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Hal Leonard Bass Fitness book, need some advice plz

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Slowpicker, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Slowpicker


    Jan 25, 2013
    Hi all,

    I have bought the Hal Leonard Bass Fitness book and would like to practice those exercises on a daily bases. As part of my training plan so to say.

    Do you have any advice for me on how to approach this best? Apart from what is mentioned in the beginning of the book?

    I have a concrete question already. Should I leave my fingers always on the strings or should they hover directly above? Example: When I play ----1-2-3-4------, would it be better to leave the indexfinger on the first fret (still pressing the string) while I play the next note with the middlefinger and then leave index and middle on the frets (still pressing) and play the third fret with the ringfinger etc.? I was told that this would help to teach the fingers to stay close to the fretboard instead of criss-cross fidgeting around but at the same time is much more debilitating. Or better only press the string and fret which is actually needed for the current note and keep the other fingers away from the strings?

    Please apologize my humbling English, must be a PITA trying to understand what I mean. :D

  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I think you English is perfect. :)

    As for leaving (or not) your fingers on the fret board. Here is my 2c worth.

    If you are an absolute beginner and you find that your fingers fly all over the place when fretting, then it is a good idea to practice 1,2,3,4 leaving each finger down, like in the clip linked below.

    Later when you fingers learn how to "behave themselves" it is best to have them hover above the frets, rather then leave them fretting where they are not required.

  3. Slowpicker


    Jan 25, 2013
    Hi fearceol,

    Thanks for your understandable and helpful feedback (and compliment)!

    Interesting video, helped me a lot.
  4. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I have to agree with leave then on the strings, you will in time learn which ones to lift of and on, as well as learning how to mute with your fretting hand.
    How far you leave your fingers 'hooverin'g above the string gets developed from how far you lift them off, not by trying to practice hovering them so you can put them down.

    As for the book, practice any exercises slow and deliberate, you may find this hard to maintain.
    As well as this say the note name and give each note a count of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.
    This will give you the time to fret and hold the note, say its name and see its relation to the fretboard and the other notes around it.

    As you get better just half the count, so it becomes 1 and 2 and.
    When you can do this half the count again to 1 and.
    When you can do this then cut the count in half again to just 1.

    You can either count them as note values (length of time notes are held) or count them as plucking values (amount of times the note is plucked).
    What you are learning is how to sub-divide at a basic level and feel time and tempo pass, so you are exercising your brain and feel, as well as your fingers. :)

    Like i said slow and easy to start with, speed is not what it is about, its about learning to play, not play fast.;)
  5. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    That is a useful book, but it doesn't offer much for telling you how to use it.

    As for leaving your fingers down, try to do that, but make sure your playing is relaxed. As you progress through the book, this question will be less relevant because it moves to more complex fingerings.

    There is more than one way to use this book, but this is what I did: Overall, start slowly with the exercises on the first page. Play each exercise as slowly as you need to in order to play it accurately. Then start with a metronome at 60 beats per minute. Make sure you can play this accurately and most importantly, RELAXED. If you feel yourself being tense, tell your fingers to relax. It's not a sprint. Once you can do this consistently, slowly increase the speed up to an intermediate tempo of about 90bpm (absolute beginner) or 120 (more experienced), making sure you're still playing accurately and relaxed. Do a little each day, and over the course of several days or a few weeks, you should find yourself at this intermediate target.

    Then go to the next page and do the same thing. Start slowly, without a metronome, then work from slower tempo up to the intermediate tempo. Always play relaxed. Play the previous page's exercises at the intermediate tempo in between the current page's exercises to keep variety. When the current page is up to speed, move to the next page and repeat.

    I found that at the beginning, I progressed slowly, but as I moved through the pages, the overall dexterity improved so that I could play new material accurately the first try and that I progressed to the intermediate tempo more quickly. The fingering hand independence and dexterity improved overall, and didn't seem to be as affected by the type of exercise, for the most part.

    The reason I point to an intermediate tempo is that I found there was a limit that I could play both hands together consistently, and still play relaxed, regardless of the specific exercise. I found it more useful to vary the left hand fingerings than to try to play every exercise at 180 bpm. Beyond the intermediate tempo, I found it hard to play accurately and relaxed, regardless of the specific exercise. The intermediate tempo increases more slowly, but it does increase, so I found that this takes care of itself.

    I really want to stress that playing relaxed at the beginning may seem like you're moving at a snail's pace, but it really does lead to rewards. Before you know it, you'll find that each new page of exercises gets easier and easier. Also, this is something you use for a few minutes, nearly every day. This isn't an entire practice routine, but more of a supplement to the other things you're working on.

    Good luck.
  6. Slowpicker


    Jan 25, 2013
    Guys, thanks for the fantastic help!

    A lot of homework to do I guess... :rolleyes:
  7. josquindespres


    Sep 24, 2013
    Hi Slowpicker,

    2 things to keep in mind with Bass Fitness or any fingering exercises.

    #1) It's important to practice at a slow tempo to develop good fingering habits and proper hand position.

    #2) It's best to keep your hands close to the fretboard when playing, therefore you may want to practice keeping you fingers down. If you have short fingers (as I do...) as you go from playing finder 1&2 to fingers 3&4 or any inversion, just slightly slide / repositioning your hand as needed to reach the notes.

    Hope that helps,

    Josquin des Pres