What are you struggling with?

I wouldn’t worry too much, @lusecannon . . . :slight_smile:

I think I can safely say that lots of people go through temporary doldrums that interfere with their sense of progress and enjoyment of playing bass.

(I know I have anyway . . . :wink: )

Sometimes it helps to deliberately back off for awhile, and then pick it up again.



I think there are two kinds of people: those who have already experienced this, and those who will. I second what @Jazzbass19 said - take a break for a day or two, and then go back to playing. You can also use this break to do some ear training, music theory, transcribe songs, look at pictures in the bass porn thread, etc… :slight_smile:


I am struggling with the plucking with alternate fingers. When I do a module in B2B, if I pluck with my index finger, I am fine, even through the fast workouts. Just as good with a pick.

If I try to alternate fingers, everything else falls apart. Is this a common problem?

I say that because my brain is wired a little funny. I am dyslexic and people with dyslexia often have other challenges, one of mine is binary things - they confuse me. Like left and right. It takes a fair amount of concentration to tell the two apart.

I find that maintaining alternate plucking is taking a lot of concentration, to the point where my fretting and following the rhythm falls apart. Do other people struggle with this?

It’s kicking my butt, and I was frustrated in tonight’s module so I used a pick and everything fell into place. Then I used my index finger and did just as well. Back to alternating and no good.

I’m not sure if I should keep fighting this or what. So I am posting here to vent as much as anything.


Well, first the good news is you have a perfectly fine workaround with using a pick. I basically only play with a pick these days myself (though that is more style than anything). Nothing wrong with a pick.

That said, this sounds like a surmountable problem, just one that might be a little more challenging for you than others, which is also fine.

For technique things like this that just seem impossible at first I have found that starting really, really slow and nailing it, then working up in a speed ladder, is usually the best approach.

So, start really slow, like with half notes. Alternate chugging one string with half notes. Then string crossing alternating to another string with half notes. Just do this for a while, even if it seems too easy.

After a while of nailing that, go to quarter notes. Just do a quarter note chug on one string for a while, then on two.

Eventually move to eigth notes at a slower (~50-75%) BPM, and repeat.

When you nail that, increase the BPM by 5. Repeat until you can nail it at desired speed.

This may take weeks. That’s fine.

This is more or less how I work on all bass technique.


It’s whatever works for you @Wombat-metal,
There is no right or wrong, all styles still get the desired result.
Howard’s advice is sound and structured, everything takes practice and time to nail, I can’t play with a pick, but that works for me, I’m not interested in playing with a pick.
The difference would be the warmth you can get tone wise with fingers over pick, but pedals can give some of that warmth back,
Cheers Brian


@Wombat-metal, I also used to struggle with that . . . :slight_smile:

Check out this thread about it:

Everything takes time, as @howard and @TNKA36 pointed out . . . try not to worry too much about any one thing as you go through the course!



Is it a problem? Depends on your school of thought. If you want to be “classicly trained” and “technically correct” then you need to learn to alternate fingers, which will just take lots of practice, BUT!..there is another school of thought. If you can get the sound to happen on the bass…who cares HOW you do it? If it works for you but isn’t the “traditional” method, who cares? Fieldy from Korn is a great bassist. He slaps with his thumb perpendicular to the strings instead of the “proper technique” of having your thumb parallel to the strings. Some players use a pick to get 16th notes, some use 3 fingers, some double thumb and double pop…point is, who cares if it sounds how you want it to?


You make a fair point, @kerushlow . . . :thinking: I have found that the less I think about what I’m doing, the better I seem do it (e.g. alternating my plucking fingers). But it still only comes with time and practice.

I think Josh teaches the “proper” way to do something at an early stage to keep the beginner from forming bad habits down the road.

When all is said and done, though, if I can play my John Entwistle basslines and it actually sounds like him (whether or not I’m plucking exactly like he did), then I’m thrilled :slight_smile:



That is true, but you also need to keep in mind that what works now might not work later. Single finger plucking might work at your current level and tempo, but it’s almost certainly going to limit your progress very soon. That’s why Josh teaches how to do it the “right way”, because otherwise you would be cornering yourself right at the start.


John is a great example. His technique is not at all textbook. He almost SLAPS the strings with his fingerpicking. That is not a “good” technique because it drains stamina faster and might be hard to dynamically control things…YET it works for John AND is also a part of his signature sound.


There is nothing wrong with learning it the traditional way at all. I’m merely stating that if you can come up with a way that isn’t traditional but you can still play the song, it doesn’t really matter that it wasn’t the “right” way. If you can do it with a pick but not your fingers…do it with a pick! I’m the other way around, I’m not good with a pick. While I can alternate fingers fine, sometimes I don’t, but the song is still played. At the end of the day, execution and what is delivered in the sound waves is what matters, not HOW you got it to do that.


To add, that isn’t a knock on Josh at all. I would teach it exactly the same way he is teaching it. There is a good reason it is the traditional method. But if for some reason someone has trouble with it, there is nothing wrong with finding another way.


A bit of venting to start my Saturday:

It’s so annoying how quickly my fingers forget. Yesterday I came across a couple of bars that included octaves, and it made me realize that I hadn’t done octaves in a while. I was surprised how much my plucking fingers kept missing the strings. I actually had to dig up that disco octave exercise from B2B again, and practiced that for a couple of minutes. It almost felt as if I had never done it before, even though it was one of my favorites when I was doing B2B.


I suffer from forgetful fingers as well. It’s not that uncommon.


Hi. Forgetful fingers are a problem, but I can force them to remember if I concentrate.

My problem is that while I’m (mostly) hitting the right notes, I get buzzing bees when I lift off :frowning:

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So, some “cheats” if you will for octaves. If you are in standard tuning.

If your root note is on the E or A string, 2 frets over and 2 frets down is always the octave on that note. So if you have your index finger on the fifth fret of the E string, and you put your ring finger on the 7th fret of the D string, that will be an octave. If you have your index finger on the 3rd fret of the A string and put your ring finger on the 5th fret of the G string, that is an octave. This shape works all the way up and down the fretboard where there is room.

There are three other easy octave cheats. On the same string, the 12th fret is always an octave of the open string (and 24th if you have it)

If you are on the 5th fret of any string, the open string below it is an octave. Same for 5 th fret and 12th fret on string below it. As an example, fret the 5th fret on the E string. The open A string is an octave.

If you are on the 7th fret of a string, the open string above it is the octave. As an example fret the 7th fret on the A string. The open E string above it is the octave.

Hope that helps, let me know if I can

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@kerushlow I don’t mean to be pedantic, but technically the way you are describing this the wrong way round. Remember that strings that are closer to the ground (as you are holding the bass while playing it) are higher in pitch. So, as you are moving from one string to the next one that’s closer to the ground, you’re moving up a string. The same way, as you are moving from one fret to the next one that’s closer to the bass body, you’re moving up a fret. So, when fretting a note on the E or A string, the octave is always up two strings and up two frets.

Also, the fifth fret on any string is the same pitch as the next open string, so it’s not an octave.

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Good catch. It’s more simple explanation than technical accuracy as far as up and down. Also, very correct on the 5th fret. Same note, not octave. 5 and 12 on the next string, not 5 and open.

everything is fine :sweat_smile:


Ahh, the good old days, when you didn’t have to desolder a bunch of crap to take something apart :slight_smile:

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