Bass technique for small hands

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by elennare, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. elennare

    elennare Guest

    Apr 7, 2012
    Hi there!

    I recently began playing bass, but I find it hard to get the exercises well done due to my hands... they are tiny!

    I have a full scale SX jazz bass and I really don't want to switch it for a shorter scale. Is there anyone here that could give me some tips about how to handle this properly? :) Thanks in advance
  2. lemonzest

    lemonzest Guest

    Apr 7, 2012
    Well one thing which would help you reach your fretboard a little easier would be to place your thumb on the back of your bass neck while playing. Basically try to maintain that position as much as possible. You may find yourself slipping now and again keep at it. It's not actually an exercise but it will give you more reach. Hope this is some help to you.
    Skybone likes this.
  3. Just make sure your wrist isn't bent at too much of an angle. That can lead to problems down the road.
  4. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    Always try to keep your thumb on the back of the neck. Your hands will be stronger, faster, and have more dexterity.

    You'll be able to play for hours.

    Chances are you'll have to put the body of your bass on the front of your body/chest instead of to one side to make it happen.

    Most guys play to the side and strain their backs in the process. You'll be starting off right and gigging full nights.
    trickyric likes this.
  5. MisterFabulous


    Feb 4, 2010
  6. Duckwater

    Duckwater Guest

    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I have really small hands and it hasn't caused me any trouble, I learned to use my pinky finger about as much as my index finger and it helped a lot when I first started off.
    brgtr3 and trickyric like this.
  7. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
  8. MrSaturdayNight

    MrSaturdayNight Inactive Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2011
    One thing that has helped me is the position of my thumb on the back of the neck. I'm a bigger guy who has smaller hands which is rather ironic. Anyways, I had started learning the "right" way and was putting my thumb on the back of the neck but I was putting it way too high on the back of the neck. I found that if I put it lower my fingers reached all the frets that much easier. I actually now have almost no trouble at all with the first twelve frets on my four string.

    Hope that helps
  9. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I feel your pain. I'm a big guy with small hands myself.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Strange that part of the problem is you cannot make your hands bigger in relation to the instrument, but you can make the instrument smaller in relation to your hands.......and you will not do it??????????

    Get over this and get a bass that fits, you will be surprised the difference it makes to your ability to play.
  11. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    You'll need to move your fretting hand more than someone with big hands, but that shouldn't cause more trouble than just learning where the notes are and how to fret them. It will come to you, soon enough.

    Here's a video of someone I know and his hands aren't very big, either, and he often plays a 5 string bass-
    Grooveology - Sidewinder - YouTube
  12. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I always thought my hands were small since the majority of people I ahve played with have bigger hands ( like all the teacher I had ) but I never had a big problem playing my basses. I may have adopted a very good technic from the get go to avoid any pain or discomfort and I play 6 strings basses and DB.
  13. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I am completely convinced that the only handicap small hands brings to bass players are handicaps people create in their heads. I have small hands, but it never even crossed my mind in relation to playing the bass, and it's never been a problem for me. There are countless little boys and girls on youtube shredding on full scale basses, and it's not a problem for them. Some people however, are unfortunate enough to have someone at one time or another tell them they have small hands and that it will make things harder, they believe it, and then it becomes so. I think the best thing to do is work at getting the notion that you're handicapped out of your head, and move forward with your bass playing. I promise your small hands won't be a hinderance at all, unless you make it so.
  14. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007

    I dont have the biggest hands and it used to worry me, but I just decided to employ the 124 fingering more than 123, make sure I keep my thumb on the back of the neck and go for it. A couple of years ago I got a G&L L2500 tribute which has a thick neck on it but I have had no problems at all. I read alot of people talking about how certain basses have "big" necks and I shake my head, some of the ones often mentioned are NOT "big" at all and I wonder how small their hands are.
  15. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    i have small hands ....when i started playing alot of bass a couple years ago it did take my guitar hands a few months to really get used to the rigors of bass.....however, they got there fine ....i use alot of 1st finger and pinky to minimize stretches.....i often play a 2 and 3 fret span in the first position with 1st and pinky if the line i'm playing doesn't require any more than that.
  16. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada

    i have small hands too - i totally agree with you! it's true!
  17. MisterFabulous


    Feb 4, 2010
    Another little trick for us bassists is to "pivot" your fretting hand when the pad or tip of the thumb is placed on the center horizontal of the back of the neck.

    Instead of sliding or trying to stretch one finger (usually the pinky finger) one extra fret position, let your whole hand move to the fret keeping your thumb on the back of the neck.
    Malcolm35 likes this.
  18. elennare

    elennare Guest

    Apr 7, 2012
    Thanks to everyone.

    One of my problems was the left hand thumb but it seems that the best position is in the middle of the fret, so there it goes from now on.

    @MisterFabulous seems a good book! Thanks for the recommendation. And that pivoting thing, I've to slide the thumb finger too? or just move the hand maintaining the thumb position along the neck?

    @Fergie Fulton with a smaller bass it would be easier and faster to learn, but i'm sure that with a good technique I'll be able to handle a full size bass. And that means i'll, somewhat, unlimit myself as I'll never depend on which size the bass is to play it. But right now what i lack is that technique, and hopefully with all the responses and good tips everybody is giving in this thread i'll be possible more soon than later.

    @1958Bassman i was almost convinced that moving more the hand would be one of the answers, but i've been always told that the less i move the left hand, the better. Is that true? Economy of movements?

    @JoeNerve thats true, but for instance, when trying the spider-finger exercise in the higher frets it becomes a real problem if my pinky finger doesn't reach the 4th string. That when I began thinking that maybe it's impossible for me to do this kind of exercises or if I've to modify it in some way, but really, it's physically impossible.
  19. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Understand in your hands it is not a smaller bass, it is the same proportions as a larger bass has in bigger hands.
    I play short scale basses, never ever found them limiting.
    But each to their own, I just like to have things fit me in my life, rather than not fit.;)
  20. MisterFabulous


    Feb 4, 2010
    For quickness try maintaining the thumb position and just move the hand.

    This is good for times when you have to reach a 4 or 5 fret distance. For example I use this when playing "Rescue Me" by Fontella Bass.