Plucking hand is nowhere near as skilled as fretting one

Hello. I have this, maybe a specific problem, with my right hand. I am slowly getting through the course (30 minutes a day~) and the rest I have free for music I try to produce some music with the bass. Almost all the time I end up with some bass line I don’t have issues with speed or accuracy of my fretting hand (I am able to fret 16th notes when they are somehow obviously placed.) but every recording I create I can hear that it’s actual technique of my right hand. It’s sloppy and has a big issue with nuanced playing around with dynamic range. I guess it’s somehow more focused in later stages of the course, but at the moment it’s in my opinion one thing that makes me don’t want to play the bass and an extremely limiting factor for the thing I want to do with the bass.

So I have two questions 1) Is there any resource out there focused mainly on the nuances of the right hand? 2) Should I be concerned or just suck it up and continue with that, it will be solved eventually.

ps: I have my anchoring technique, changing strings, positioning between bridge neck quite nailed down. The issue is that it takes a bunch of takes until I am at least able to hear how bad the picking is.

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Hey, @wellbi . . . I’m of the opinion that it just takes lots of practice . . :slight_smile:

We all run into some sort of problems along the way, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

Cheers
Joe

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Plucking might seem to be something you should be able to do easily… Well, it’s not :sweat_smile:

Like everything, it takes time to learn how to stay in the rhythm, alternate correctly and finally be able to add special nuances to your plucking.

All of us have been through this or are going through this still. My plucking is far from perfect and I’ve been at it for some time already :wink:

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Can you make a close up video of your plucking? I think we may be able to analyze it and give you some pointers.
It’s probably something minor, like the angle of attack or something of that nature.
Give us a look and we’ll help you.

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I will do that tomorrow when I am at home.

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I guess it’s just about time. I can compensate sometimes with the tone knob (when there’s actually time window I am able to handle), but yesterday I wrote this little piece which starts around 15th fret and then there’re a couple bars on “money” frets. I intuitively know how it should sound and that that sound is actually, mainly, in delicate plucking to not get that string zing in higher octave range and on the other hand the “money part” is about firm plucking to get that zing (dunno if that’s the word). But as soon as I recorded it, my brain was like “That’s not what we’ve done.”

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All these things, even the seamingly easy things, take time.
Practice practice practice, you will see things falling into place, but not as soon as you would like.

Josh has exercises to work the plucking hand in B2B. Fair warning, they are pretty boring, but, very useful.

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Coming from a guitar background, I have had this same issue and still have this same issue. I could fret things pretty easily on day one of picking up the bass, but plucking evenly and at a consistent volume was hard. I was absolutely miffed by this, but reasoned I shouldn’t be, because I came from using a pick on these skinny little strings, and was in essence, teaching my right hand new tricks.

Then someone (pretty sure it was David Ellefson) said something like, “We give a lot of credit to fretting but not enough to plucking”. He was talking about style as much as tone. My brain translated this as, “Oh my gosh, on a bass, your right hand plucking technique is its own animal and doing a ton of work for the sound you end up making. Of course it’s hard.”

That really made all the difference for me. I started to treat my plucking technique as not an incidental means of getting notes out of the instrument, but as an element that needed its own solid practice. As others have said, it’s often seen as this thing you should just do, but we’re often watching very practiced teachers whose plucking took years to come along so smooth. It’s absolutely nuanced and you should not feel bad if something is off.

Keep playing and finding those breakthroughs. And then find breakthroughs that outdo your previous breakthroughs. It’s like chipping away at a stone sculpture. Just yesterday I was thrilled to find out I needn’t strike the strings as hard as I was after having gone through the same realization a month ago. I’m sure in another month, I’ll realize I can hit the strings even lighter still, or my fingers can suddenly move faster, or they can move in some fashion they couldn’t before – who knows!

Whatever you do, don’t stop! :smiley:

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I had a little chat with a really cool guy in one FB group and he recommended to plug in the bass into pc and add Amplitube or some modeling system on it and select some guitar overdrive setup and create a bunch of practice routines when I will focus to get the signal into overdrive as I want. Also, he mentioned that if I use 3 fingers for plucking there’s a lot of what can go wrong.

“Fretting hand gives you immediate results you can hear. Plucking hand performance is most of the time hidden because of how it’s related to the overall flow of a song.”

I guess more practice minutes every day.

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Ooh, yeah playing into overdrive is a really good idea to work on plucking dynamics. I like that idea.

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I have the opposite problem, I can pluck, pick, finger & slap passably but my fretting hand sometimes lacks behind when I’m playing 180-190 bpm tracks.

I think it has something to do with focusing on the “excitement” that’s happening with my right picking hand so therefore my left fretting hand gets less attention but I want to get it to a point where it’s like the time I primarily played drums and could separate my left brain from my right brain.

It’s easier to do with drums though. Drums are tight, percussive and attacky.

But with stringed instruments it’s drawn out like a strung out horse so the game is different & requires far more attention to sustaining & releasing than drums which are like a microwave with bongo buttons.

You set it and tell it to get the fuck out of your life until the next burrito bounces back.

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Yeah, I agree with this. I think @Gio talked about the exciting moment on another thread, and it is so true.

For me, when I overthink what I am playing is when I make the most mistakes. I learned this early on with “Billie Jean”. Being a finger twister, as many other bass lines, fills or other bass parts, it is very easy to get over excited in your head and your fingers just turn into deflating balloons, flailing all over the place.
Likewise, when playing a song and there is a big bass fill, roll, or moment in the song featured by the bass, I tend to get over excited waiting for that moment and then I mess up.
I keep saying in my head "I got this, I know its coming, i am not gonna blow it, etc…etc…etc…) and next thing you, it is there and I blow it, or play right past it.
The trick for me is:
1 - learn the song or part (both really) so it is engrained in your brains sub-conscience, and you can rely on muscle memory.
2 - play the bass line to the song as much as possible
3 - really focus on tempo and timing, especially when this part is coming up.
4 - forget about the big part - keep count in your head.

#1 takes time, the harder and faster the bass line, or when the timing is off beat, or odd in anyway, often the longer it will take. #2 is just an extension of #1 really, you have to get the song down so its 2nd nature.
#3 is the most important part to me. Yes, I have learned alot of songs by seeing the tab, and listening to the song, which is also VERY important, but it is MANDATORY (for me at least) to be able to play the part while counting the beats and sub-divisions in my head.

This of course helps to learn and nail a song. Eventually, you end up with the song being a part of you, and you can just play it without focusing so much on the note per note, and focus more on the song as a whole.
IF
I do 1 thru 3, and while playing the song, when the part is coming up, I start focusing on the beats and subdivisions, (counting either 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-& OR 1-&-a-2-&-a-3-&-a-4-&-a. OR. 1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a-3-e-&-a-4-e-&-a), when I get to the part (or even if I need to do it for the whole time the riff is playing, like I do for the opening riffs in "Raining Blood) my fingers, the plucking and fretting fingers do the job from muscle memory.
I find that the best and most dramatic bass riffs, or fills, start on an off beat, and I can never get it down if I am not counting it.

Sublime, Date Rape, there is an AWESOME roll from the E string to the A string that starts on the AND of 1, after chugging a full 3 measures of B on the E string,
On the & of 1 (on the A string), is D# on 2 is E , the & of 2 is a hammer on F#. beat 3 moves to the D string to play A with the & of 3 hammer on B, and beat 4 is a 1/4 note C. That part ends a big bass run and breaks to the guitar solo over no drums or bass.

I played that roll over and over and over, sometimes for like 15 min on end, just playing it, yet I would still anticipate it coming and blow it in the song, no matter what. So, there is a certain part of the song that breaks before that part starts to approach, and I just start the 1&2&3&4& in my head and before you know it, I am well past that part, often having nailed it.
Now I can play it pretty fluently, after about 10,000 times thru.

Of course start slow, learn the notes, commit to memory, commit to muscle memmory and you will get there eventually.

Same goes for Plucking hand. I often need to know what finger I am starting with in order to play it right.

Raining Blood, very important just to get the chugging down, cuz it is
Open E for 1 and 1& then Octave E on D string for 2, and the 2& is back to open string, repeat Open E for 3 and 3&, E on D for 4, back to open E for the 4&.
on the 4th measure you play the same run the guitars play
I need to start with my middle finger plucked and play every octave with the middle finger, or I blow it.

For me, if I don’t count that, I can never play the 4th measure right, but if I keep count, I can play it pretty flawlessly.
I have not played it to the song yet, still building speed.
But after I get to speed and play it to the song enough, then I should be able to play it without the count.

It is so important for me to be able to count it to be able to play it properly.

Its funny, cuz I can play the same plucking pattern, much faster on the opening of “The Idiots are Taking Over” by NOFX and not have to count it, but it has a noticeable fretting pattern that helps and there is no 4th measure change up in it.
I had first thought I needed to play it with a pick to play the right speed, but I play it both ways now and I prefer plucking for the evenness of the song, I still am not used to picking bass enough.

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Could 12th fret that and stay on the E. I’d be tempted.

Sorry I wish I could explain it better than that but it’s just what it feels like.

BINGO, I think this plays a huge part into my mind slipping in these moments. What’s worse is when I overthink not overthinking and then I automatically overthink.

Excellent advice, thanks man! I always feel like I play much better when I’m not paying too much attention to what I’m doing or trying to figure too many steps ahead. You’re so right about muscle memory being best, it’s brainless and solid.

I have to keep myself in that moment somehow, maybe counting constantly might help because I usually don’t consciously count in my head but I have great feel for rhythm naturally which doesn’t usually fail me. It’s the overthinking that kills my fret hand.

I always do this, I will constantly just replay the same part over and over again until it’s nailed without my consent. It probably drives listening people outside crazy but I got most of my results from just trail and error of practicing millions of times with tons of mistakes made in the middle. I drag my ugly through the mud.

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Remember (and I always have to tell myself this on both bass and sax). Pros practice ALL DAY. It’s their job. The tunes are engrained in their memory.

When they play it’s very much like when we speak. We don’t have to think about each word, and our brain comes up with them in generally coherent sentences automatically. We are still trying to remember each word and how to sound it. It takes longer when you don’t have all day and night to burn it into our RAMs.

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That’s a great observation, @John_E . . . :thinking:

Cheers
Joe

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I meant to make a statement similar to this in the end of my last post.

Actually what I equate it to is Typing on a computer keyboard (If you ever learned how to type, it was a pain in the ass).
It is an intimate object that is not a part of our body like brain and vocal cords. But once you get it down, you no longer think about where the letters you are going to use to write a word, a sentence or a whole paragraph, you just type, and the thoughts come out. If ever I can treat the fretboard like a pc keyboard, I will be a happy man, and could die with a smile.

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You’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s the only time I was able to really play something with complete confidence, if I practiced it hundreds of times.

Otherwise it just makes each play-through feel like a learning experience on the go. Which is wonky at best.

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