Haven’t gotten very far yet, but I cracked open the Bass for Dummies book today. Cover to cover is probably not the best way for me, since so far I’m not coming across much of anything that I haven’t already figured out, but I’ve decided to read through even the obvious stuff because even if we think we know things, we don’t necessarily really know them. There’s always room for some tidbit of information we weren’t aware of before. So even though I’ve made a big fuss about figuring out the right strap length in previous posts, I did read the whole ‘positioning your bass’ section anyway, even though I’ve found a comfortable position for me.
That turned out to be the right decision, because even though I’ve heard of ‘slapping’ in passing, I really had no idea what it was. When I opened up the hand positioning lesson video associated with the passage I was reading, it went over these three possibilities (fingerstyle, picking (with closed or open hand), or slap and pop.
What struck me as really interesting about slap and pop, is it’s extremely similar to what I’ve been fiddling with for palm muting without a pick. I realized recently that if I use my thumb on the E and A strings, my ring and middle finger on the D and G strings, the hand position becomes much more natural and flexible while attempting to mute. It’s not quite slap and pop, but the finger positioning is remarkably similar to an idea I was toying with, which is a confirmation that it can, feasibly work, and is not just some bizarre newbie think that is destined to be crushed into oblivion by common sense later (which can still totally happen, but the probability is lower than it was before I watched that video clip).
The pick avoidance + palm muting creates a sort of whole hand technique (as opposed to the typical two fingers of fingerstyle), but for those songs where palm muting is called for, it may be a nice alternative to digging out a pick. This is convenient, as when I pick out a Rocksmith song to fiddle with, I never have any idea if there are mutes in the song or not until they’re happening. By muting with the pinky and side of the palm, and using three fingers to pluck strings (apparently with a fingering that is very remniscient of slap and pop), it does give me the flexibility I need to not have to pause what I’m working on to go grab a pick. It’s something I’m going to experiment with further, and see how I feel about it once I have some more experience under my belt.
I also experimented with thumb picks as a work-around that didn’t quite work out to this end. I thought by using a thumb pick, probably sanding down the pick end to make it shorter, with practice, I would essentially be able to have the benefits of both picking and fingerstyle on hand at all times. That particular experiment was a pretty immediate failure for me. With large/regular thumb picks a hair too large for me, and medium ones uncomfortably small, it became obvious really quickly that the experiment was doomed. The thumb pick rotated on my finger when I struck the strings,causing me to need my pointer finger to brace it, therefore making it absolutely no different than just using a regular pick. Still, all ideas are worth pursuing. Even when they end up not being a valid option, that’s the cost of learning things.
Until Next time, Having thoughts. Acting on the thoughts.