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Fingering for playing fourths in position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Oleg BassPlayer, Aug 19, 2017.


  1. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    Ukraine
    Hi everybody, I've got a question.
    Recently, I've run across a few lines where I need to play perfect fourth interval and that quickly, for example:
    G | ------------------------------------|
    D | ------------------------------------|
    A | 7---7--7----5-6-7---7--7----5-6-|
    E | ---------7-7--------------7-7----- |
    or:
    G | ------------------------------------|
    D | ------------------------------------|
    A | ---------7-5--------------7-5------|
    E | 7---7--------7---7---7--------7---|
    (sorry for terrible tabs)
    (actually these aren't lines, just some random stuff off the top of my head)

    So I have hard time playing fragments which I marked with bold font. I can't play them with one finger put across two strings (like two string barre) because there are other notes which implies playing in position. I've tried to play it with two fingers (middle on E string for the B and ring for E on A string), but doesn't feel good becuase compromises the idea of positional playing.

    Also I'm trying to play by means of a jumping finger (hand in position, ring finger jumps from one string to another), but I can't play fast this way.

    So how would you play such figures?
     
  2. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I would play this with the pinky on the A string and the ring finger on the E string (both 7th fret). Index on the 5th, middle finger on the 6th fret. Playing this barre style doesn't work out for me either, using two fingers makes muting easier.
     
    ba55i5t and Oleg BassPlayer like this.
  3. MrMoonlight

    MrMoonlight Bottom feeder Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Compromises the idea of positional playing? Pfft! If you can play it cleanly and in time, who cares about compromising any ideas? There are no hard and fast rules...only guidelines. Break whatever rules you have to to pull it off. All that matters is what comes out of the speaker cab.

    That said, @Nashrakh 's suggestion seems to be a good one. I just tried playing it and while I can play it cleanly barre style with the ring finger fretting both the E and the A string (right hand muting is necessary), I found it easier playing it as he suggests.
     
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  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Ring finger on the 7th fret of the A string. Use your middle finger with support from your first finger to play the B on the E string, and go first, middle, ring finger for the run up the 5th, 6th, and 7th frets.
     
    Lownote38 and Oleg BassPlayer like this.
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I ditto what Mr. Moonlight said about not being fixed on one way.

    I would move from the 7 on the E to the 7 on the A with my index or middle finger - after doing the E string I would move down and get the A string. I would not use a barre.

    Little on index and or middle finger. I learned the four finger, four fret fingering, however after years of using it I let the fingers figure which one gets what, i.e. I am not fixed upon one way. I no longer think about it, the fingers just go where needed. I do tend to get the root with my index, where the book would tell me to do this with my middle, index seems to work best for me. What I do now took a couple of years getting there....... So right now.....

    .....if what you are doing is causing problems, change. Unless you are under the care of a teacher, and then you have to do what the teacher says. Why, as long as you are paying someone money to teach you it kinda makes since to do what they say. You have to trust that they are taking you down a road of discovery.... If it's just you do what is best for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  6. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    Ukraine
    Thank you for replies, they were very useful for me!
    Another question, if you don't mind: how do you play patterns like this one:

    G|---------------------------
    D|---------------------------
    A|-------3------------4------
    E|1-3-4---4-3-1-3-4---4-3-

    that is, when breaking one-finger-per-fret rule causes much additional movement?
    Is it possible to barre with pinkie?
     
  7. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    First I do not use tab except when I need to get a riff or phrase down. So I have little experience in playing tab patterns. Now to your question.

    All our fingers and hands are different. I play from chord tones and compose my own bass lines, So....

    Get it done the best way you can. You can barre with any finger, or not. I do not believe I've ever barred with my pinky, but, if it works for you, be my quest.
    Code:
    .....Index...Middle...Ring..Little Finger
    G~~|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    D~~|---6---|-------|---7---|---8---|
    A~~|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E~~|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    I'd use the four finger four fret on the E string and then move up and catch what ever is on the A string with what ever finger is needed. So my recommendation for right now would be to stick with the four finger four fret "rule" so there is some kind of structure in what you are doing.... Instead of reinventing the wheel all the time. With tab patterns I would think there would be some sliding involved.

    Move the hand from the E string to the A string, or D string, or G string. The 1-2-3-4 fingers move as a unit - with the hand. Once on the string the individual fingers get what ever notes they are responsible for.

    That is what I would do, however, as mentioned I do not play from tab patterns, and bow to the guys that do.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  8. Ha. I never follow any positioning rules (my playing jumps up and down the neck from nut to past 12th fret too often to care much). I'm entirely self-taught so I've got a bizarre bastard style for fingering that's probably only been made worse by a long stint on guitar which got me addicted to chords. I'd play the first one barre-ing with my ring finger. I'd roll the pressure to play then mute notes as necessary: Start with the two strings barred and mute the E with my plucking hand until I need to go down to the E string when I'd lift off the A string just enough to not fret a note, but rather mute it. That requires the least hand movement as even without using the pinky I could adequately reach all those notes. Similar concept in reverse for the second one.

    On the third thing you posted I may just shift my hand as necessary to comfortably and accurately hit those notes. I'd either play 1-3-4 as index-ring-pinky and jump to the 3 on the A string with my ring/middle before bringing it back down, or quickly shift after the 1 to fret 3-4 as index-ring/middle and do the string jumping with my index. I played trombone for years before bass so I'm pretty good at quickly shifting my fretting hand. I also sometimes drastically rotate the angle of my fretting hand (from normal fingers perpendicular to strings to fingers nearly parallel with the strings to accommodate otherwise awkward fretting/finger positions).
     
  9. NullPourch makes some good points.

    And while finger per fret helps make your playing in one position efficient most of the time, it may not work all the time. You are free to invent or do what you need to do to play cleanly. It's not a "rule". It's just a technique.
     
  10. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' SUSPENDED

    Regarding this and your first post (this is gonna get long but read it): you will be amazed at what you can become adept at doing with specific, ongoing practice of a technique, independent of learning how to play a particular part in a particular song. Things such as your predicament are often not "solvable" in one or two sittings. You have to have faith in slowing down and consistent practice. Don't do anything specific for more than 15 minutes at a time as your brain and fingers can only absorb and change so much at once. Even a 5 minute break can suffice. But don't get overzealous at the result and then try for 30 minutes the next time. Keep it short then move to something else. I recently got a big dry erase board and listed 10 concepts/techniques to work on so I never have to think about what to work on next, as I will always forget 6 or 7 things and default to doing the same thing. You write down your concepts then you go find lessons that will help you and organize them for easy access. I should do an entire thread on this.

    To your point: I was married to minimizing shifting for 2 decades. I could never understand how 12 year olds with tiny hands could way outplay me. They shift all over, all of the time. "But shifting is so hard..." Nope, turns out it isn't if you don't overthink it, trust practice and just start doing it methodically in practice. I started playing 2 and three octave scales and arpeggios in all sorts of crazy ways (it helped to take the time to notate things to keep track of different ways that are easily forgettable but you will find that you only need to do it for a short period of time and, with regular practice you will just have it in you shortly- pain in the butt but it's worth it and it's not something you will have to do very long). You have to SLOW DOWN.

    Barring. My big trouble spot has been the first fret since, for practical purposes, one is "forced" to use only one finger unless you want to waste the use of your index finger by having finger one above the nut while using fingers 2 and 3 or 3 and 4 (like others here, I will usually use fingers 3 and 4 and shifting when I have to play two adjacent notes on frets 3 and above). Anyway, with slow and regular practice over the course of probably a month I have developed the strength and finesse to adequately Barre and/or rock back and forth and mute with just my index finger at fret 1. I have left hand issues so I am probably slower to grow than most. In addition to the scales and arpeggios work noted above, I will post links to a couple of exercises that have nothing to do with barring but with finger speed and control (precise strength) which seem to be what got me over the hump. Trust me, years of screwing around remedied in a couple of weeks of regular, frequent, short practice sessions. And to reiterate- I CAN play but I have distinct weaknesses in my game and neglecting those weaknesses has caused me to spend disproportionate hours working around them or learning just enough for a given song.... over and over again.

    The exercises below have nothing to do with barring but they will make your hands work better quickly; miraculously to me, my first finger on fret 1 can do what it had previously been unable to do (I've also spent some time in the past few weeks playing Dominant 7th arpeggios at the first fret in many permutations of 1,3,5,7 (there are 24, by the way) and my index finger can now do what it couldn't do for years- this exercise requires a lot of the first finger as it has to constantly be fretting and/or muting and/or avoiding one of the THREE strings it is dealing with, and it's job is constantly changing. I'm sure you can find or create exercises that you can repeatedly work on and you can solve your adjacent string conundrum in a week or two of consistent work- start slowly and get the movements down).

    First, I will set a metronome and play 1, 2, 4 and/or 1, 3, 4 triplets until my hand falls off. Not really. Sometimes I go at a high rate than I can maintain cleanly for only 10 seconds, sometimes I go at a rate I can maintain for 2 minutes for endurance and the precise motor skill that will follow. This will transfer to everything you do on bass.

    2nd: try this. SLOWLY


    3rd:Watch the whole thing but the exercise at 8:20 is what I'm talking about. These three things are the only explanation for my sudden increase in ability after years of mostly learning songs. Learning songs has too much starting and stopping to really grow strength/muscle memory. Yes, folks, I realize that it doesn't actually take a lot of strength to push down a string so please don't derail... this is about growing precise strength; i.e., finger control



    Another example for credibility's sake... prior to a couple of weeks ago I have never sat down to really learn to slap. I fumble my way thru songs as needed. In two weeks of specific practice I cannot believe the things I can do. Check out this guy named Scott Whitley and his few slap lessons on YouTube. Never heard of him before 2 weeks ago but he's a great teacher. Made it ridiculously easy.

    There is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming to the adult brain which can think entirely too much rather than the kid brain that just does stuff and absorbs like a sponge.... Break it down, go slow and focus on the underlying skill for a while rather than learning just enough for a spot in a song. Good luck.
     
  11. I only know of two ways to handle adjacent fourths. Either roll fingertip from string to string, or stack adjacent fingertips on same fretline, different strings. I use both, but for faster passages using two fingers is admittedly faster,
     
  12. bfields

    bfields

    Apr 9, 2015
    I got some useful answers to a similar question a few years ago, for what it's worth: bass technique for 4th and 7th jumps

    Yeah, one-finger-per-fret turns out to be just one system among many that can be useful to learn. And no matter how big your bag of tricks there will always another bass line out there that will turn out to need a new trick....