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Lesson 4 – Double Thumbing with Alex Lofoco

Welcome back to our fourth Bass Musician Magazine double thumbing lesson. We have seen in the previous appointment (Lesson3), some examples based on the pentatonic scale, how to play it straight and in group of three notes. Here we will see some four note grouping’s, in fourths.

This first sample is an ascending and descending pentatonic scale, again in D minor, in groups of four. The fingering is two notes per string and it is extended up to the minor third (F) on the 10th fret on the G string, so we can complete a 4/4 bar.

On the way up we find a linear T down, T up, Pluck, Pluck pattern but for the second group the easiest approach is an alternating T, P, T, P, because we are playing on three strings.

While descending, an even motion Tdown, Tup, P, P is involved as a two notes per string pattern is featured except from the third group where we need to skip three strings.

Note: in the second group of sixteenths, in bar 1, it is possible to alternate Thumb, Pluck, Thumb, Pluck to skip three strings (A, D and G), or to replace the second Tdown with a middle finger pluck and then pluck the last note (C on the G string) with the ring finger.

The movements involved are:

Ascending

  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the A string.
  • Pluck, Pluck on the D string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the G string.

Descending

  • Pluck, Pluck on the G string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the D string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the A string.

Playing the pentatonic scale in fourths is a useful technique exercise and device to make the same scale more interesting, having a strong cadence between each note and its fourth.

On this second line we have a different descending pattern. Changing direction and alternating the root and the fourth below (which becomes its fifth); we have a nice and more articulated lick that provides an interesting result I found useful for bass lines and fills.

Note: in both lines I fretted the minor 3rd (F) at the third fret of the D string purely for a tonal choice. Being the F at the 3rd fret is more resonant than the same F played at the 8th fret on the A string which sounds a bit muddier. I suggest practicing fingering the F at the 8th fret of the A string to have an extra choice. In that case, no double thumbing is involved as we can just Thumb, Pluck each note and it’s fourth (or Maj 3rd for the F) below.

The following line is again based on the pentatonic played in fourths, but doubling each note. It is very effective if played at a fast tempo.

Note: in the descending pattern, take extra care in the last two semi quavers of beat two and the first two of beat three, where the movements Tdown, Tup are followed by a double Pluck on the same string. In this case the tips of your plucking fingers need to be in line with your thumb in order to have a smooth and flowing sequence. (See Lesson1 for hand position).

All these patterns can be applied in every key, and in each portion of the fretboard and strings. I do encourage you to practice every line you already play with other techniques with the double thumbing technique in order to avoid the usual ‘slap licks’ with a wide use of open strings. Being able to play everything with every technique gives you the freedom to choose the technique involved for the tone you get, rather than the choice of notes.

Playing melodies or solos is a good way to gain an independence from shapes and fingerings.

Enjoy, have a good practice session, and I look forward to seeing you in the next issue.

For any questions, suggestion or comments you can contact me at [email protected]. I will be happy to answer your questions as soon as possible.

Stay tuned…

Alex

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. erwin

    December 20, 2011 at 8:28 am

    hello,
    I erwin from Indonesia …
    Do you have a video how to play the double thumb is this?
    thank you,
    I respectfully

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