by George Loveridge | 4,4 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 5 Minutes
Right-Hand Techniques

Right-Hand Techniques - A Comprehensive Guide for Bass Guitar

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Right-hand techniques for bass players are often overlooked. Whether you’re a beginner or a boss, let’s look at some ways to improve your playing technique.

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Right-Hand Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide for Bass Guitar

Okay, so you could be a total beginner, or you might have played for a while. Regardless, having a sound understanding of right-hand techniques will help master your craft as a bass guitarist.

Here, we’ll be looking at some skills that will be useful at the start of your bass-playing journey. Moreover, it could be beneficial to brush up on some older skills if you’ve been playing for a while.

If you are at the start of your bass-playing career, welcome! Sit back and enjoy the ride. You may also want to get hold of a new bass to help you on your way. Why not check out a few examples?

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If none of these are your thing, there are plenty more available at *Thomann. Plus, there are loads of bargains to be had thanks to Thomann’s 70th Anniversary!

Fingerstyle Technique

Firstly, we’ll look at one of the most common ways of playing bass guitar. This right-hand technique is arguably the easiest way to get into playing.

What do we need to do? With our non-fretting hand, you want to place your thumb on top of one of the pickups on your instrument. Alternatively, you can rest just above the pickguard. Having somewhere to rest your thumb will allow strength and control over the rest of your hand.

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From here, you can start feeling each of the four strings with your first and middle fingers. A great place to start is to use the spider exercise to work up and down each string. Overall, this helps to develop dexterity with this right-hand technique.

Right-Hand Techniques
Right-Hand Techniques – Spider Exercise

Thumb Technique

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Secondly, there’s another way to get to grips with playing the bass guitar. Arguably it’s much simpler, but who knows when it’ll come in handy.

Whether you’re looking at playing your first few notes, or you’re more experienced, varying types of music require different skill sets. Playing monotonic, or dead-thumb bass, is a right-hand technique that’s useful for basic or monotonous bass lines.

Moreover, using your thumb will give your bass a punchier sound as you’ll be able to apply more pressure to the string. Here’s Zombie by The Cranberries to have a go at, but as single-string eighth notes.

Right-Hand Techniques
Right-Hand Techniques – Zombie

Picking Technique

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Potentially somewhat controversial, playing bass with a pick will divide a lot of opinions. However, there are plenty of uses and exceptions.

When starting, I would recommend using your fingers when playing notes. Although, it’s easy to develop skin blisters which could put you off playing. Therefore, I forgive you if you want to use a pick for all of your bass-playing endeavours.

Let’s say you’re getting pretty good at bass, you’re bound to start trying some faster and more complex bass lines. This is where the pick has its uses, especially with complicated rhythms. Why not have a go at Money, by Pink Floyd? Not the hardest bass line out there, but you can hear the unique sound that a pick provides.

Right-Hand Techniques – Money

There are loads of picks to choose from at *Thomann. Some players prefer a thinner plectrum, while others opt for something more substantial. Whatever you need, there’s plenty of choice:

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Dunlop Nylon Max Grip Jazz III Red
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Slap Right-Hand Technique

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Okay, so here’s where things get tricky. Slap bass is a right-hand technique that is highly regarded in bass-playing circles.

Although a more advanced technique, slap bass will provide a lot of percussion to your playing. You’ll need to use your thumb to slap a string, and then use your index finger to pop another string backwards. Therefore, creating a slap-like sound.

Benefits? Funk, Disco and Pop genres all have a bit of slap. So, you’ll have picked up a few new genres in addition to this new skill set. Higher Ground by RHCP is a Stevie Wonder cover, utilising this right-hand technique.

Right-Hand Techniques – Higher Ground

Where to play?

Our final right-hand technique will alter the sound and overall timbre of your bass playing.

Did you know that where you position your fingers ultimately alters the sound of the bass guitar? Well, here’s what various positions look and sound like. Let’s find the sweet spot

For an aggressive growl, pick the strings just to the right of the pickups. Whereas, if you want more of a high-end bite, play right over the pickup closest to the bridge. However, should you want a deeper, blues-style sound, play just before the fretboard.

Right-Hand Techniques
Right-Hand Techniques – Where to play?

Right-Hand Techniques: Everything you need to know?

We’ve only covered a few bass guitar techniques. Of course, there are plenty of ways to improve and refine your bass-playing skills. Overall though, these clear and simple tips should help you on your way as a beginner player.

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Further Information:

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Right-Hand Techniques

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2 responses to “Right-Hand Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide for Bass Guitar”

    Kelvin Brown says:
    2

    Very good information. I have always used the thumb method, but wanted to try RH finger play on my bass. Will incorporate these pointers to my play and see what happens. Thanks

      George Loveridge says:
      2

      Hi Kevin – We’re glad that you found this useful! Is there anything else you think you would find useful for your playing?

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