The More You Change, The Less You Stay The Same
One of the things I have become more conscience of over the years is my overall mechanics. I’ve tried to rid myself of all basses that cause me to change my approach. My 4 and 5 string basses generally have the same string spacing. If you are a person that needs to anchor your thumb or fingers on a pickup to get your groove on, then making sure your basses provide you that option would be a good move. If you are constantly changing your fingerings with either hand, it can throw you off your game. I think Ritter and Modulus basses are cool, but their neck width and string spacing on frets 1 and 2, throw off my mechanics. Therefore, I don’t own either of them. I would love to have a Modulus Quantum, Sweet Spot, 5-string with an AAAA quilted Maple top in Blue/Purple burst!! Sigh… I have to admit, my GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) caused me to purchase something, on many occasions, that felt off, but looked and sounded great in the store. If you are constantly trying to manipulate your normal playing approach to play a particular bass – Ditch it! Obviously, this would not apply to specialty instruments like Upright, guitar, AEB etc.. What You Gain By Keeping Things The Same or as close as possible are well worth the sacrifice of variation.
My personal plucking techs? Not that you asked, but this is my website. 😉 Finger style: usually, my thumb is anchored on the bridge pickup and my middle finger, since it is the most powerful, is usually the first point of attack. Slap and Pop: my thumb is the first point of contact, my middle finger does the popping work on upper strings, and my index finger gets the call for the G string. I also utilize another softer thump technique that I borrowed from bassist, Doug Wimbish. On occasion, he uses his middle finger to thump the lower strings, very similar to the technique Stick players use. I find this to be useful in situations when I want a more brisk attack but not the richer tone of my thumb. Tapping: it is the same – my middle finger usually gets the call. Not that I’m tapping all day and night but… There are times if I want to do something double octave, so I will tap for effect. For example, if I am ending a song in say D using a 5 string bass, I will play the low D at the 3rd fret on the B, octave 1 on the 5th fret on the A and tap the 2nd octave on the 7th fret of the G string. For Guitar-ish, Finger Style tones and Harmonics, I use my pinky finger as an anchor and I try to catch the edges of the strings with my fingernails. I manipulate the double-stops, chords, octaves and triads as needed, using my thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. If you get the opportunity – Please check out videos and performances by: Abraham Laboriel, Richard Bona, Michael Manring, Doug Wimbish, Steve Lawson and Tony Levin.