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124 fingering

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tang_uk, Jan 12, 2006.


  1. Tang_uk

    Tang_uk

    Nov 29, 2005
    Blackpool England
    Ive recently returned to playing bass and guitar after a long time of inactivity.
    Ive bought hal leonard's bass method and im having trouble with the 124 fingering system in it. Ive always been used to 1FPF and changing has really thrown me . In fact im all over the place!
    I can see the sense in 124 in that it helps reduce strain and i really want to change but im finding it so hard.
    Any advice?
    Is it really worth changing to reduce strain on the hand? If i didnt is it possible to go through the book in 1FPF as all the fingerings would be different.
    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    What's 1FPF?

    If "124" refers to using your little (pinky) finger to reach the high notes in a pattern, it's pretty important. I have seen bassists who never use their pinkies, and it's a sad thing.

    Oh, now I get it: 1 Finger Per Fret.

    One finger per fret is fine when you are playing a series of notes for which using your ring finger is smoother. In other words, the ring finger IS kosher in many instances. I would never say never. But in a situation where your next note is 2 or more frets higher and you aren't going to go higher than that, you should use your pinky.
     
  3. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I think 124 is an old throwback to upright - there's no reason to eliminate your ring finger on an electric...in fact it's detrimental. Use 'em all.
     
  4. GSPLBASSDC

    GSPLBASSDC

    Jan 25, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    I use the 1FPF method, and yeah, my hand sometimes gets tired during fast/difficult passages, but I remember back when I first started. Some of the riffs I play now that don't cause any problems for me used to be the ones I had to shake my hand out afterwards.

    It's all about developing finger strength and deterity. I suggest staying with the tried and true 1FPF and finding some good finger strengthening techniques.
     
  5. I use 1fpf when appropriate, but I relax and use a smaller fret span when possible. In many situations 1fpf is the best way to get the job done, but in many others using a lazy hand position and shifting a lot works fine. There's no reason to use either exclusively.
     
  6. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I use both. To use 124, sitting down, you have to point your thumb kind of away from you toward the headstock, with your elbow kind of pointing toward your butt. I said butt. In this position all your fingers are the same distance above the strings. Do not allow your pinky to fly away off the fingerboard. All your fingers should remain poised above the strings to finger the strings gently instead of hammering your pinky on from 3 inches away.

    When you release the fretted string, practice to stop for a moment with your finger resting on the string, before you raise up your finger. If you do it smoothly, you will dampen the string and not "pulloff" it as you raise your finger. When you press the string down, pluck the string at the exact same moment as the string hits the fret. Practice this as a three step move. Fret and pluck (together at the same instant), release and dampen (with your finger resting on the unfretted string), rasie your finter up 1/4 to 3/8 inch max (like a cat), repeat. Even though you will not actually do this when you play faster, your sound will be cleaner after practicing this.

    I realize that you did not ask for that last tip, but part of learning how to finger is how to finger cleanly.
     
  7. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I sense some confusion here as to whether the thread starter is referring to the plucking or fingering hand...

    I always thought 124 referred to fingering, wherein the ring and pinky finger kind of "play together" as opposed to independently. Am I wrong?
     
  8. You're right. Tim99 just added a bonus tip about plucking.
     
  9. You should use 1,2,4 fingers when ever possible when your playing the groove. You should use 1FPF when doing light playing (scales or soloing) or playing the upper register of the neck. Most of your major, minor and 7th triads can be played with the 1,2,4 fingers. This is Carol Kayes method. She knows the correct way. You can stretch 5 frets comfortably ex. F -A by using your thumb behind the first fret as an anchor (thumb pointing to the nut on the neck) and pivoting. So 1st finger on the First fret, 2nd finger on the second fret, 4th finger on the third fret, now pivot thumb 4th finger on the fourth fret and fourth finger on the 5th fret. You can do this on all strings.
    Playing 1FPF over a long period of time can mess up your hand. Especially on the first 5 frets
     
  10. Stock R

    Stock R n00b

    Dec 5, 2005
    Toronto/Ottawa
    ^Good advice steve.

    Tang_uk - I recently just started playing bass (<1 month) and am also using the hal leonard book. When I first came across your post, based on other replies, started becoming skeptical of whether the 124 system is really what I should be learning on. I started freaking out and searched TB.

    I was bored the other day and starting flipping through the hal leonard book (complete edition), and you'll notice that later on, it does teach you OFPF! The explanation (from what I can recall w/o really understanding it) is basically what steve said above. 124 is good for playing certain sets of notes (boxes, which I haven't reached), Whereas OFPF is good for other situations.

    If you have the complete edition, flip through the book and see if you can find it.
     
  11. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I disagree with all the above statements...not to dis Carol, but there's no one "right" way to play a bass. I've been playing 1FPF for 30 years and yet to have any hand problems...
     
  12. edfriedland

    edfriedland Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2003
    Austin, TX
    The 1-2-4 system will save your hands a lot of pain in the lower register. Bass playing is very repetitive, and the stretch from F to G puts strain on your hand. It's fine to play one finger per fret for a moving line, but if you're playing repeating box patterns down low, you're going to have problems eventually. Just let your hand relax and lay your fingers on the strings with your first finger on low F—where do the other fingers fall?

    It's not a matter of using only one system or the other, you need both, but each system is suited to different tasks. The method starts with 1-2-4, but in book 2 gets into 1-2-3-4. I have many beginner students, and many of them kids, 1-2-3-4 is too much of a stretch for them. So, does that mean they can't learn to play?

    Yes, 1-2-4 is a holdover from upright bass, but do you want to play octave F's all night using 1 and 3? Try it, but don't send me the doctor bill! Try playing octaves with 2 and 4, no fun at all. Of course, once you get above the 10th fret, it's not so much of a problem as the frets get closer. I'm using 1-2-4 because that's how I and most other bassists play (for typical box shapes and low register runs), I've had tendonitis more than once and I know how much it sucks. 1-2-4 will save your hands, trust me.
     
  13. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    Go Ed!

    I think hand size is a big factor in it. if you got the mitts (which i do) then why not use them? i havent been playing for that long but i find i can play some relatively fast stuff below the fifth with 1fpf for quite a good long while before feeling the pain. i may be paying for it later on, i hope not...
     
  14. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I bow to the wisdom of Ed. I certainly do cheat on that low F octave - particularly on a fretless. Obvously you don't want to do anything that's going to cause unnecessary pain.

    Maybe it's a matter of using common sense - when you're locked into one position make yourself as comfortable as possible. ;)
     
  15. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    +1. I was about to post something regarding lower vs. upper registers, but Ed stated it better than I ever could.

    Ed, on a similar subject (hope this doesn't come across as a thread hijack), I have three young boys I'm teaching as well (my son and two of his friends), all between 9-11 years old. For this very reason (fingering), I'm often tempted to pull out and hand them my 30" short scale at times - but I never do, figuring it's better to let them stick with the bass they own and practice on, and which their hands will soon grow into.

    Good idea or bad?
     
  16. Rich600

    Rich600

    Nov 22, 2004
    Scotland
    I use all of my fingers, bar my pinky on my right hand.
     
  17. DojoMaster

    DojoMaster MusicDojo.com

    Aug 3, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    To jump on Ed's bandwagon, I disagree that if you have big hands you should use 1FPF. I believe part of the hand damage and pain comes from using that third finger in those box patterns when the tendon of the third and fourth fingers are actually connected more than with the other fingers. Try moving fingers three and four independently and see what happens.

    I'm not saying you can't get away with 1FPF and possibly not have pain, but many, many musicians have damaged their hands using that method. Even when using 1FPF, in the lower registers, instead of stretching for the note, the thumb pivot is much safer. I've heard Ed's reference to the relaxed position of the hand (which notice covers three frets in the lower positions and not four) as the "bunch of bananas," which is a really apt description for a good relaxed hand position...possibly Ed even coined that phrase! :)
     
  18. edfriedland

    edfriedland Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2003
    Austin, TX
    Well, it's not a bad idea, in fact it might be a good idea for them to all have short scale basses, the Fender 32" Precision is a good choice. I've had lots of young'uns learn on full scale basses, it's tough for them, but they usually survive. Letting them check out yours might inspire them to bug mom and dad for a short scale. It makes sense if they're small.

    Dojomaster - no I didn't come up with the "bunch of bananas" term, heard that somewhere else. But, relaxation in the hand is very important, as you agree. I do teach the pivot system for 1-2-3-4 because it's critical. I know Carol Kaye is an outspoken proponent of this method as well. It just makes sense: why do you think they call them "Repetitive Stree Injuries?"

    That said, I do use 1-2-3-4 alot, but not for R-5-8 box shapes, or whole steps down low on the fingerboard. If I have to play an F minor scale off the first fret, I will, but not if I have to play it over and over behind a long and self-indulgent guitar solo!

    :bassist:
     
  19. I personally use a variant 124 method, because I tend to play more upright than electric. I will often though, play a root-5-8 with 1,3,4. or things of that nature. It really depends on the situation. But I will say this of 124 technique, it is definatly not detrimental if you know how to shift positions well. Its my feeling that it creates less tension in your hands and therefore makes it easier to move with more agility, if, again, you know how to shift (also I have larger than average hands so its not a matter of hand size). But really, do what feels comfertable, and try everything, like I said I will often use all four fingers or different figerings based on the situation.
     
  20. I bought my 8 yr old a short scaled Samick Bass. He is average in size. He felt uncomfortable with my Schecter Custom 4 and my Squire P Bass. The Neck was way to long for him to execute a note cleanly. The short scale bass was perfect for him. He can reach low F with no problem. I figure that when he gets into his teens, he will probably want to go full scale