Let’s talk about right hand technique (assuming the player is right handed, if not switch hands). Here are some basics, and some do’s and don’ts.
With your plucking hand, the fingers should not be straight; instead they should hang loosely and naturally over the strings. When playing a note, let the finger rest on the string and gently roll off.
When playing with the fingers, many players tend to rest the thumb on the top of either the bridge or more commonly the neck pick up while plucking with the other fingers on the strings. While this is not desirable, worse is resting the wrist or forearm on the top of the bass and plucking upward. When you do this you tend to create a hook with your hand, creating excessive flexion at about a 90-degree angle, which causes unnecessary tension. You will notice when plucking with a two-finger technique that your pinky will stick straight out due to this tension. If you use a floating technique, anchoring your thumb and leaving a string between your thumb resting on a top string and your plucking fingers, you don’t have a hook. Your wrist will be at a 45 to 60 degree angle, it will feel much better and you’re less likely to cramp up or have discomfort.
If plucking the E string, the thumb should be at or on the pickup. If plucking the A string, same. If plucking the D, the thumb can rest on the E string and finally if plucking the G string the thumb can rest on the A string.
Be careful not to rest the forearm on the top of the instrument. This can cause nerve compression at the elbow, which can radiate down to the wrist and hand and can also induce muscle cramping.
When picking with the right hand, make sure to do some wrist rotations, simply turning your wrists in either direction, loosely, several times each direction, before and after playing to keep the wrists loose. Try to keep the wrist loose during playing using small, precise strokes rather than using excessive motion. Muscle tightness while picking will manifest itself in the muscles of the thumb and forefinger and can extend into the forearm.
Next time we’ll talk about left hand stuff.
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