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Right Hand Bass Technique


One of the most important skills for a beginning bass player to develop is right hand bass technique. In addition to left hand technique, it is vital for good bass playing. A number of right hand bass techniques are used, some common and some more specialized. Here, we will go over the most basic and versatile method: plucking with your fingers.

Finger plucking, also called fingerstyle, refers to the use of your index and middle fingers (some bass players use more) to pluck each note. No matter what kind of music you are playing, this technique will serve you well. Other right hand bass techniques, like slap bass or using a pick, are not practical for all styles.

Right Hand Placement

The usual method of right hand placement is to anchor your thumb on one of the pickups, the bass body, or the edge of the fretboard. With your thumb firmly planted, your fingers have leverage to pluck the strings. Another method is to move your thumb to rest on the string below the one you are playing, shifting it up and down as needed. Use whichever method feels most natural to you.

Finger Plucking

When you pluck a string, draw your finger across the string, rather than pulling it up away from the body. When your finger releases the string, it should come to rest against the next string (unless you played the lowest string).

Generally, it is best to alternate plucking fingers. Really, there is no right or wrong way to choose which finger plays which note. When descending strings (that is, playing a note on the string below the previous note), it is usually easiest to "rake", meaning to use the same finger for both notes in one motion.

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