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Fret Hand Positioning: Am I ok doing this?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by tomjagman, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. tomjagman


    Dec 6, 2012
    I'm still a teenager and I want to keep playing bass for a long time, so I want to make sure I have proper technique with my fret hand. The link below is my fret hand when I'm playing.


    Is this ok? Thanks!
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Not too bad, but if you move your elbow away from your body a bit, you can get your wrist closer to neutral. Same thing with your plucking hand. Lazy elbows = bent wrist = possible carpal tunnel.
  3. tomjagman


    Dec 6, 2012
  4. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    honestly it looks fine to me man; the problem with raising your elbow too much is then you will put extra strain and have shoulder problems;

    You gotta just find whats comfortable for you; and be relaxed not tense while playing.

    It looks like you consciously took that pic though; Im curious if that is what ur wrist really looks like while playing and in the moment
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  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Two inches of elbow movement will straighten that wrist out, so it doesn't take much. The plucking/picking hand requires a bit more elbow outward movement to get that wrist straight. I've been doing this for 32 years and no shoulder problems at all.

    But, everyone is a bit different, so you need to balance the various ergonomic elements of your playing position to acheive a low-risk configuration that is also comfortable.
  7. tomjagman


    Dec 6, 2012
    I started to play and I took that picture when I was in the middle of changing the positioning of my fingers, so it's pretty much exactly how it looks when I am playing. It's hard to be relaxed however because I find I can't really finger the frets well enough without my thumb having a BIT of pressure on the back of my neck.
  8. tomjagman


    Dec 6, 2012
    I tried moving my elbow outward from my hip but I didn't really feel my wrist straightening out.
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    This clip is worth watching :

  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Moving the elbow away from the body, doesn't work so well on the wrist as pulling the elbow back. Moving elbow away from the body should be as reaction to the wrist needing more room to access the lower frets around or under the 5th fret.

    Again I must stress there are many other factors involved such a bass height, angle of the neck, length of upper and forearm, flexibility of wrist joint, rotation of shoulder blade joint etc.

    So don't sweat it to much. Wrist as straight as you can for the material you are playing. Let that be the judge of how much bend in your wrist you need to have, nothing else.
    See it as a chain that comes from the fretboard back the way.....not a chain to the fretboard. Let a straight wrist be the default position your hand uses for everything. Use a bit more finger curl, let the thumb come over the neck, let the thumb react to the fingers and watch out for "grip pressure"

  11. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Fair enough - this is essentially what I meant. But keep in mind that I play fretless primarily. By moving the elbow away from my body (and back to a lesser extent) helps to both straighten my wrist and adds a bit of angle to how my fingers lay on the strings. This helps to solve nature's problem of which finger plays the half step in between a whole step.

    Index and pinky on the whole step interval and middle finger on the half-step in between. Without this wrist angle change, neither the middle nor ring finger hits the correct spot. While extremely useful on fretless, I've found that this is also of use on fretted, albeit to a lesser extent.
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I have to agree with the elbow being, as I call it, ' a rudder ' , on any fingerboard instrument, its movement can have a great effect on a fingerboard. It is one of the factors in movement as well as timbre to the experienced player that understands that the elbow, not the wrist or fingers creates vibrato or sustain. This use, as you say, is negated a lot on a fretted instrument.
    The precision fingering of a fingerboard requires a better technique, but that can only be developed if the player can hear the difference between being slightly out on a note and the timbre of a note....a bit of fingerboard experience goes a long way for any player.
  13. Kooldac


    Oct 20, 2008
    It's because your fretting fingers aren't strong enough yet and you're consciously trying to white knuckle it. Strengthening your fingers and/or lowering the action on your bass will help.

    I've lately been following some of Myung's exercises in this video starting at 6:06, primarily the hammering exercise. Been spending at least 15 mins straight a day just sitting at my computer hammering on/off while watching a movie or something. A week in I noticed a difference and growing ever since. It's not the most fun exercise, but it'll do.

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