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! :)

Bad habits you had to unlearn

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by catcauphonic, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    I've been playing for a little over a year. I bought a used bass w/practice amp & just went at it with some books for the first few months. Around about the 4th month I got myself a teacher who immediately pointed out that I would benefit from trying to keep my fretting hand closer to a 90 degree angle, rather than the 45 degrees I was holding it at. What a big difference that made in a positive way.

    I'm still working on not pressing my thumb so hard into the back of the neck when fretting. It's something I need to keep conscious of, but it's getting better.

    Most recently after trying to play a friends guitar, I realize that I've been fretting my bass strings by using more of the pads of my fingers rather than the fingertips (which has been sounding fine on bass, but impossible to play chords on the smaller string spacings of a guitar.) When I mentioned it to my teacher he said "Yeah, you should probably be playing close to 80% of notes with the tips". Frankly, I'm a little annoyed that he didn't catch it and point that out sooner.

    It got me wondering about the habits of others regarding bad form when you were a noob - what issues were they? and were you able to correct it or just continue going with your own flow??
  2. Zanzibar Delgado

    Zanzibar Delgado Supporting Member

    Wearing my bass low.
  3. Waspinators


    Jul 22, 2007
    South Florida
    I'm still trying to unlearn my generally horrible left hand technique.
  4. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    I hold the bass neck way too hard and used to use my index and middle fingers primarily. The grip works sometimes (particularly when doing fourth jumping), but not for much else, so I'm working on keeping my thumb behind the neck and using all four fingers.

    I should probably work on my heavy attack, too, but I like the sound too much.
  5. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Playing too many notes.

    Sometimes less is more.
  6. I naturally play over the neck. I anchor my thumb at the end of the neck. I had to learn to move back and forth from the neck to the bridge pickup. But, still, they are both useful. It's just a matter of proper form, and you need to dig in to get some effects to respond how you want them to.

    Don't unlearn anything. Do what comes to you naturally, then learn the standard techniques. You will be happy you can do both.
    JCooper likes this.
  7. xfredrikx


    Dec 9, 2009
    I have to use my pinky on my left hand more.

    And why is "wearing your bass low" a bad habit?
  8. Pinky on the left hand, and also pressing too hard on the fretboard both with my tumb and the other 4 fingers. Generally using too much power.

    The pinky thing i fixed relatively quickly. The overkill pressure, i am still working on. Getting better though!

    TOOL460002: Your avatar makes me want to smoke!
  9. Wait. What? I have no idea what you're talking about. But I think it's about time I stepped outside for a bit...

    Uh... so the topic is about bad habits or something? Never mind. I don't have any. Be happy!
  10. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    For some reason I've always had good technique. The habit that I had to unlearn was to not always use the EQ to boost frequencies. Sometimes the best way to get proper tone is to cut some frequenices.
  11. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    When I started learning bass I could only use my amp at band rehearsals. Could only just about afford the 150 watt amp I had as my gigging rig at the time. Too heavy to lug in up and down the stairs, plus noise problems with family and neighbours. Even a small practise amp was unaffordable in addition to what I had already spent and headphone amps hadn't really been thought of back then.

    Consequently I used to practise unplugged, just using the acoustic sound of the bass and had to unlearn playing too heavily with my right hand

  12. Fretting hand at 90 degree angle is a recipe for wrist problems/RSI injuries down the road, there's no reason for it. If I were you I'd find a new teacher.

    Playing notes on the tips is going to prevent you from barring intervals like 4ths.

    Is this dude a guitar/bass teacher?

    Here's a good vid/exercise for working on controlling finger pressure:
  13. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    The main thing I've changed has nothing to do with my hands, but my eq. I ran too long with that smiley face shape. In the lastfew years I've learned to use my mids better, and it has made all the difference in the world in my sound---and as a result I play better, or at least I feel better playing.
  14. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Thanks for the video. I've seen that before and it's helpful. Though my main problem when fretting is too much pressure from my thumb on the back if I'm not conscious of it.

    My teacher is a bass as 1st instrument guy through & through. Didn't mean to imply that he said I should always be playing with the tips in every situation, or that my hand needs to be exactly at a 90 - just closer to it. The angle I was fretting everything basicaly had my index finger resting on the G string at the knuckle all the time.

    I did just find a new teacher I'll be learning with starting January anyway, though I'm sure I'll still see the first guy on occasion.
  15. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This (except that I use all four fingers already). I play really hard. But every time I lighten up I hate the sound.
  16. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Proper fingering while playing licks, scales.
    Got a classical bass method book.
    Edouard Nanny Book 1.
    Improved my playing 50 % in one year.

  17. Does your bass have neck dive? In other words when you strap it on does it remain at an angle or tend to want to get parallel? If there is neck dive it might be causing you to use your thumb to keep it in position.

    Also how high is your action?

    You might also try fretting notes without placing your thumb on the back of your neck.

    You want your wrist to be as straight as possible, both wrists in fact. There should never be a time that you're close to 90 degrees.
  18. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Learning on and playing 4 string's for so long I got use to resting my thumb on the pick up and just muting the E string. Sense getting my 5 string I have had to learn the floating thumb so I can mute the B & E strings. I wish I would have learned that technique to begin with.
  19. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Playing with a pick. :bag:


    Playing too many notes. I don't know if playing too many notes should be classified as a bad habit or just something every beginning bass player does before they gain more experience and mature as a bassist.
  20. Zanzibar Delgado

    Zanzibar Delgado Supporting Member

    It's bad for your left hand, especially playing higher on the neck. Ideally, the bass should be the same position relative to your body while standing and sitting.