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fretting hand comming to far off the board

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kingbrutis, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. kingbrutis


    Aug 10, 2003
    Phoenix AZ
    I need some ideas or technique tips for keeping my fretting hand closer to the strings. When I try to play very fast for some reason I tend to pull my fingers further away. I guess I am anticipating moving and want to get a jump on it. Is there any way to help with this? Thanks Joe
  2. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    On a related note- I am supposing this is a problem of finger independence but on my left hand I am often unable to really control the movements of my pinky when it's off the fretboard; the other fingers I can usually control and keep right above the frets but sometimes, especially when I move the third finger, the pinky just spazzes out and goes back a bit before coming back to the fretboard. I can imagine that when I get up to higher speeds this will be a problem..how can I best develop that independence?

    Brutis- my best advice is to practice it slowly, correctly. If you can do it really slowly the way you want it to be when you do it fast, then you can do it that way fast eventually. It's sort of the same with my pinky thing but even slowly I have trouble getting it to do what I want.
  3. Karianne


    Dec 9, 2004
    I'm a beginner and have exactly the same problem! It really bugs me sometimes... When I want to play with my index finger only, the rest of my left hand fingers jump an inch off the fretboard. Where should I keep them anyway?
  4. ...To me it sounds like all of the problems are related to poor technique...are you guys spreading your fingers so they all cover one fret each?What about the angle of the neck in relation to your body?Ideally it should be about a 45degree angle.You could be wearing your bass too low,making it harder to keep your hand in position.
    If you play around with these tips,you may find it easier...but it also takes practice before it becomes second nature...
    Hope this helps...
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yup, Here we see it again, Chris - It's really worth it to pay a good teacher, even if it's just for one lesson every one or two months. This kind of problem is hard to troubleshoot with text like this.

    All three of these players are right to be concerned, and should get it figured out soon. Stress injuries and entrenched bad-habits can result in never getting the satisfaction of real control of their instrument.

    Good left hand control involves muting as well as fretting, so as these folks are saying, you don't want your 'extra' fingers to be just flying around when they're not actually fretting because you might want to be able to use them for precision-muting too - good technique can lead to real clean playing.

  6. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    1. Really should get a teacher

    2. The hand should be curved (C shape). if you can't achieve this without pain or discomfort then you need to look at body, bass, and neck position (Teacher)

    One finger per fret. When you put a finger down, leave it there.

    So chromatic scale up the A string would be:

    A (0) Bb (1) B (2) C (3) C# (4) D (1) Eb (2) E (3) F (4) F# (1) G (2) G# (3) A (4)

    Up and Down.

    your pinky should be on the C#, F, and A (octave) and the rest of your fingers should be in contact with the fretboard. Just doing chromatic scales up and down the neck, very slowly, will help improve your technique. It will take some time but will feel natural. Then start to speed it up slowly.

    Good Luck.
  7. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    I had a teacher for about three years and am currently looking for another one...I have a pretty solid idea of what good technique is (I need to get a new strap because the one I have doesn't go as high as I'd like it to) and I do one finger per fret 1-12 most of the time, sometimes more (like a 5-fret reach instead of 4; I have pretty big hands). I also play upright so I know how vital good finger positioning is. Independence is what I think I need to work on with that, mostly.

    Thanks for the input, if I find anything I think will help the rest of you guys I'll let you know.
  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    As I've been getting a little more advanced, I've now raised the bass again, and use a fairly flat hand. Like I was saying before: it has a lot to do with muting the strings that are physically below the one I'm fretting - both with the fretting finger and others; usually when playing a normal scale position, the fretting finger mutes the string directly below the fretted one - but I think my speed has increased because of it also (it's hard to say though if just the experience and practice alone would have done that anyway).

    (edit) Oh - I use very low action. I imagine the flatter hand wouldn't benifit so much that way with high action.

  9. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Yea, i was like that when I started but when I started playing harder stuff my hands began to stay closer the the fingerboard naturally because it's faster. Don't leave your finger down on the fret when do chromatic. I lift it when the next finger goes down and position the finger where it's going to be fretted next.
    I don't know if that makes any sense :-/
  10. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Huh, I am confused. So you lift your fingers off of the fretboard when you run a chromatic scale up one string? Or are you just keeping them in light contact?

    If you want a workout in the same idea but not up one string try Steve bailey's Lesson two (STEVE'S HAZARD EXERCISE) on his website.

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    As a beginner...you're supposed to have this problem. It bugs me when I see people who should know better do this!

    All of your fretting hand fingers should be on the strings...ready for action. You may need to pivot your fretting hand a little more towards your body with fingers curled(like Matt said, "A C-Shape")

    Guitarists generally play with more of a 'angled' approch with their fretting hand(good for chording?).

    It's been posted here before...
    A decent exercise is to put your fingers-per-fret on the G-string:
    Index finger at the 9th fret
    Middle finger at the 10th fret
    Ring finger at the 11th fret
    Pinky at the 12th fret

    Move ONLY the index finger...barely off the string, up & down. If the other fingers don't stay put, use your plucking hand to keep them still.
    Then put the index back on the string & move ONLY the middle finger. Etc.

    Eventually, toggle between the index &, say, ring fingers. Again, move only those two fingers up & down/back & forth while keeping the middle & pinky fingers stationary!

    Then, move only the index to the D-sting/9th fret...followed by the middle to the D-string/10th fret, etc.
    (this is similar to Steve Bailey's "Hazard Exercise")

    Note: This may be boring but it is something that is oft-neglected. If you can do the above to a metronome...you can kill two birds with one stone.
  12. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Oh, I was thinking about chromatic over all strings. where you move up a string and down a fret every four notes. I was just syaing that it's a good idea to have your fingers pre-emptively (sp?) move to their next note. It should happen naturally, but there's no reason why you can jumpstart it :)
  13. Try spending some time working on chords (with all the notes ringing at once).
    I have found it gets your fingers used to the idea of staying on the strings - without seeming like just an exercise.
  14. kingbrutis


    Aug 10, 2003
    Phoenix AZ
    Playing 8th are fine. Playing 16ths on the same string are fine. Running up and down the fretboard going from string to string playing 16th, I always mess up. It's like I am anticipating my movement and get too excited to try and get it there smoothly. When I watch someone play, lets say a 6 or 7 string, thier fretting hand never seemes to come off the strings at all. There is just a certin flow. Thats what I'm after. Thanks Joe
  15. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    I have an isometrics excersise from an old BP very similar to this. I practise it in many variations for 5 minutes DAILY. 5 minutes isn't much time, but the daily reminder on how my fingers should be moving keep the left hand tight and focused. It is entirely second nature to me know to play with the proper left hand positioning.

    I recommmend you listen to JimK's advice.
  16. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Ok, then a good exercise would be play Maj scales (3 octaves). or whatever you like to play that is even.

    Play it at a comfortable speed. Get the nome out and start notching it up a little bit as you get comforable at the new speed. With practice you'll build up your left hand indurance and be playing at what ever speed you are comfortable with.

    Start slow...
  17. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    One thing that helped me was to plant my thumb lower on the neck (move it down slightly toward the G string) and position it so that a good deal of the flat part is against the neck (like I was giving a finger print back there). But I'm not saying apply a lot of pressure, just position.

    That helps my fingers curve up over the neck. Of course it's just a starting position and I move as needed, but working on keeping the thumb low has helped.

    Another thing that helped, and this is gong to sound odd, is playing in front of a mirror and watching my reflection. Believe me it's not narcissism. Play slowly, you'll probably miss a few notes, watch your left hand and correct as necessary. It's not easy, but you'd be amazed at how much it helps a lot of things.

    Good luck,

  18. You know what you should do yet you don't do it right. Try practicing without your bass, just thinking of what you would be doing and observing your left hand moving on your "airbass", sliding up and down. Once your mouvement will be better try it on your real bass.

    You can see this as learning to throw a basketball.