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Are u supposed to use your pinky in high positions?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CJY, Feb 15, 2002.

  1. CJY


    Apr 30, 2001
    On my fretting hand,I use all 4 fingers to play.I do so even when playing in high positions(19th fret onward on my 22 fret 5 string bolt on).When I use my pinky in these high positions,I feel a pain in my wrist,so I started thinking that my technique could be wrong.This is especially true when I try to play high up on the E and A strings while standing.Ideally,are you supposed to use your pinky in high positions?What is your left hand fingering if you were to ,say,play a C major scale starting from the 20 fret on the E string?

    Please keep in mind that I am using a bolt on,and that I have small(relatively) hands.Thanks in advance.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    There are at least two schools of thought on this one: One says that you should use all four fingers at all times regardless of where you are on the neck in order to develop consistent technique on the instrument; the other is more of a "do whatever works where you are" school of thought. Which is for you?

    In the upper positions, the frets are so close together that you no longer need one finger per fret, as you can reach further than that by spreading your fingers, thereby taking some of the pressure off your wrist. As long as you know HOW to play in position, I'd say you're left with a choice between being "correct" by the standard of some nebulous and undefined tribunal of PLANK TECHNIQUE OVERLORDS (and possibly hurting yourself in the process), or doing what works for you in the higher positions and staying healthy.

    Given that choice, I know which one I'd pick.


  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with Chris ( of course!) but this particular comment got me thinking that you may be giving yourself a problem by having the bass too low on your strap.

    Ideally you should be playing at the same height/position sitting and standing. So you should adjust your strap so that your hands are in the same position no matter whether you are sitting or standing.

    If your bass is too low when standing, then this can indeed cause pain in your hands from stretching too far - etc.
  4. I hate people who ride their bass on the floor,

    get them guitars up people
  5. CJY


    Apr 30, 2001
    Thanks for your input guys.Actually,my bass is already quite high up.I would put it higher,if not for the fact that my fretting hand hurts when playing in the first few positions.
    So I have to adjust the strap in such a way that both hands remain reasonably comfortable.
  6. I had this problem and my teacher told me to stop using my ring finger when possible. I dont know why, but my pain stopped after a couple days, and my playing is actually much better. I know a person on this forum who developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from playing a large bass, and having really small hands. I would check to make sure you dont have something serious like that. I doubt you do unless you play 4 hours a day for the last 10 years, but a medical problem is always possible.
  7. Penguinbassie


    Feb 18, 2002
    One thing you'll want to be careful of is how you hold your wrist. Make sure you keep it straight, and perfectly parallel with the rest of your lower arm. If it is bent much, that will cause a good deal of pain and will lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. I play saxophone as well as bass, and for awhile I had pain in my right hand because of the way I held my sax. Luckily, I found out in time, and nothing serious happened. So make sure you keep your wrist straight while playing.
  8. CJY


    Apr 30, 2001
    You mean you use your pinky and not your ring finger in high positions?That doesn't really make sense to me.I actually feel more comfortable using my ring finger from the 19th fret up but use my pinky a lot at the lower positions.
  9. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Maybe your action is to high on the lower part of your fingerboard too...try lowering your bridge if the truss rod is already adjusted...you mayb e putting to much pressure on it and therefore cramping it...Don't know, just a suggestion
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I always try to use all fingers, but I sometimes use only three in the higher positions because the lower cutaway on my bass make using the pinky very hard.

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