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finger streching techniques

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Viviuos, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. Viviuos


    Jul 15, 2004
    Nehawka, Nebraska
    Hi, im fairly new to bass and i havent played any other instriment for over 6 or so years. Because of that my fingers are a little reluctent to streach as much as i want them to. Are there any good streching ideas or other suggestions out there.
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    sometimes i try to reach as many semitones as i can from my pinky to my thumb on a piano.(not bass since theyre too far apart and change in distance) also remeber to use your pinky when you play. dont leave it there to do nothing.
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
  4. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    No kidding, I have found that whenever my left hand is getting tight and I can't do some of my stretched out guitar chords all I have to do is woodshed some scales and arppegios on the bass. Of course one side effect was that I learned how to play bass so now I spend as much time playing bass as I do guitar.
  5. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Play with a light touch.

    Keep your fingers, hand, wrist, forearm and shoulder relaxed. Press the strings as lightly as possible (if your bass is set up well, this should be only light/modest pressure).

    Bend the knuckles. And maintain only light pressure between your thumb and the back of the neck.

    Most of the time, keep all of your fingers parallel to the frets and keep all of them close to the strings.

    For long stretches, pivot your hand when possible, using the thumb as the fulcrum.

    The only stretching that I do is actually playing.

    Good luck.
  6. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    also, keep your thunb behind the neck, don't let it pop out too much on top(unless you are going to use it), it will help your reach.
  7. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    That's a big factor. I have small hands yet I can play a full scale bass easily. All it took was a teacher that insisted on following the conventions of classical technique. Dropping my left wrist was tough at first but now it's second nature.
  8. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    Pick up "Bass Fitness"... it's an amazing book for developing fingers. It's got 200 chromatic exercises, and it's great for developing finger independence, strength, speed, dexterity, etc etc.

    www.bassbooks.com has it, although I bought mine at a local music store.
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ...and don't wear the bass too low on the strap - keep it up high, so you don't have to bend your wrist so much. I find that my bass height is mostly limited by my right hand, which then has to be too crunched-up - otherwise I'd probably have it up to my chin!

  10. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    Agreed! Watch Roscoe Beck play sometime. He straps it right up there.
  11. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Stretching your fingers is probably not a good idea.

    If your hand doesn't want to play one-finger-per-fret, well... just don't!
    Try 1-2-4 fingering for a tone (covering 3 frets). Put your 3rd finger down on the string, between 2 and 4. Very comfy, and what I use mostly.

    I also use finger-per-fret, and
    "extension" fingering: 1, skip a fret, 2, 3, 4 covering a major third on one string. But I've been playing a long time, so my hands have gotten used to it.
  12. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I would like to respectfully disagree with the post above. While a three-finger technique is appropriate on the Double Bass I strongly believe that the Bass Guitarist can benefit strongly from a four finger technique. Jaco Pastorius advocated a four finger technique and I believe that his technique was essential to his amazing abilities on the instrument.

    Guitars and Bass Guitars are a one-finger, one-fret instrument by design. As an instructor I've spent a great deal of time helping people to break the three-fingered habit. I would suggest that anyone give four-fingered technique their best effort before giving up and accepting the limitations of a three-fingered technique.
  13. Viviuos


    Jul 15, 2004
    Nehawka, Nebraska
    Since about day three of playing my bass (right now im at day seven 7-21-04) ive used my pinky, i find it almost natural. That and i can almost reach the frets at the top of the neck without moving my had. Although i do buzz alot when i use my pinky, what topic would i put a post in about that?
  14. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I think this is definitely the right forum. Using all four LH fingers fits well with the tuning of the Bass Guitar. If you are literally at day seven you are doing well to be able to use your fourth finger. The buzz will go away with time and practice.
  15. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    In my post I meant to say "Stretching your fingers is probably not a good idea if you are having pain from playing bass." Stretching your fingers has little to do with playing music.

    As far as left hand playing technique goes:
    Different Strokes. . .

    I'm a doubler who plays upright and bass guitar
    (no capitals for me :rollno: ), and I really see no problem with using three different fingering systems. Use the comfy 3-finger system when it works, use a finger-per-fret when it works, and use extension (even more of a stretch than your four finger system!) when it works.

    I have had lots of students end up with tendinitis from trying to stretch their fingers before they are ready. Play relaxed, do what works + be happy!
  16. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I see your point. I would never expect someone to push themselves to the point of injury in the name of technique.

    I have relatively short fingers and I play first position using one finger-per-fret but I wouldn't go so far as to say that my hand position doesn't shift somewhat as I move from the 4th finger to the 1st finger. I consider this an accomodation for having small hands. Whenever I lay off for more than a couple of days it takes a day or two to get my left hand loosened up. I have considerably greater stretch in my left hand than I do in my right and I think it comes from having exerted myself to reach for notes. I've been doing this for nearly forty years and so far I have no problems. One major rule that I have ALWAYS observed, if it starts to become painful I quit playing. Even a couple of hours break can make a huge difference.
  17. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Cool, Bender,

    I have big hands, but it really isn't as much an advantage as some players think. I often use a five fret stretch (Ab, Bb, B, C on the "G" string), even at the first fret, and like you, it got easier after the first twenty years or so. :eyebrow: So, with enough time, all these fingerings become more do-able. But I usually just go for easier fingerings.

    I'm really saying that "Stretching" can be the cause of the injury. Not so much the technique used to play. I know that stretching muscles that aren't warmed up can be a major cause of sports injuries.
  18. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    That's a good point. Good musical technique is a lot like an athletic skill (albeit you don't get much exercise from it) and needs to be approached cautiously. A warmup of some sort is needed.
  19. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i think this is a great book.

    i use it everytime i've taken some time off from playing.

    gets me back in shape FAST!


    cheap too:

    buy it here

  20. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Index finger stays on 5th fret the entire time:

    ------------------------------------------------------------5---9---5---9---- ….and then go back up to the 1st string

    When that starts to get easy, do it between the 3rd and 7th frets, and eventually the 1st thru 5th frets.