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Gary Willis - Two Hand Positions.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ErikP.Bass, Jan 4, 2006.


  1. ErikP.Bass

    ErikP.Bass Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    I just recently, for Christmas, got Gary Willis' "Fingerboard Harmony For Bass" book. I must say I am a musical instructional junkie and love reading about/learning different ways to approach the instrument.

    Before finding the Willis two position method I found that I identified with the five position method described in Serious Electric Bass. This really laid out the fretboard in a logical organized way and I was able to visualize the different fretboard patterns connecting. Lately though I have paying special attention to where I place my left hand thumb on the back of the neck at various places of the fretboard.....this because I am trying to play more without looking at the fretboard. Lots of times however I shift many times while playing and "lose my place" on the neck so to speak. I found myself trying to develop some sort of consistency with my left hand thumb positions - if that makes sense.

    I am not sure I can explain what I know about the Willis method here very well without pictures/examples etc. (and because I am new to it) but I am wondering if any of you out there are familiar with it, use it in your playing, or stand by it even?

    I have not really read about shifting these patterns on the fretboard when changing keys yet in the Willis book - but I am familiar with how Serious Electric Bass describes covering several keys in each hand position. Both methods obviously require a strong command of music theory.

    I didn't find too much with a search, just this really :

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=141024&highlight=gary+willis+positions
     
  2. ErikP.Bass

    ErikP.Bass Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    To describe the two positions. Both are based on the one finger per fret method with stretches one fret above and below with the outer two fingers - index ( used when ascending), pinky (used when descending) as the music or scale dictates (varies - passing tones, other accidentals etc.). The positions are named based on the key / the finger the root falls on (only 2 or 4) / and the string the pattern starts on.

    The first position, most commonly learned, is called SECOND FINGER POSITION.

    So for example the G major scale played 2-4 (E), 1-2-4 (A), 1-3-4 (D) would be called G2E. It is important to note that all the notes above and below the one octave scale are used. So the entire pattern on a four string bass is 1-2-4 (E), 1-2-4 (A), 1-3-4 (D), 1-3-4 (G).

    The second position is called FOURTH FINGER POSITION, as the pinky finger (fourth) falls on the root.

    So a scale called A4E would be played as follows : 1-3-4 (E), 1-3-4 (A), 1-3 (D), stretch down one fret with the index finger for the major seventh 1(G) slide back into position on the octave 1-3 (G) and then you can slide up one fret beyond the finger per fret center with the pinky to get the third scale degree 4(G). Descending this varies as you play the seventh scale degree with the fourth finger on the D string before sliding back into position.

    Hopefully someone can understand this. It is much easier to see in a fretboard drawing. :rolleyes: