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Are my fingers unfit to play bass? (pic inside)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassOfDiamonds, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Ok, I know this could just be typical newbie paranoia, but I took bass guitar lessons for the first time....first time ever playing an instrument.

    I was able to position my fingers one finger per fret for frets 1-4, but it felt pretty tense, and it was difficult to keep my fingertips directly perpendicular to the frets.

    On the way home, I realized that I had pretty abnormal fingers, which might contribute to my difficulty.

    1) My pinky is WAY smaller than any other finger. Obviously everyone's pinky is smaller, but mine is disproportionately smaller relative to everyone else.

    2) The base (no pun intended) of my fingers slope downward (ie, my fingers are not evenly set up, my knuckles are uneven). My index finger is "set" higher than my middle, which is higher than my ring, etc. This is independent of finger length. I wonder if that's why I have so much trouble with the 3rd/4th fret with my ring/pinky.

    3) I think I have webbed fingers?? Could that be hindering the stretch of my finger? I wonder if I could get my finger webs snipped...lol.

    Here's a pic...:bag:


    Am I being paranoid? Of course, I didn't realize all my finger issues until I was on my way home, after the lesson, so I couldn't ask my instructor. He didn't mention anything about my fingers, so I'm hoping that's a good sign.
  2. Phone home.
  3. NoChi


    Mar 16, 2011
    The Hague, Holland
  4. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    No, nothing there to stop you playing. You are worrying about nothing.
    Every player has physical problems in learning to play, it is natural as it is a new task.
    After a few months of practice and play you will see it all in a different light.
    Everyone's hands will have different problems depending on shape and use they have had through out there life....this is common.
    So enjoy the experience of learning bass and you have no real physical excuse not to succeed.
  5. kr0n


    Feb 4, 2009
    It took me a year, IIRC, to get my left hand stretch properly to 1st to 4th OFPF. Nowdays I tend to avoid having to stretch that much for extended durations. It tends to create tension and I get fatigued easily. I just move my hand a little bit and keep fingers more relaxed. Some people use Simandl (124) and just move their hand to reach that minor 3rd.

    My fretting hand stretches only a tiny bit more than my right hand but the most noticeable difference is the gap between ring and middle.

    Just play, don't fret about it.
  6. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    even your pinky is longer than my middle finger......I don't see any problems for you to play the bass
  7. Otso


    Mar 6, 2006

    This video explains a bit about not being so strict with the 1-finger per fret technique.
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    You don't need to keep your fingers stretched out one finger per fret all the time. You can use 1-2-4 and pivots (Carol Kaye does this) or 1-2-3-4 with pivots (once you've fretted a note you don't need to keep it pressed down when you fret a higher note).
    I am teaching a gentleman right now with 2 fingers on his picking hand, and he's doing great with this. Physical limitations (which I don't think you have, BTW) can be overcome with work. After seeing Bill Clements play, none of us have an excuse:
    Just relax and work with this for a little bit, you'll get more comfortable.
  9. Thanks for the input!! I'd love to try the alternative finger positioning/movement, but my instructor is sort of insisting on the OFPF set-up to start out with, and as a total newbie, I don't want him to think I'm arrogant and drop me if I even try bringing up other fretting ideas I've heard about. He's supposed to be one of the best in my area.

    So I'm hoping I can just get the standard OFPF technique down without snipping my finger webs. lol Once I have that solidly down, or if I absolutely can't, then I'll try the new ideas when I'm OK enough as a bass player to experiment without worrying that I'll cause myself to form bad habits.

    Or am I being paranoid about bringing up the ideas? I've just had a bad experience as a kid being kicked out of a tennis team for bringing up ideas I've heard about in regards to technique, and angering the coach who thought her way was not to be questioned.

    I'm amazed I have a belly button. :ninja:

    EDIT: Oh, yeah, the photo position/lighting....it's just the clearest way to show the contour of my hand, lol.
  10. BluPhenix


    May 19, 2003
    I have similar proportions to you in the 4 fingers, but a shorter thumb. But my hand and fingers look about 70% of your length.

    In the past I also wandered and troubled myself that my fingers are not fit for playing the bass, maybe they really are not, but I learned not to care. Now whenever I think my fingers are not fit to play ... it just means I'm not in an practice mood and I am looking for excuses for not practicing.

    I play a G&L L-2500 with 45-130 gauge strings. Sometimes it's a pain in the ... fingers from all of the stretching ... but I'm slowly learning not to overstretch when not needed. Just find a way that works good for you. Wish I had fingers so long ...
  11. Also, if it helps gauge my absolute fingers' length:

    Index finger = 3.5 inch
    Middle finger = 4 in
    Ring = 3.75 in
    Pinky = around 2.99

    Yes, I actually measured them just now. lol
  12. I've played for around 35 years, 7 of it as a fulltime professional, with little stubby fingers. One finger per fret is bollocks. you need pretty big hands for that. I have always used the 1,2,4 over three frets, it's very comfortable and has never held me back.
    1-2-3-4 is actually not a natural method. The reason for this is the fact that fingers 3 and 4 share a tendon, whereas 1 and 2 have their own individual tendons. This makes it a natural act to fret 1-2-4 with the 3 finger supporting the 4 (which by itself is a weak finger).
  13. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    I don't have a problem with it, and I do have very small hands (e.g. I need to go to the women's departement (I am a bloke) to buy gloves that fit comfortably and are not too oversized). It's all about practice IME; at first it is a bit difficult, but with time and determination you would not have any problem at all.
    To the OP: sure you can play bass with your hands, remember that it is only the first time you had a bass in your hands. Nobody becomes a Jaco instantly...

    Just saw your post with the lenght of your fingers; here's the length of mine to give you an idea:
    Index: 2,75 inch
    middle: 3,14 inch
    ring: 2,75 inch
    pinky: 1,96 inch
  14. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    If you start off fairly gently, and get a good teacher, you'll find out some comfortable ways to play.
    I'd imagine having long reach has an advantage (some great players have had very large / very small hands... as long as your hands can fret and pluck gently you've got what it takes.

    Slap and playing aggressively on heavy strings are not good for anyone's hands so I'd recommend against it. Light touch :bassist:

    +1 on the 1 finger per fret nonsense. Play what is comfortable & fluid. Can you play one finger per fret on a Double Bass? on a bass with high action (think James Jamerson) one finger per fret is asking for pain and stress. Nice low action, relaxed hands, reach 3 frets with 4 fingers is adequate most of the time. When it's not, some combination of changing positions or using open strings often means you never need stretch 4+ frets unless you want to (and can with accuracy).
  15. 999Brent

    999Brent Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I have a mate that is a good solid bass player and he only has 2 fingers on his fretting hand so you are 2 fingers up on on him.

    He is quite popular with band mates because he never overplays...

    So short story is, no worries, just keep practicing!!!
  16. HI to you too!
  17. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Hey - just some good stuff I found interesting and helpful

    This thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f21/practising-properly-898990/

    And the fella that posted the in depth look at timing (Fergie Fulton) has some good vids about holding & playing the bass:

    There are a lot of different opinions on this. The BASSic rule:bag: is to not tense up... if you do... Stop, roll the hand/wrist and approach it again, this time slower. Mistakes are ok once, don't tolerate them for the sake of speed. That'll come in time.:D
  18. RedNeckBBQ


    Sep 23, 2011
    just pickup a bass and play the God-Damm thing
    and stop talking about you finger length BS.

    come on man. there are 100 of 1000s differed bass necks in the world and everybody can play bass no matter what hands thy got.
  19. lol yeah, thank god for variety! :bassist:
  20. Thumpy McGroove

    Thumpy McGroove

    Jul 11, 2012
    My hands are strange too. I have really wide and flat palms with short fingers but seem to do alright.
    I learned OFPF but then went to 1-2-4 because the blade of my hand (I think that is the right term) would cramp up. I could actually watch the muscles tighten up and the, edge of my palm on the pinky side would suck in and twitch until the cramp stopped and muscle pops back out.
    You will do fine, stick with it

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