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A few general questions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tofumonster, Sep 22, 2008.


  1. tofumonster

    tofumonster

    Aug 28, 2008
    So I'm committed to teach myself bass guitar. I'm in a band and I feel I need to start pulling my weight.

    So I have a few technical/nitty-gritty questions about bass guitar.

    1) When playing finger-style, what percentage of the pluck should be up towards me (parallel to the body of the guitar) or perpendicular to the body?

    2) When playing finger style, should I rely more on the volume of the amp to be heard, or should I try punctuating (plucking more forcefully) each note individually to get the sound to come out?

    3) Should my right forearm be sitting on the edge of the body? Currently, I play with my wrist loosely bent at a comfortable angle. Should there be no angle at all?

    4) My action is kind of high. Should I consider lowering it? or should I leave it high to build up muscle? being relatively new to the instrument and all.

    5) My fretting hand (left) gets cramped easily, would this be related to the height of the action? or am I wearing the guitar too high/low?

    You guys don't have to answer all the questions. Any comments are appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. 1) This can vary for different types of tone you are going for. In general, to get a good, consistent finger style sound, you should push down on the string perpendicular until you get a bit of tension and let your fingers slide off towards you. Look for bassists that have something similar to your sound and watch how they pluck.

    2) Some people advocate no angle at all and you should have your arm off the body and able to move freely. Other say that its fine to have your forearm resting on the body and a slight (less than 45 degrees) bend to the wrist. I play with my forearm on the body a lot of the time, unless I am doing something with a lot of string skipping or I need to be able to move about.

    3) High action can be dangerous. It is very easy to injure yourself, especially if you are new to the instrument. Your action shouldn't really be higher than it needs to be for the strings to not hit the frets and buzz. Wherever your action is, you will build up enough muscle to play it where it is, so going higher just to lower it is unnecessary risk to your self.

    4) It is very possible and likely that your hand is cramping a lot easier because of your higher action. Again, your wrist should not be bent past 45 degrees and your thumb shouldn't be hanging over the top of the neck. You are playing bass, not making sausage. Keep your thumb on the back, your wrist just bent under 45 degrees. Get a proper set up, or do a search and see how you can set up lower action. Also, STRETCH. It seems kind of silly, but you are using more muscles than you might at first thing. There are some nice threads on Talkbass about stretches.


    Hope this helps some!
     
  3. DudeistMonk

    DudeistMonk

    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    You should be hitting the string above that string on your return in order to mute it. So if you are playing a note on the A string your finger should pluck it and come to rest against the E string. This allows you to play up (tonally) from the E to the A without having notes on the E still ringing out.

    You don't want to be playing at too much of an angle, but a little angle isn't a problem. If your wrist gets sore when you pluck then I would reduce the angle. If you are wearing your strap at a comfortable height you should be fine.

    Let your amp do the work whenever possible, however there are certain times when the tone demands you play hard...certain types of rock/metal. I used to have a crappy 10W when I started and I still play too hard because of it.... For the most part if you are happy with the sound then play light, it will leave room for you to play louder when needed to add dynamics, and you will get a cleaner overall sound, you will also find it easier to move around from string to string.

    Get your bass adjusted or do it yourself, the action should be pretty low, I would start by making it as low as you can and raising it from there...Personally I like a really low action, its easier to play/play faster/play cleaner IMO. Some people who are into a lot of slapping keep it a little higher but it sounds like your action is way too high. Make sure that the action is even across all your strings (if you have individual saddles on your bridge) There is no reason to "build muscle" this way, it robbing you of dexterity and speed....if you practice enough you'll have plenty of strength and endurance in a few weeks.

    As for cramping I agree its probably your action and you should stretch/warm up. A lot of people use scales and arpeggios and warm up drills and they are a great way to sneak in some productive practice every time you pick up the bass.
     

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