice the Three Fingered technique would be drumming your fingers on the table. D-D-Dram! I did that a lot as a kid and I don't find Three Fingers so hard now [Shrug]

Haha, thats what i do....

06-12-2009, 02:57 PM
So some old fat guy comes in guitar center, grabs the most expensive bass he can find, and plants his butt right infront of an ampeg fullstack.

HEY!!! I am old and fat too! Rofl!

06-18-2009, 10:25 PM
If you are interested in this, someone you may find interesting is Steve Digiorgio you should YouTube him! He is an amazing and inspirational bassist!

06-20-2009, 07:47 PM
If you are interested in this, someone you may find interesting is Steve Digiorgio you should YouTube him! He is an amazing and inspirational bassist!
Steve DiGiorgio is nuts. Killer Chops haha. It's nice to find a Bassist who can play fast without getting too boring.