I am looking for an online beginner tutorial to bass plucking (fingered) technique, something like the image bellow.

Important: I am not looking to learn how to play the notes etc., I would say I don't want to learn to PLAY the bass, but rather just the technique to be able to pluck rythms with my right hand fingers - no left hand.

  • I'm dyslexic so I prefer to view videos rather than read instructions. I found the answer to this at itsabass.com/slap_bass.html
    – user2088
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


Index (1) Middle (2) Ring (3)

You should use at least two fingers.

When using two fingers it is very important to alternate the fingers. 1 2 1 2 1 2. Practice slowly and make sure they are alternating. Not alternating your fingers over tires one and slows your playing. It can become a tough habit to break

If you want to use three fingers the method is 1 2 3 2 then repeat.

Really you only need to use two unless you are playing some insanely fast stuff.

You can use your thumb as you'd like for a different sound or style. The main time thumb is used is on double stops. A double stop is when you play two strings at once. So you may play the E string with your thumb while you play say the A string with your index.

  • That's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. If you have an additional guide (fingered) for different rythms (no notes) I would appreciate that a lot. Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 23:40
  • Also what's the recommended fingering for triplets? Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 23:46
  • For triplets you would still alternate 1 2 1 2 1 2
    – Barry
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 12:32

The easiest way to start is similar to the picture above...put your thumb on the pickup and use your first finger. This is the most basic method. Relax - don't tense up. put the tip of your thumb on the upper edge of the pickup and start by just plucking the E string ( the one closest to you ) over and over again - try it to the tempo of Queen's "Another one Bites the Dust" ... instant bass player!

Once you've mastered this just move on to the next string - keep your thumb on the pickup for now.

Take breaks - it's a physical instrument.

Then when you're feeling comfortable with this you can switch to alternate fingering: using your first and second finger alternating back and forth. Again try this one string at a time - You can start at the same tempo as before or a bit faster.

Again practice on each string and there you have it - you're ready for your first 4 note gig

  • so is there an oficcial method/pattern/guidance for when to use what finger? Will you ever use your thumb for plucking too? What about the 3rd (and 4th)) fingers, do they participate in the plucking as well? Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 7:48
  • There is no official method...the most common is the 1st, 2nd finder combo. But there are people that use mostly one finger ( James Jamerson ) or people who use all 4 ( Alain Caron ) ... using the thumb is not very typical for all styles of music but it can pretty useful along with a palm mute for a very deadened "thump, thump, thump" sound. Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 16:16

Most of the time, you only need to use your forefinger and middlefinger - for the simplest phrases, even just one of them can suffice.

One of the ways to get a clean sound is to have your finger pluck the string, then keep going and land on the next string. For example, if you play an open G, have the finger land on the D string. This will help keep your finger in a consistent range (giving you a point of reference, which is always good), and will also mute the adjacent string, making it harder to have funny sounds coming from those strings. I usually keep my thumb anchored on the low E string, but on the top of the pickup (as in the picture) is equally valid. When I have my thumb anchored on the low E and want to play on that string, I move it to the top of the pickup. I find that easier, because I like the angle that it puts my wrist at.

If you play with two fingers, it's imperative to practice alternating between them. Otherwise, you're losing the speed that you can get from using two fingers.

For triplets - I like playing 3-2-1 (ring-middle-index).

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