Funk Fingers are a kind of drumsticks that are attached to the fingers of a bass player for producing percussive, funky sounds on a bass guitar. They were created by Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment) and his guitar tech, Andy Moore. The aim was to recreate the effect of drumming on the strings of one’s bass as done by drummer Jerry Marotta for Peter Gabriel’s song “Big Time” when recording the album So.
Tony's record/publishing company, Papa Bear Records, briefly made Funk Fingers available for sale to other players, making a run of them in 1998/1999, but as of July 1999 had sold completely out of them and does not plan to manufacture them again. The commercial version of Funk Fingers had velcro fingertip holders, and the tips were dipped in "rubberizing tool grip" for an optimal playing surface. They also, like Tony's personal sets, came with slightly different lengths on each stick, to accommodate the different lengths of the index and middle finger.
Levin's original Funk Fingers were strapped to the fingers, but after some experimentation with cutouts and elastic loops for fingers, Levin decided the most comfortable design has a rubber cap at the end of the fingers. In the Secret Recipe DVD, Buckethead is shown in an early video playing bass; here, he appears to be wearing a Funk Finger on his thumb.
Although Funk Fingers have not been available since July 1, 1999, they are back in production and being Manufactured and sold by Expanding Hands Music since May 2013.
Albums and tracks where Funk Fingers can be heard in action:
- Tony Levin: From The Caves Of The Iron Mountain, World Diary, Resonator
- Peter Gabriel: "Steam," "Secret World", "Big Time" (the Funk Finger Technique originated with this song, although here played with real drumsticks)
- King Crimson: "People" and "One Time" (album: THRAK)
- Yes: Union
- Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe: ABWH
- Bruford Levin Upper Extremities: Cerulean Sea
- Liquid Tension Experiment