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Finger reach issues on my fretless?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fassa Albrecht, May 18, 2011.


  1. This is weird. It's an issue that seems to only affect me on the one bass (my fretless) and no other.

    I noticed that when I play the first three frets, my fingers, which are normally spread out far enough to be able to play each fret, struggle to touch the right place on the fingerboard. We're talking a millimater or so here, but it's causing serious handstrain and strain on the webbing of my hand.

    I initially ignored it (baaaaaaaaaaaaaad idea!) simply because I didn't use my fretless too much and even when I did (usually at chruch), I could stay above 5th fret. Now I'm playing it more and more and using the 5 lowest frets and it's annoying me as it's slowing me up.

    Anyone got any idea how I might correct this? It doesn't seem to be an issue on a fretted bass, and on basses I've tried with different neck widths and shapes.


    EDIT: I should also add that I have decently big hands so it's not an issue with hand size.
     
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I hope you aren't doing "one finger per fret" in the lowest positions? Try using 1-2-4 fingering like upright bass players do... you'll have to move your hand around a bit more, but you'll have an easier time playing in tune and, more importantly, won't hurt yourself. :)
     
  3. Most of the books I've read (and used) say to use the finger-to-a-fret principle. I've even seem this taught in university.
     
  4. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    This.

    I only use my fretless every now and again, and I dont have huge hands (not small either but definitely not huge) and initially I had the same problem. 20 years ago I used 1 finger per fret but no more.

    At gigs, where my focus wasnt just on looking at my fretboard, I found I naturally converted to 124 and it made things way more comfortable. So, dont think of it as "cheating" or any other BS, its actually a better angle for your hand (IMO) and has helped keep me injury free for a long time.
     
  5. I'm getting my fretless now.....gonna have to try 124...
     
  6. This is what I do, 1-2-4. I'm also tinkering with the height and angle of the neck so that it feels more like the upright. I play more upright than bass guitar, though, so for me this feels natural.
     
  7. My bass' thick neck doesn't help...
     
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
  9. ^I'll never be THAT good! But sweet video!
     
  10. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Another +1 to avoiding the "one finger per fret" technique. I've seen some bass players cause serious injury to their hands by using uncomfortable techniques.

    What scale length is your fretless? You can check this by measuring from the nut to the 12th fret and then doubling the measurement. You might consider getting a fretless with a shorter scale length, the fret spread will be smaller and you might find that it's more to your liking.

    Oh, yeah, when was the last time you got the bass set up? Is it intonated properly at the bridge? Is it a lined fretless or is it unlined?
     

  11. It's a 30 inch scale lined fretless with a C neck.

    And yeah, might wanna see about a set-up....
     
  12. Audiophage

    Audiophage

    Jan 9, 2005
    It might also be your nut height making it harder for you to remain consistently in the right spot for good intonation in those lower positions. That setup is probably a good idea.
     
  13. I know that the nut on this bass isn't an original one (my bass being vintage) and so I think that might be causing issues, partially because I feel that whoever did the work didn't do a good job. You can actually feel a rough edge on the side of the neck and the nut seems uneven.
     
  14. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Wow, it's a shorty!

    Now that I think about it, you probably have this problem with just the fretless bass and not the others because you have to press just behind the fret on a fretted but right on the "fret" on a fretless. That must be where the extra 1mm is coming from.

    Not trying to add suggestions here, just remembered that for myself...
     

  15. Yep, it's a shorty! I've only ever seen one other bass like this.

    And you could be right on about finger position. Playing 124 seems to correct it.
     

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