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Fretting hand and wrist position

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by moley, Oct 13, 2002.


  1. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    A question about fretting hand position on the lower frets for ya Mike (or should that be Dan? :)). Generally I keep my wrist and forearm about perpendicular to the neck, and my fingers about perpendicular to the fingerboard - for the most part this seems like the most natural and comfortable way to play. But I've recently been practicing one particular bar of Jaco's Teen Town - the notes of which are B C C# A F# C# B E C# as follows:

    --------2------------
    ----------4------2---
    -2-3-4------4-2---4-
    ---------------------

    And I've found playing down in this region of the fingerboard is uncomfortable if I try to remain at 90 degrees to the neck (this leaves my wrist bent at a funky angle!). However if I have my wrist in a more natural position, my fingers are not so well placed on the fingerboard, which makes playing in tune and moving my fingers quickly and smoothly (as I'm playing a fretless) rather difficult. I'm finding this particular bar hard enough to play in tune anyway! Any suggestions? What approach do you take to doing this sort of fiddly stuff in the 2nd 3rd and 4th fret area comfortably?

    Thanks,

    moley
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Moley,

    As soon as I saw the first three notes, I knew the measure you were talking about. Your technique sounds really sound, but here are a couple of ideas.

    1. When I play the F# to the C# and the B to the E I will bar my finger across the string to get both notes. This entails flattening out the hand and makes the position a bit easier on the fretting hand.

    2. Use the thumb on the back of the neck as a pivot. Allow the hand to pivot around the pad of the thumb - it might create some easier hand positions. This is my usual technique in the lower positions. You can then extend the pivot to encompass more than the 4 fret reach in a one-finger-per-fret system.

    Hope this helps
    Mike
     
  3. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Good advice as usual Mike! I hadn't thought of barring across the strings to play those notes, it's not something that I do on bass because I usually use my fretting hand fingers to damp the strings - but in this case I think it would work better to do it your way. It also makes it easier to get those 4 notes in tune! Also useful advice about pivoting around the thumb. That bar of Teen Town is a killer, especially at speed, did you find that one tricky to get your fingers round too?

    Thanks a lot Mike,

    Moley.
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I have to be honest with you. I transcribed that piece in 1979 (or so). I've long lost any memory cells that might have remembered how difficult it might have been. It is a great piece of music!

    Mike
     
  5. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ah! Well, unfortunately I transcribed it in 2002 and am quite well aware of how difficult it is! But as you say, it is a great piece, and it's unbelievable how easy and natural Jaco makes it sound, and how even at speed, every single note comes out clear as a bell. Ah well, something to work up to :)