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Fretting on the 1st fret

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

  1. +1

    When in the first position, I'll generally use the 4th finger for the 3rd fret, except if I need to go to the 4th fret right after (root-second-third). Even then I might prefer to slide than to properly finger the 4th fret. Yeah... my technique in the first position really sucks... :( ... I have pretty small hands and try to avoid playing down there for a long time because it's really tiring.
  2. Hemispheres85


    Jun 15, 2006
    It really depends on where you go from the G, 3rd fret E string. If you want to move into playing in a middle position with the 1st finger at the C on the E string, I'd work on making the stretch on hand so you'd play the G with your second finger.

    If you want to stay in that same area, use 3rd or 4th. If it's in Ab major, Eb Major or their relatives (f and c minor) use your 3rd finder to play G in case you need the 4th to play the Ab. I'm over complicating it a bit, but just use what the music and playing dictates.

    A good exercise for this is to play major scales (especially F major) fingering (on the E string) 1st finger on F, second on G and 4th on A. This really stretches your hand out and makes playing in "half position" at the first fret much more bearable and convenient.
  3. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Thanks for all the feedback.

    It seems like there is nothing wrong with using the pinky finger. This is what I was afraid of most - that it should be avoided.

    I know it also depends on the bass line you're playing. But this all helped a bit.

    Also, off topic, but still technique related - I've heard and read a lot about how having your thumb come up over the top of the fretboard (instead of resting it on the back of the neck) is bad technique, but I've seen so many really solid bassists do this - IE Geddy Lee, John Paul Jones etc...I try to avoid doing it myself, but man...if these amazing players are getting away with it, does it really frickin' matter?
  4. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    That's a really good point. Technically, it would be considered bad technique. My advice would be to master "proper" left hand technique first and then break the rules if it helps you better realize the sound you hear in your head. In other words, you have to know how to play by the rules before you break them. Those guys you mention can most definitely play by the rules.
  5. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Very good point.
    These guys have definitely paid their dues.
  6. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    Well, in my 5 string basses, to play in C major i use my first finger for 1st fret, second finger for 3rd fret and pinky for 5th fret on the B string (It's C D E) and it goes on the same on the E string (F G A).
    In order to manage to do that i really practiced for quite a time, but now this gives me a lot of flexibility in soloing, and in general helped me to find most positions easy as pie after managing that.
    If i had to follow another pattern i could use the 3rd finger for the 3rd fret but i never use the 4th finger in the 3rd fret. Maybe that's cos i started with lessons, and my teacher always told me not to do it, in order to learn "properly". After being able to play it "properly" i could do whatever i wanted with that, he was saying and i think he was right.

    My advice is force yourself to learn smth that isn't comfy at first, and it will give u a lot of flexibility when it becomes comfy. :)
  7. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    A lot of the posts are referring to using the 3-notes per string method of playing scales, which is another valid approach. It's noteworthy to point out that this technique might be useful for running scales and/or playing bebop lines, etc. but if you find your self, for example, playing a static funk-type groove in G minor and you want to hang out and work the G and F notes on the E string and the Bb and C notes on the A string, it's going to be a lot more comfortable to use either 1 & 3 or 1 & 4. It's examples like this that illustrate why it's best to be able to switch your fingering method.

    There's really no reason to make things any more uncomfortable than necessary or to push yourself in to playing things in a way that's more difficult. The idea with any fingering is to pick the one that makes the music the most executable so that you can relax and focus on the music instead of the technique.

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