Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by subout, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. subout


    Sep 24, 2004
    um.. im wondering what the proper way of fretting is. I've seen bassists do chord shapes (like a guitarist would), and holding the shapes as the they pluck, but ive also seen bassist that maintain a basic left hand shape and fret the note they want to play a note at a time, so whats the traditional way? are there any other techniques?
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    If they're not actually playing a chord, then I doubt they're actually holding the strings down to the frets the whole time, even if it looks like they're holding a chord. The slightest lift of a finger tip powerfully helps to mute the string, but It probably wouldn't be noticeable to the eye.

  3. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    I'm not a master, but after watching a lot of bassists, I'd say you're gonna see a lot of variation in fretting approaches. I've tried to carry through most of what I learned on guitar -- thumb on the back of the neck, fingers arched up over the unused strings (as opposed to laying across everything)...etc. The one thing that I've been trying to do more of is fretting half-ON the fret itself. I normall fret like on a guitar -- right up to the fret, but not touching it at all -- for a clear bright tone. But I started liking the lightly deadened quality a buddy of mine gets by hitting almost completely over the fret. I've seen guys who use their index finger as much as possible, moving the whole hand around to get to different frets. Personally, I try to use a finger per fret. But I'm a novice, so I still have places and songs where I don't always use the same finger in the same place -- it's like I'm still not quite comfortable with how I'm playing a particular phrase.

    So there are mechanical considerations -- e.g. does it work well, are you comfortable playing that way, can your muscles take it -- and there are stylistic considerations -- for example, if you use one finger, your notes will rarely extend over subsequent notes (each note change kills the note before it), so the bassline will be more punchy or bouncy, whereas using chord forms where possible will allow you to let notes ring on for a while as you play later notes. And, in reality, at different times you're going to want different effects, so if you can toy with doing both, it'll be good for your arsenal. (and if you play finger style, you have the ability to kill notes with the follow-through of your other hand's strikes, so that's another way to affect the sustain of your notes)