“The three-finger thing is actually easy. It’s like learning the patterns on a video game until you conquer it”: Billy Sheehan explains his three-finger plucking technique

Bassist Billy Sheehan performs bass clinic and Q&A sponsored by Yamaha at Pitbull Audio on October 21, 2016 in National City, California.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you take your Billy Sheehan as a member of Mr. Big, as a solo artist or as a session gun for hire, he needs little introduction. A master of his instrument to almost otherworldly levels, Sheehan has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most accomplished bassists.

“It’s all common sense and natural motions,” said Sheehan about his outrageous yet highly refined playing techniques. “I remember when Space Invaders and games like that first came out. I couldn't get anywhere near the huge scores some of the kids were racking up. I'd just shoot away at anything until I watched some of these high-score heroes in action, and the penny dropped! They were playing in patterns, and could anticipate the movements of the targets. 

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.