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Fretting notes with thumb, with the whole hand over the fretboard..anyone do this?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fourstringdrums, Jun 29, 2003.


  1. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    Ok this is different than a previous thread. I don't mean bring the thumb up over the neck, I mean bring the whole hand over the fretboard and fretting a note with the thumb (like playing piano)

    I was learning to play Portrait of Tracy and the D# false harmonic in the beginning I just CAN'T reach (thats too much of a stretch) so I thought of fretting the D# with my thumb and playing the harmonic with my pinky. Does anyone do this? Actually I stopped doing this during the song because I couldn't get my hand there quick enough, so now I just play the D# up at the 11th fret, but I thought it still might be a useful technique.

    Any comments?
     
  2. I tried it once or twice, but it just feels really uncomfortable, so I figured it can't be all that good for my wrist, and I stopped.
     
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah, you could do that.


    there are a bunch of ways to hit that harmonic, keep experimenting and you'll find the one that works best for you.
     
  4. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I still can't get over that Jaco can hit in normally. Of course his hands were huge
     
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah, having huge hands has it's perks.

    I can hit that harmonic 100% fine.

    A funny thing about my hands, my fretting hand can stretch farther than my plucking hand :D

    oh well I thought it was neat :D
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The name for the technique is 'thumb position'. It's used on double basses to reach the higher notes where the fingerboard runs over the body. It's also used from time to time on bass guitar - I've got a bass book by Steve Bailey where he devotes a chapter to looking at applications of this technique.

    Wulf
     
  7. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Ah, there is a much easier way of hitting that harmonic than the way you are trying to do.

    Press 2nd fret on the A string (playing a B) and there will be a harmonic at the 6th fret, making a D#. It is only a 4 position stretch, much easier than a 5 position stretch which is what you are tryign to do by pressing the D# on the D string and going 5 frets up the neck.
     
  8. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    Generally anything in octave position is done like this, at least that's the rule of thumb :p
     
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    Actually it's the same distance of a stretch, but this way is a little bit easier because you stay in 1st position.
     
  10. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Which D# are you using? On the D string, A string, or...?

    If you are using the D# on the D string, then it will be pretty impossible. If you go from 2nd fret on A to the harmonic at the 6th fret, it will be a much smaller distance, and it is in the same position as the rest of the notes in that section of the song. That stretch can be done with pointer to pinky, no need for the thumb.
     
  11. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I tried the 1st position on the A and I can BARELY reach it, so I just moved it to the B on the E string. Same deal, easier stretch.

    Is there any good reference for false harmonics, their positions and ways to achieve them?
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The theory behind false harmonics is very simple - so basically what you are doing is subdividing the working or "speaking" string length.

    You just need to look at the distance between where you are holding down the string with your left hand (or right maybe?) and the bridge. Creating a node halfway will give you an octave above the fretted/stopped note - if you subdivide the remaining string length - i.e. three quarters of the way - you get another octave up.

    So - as an example :

    If I hold down the 12 fret with my left hand and then create a harmonic by resting my thumb on the string and plucking with my fingers - if I rest my thumb halfway (above 24th fret) - I get a note an octave above. If I look at the string and pluck halfway between where I was before (above the 24th fret) and the bridge, I will get another octave up - etc. etc.

    In every case - it is just a question of how you have subdivided the effective string length.

    Of course it works the other way round - if you are looking at plucking between the nut and the stopped note.
     
  13. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I love harmonics.(if not for the cool sounds, for the theory(and math) behind it)
     
  14. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I was wondering more about false harmonics like those I was speaking of in PoT. Like fretting a B on the A string and getting a D# 4 frets up.
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's still the same basic principle.
     
  16. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yup, Bruce nailed it. Harmonics on the bass all use the same principal, be they natural or artificial. With artificial harmonics, you're stopping the string, and with natural ones you're letting the nut stop the string. Same thing. Whatever string length you're using (the whole length - i.e. natural harmonics, or shortening it yourself - i.e. artificial harmonics), the same principal applies. That is, the harmonic is determined by how you divide up the string length.

    Touch the string halfway along the vibrating length of the string, and you get the 2nd harmonic (octave). Touch it 1/3 or 2/3 of the way along and you get the 3rd harmonic (octave and a 5th). Touch it 1/4, (not 2/4 because 2/4 = 1/2), or 3/4 of the way along and you get the 4th harmonic (2 octaves). Touch it 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, or 4/5 of the way along and you get the 5th harmonic (2 octaves and a 3rd).

    The fundamental is always the note you're stopping - and in the case of natural harmonics is the pitch of the open string.
     
  17. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk

    Apr 14, 2001
    Pennsylvania
    Dang...you know, I read the whole thread but I missed that post.

    Cool
     
  18. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    As far as the PoT harmonic, I've found that making a false harmonic by fretting the B and placing my thumb on the strign just behind the neck pickup and plucking (the Vic Wooten way) to be the fastest and easiest way for my little hands.

    About fretting with your hand above the fretboard, check out the guitar player Stanley Jordan (videos are available), as this is one of his main ways of playing. He's even shown playing in the Bruce Willis movie "Blind Date," if I remember correctly.