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Fretting on the 1st fret

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    When you're fretting the low-E on the 1st fret, what finger do you use to fret the 3rd fret?

    For you 5 string guys - When you're fretting the low-B on the 1st fret, what finger do you use to fret the 3rd fret?

    When on the first fret, what finger do you use to play an octave if you're on the E string?

    On my 5-string Spector (35" scale) its difficult to use my middle finger to fret on the 3rd fret or to play an octave if I am on the 1st fret. I prefer using my pinky. Would this be considered "bad technique"?
    Is there a "proper" method? Or should I be doing what is more comfortable for me?
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Either the 3rd or 4th finger are acceptable in my book.
  3. grace & groove

    grace & groove

    Nov 30, 2005
    Self-Appointed Ambassador to the Dragonfly
    Hmm I usually use my second finger because I will most likely ascend up the neck, thus needing the extra fingers, or be playing an open after I play the third position, in which case it doesn't really matter.
  4. I fret it with the 3rd finger, but I have large enough hands that, as long as my left hand technique is more or less ok, that's not a big issue for me. If you have tiny hands, fretting it with the 3rd may simply not be an option; However, if you are making it but it is just uncomfortable it might be something that you can get down by paying close attention to your LH technique and through lots of practice. That way, you don't have to give up playing the flat 3rd with the 4th finger in those low positions.
  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I assume you are playing in F or possibly Bb? In which case I would use the third finger on the third fret.
  6. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Yes that is correct.
  7. K2000


    Nov 16, 2005
    It really depends on where I'm going next. If I''m not moving up the neck, I'll use finger 4 (pinky) or 3/4 together. Finger 4 is most comfortable for me when I'm staying put, but maybe not the best way to set up a change of positions.

    If I'm heading up the neck, I might use anything, even sliding my index finger to the third fret, or finger 2, 3 or 4.
  8. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    I have average sized hands.
    I can manage using my 3rd finger, but I tense up a bit and it becomes difficult. I'm self taught and never had a professional help me with hand technique. Maybe I'm doing something wrong with my fretting hand?
  9. I am most definitely not the guy who should give technique advice. That being said, I have found that I have little trouble fretting that note if I keep my hand loose, the pad of my thumb on the neck, and lots of air between my palm and the neck/fingerboard. If I stop paying attention and tense up/clamp down on the neck, my reach goes out the window.

    That is possibly the lamest description of left-hand technique ever, but maybe it means something to you?
  10. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    Depends on where the line goes/came from. If I'm hanging out on that note, I'll use whatever finger. If I'm playing first fret and then going to third I use third finger.

    However, I do use my pinky a lot when *technically* I should be using my third finger-my pinky doesn't tire as easily. I also use my pinky when holding octaves for popping, seems to be more accurate (possibly beccause of smaller surface area/more bony finger)....
  11. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    There's been dozens, if not hundreds of threads about this and they almost all turn out to be heated so, beware. :)

    The short answer for me is that I use both depending on the situation (yeah, I don't fall in with either camp). More often than not, I would use the 4th finger (pinky) on my left hand, which is an adaptation of traditional upright bass fingering in the first position.
  12. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    I use both 3rd and pinky.
  13. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    There's no "technically" about it, IMO. Both approaches are *legal*. :)
  14. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Another "it depends" answer here.

    I'd use the middle finger if it is something like this riff I've invented (for slapping or fingerstyle, note the hammer-ons):


    If I'm playing a walking line, I'd most likely use the ring finger. However, the most comfortable finger to use is clearly the pinky so that always the first choice for me.
  15. Lalabadie

    Lalabadie Guest

    Jan 11, 2007
    If it's okay to use the pinky? Sure, since you seem to imply that you use four fingers on the rest of the fretboard.
  16. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Just curious...why are you going to most likely ascend up the neck after playing an F and a G on the E string?
  17. grace & groove

    grace & groove

    Nov 30, 2005
    Self-Appointed Ambassador to the Dragonfly
    Well I'm saying That it is not like the fingers to get any notes behind the G. I can fret the F and the F# with my first finger and don't need a finger for the open E. This is true for every string. I now have two extra strings for whatever notes I need to hit that I can't get with a vertical movement.
  18. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    OK, I think I get what you're saying. In my bass world there's a lot of very coverable ground in the first position so I was just curious.
  19. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    I use 3rd and 4th together, similar to what Simandl teaches in his double bass book. I tried one finger per fret in that position for a long time (what Bille teaches) but it was causing too much strain on my wrist. Yeah, I know this is an electric bass thread. I use string bass technique on it sometimes. :)
  20. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Yeah, teaching students to use all four fingers in (Simandl) half/first position on the upright should be considered a human rights violation.

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