four fret hand in Db and Ab

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Ken Lloyd, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. Ken Lloyd

    Ken Lloyd Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2004
    Portland, Maine
    I've scanned the newbie links (yes, I'm a fretless slab wanker who wants to learn DB).

    I have long used what I call the four-fret hand, covering four half steps without shifting position. The swing band I'm in does a lot of stuff in Db and Ab which I do on fretless mostly in one position. Since the DB is 20% longer in scale than a 34" slab, is it possible for a person to use the four-fret hand on the 4th "fret" of a DB? Would I have to learn new fingerings?

    I hope to buy my real DB in February.

  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Traditionally, you cover three semitones between the first and fourth fingers. The third finger is not used until you reach thumb position (above the octave). Although, there are plenty of folks out there that use it to varying degrees lower on the neck.

    As for maintaining a span with all four fingers that keeps you in tune that low on the neck, Good luck. I have hands that match up with my size 12EEE shoes quite well, and I don't think I could do it. It'd be too hard to stay within the right technique to get a clean stop on the string.

    I would finger an Ab major scale:

    1,4 (pivot) 1,2 (pivot) 4, (pivot) 1 (pivot) 2,4.

    Pivoting implies that the thumb stays stationary on the spine of the neck and the hand pivots to get the finger on the stop position. More traditional methods employ a "shift" where the thumb moves as well.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Having just done this myself over the last year to 18 months, I would say you have to learn new "everything" in terms of approach to the instrument and technique!!

    They are totally different and you just can't approach DB as a big fretless BG - it might work with some EUBs - but a real DB is a totally different experience ...

    Basically you will be starting from scratch on technique if not music theory and of course everybody will be here soon saying - get a teacher!! ;)
  4. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Not trying to highjack the thread, but I'm thinking of doing the oposite. I've been playing Upright for about a year and have never tried fretless BG (BG stands for Bass Guitar, not Blue Grass ;) )
    Should I aproach it like a small Real Bass or as if it was my fretted slab just without any frets?
  5. That was my M.O. when I started playing electric. I even practiced out of Simandl using the written fingering.

    Over the years, I've learned to take advantage of the shorter scale and throw in the third finger when it behooves me. But down in the $$ zone of up to the fifth fret or so, the ring finger plays a strictly supporting role for the pinky.
  6. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Thanks! that's what I's thinking of doing. Now, if I could only get my hands on a fretless :(