Plucking hand technique question

When I pluck the A, D, or G strings I try to have my plucking finger come to rest on the lower string (so if I’m plucking the G, it comes to rest on the D). Often I can hear somewhat of a thump as my finger contacts the lower string. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

1 Like

Hey Lucas, having your plucking finger rest on the next string down is a good thing, for starters.

I’m not positive I know where that thump sound is coming from based on your description… If you could film a short video of your plucking hand up close, that would help a lot!

Or maybe someone else has an intuition?

I’ll try to make a video. Audio-only is easy through the amp’s DI…would that be useful?

1 Like

Video and audio would be the most helpful, by far. Audio can even be crappy quality, just a mobile phone video quality will do!

1 Like

I’ll try to put something together tonight.

I made short video and audio clips. I turned all EQ settings flat. The audio was recorded from the DI out of my amp.

Here’s the audio link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Fcglltx1K7TqjV8E-ed6sc4_SOmUiI2O

Here’s the video link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YBR8IX3LV_JOPaTTDEiQdnhz1U7q_XJ5/view?usp=sharing

Hopefully those links work!

Nothing wrong that I can see or hear. It’s the follow through that makes the sound? It doesn’t really come across in the video.
The video seems like lovely technique.

Maybe try the audio-only file, because the sound is much better on that. And thanks for the kind words :grinning:

Thanks @lucas9000, that helps a lot. I second what Gio said, I don’t hear anything “wrong.” What I’m hearing in the audio:
1.) The sound of the note (most fundamental frequency + 1st harmonic, for the spectrographically inclined)
2.) The natural “thumpy” attack of plucking with your fingers
3.) Some higher overtones popping out, which will change based on where you anchor your plucking hand, and you could minimize with EQ (roll down high mids or treble) if you wanted to, but it doesn’t sound “bad”, it’s just something I noticed.

Video looks/sounds fine too! You have to keep in mind, as a bass player, almost nobody is going to hear your exact tone unless you do solo gigs. Those little tiny clicks and thumps will totally disappear in the mix with drums and guitar going.

Here’s a wild example - the isolated bass track for Cult of Personality (Living Colour) is full of INSANE GNARLY TONE, even some sloppy playing

But in the mix, you can’t tell at all, it just sounds good -

2 Likes

THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER.
Perfect illustration for everyone who gets too close to the microscope.

2 Likes

Lucas, I was thinking the same thing about my own plucking… then one week, I didn’t keep my fingernails trimmed up, and it let me really, really hear the difference in timing on the plucky attack (now high pitched due to fingernail), and my finger coming to rest on the next string down.

I now trim my fingernails often. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Right? Blew me away when I heard that the first time. If I recorded a take with that much slop in the studio, I would be like ‘NOOOOOO LET ME FIX IT FOR A YEAR’. But it sounds so good on the record.

2 Likes

Guilty…:hot_face:

2 Likes

Same here - I will never be happy with my own bits and will edit them to death until someone stops me :slight_smile:

Like, my friend and I are passing an Audacity project back and forth right now, and after I sent it I immediately sent “WAIT WAIT, let me rerecord that, I hate the triplets and I flubbed the outro” which crossed in the 'net his email reply of simply “Holy crap this sounds so much better with bass!” :slight_smile:

(Of COURSE I am still going to re-record it next time I get the project back, though. Obsessively.)

It was actually worse back when I was synth programming. I would stare at the sequencer for hours, and usually end up with something only trivially different in the long run.

3 Likes

This same thing goes with audio engineers and recording albums. A wonderful engineer and musician was telling me about decisions he agonized about when he recorded records - places where he started the mix process (all analog) over again to correct something he heard…
And then listening back years later and having no idea where he had made those absolutely essential changes… he just couldn’t hear them.

2 Likes