Including Your Third Finger Into Your Playing Style by Kilian Duarte…
As bassists, we have a difficult challenge of at times performing the same lines at the same speeds as many of our less physically challenging musical compatriots. Have you ever noticed that BeBop saxophone lines are way easier to play for a saxophonist or pianist compared to how it is for us? Ever notice that the guitarist in a metal band just gets around so easily using their pick and thinner/lighter strings? Since the day you started playing bass, you were faced with a steeper hill.
I got into utilizing my third finger out of a necessity to just keep up and be heard in the metal underworlds of my youth. While I love playing with a pick now, at the time it was blasphemy to try and play bass with a pick to make your life easier! You weakling! How dare you chicken out!!!! (Lol, kids are stupid). So I began on a quest to adapt my third finger to perform on the level of greats like Billy Sheehan, Matthew Garrison, Alex Webster, and many incredible bass players who all had insane right hand speed, accuracy and stamina when playing.
Attached below is a video describing just a hand full of exercises I utilized in order to break that triplet impulse down, and to really build up strength and endurance in my right hand.
As well as some examples of me utilizing the technique.
Always try to incorporate as many scales, patterns and leaps as you can to help you take control and build endurance. The key is to always vary up what you are doing. Break that triplet pattern and embrace it for when you need it. You will begin to realize how useful it is to redistribute your right hand labor with the extra finger and will make regular bass playing easier with less strain on just your two fingers.
To elaborate a bit more here is a video of Billy Sheehan at a clinic in Russia going over some very similar points on how he does what he does.
At the end of the day, patience is king. This technique has taken me years to master and every day I am trying to find harder and more unconventional rhythms to incorporate to make myself a better player.
My latest long-term goal is to play Messhugah’s Bleed like one Mr. Martin Rygiel. Now for those of you who cannot tell, this man is clearly an alien and or T3 robot with adamantium tendons. Hahahaha. Best of luck kids!