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Few days ago I joined a Celtic folk music band as a bass player.

I've never play that kind of music, but I found it very different to play compared to rock music, especially with the right hand.

Almost every line is played alternating two notes, like country music. For example: D - A - D - A... (Third and fourth string). Here is an example.

Does anyone know how is called this technique? I can't find anything related but I want to research and practice it, because I'm having problems to stop the string with my right hand, especially when playing an open string.

Any tips?

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It's just called alternate bass.

Regarding stopping the strings... well, practice! – that's actually a crucial ability to have on bass, in any genre.

I guess the problem you're referring here is specifically that you're always changing the string after every note, i.e. you can't just use the next-plucking finger to damp the previous note, as you would in (assuming you pluck with two fingers)

X:1
L:1/8
M:C
K:C
%%score B
V:B            clef=bass-8 transpose=-12
% 1
[V:B]  "i"A,, "m"z "m"A,, "i"z "i"A,, "m"z "m"A,, "i"z

When switching strings, you'd instead damp with the previous-plucking finger:

X:1
L:1/8
M:C
K:C
%%score B
V:B            clef=bass-8 transpose=-24
% 1
[V:B]  "m"D, "m"z "i"A,, "i"z "m"D, "m"z "i"A,, "i"z

This is done with a sort of rocking back and forth motion of the plucking hand.

Note that single-finger stopping generally doesn't work 100% – you don't so much stop the note as squelch it to an overtone. On option is to damp with the whole palm, but this is quite unpractical at tempo.

I personally don't generally bother with any of that, and just damp primarily with the fretboard hand. I hardly use open strings at all on electric bass, especially not in sequence. So for D-A, just play both of them on the A string, then you can easily damp with both hands. For E-B, I'd play them on the A- and E-strings on 7th fret, fingering with pinky and ring finger, respectively, while the index finger rests over the 5th fret.

An alternative, which is arguably more appropriate for folk, is to go with full double bass technique, i.e. you pluck most notes with the side (rather than tip) of your index finger. This is much more effective at damping undesired strings, especially the lower ones.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you so much for your response! That's it, alternate bass! But I can't find any tutorial no YouTube about this. I'll practice to mute the string with the previous finger. Generally I use to stop strings with my left hand, which makes it feel tired faster, that's why I want to learn to stop it with my right hand. – EdgarAP Jun 18 at 18:36
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Firstly, why play open strings? Of course they'll need damping to stop them, but if you fretted each note, it's simple to stop them sounding - you let go!

So, playing 1s and 5s (which is what you will be doing), wherever 1 is, 5 will be on the same fret, lower string, or two frets up, next higher string. It's a very basic bass pattern, that most bass players will have come across early on in their playing career.

Using fingers instead of pick or thumb will also help tidy up the playing, as you can keep a finger touching the string it's going to play before plucking, and every bit of damping tidies up the playing.

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  • That's just the pattern I play in every song of this band haha, but in the linked song I need to play a E - B (fourth and third string) sequence, so I need to play the open fourth string, which makes it sound louder and dirty. Maybe I can play E - B just in the fourth string, I'll give it a try. I play with fingers (index and middle) and I tried to damp the string with the finger that plucked the string, but the style it's not folk, it's rock and folk! Haha, so the tempo is very high and I'm always late to damp the string. Thanks for your response! – EdgarAP Jun 18 at 18:41

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