right hand lesson #1


If you've ever seen me play, you've probably noticed that my right hand technique is different than most. Since I've never had a bass teacher (plenty of music teachers) , I started out with 3 fingers. I don't use a 1-2-3 sequence, instead, 1 & 2 do most of the work and my 3rd finger stays on an upper string and always plays the first note going up.
(I have no idea what my little finger does.)

I use two basic positions.


used for octaves & 7ths,
1 chord groove playing


used more for linear playing,
adjacent notes & soloing

  Notice that in both positions, the thumb will rest on a string below and the 3rd finger is on an upper string ready to play. Staying in contact with the strings (thumb and 3rd finger), results in a more secure, stable way to get around on the instrument.
One of the more difficult things to do on bass is to cross strings going up. Although I didn't realize it when I started, this technique makes going up easy because the 3rd finger is always on an upper string ready to play the first note in that direction. Although I kind of stumbled on to this way of playing, I've found that it takes some work to get your 3rd finger to be independent of your 2nd.
Here's the first exercise you should do if you want to try this technique.
It stays in Open position: thumb resting on the E string, 1,2 & 3 on A, D & G.

BLUE(large) numbers indicate which finger plays the note
RED(small) numbers indicate which finger dampens the note
notation image
1. The G's and A's are open strings. Completely remove your left hand from the neck.

2. Go Slow......... I mean really slow. MM = 30.....that's a note every 2 seconds!.
The idea is to develop some independence between your fingers (especially 2 & 3) while relaxing in between notes.
Keep your third finger on the G string after dampening the 2nd G.
Make your 3rd finger relax and not move when you play the A's with 1 & 2.

3. Look at your right hand!
I know it sounds obvious, but I've noticed that the majority of people look off into space when they start to work on the right hand......beats me?

4. If you're comfortable with the seqence of notes and all your fingers are doing what they should, do not try to go faster. Stay at the same tempo and play short notes. Since you're stopping the note with the finger that's going to play next, you're preparing yourself to play fast. Staying at a slow tempo and playing short notes gives you plenty of time to relax in between notes. Teach yourself to relax and playing fast will always be easier.