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fingering

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by wrench45us, Jun 29, 2012.


  1. wrench45us

    wrench45us

    Aug 26, 2011
    I'm about 6 months into learning bass (5 string) and to the point where it seems I need a consistent set of guidelines for fingering.

    I started out with the standard major scale pattern (2nd finger on the root) with one fret per finger. I have tried to work everything from that pattern, occasionally realizing as a song shifts key centers, that it makes sense to shift.

    Recently I picked up Todd Johnson's book/DVD package and that seemed to answer my need with major and minor finger patterns and a few guidleines -- stretch notes ascending are played with finger 1, strtch notes descending are played with pinkie -- where stretch notes are those outsied the original 1234 position.

    I thought I had that 'system' working for me. Then I switched to Ed Fuqua's walking book and Ed makes a lot of use of 7th -- which mentally I think of as down from the root / 8 and between that and some chromatic approach notes, my fingering 'system' fell apart fast.

    So more direct question if playing say a blues and one get the the 4 bar turnaround, sometimes depending it doesn't seem 'necessary' to change 'home' position and other times it's just much easier to move down the neck for those two backfilling bars.

    So as it is everytime I play certain lessons or songs I seem to be modifying my fingering. Sometimes to make it easy, sometimes to follow 'guidelines' sometimes to just find the notes. It's feeling my way and inconsistent an dgetting in my way of moving forward.
     
  2. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    Flexibility in fingering is moving forward.

    Rigidly constraining yourself to specific fingerings is a technique exercise:
    you do it to learn the mental/muscle skill required and add that to your toolbox,
    not to limit your choices.

    When the count off starts at the gig you do what allows you to play the part comfortably with maximum expression.
    sometime's it's a fingering system you practiced, sometimes it's simply moving your left hand to reach a note.

    since you're six months in, I'd suggest you beware of 2 beginner mistakes in left hand fingering:
    1.) the death grip -usually beginners greatly overestimate the pressure required to fret a note.
    Gary Willis has good you tube advice here
    2.) the frozen palm: you are allowed to move your palm to help reach notes, using your thumb as an anchor is handy. It's true that getting your fingers used to some stretching is important, but many beginners freeze their hand in one spot and uncomfortably spider their fingers to reach notes, especially in the lower frets. This can cause unnecessary pain.
     
  3. I think your over analyzing it... IMO

    but I'm a hack so what do I know.

    My only rule is one finger per fret. I find myself having to brake it often cause the song requires it.
     
  4. BullFrogJR

    BullFrogJR

    May 23, 2012
    New Jersey
    +1

    And, check out this thread for a similar discussion (and more advice like mambo4 provided):

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f21/playing-same-position-major-minor-887528/
     
  5. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    Great technique, but people should be wary of using it on frets 1-5. The stretch can be too much for some.
     
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Consider fingerings for a whole song or section as mapping out the best way to achieve you ends. There will be no right way or wrong way to finger a standard Blues line from the 9th bar ( the V ). But later on a player may develop a better feel for such a situation when the thought of fingerings becomes about timbre. Does that Bb sound better on the it's fret of an A or the 6th fret of an E type situation.
    Then you find being stuck to a certain way of fingering becomes a hindrance rather than a help.

    It's great that the books are opening you up to question what you do, but always remember they are options and it is up to the player to choose how the use them.
    I have a song I play called Chocolate Cake it is a B minor Blues, but depending on the situation I play riff triads across two strings from the forefinger or over three strings off the little finger.
    Even though the notes are the same the timbre is very different, and the choice I make is whether that timbre really is going to be noticed or make a difference in the situation I am in ( in front of 20000 people not really, in front of 20 in a small club then yes ).

    Because of the way a standard bass is set up and tuned we are only ever one fret to the left or right of playing chromatic when using all four fingers. So in playing we are never that far from an alternative fingering option.

    Here is a link to a previous TB thread that covered some of the ground you are talking about, I posted about chromatic options as an example for fingerings.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f21/playing-same-position-major-minor-887528/
     
  7. wrench45us

    wrench45us

    Aug 26, 2011
    This is starting to make more sense.
    So it's not unusual for a given section to be played with one fingering or another with the same notes or in the case of walking -- a different 'pattern', a different 'home' position.

    Learning from books with alot of 4 bar lessons all in one 'home' position, it's a bit of a transition to actually playing songs and esp songs that shift key centers.

    I'll read the linked post in more depth this evening.\
    Thanks all.
     
  8. so very true.... It doesnt work for everyone

    I practice my major triads. Daily for 5 minutes a day. Its my go to exercise to warm up. and sometimes all the time i have.

    Those first five frets is where I usually end up having to break the rule.
     
  9. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    It's easy to play 1 finger per fret in the lower ranges , if you move your hand and use your thumb as a pivot/anchor on the back of the neck..
    That said I typically play 124 below the 7th fret
     
  10. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ireland
    DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

    I looked at:

    picked up the bass... and found a major source of fatigue. I tend to fret about 2 - 4 mm behind the 'ideal' spot... which produces a slightly cleaner note, but takes twice the pressure.

    Thanks a bunch mambo, and props to Gary Willis!!!!:bassist::bassist::bassist:

    Troubleshooting ROCKS!!!!
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The thing my teacher likes to talk about is "elegant fingering", if it looksoverly complex and awkward it probably is notteh best fingering to use. Especially playing bop melodies I've found that, instead of trying to play a convoluted fingering in one or two positions, find the different positions that the notes lie easily under your fingers and shift positions as many times as necessary to maintain an ease of fingering. Check out this video:


    This also makes the line much more vocal and it swings much more.
     

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