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Anthony Jackson's interview on bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by unatratnag, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. I was reading in a magazine an interview with anthony jackson and he was explaining his theory on Scale length, string tension and all the stuff to consider when custom ordering. Here's an excerpt from "String spacing and neck width"

    "Some believe that on a 5- and 6-string basses tight spacing is easier to play. In the long run it really isn't. If you consider proper technique--which means keeping the thumb behind the fingerboard, instead of over the neck edge--you'll see that my instrument's neck could be even wider, yet i could still reach the strings. That said, however wide your fingerboard is, spread your strings out as much as you can if your bridge allows it. Not being cramped reduces fatigue..."

    I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the cramped aspect. To me, stretching between all the strings puts the muscles in a more tense position and I try to stay as relaxed as possible when playing particularly for longer sets. I'm recently looking/talking with getting a customer made ERB for me. Lots of fun here but one of the questions that bugs me is the string spacing. Everytime I move down in spacing (21->19->currently 16.5) I have loved it. Took getting used to at first but then i love it. I was thinking 15 with no looking back before I read this article. Now i'm trying to understand the comments but they don't seem right for me.

    Anyone have comments on strings spacing ("I can't slap on them" comments aside), wouldn't it seem logical that the smaller spacing allows your hand to be more relaxed than having them stretch? When i think of the larger spacing I think about how it's more difficult to solo in higher registers on the lower strings when doing runs or hold chords with bigger spacing.... hands always seem to catch a cramp if i'm doing a lot of chordal work with a larger spaced instrument.

    What do you guys think?
  2. WovenGraphite

    WovenGraphite Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    Bay Area, California
    AJ has this belief that basses should not be slapped... I never understood why he was so "stiff" about things... and this article shows very well his position on things (thanks for typing the whole thing BTW)
    Personally, I despise his attitude. :eyebrow:
    Besides that he has great ideas and great grooves!

    This proves that one can be an ass and yet play like a god! :bag:
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Anthony has very strong opinions. I think his statement is just that: opinion. I also think that what works for one person might not work for another.

    OTOH, I think there's some logic to Anthony's statement: if your fingers have to move more, then it seems logical that there might be less chance of repetitive stress injury (shrug).

    FWIW, I am far more comfortable on wider spaced instruments. Perhaps because that's what I've been playing for nearly 3 decades....
  4. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    We didn't need this "proof", the concept of playing like a god and being an ass is very well established.
  5. Tumbao


    Nov 10, 2001
    we all post ours here. So? ... and still he's one of the best!
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Being forceful and a bit bull-headed is probably what allowed Anthony Jackson to go against the grain and establish extended range basses in the first place. Although I love slap, I admire that he maintained his own style at a time when everyone was jumping on the slap bandwagon. As for string spacing, Gerald Veasley seems to do quite well with very close spacing.:)
  7. kelbrihan

    kelbrihan Banned [Deceiving users with multiple usernames] Banned

    Dec 2, 2004
    I find it easiest if the string spacing is consistant with what you are used to. Meaning, if you are used to 3/4" string spacing on a four string, then your 5 or 6 string should have 3/4" string spacing. Most of the wider necks that I have incountered are wide and flat as opposed to narrow and thick. I once played a Fodera 6(wide a** neck) that was more comfortable than all of the other 5's in the store.
  8. kelbrihan

    kelbrihan Banned [Deceiving users with multiple usernames] Banned

    Dec 2, 2004
    Anthony has a strong opinion, that doesn't mean he's an ass. Look at how many people thought that Jaco was a d*ck. What about all of the "jazz snobs" who believe that all other music is fodder.
  9. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Its all a matter of opinion. I personally have pretty large hands, and the wider spacing is more comfortable to me, and I can see Anthony's point of view in that reguard. My current 5, and soon to be 6 will have 18mm spacing, which is plenty fine for me. 19 or 20 wouldnt be too much for ME even. That said, if you have smaller hands, and already feel like 19mm is a stretch, or if you've gone to smaller spacing and enjoyed it, then I wouldnt worry too much about doing so again, allthough I think 16 or less would start to get cramped feeling.

    I think anyone could prolly get used to just about anything, with time. Unless you have fingers too fat to fit between the strings, but thats a true physical limitation, not a matter of patience.
  10. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    You have to distinguish between right- and left-hand aspects of string spacing, I think.

    From the right-hand point of view, what many folks consider "ideal" technique involves floating your hand, so the thumb always rests on the string above the one you're plucking. If you do that, there's no real "stretching" involved if you go from 4 to 5-6-7, etc. strings (though there are muting issues to contend with, of course).

    From the left-hand point of view, Jackson's looking at classical guitar technique for a reference, I'd guess. If you compare classical guitars to regular steel strings, the strings spacing is obviously much wider, and the point of that (by my understanding) is that it makes it easier to do different things on different strings cleanly. However, to achieve classical guitar-style left-hand technique, you need to keep the neck fairly high so that you can easily get your thumb wherever it needs to be on the back of the neck. You also have to have a fairly flat fretboard.

    I prefer wide spacing on both the left- and right-hand sides because I find it easier to play cleanly. Even chording comes out better, to me (though I'm only playing 6 and not 7+ strings). I'll admit, though, that upper-register stuff on lower strings does get a bit tougher with 6 strings and 20mm spacing!

    YMMV, obviously!
  11. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Agreed, opinions are just opinions. Mr. Jackson happens to be a guy with a very high profile, therefore his opinions get the print. No one says we need to agree with him ;)

    But to the topic, the wider spacing is definitely helpful for me, 18mm-19mm spacing is way more comfortable to me than a 16.5mm-17mm. It has nothing to do with slapping, I don't like slapping and I stink at it. The wider spacing just feels more natural for my big mitts ... :cool:
  12. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Jaco was a d**k. He had a good excuse for it, for sure, but he was most certainly a d**k.
  13. Great point Mike!

    and before this thread goes further on AJ's opinion, I'm sure I'll stick with smaller for sure, I'm just trying to figure out the muscle relaxation point. I'm sure many more than not are more comfortable with large spacing since they deal with that on their four and fives.

    Personnel preferences aside, It's a good point to have constantly chainging positions and stretching will help with RSI (which I suffer from) but I would think on the other hand one would get more of cramp/fatigue from these long stretches rather than being relaxed and dealing with minimal force/movement which is what they typically teach you when dealing with anyting repetitive ie computers.

    When playing I naturally have a slight slant in my left hand and it puts my left hand position in a pretty neutral position (in fact my strap is as high as a strap can go... it's hard to get it on at times). Was just thinking that let's say u're used to 20mm. Doing a major third (ovtave higher) I'd reach roughly 60mm. With fifteen spacing you'd only be doing roughly 45mm. This is just a small example and i'm sure with more complex chords etc one can see where i'm going with this thought. Perhaps my style is just significantly different but I'm having a hard time seeing how further string spacing would be 'more relaxed' as he says (personnel preference aside seing as how if one wanted they could get used to this spacing). Just a thought.... no right or wrong answers since there's so many styles, but i would think the closer the more comfortable.

    Another side thought is with guitar. It may seem close to those who started on bass, but for those who started on guitar i have to admit that the spacing on a guitar is pretty relaxed since it's so much closer than bass... well anyways, those are just my thoughts...
  14. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I agree with Anthony Jackson that if one keeps the thumb behind the neck, it is very easy to reach across a pretty wide fingerboard. I have owned Yamaha and Ken Smith sixes and never had a problem playing them or slapping on them for that matter. I would like to say that I am probably as big an Anthony Jackson fan as anyone on this board, but I don't take anybody's opinion at 100%, even my own. That's wny I change my mind so much!:oops:
  15. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    AJ has incredible technique that he has spent years developing and he has also developed instruments that lend themselves to that technique.the anti- slap thing with him is a bit misunderstood,from what i gather he doesnt like indescriminant slapping(neither do I).I belive the quote i read he called it "musical kechup"and has said that he will tell producers to call someone who's better at it if that's what they want.IMO he has more than the resume to back up HIS opinion,and while i don't agree with everything he say's,he has earned the right to say it.
  16. Jean Baudin

    Jean Baudin

    Aug 27, 2003
    redwood city, ca
    Endorsing Artist: See Profile
    I don't have any problems with tight spacing or fatigue playing with 15mm spacing. Although, I've been playing a bass with that spacing since 1987. To each his own.