Which bass plucking technique is the best - raking or strict alternating? Let’s battle ‘em out on 3 songs to find out. Hadouken!
If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, this lesson would fit conceptually any time after Module 2, when you’ve covered some alternating plucking. The Cars riff will be playable by Module 4, the Metallica riff more towards the end of the course… and good luck with the RHCP riff, it’s fast!
Bass Plucking Technique Definitions
Here’s a quick peek at what these techniques are, if you need a better framing of what this video’s about before you watch -
Strict Alternating: You ALWAYS pluck index-middle-index-middle-etc., regardless of note groupings or string crossings. (or middle-index-middle-index, you can start on either finger)
Raking: When you cross from a higher-pitched string to the next lower string (like from the G string to the D string), you can reuse the finger you just plucked with, since it’ll be resting on that string after your previous pluck. That’s why it’s also called “economy plucking” - you’re reusing the same finger so you don’t have to switch.
Strict Alternating is what you’re used to if you took Beginner to Badass, although we occasionally put breaks in the alternating patterns when there’s a rest in the music. (to make the patterns simpler, or work better with the string crossings)
Those Street Fighter Visuals Though...
Can I just brag a tiny bit and say I had so much fun making these Street Fighter graphics? Here they are again - please look at them an extra time to make all those hours I spent worth it. :PPPP
I think I always alternate but change the first pluck between I/M depending on what I’m doing for faster stuff I start on middle , no other reason than if feels natural and works for me
Raking feels weird and clunky
This is another one of those videos where I realize that 80% of my problems are caused by the suboptimal fingerings I come up with. Now that I know how to rake I can finally play that one tricky bar in Creep that I’ve been struggling with…
Yeah, but he also does a straight 3 fingers to four note pattern that repeats, which is just a total mind job on me. If you have running 16ths, using his method, each set is starting out on a different finger. 3-2-1-3; 2-1-3-2; 1-3-2-1; etc.
Makes much more sense to me to do a 3-2-1-2; 3-2-1-2 pattern so that you are at least using the name plucking finger to start each set of 16th notes. Doing syncopated accents with Sheehan’s running 3 finger style is like trying to do calculus on a roller coaster.
For “normal” playing - you can do pretty much anything with two fingers. Any time someone says you need more fingers for speed, I just say… Jaco.
But if you’re doing 3 - yeah you can either 321 321 like Sheehan and work on your accent patterns, or you can 3212, or some people do 2123. Up to you! Personally I don’t have a strong 3 finger alternating game, I just use two.
Or, Use a pick if you really want to, but overall, metal sounds so much stronger, at least thrash metal where the bass is halved, or even offset with syncopation, to the rate of the guitar chugs.
Josh pointed this in the Cliff Burton video, in the section where he compares Fight Fire with Fire, the whole track, to the guitar track, to Cliff Bass track and back to the whole track again, I believe, correct me if I am wrong about songs and example order.
But the speed almost does not pay off in the end, and is probably the real reason why they took Jason’s bass tracks off of the AJFA album (or at least cut them way down and boosted the guitars).
I have seen other videos pointing this out too.
There are videos showing this on YT, for Slayer Raining Blood, and Metallica’s Battery. They point out the differences when the bass track is played slower than the guitars, and it really sounds so much larger.
Now when I listen to a lot of old 80’s thrash after not hearing it for such a long time, I start going, where is the bass line? and think, Ahhh, it is stuck on Guitar speed with a pick.
This was a very cool video Josh, love the artwork, time very well appreciated.
So if I’m going down the third fret from D string to E string (F-C-G) obviously raking is the way, but what do I do with the fretting hand? Bar it and tilt my way down to mute as I go or try to walk my fingers (I/M) down them?
Both work, It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
If it is a slow song, and I have plenty of time, I would probably walk them down. If it is fast, and it it tricky, before this move, and / or after it, you will have to work it out and see what works. If you approach and are ready to rake thru, yeah, that is the way to go, but also, where do you need to go after, and which finger will work for that, because alternating on a string, could set you up better for your next moves.