1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

3 0r 4 finger fretting

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ryrich22, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. ryrich22


    Nov 23, 2012
    I am using the Hal-Leonard book which uses the 1,3, and 4 fingers to finger the first three frets. Is this bad? for lack of a better word) personal preference? Am I better off with a method that uses the 4 finger 4 fret approach? I am concerned about conflicting methods. Will a difference in fingering a certain way be a problem when forming chord shapes etc. Thank-you.
  2. AaronMB


    Aug 17, 2012
    Central Oregon
    I've smaller hands and the 1-3-4 works for me for the lower frets, up to the 4th or 5th (though sometimes I find myself using 1-2-4). I switch to 4 fingers when playing higher on the fret board, as that other finger comes in handy. Do what's comfortable - I think this is pretty common(?).

    Here's one previous discussion: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f21/ed-friedlands-1-2-4-fingering-technique-887607/
  3. ryrich22


    Nov 23, 2012
    Are you saying that I should just pick and choose based on what is more comfortable for me? I was concerned that there were standard ways to finger certain things but different methods may contradict each other. I appreciate the quick response. Any opinions on this book? I am using it, and the dvd, alone with no teacher. I also got the bass logic book which I like a lot.
  4. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    When I was young, learned the one finger per fret method. As I get older, I find that uncomfortable in the lower positions. I switch back and forth automatically without even thinking about it.

    My recommendation for you. Learn one technique well, then the other. If you try to learn both at the same time, it will confuse you. If you learn one well, then the other, your brain will just switch back and forth automatically.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Absolutely, that is what you should do. Pick what works for you. For every amazing bass player you can think of, there are just as many different approaches to playing the bass. I have often heard people say that you shouldn't wrap your thumb around the neck or plant your thumb on the plucking hand in a fixed position (or you should use "floating" thumb).

    I have also heard that you "must" point your fretting fingers back towards the fretboard, or that you should always use one finger per fret.

    Here's the thing. Jimmy Haslip plays with his strings strung upside down. (He flipped the bass over to play left handed when he first started and never reversed the strings.) Anyone here want to tell Jimmy he plays "wrong"? Nope.

    Below is a pick of Stanley Clark playing with his thumb wrapped completely around the neck (which of course he doesn't always do, but frequently does). Anyone want to tell Stanley Clark he is playing "wrong"? Nope.

    James Jamerson used only his index finger on his plucking hand when he played. Wrong? Nope.

    I'm no fan of really heavy metal. But I can respect what metal bass players do with their instrument. Some of them sling their basses down by their knees. Wrong? Nope.

    You see what I'm getting at. Find your own path. Do what works for you. Yes, strive for "good technique". But "good technique" does NOT have ONE DEFINITION.

    Attached Files:

  6. IMO - as has been said. Pick one method and stick with it, but, do not let it enslave you. I use a combination of the four fret, four finger method, but, for some reason I "point" to the root with my index finger. True 4 fret pattern, 4 finger method, I should not be pointing to the root with my index, but, its like what has been said by others - if it works for you go for it.
  7. Basshoofd


    Jan 14, 2009
    I have huge hands, play a 32" scale bass and I still play with 1-2-4 fingering most of the time. Play whatever is comfortable to you. Don't stretch when you don't have to.
  8. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    +1 for don't stretch when u don't have to....think economy of motion. Of u have a run and the riff spans four frets and it is pretty quick where covering a fret per finger will give u the smoothest...do it. But if u only have to span 3....use 1-2-4 or whatever is comfortable. The "classic" trained method for upright is however many frets u have to span in one position for a smooth passage...index highest(in relation to the nut) 2 & 3 covers middle frets and pinkie is the lowest of the passage....fyi.
  9. StrangerDanger

    StrangerDanger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Im a big fan of the 1-2-4 (Simandl), even though I have been accused of being a 3 fingered bassist (lol).

    As far as the 1-3-4, that doesnt sound too comfortable to me. I mean, what would you do with the middle finger? Hmmmm . . .
  10. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    The finger per fret technique is definitely a solid guideline, but it's not a rule by any means.

    It makes more sense as you get further up the neck and start to do things like soloing where it is necessary to have a few notes fretted at once (it's more efficient), but you should never have to bend your wrist or shape your hand in a painful or uncomfortable way to conform to it. I'm of the belief that you shouldn't have to CONSTANTLY stretch your hand in a way it's not really designed to be stretch to play the instrument. It's inefficient, it's painful, and it can cause damage in the long run.

    A lot of books and instructors fail to address that everyone's body is different, and that comes with a slew of hand sizes. Guys like Stanley Clarke have bear paws that don't need to stretch to hit a finger per fret low on the neck, but not everyone is built that way.
  11. ryrich22


    Nov 23, 2012
    Thanks for the responses. I feel better knowing that things don't have to be done one way, that there are varying approaches and techniques.
  12. SlowMike


    Nov 28, 2012
    Friedland introduces the OFPF method later in those books. A couple of the playing exercises works both methods.
  13. oleskool


    Sep 27, 2011
    Detroit, Mi.
    The correct answer is the books will expand on fingering. Early in the book 1, he wants you to become familiar with using your pinky. You will be happy you did. Adding the third finger will be natural when the time comes.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I agree that one should do whatever produces the results you're looking for. I learned one fret per finger, but I vary that so much now that I don't even think about it. Just play!
  15. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I recommend you learn 1-2-3-4. There is nothing wrong with 1-2-4, and in most cases you'll develop this naturally in the lower posititions either for comfort, or out of laziness.
  16. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Small and old hands have me settling into a 3 fret coverage most of the time. Seems to work. I am almost wanting to dump my short scale because the frets seem too narrow for two fingers.

    Doesnt Clapton play with three fingers?
  17. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    The point I think the book is drilling home though is to learn how to use all 4 fingers independently. The point everyone else is making is that you don't have to do so full time. Obviously having the ability to do so will make you a better player, but it's also like knowing how to parallel park even if you never have to.
  18. Wagz


    May 2, 2012
    Milwaukee, WI
    If you have small or medium-sized hands, Carol Kaye makes a good point: your 3rd and 4th finger share tendons, making one finger per fret an anatomical challenge for a lot people. Following that logic 134 makes no sense to me, why park your middle finger when it's naturally built to work better with either your 3rd or 4th finger?
    I have big hands (can palm a basketball with both hands) and use 1234 on short scale but I find myself switching to 124 in 1st position on long scale. One of Kaye's left hand exercises is a good one for building left-hand strength and coordination: try to extend your 1st and 3rd finger and then switch to 2nd and 4th, repeat for a few minutes. It helps build coordination between your 3rd and 4th fingers (and clearly illustrates just how hard real control of one finger per fret can be).
    And +1000 to all the commenters who gave the advice to be careful about feeling pain when you're first starting out.
  19. Some teachers (like Ed Friedland in the Hal Leonard series) teaches using 1,2,4 in the lower frets and other teachers teach 1 finger per fret (guitar style).

    I use both. I switch based on what feels most comfortable to me at the time and how fast I need to play a certain part.
  20. edfriedland


    Sep 14, 2003
    Austin, TX
    I think this question has been answered already by others. But... are you talking about my Hal Leonard book? Because as mentioned, I illustrate the 1-2-4 fingering first, and the 1-2-3-4 fingering in Book 2. Just to be clear, I have never recommended 1-3-4.

Share This Page