Fingerstyle: Getting Different Sounds

Today I thought I’d write about how fingerstyle players get different sounds from their bass depending on their technique.   Let’s start with two great fingerstyle players who both use the Fender Jazz Bass.

John Paul Jones1962 Fender Jazz Bass

“Ramble On”  (Original Recording)

“Ramble On”  (Isolated Bass)

JPJ gets a nice full dark tone on the verse by playing right at where the neck meets the body.  Don’t dig in, just lightly use your fingers.  Then on the pre-chorus he moves his fingers back over the neck pickup for a slightly brighter tone.  On the chorus, he stays over the neck pickup but digs in and plays hard.  The tone starts to distort slightly and gets a little brighter.  It’s all in the fingers.


Geddy Lee: 1972 Fender Jazz Bass

“Tom Sawyer”  (Original Recording)

“Tom Sawyer”  (Isolated Bass)

Geddy plays right in front of the neck pickup with his fingers. And he plays HARD.  If your right hand doesn’t hurt a little after playing through one of his tunes, you probably didn’t dig in enough.  Some players think he uses a pick because they can’t believe he is getting that much energy into the strings from finger picking.

Both of these tracks are Fender Jazz Basses played with the fingers, but they get a much different tone.  The set up of your bass, the amp, and the EQ settings will also affect your tone, but how you use your fingers (or a pick) will ultimately determine what the tone sounds like.