Finally started doing a little reading.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Finally started doing a little reading.

  1. I’ve never tried a thumb pick before, but could you do something like pad the inside with the tip from a latex or rubber glove?

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    1. Eh. They’re not actually comfortable, which is funny, because when I first tried guitar at 14, I loved the thing. I’m still trying to work around picks, in spite of saying otherwise. I dislike them. Though, seeing the difference between fingerstyle and pick style on bass, it’s like ‘ooohhh, maybe this is why I suck at guitar so badly.’ Lol. Joking- there are several reasons I suck at guitar. 🙂

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      1. Everyone sucks when they first start. Wifey showed me a video with a bunch of female guitarists and a few bassists talking about the time they put in. I should find that and post it up. I only knew one of them in the video. It was nice to see them talk about having to practice the same riffs 10,000 times before getting them right though. Its how I feel going through that Hal Leonard book at times.

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      2. Yeah, I think for me it’s not about being good at one instrument, but being worse at another. Learning them all at once has some advantages, but also some serious disadvantages. I’m mostly alternating between the bass and ukulele. And, I’m actually playing through reasonably well with them. I actually have a song for the uke memorized, and everything. Do I play it through without mucking it up? Well, no. It usually takes a few tries, but it’s a song, that I actually know without looking at a book, or a computer program, and that’s a big step for a beginner.
        The guitar, on the other hand, I’m still just trying to form chords with good form. The uke is a great little starter instrument, though, so I really feel like between the uke and bass, learning those and focusing on them are confidence builders that, if I didn’t have them, I would really have a hard time motivating myself with the guitar. Having the multiple instruments going divides the attention, for sure, but my attention is naturally divided, all the time. My brain likes having lots and lots of things to think about. I think if I was focusing on just one instrument, yeah, I’d learn faster, but I’d also get more frustrated more quickly, because I wouldn’t be able to say ‘well, yeah, I can’t even play a few notes without mucking up on this, BUT, I know a full song on THAT.’ It actually ends up leaving me feeling less hopeless.
        Even so, I’m comparing, and it’s still just reality that, comparatively, I suck at guitar. 🙂 Bass I can follow nearly any progression reasonably well, but don’t have anything committed to memory, ukulele, I’m learning actual songs. It’s all relative, but it’s all connected. The learning of each of these instruments supports and reinforces the others. Learning chord forms on ukulele is something I’ll later be able to use on guitar, by just spreading the same shape out over a wider area (yeah, it’ll be a different chord, and uke G chord is a guitar D chord, for example – but, the basic hand shape is the same, and that’s going to be valuable later, if it’s not helping me much just yet.

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