Hands too small for a fretless Jazz??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by PionFou, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if any of you ever had to abandon fretless playing because of small hands.

    Since I got my MIA Jazz fretless, I had all sorts of problems with my LH that I never had when I played fretted basses.

    I'm getting a teacher to review my technique and I'm getting help healing my left hand, but I'm starting to wonder if it could be too small to handle a fretless.

    To be comfortable, I have to use my 1st and 4th finger to stretch from F to G on the E string. If I use my 3rd finger to fret the G, I have to twist my wrist and it feels uncomfortable, when it dosen't plain hurts!! And I do not even talk about intonation... :bawl:

    Just for discussion sake, my middle finger is 3' long and my hand is 7' 3/4 from wrist to top of middle finger. My little finger is 2' 1/4.

    I really, really enjoy playing fretless. That would suck big time if I had to give it up!!

    Thanks a lot for your input!

  2. conduit


    Jul 1, 2004
    I only play on a fretted bass, but I also use my 4th finger a lot when fretting an interval of 2 frets eventhough i could also do it with my 3rd, because it's more comfortable for me (and looks better ;) ). So I don't see what's the problem if you can play accurate when using your 4th finger. But then again, I have no experience playing a fretless :)
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Patient: "Doctor it hurts when I do that"
    Doctor: "Then don't do it!"

    Seriously, don't use your 3rd finger if it hurts to do it because the technique is obviously not good for you, which is why it hurts.
  4. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    If your hands are too small, you need to adjust your technique, and you'll end up relying more on shifting in order to play in tune, however, it can be done. I have tiny hands, and I can get by on a 42" upright scale length.
  5. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I also play upright, and my hands measure 6" from the bottom of my palm to the tip of my middle finger :oops:
  6. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Good lord yall have tiny hands lol
  7. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I dont know how much a inch is(cm - swe) but if your hand are to small to play a jazz bass(wich are supposed to have a tiny neck`) then either you have a bad technique or baby hands...

    I dont know how big difference there is between fretted and fretless but i can strech 1 - 5 pink and 1 - 4 index, ring.

    My hand, from long finger to bottom of my hand.

  8. I feel the same way, and at first i thought small scale was the way to go (of course after i bought my 35 inch fretless). I probably should be playing a 33 or 32 inch, for comfort, but i'm surviving on a 35. I use the index and pinky for the first to third fret, but above that i'm fine - like 3rd to 5th i can use index ring COMFORTABLY.

    The key is in your thumb on the left hand, keep it in one position and slide without moving it, you'll end up close to where u started like this

    also - USE TECHNIQUE THAT WORKS FOR YOU - if it sounds good and feels good, it probably is good
  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    That's how I play the F-G stretch on my fretless. Absolute 1-finger-per-fret is needless effort. Your hand has the capability of pivoting for a reason, so use it. My left hand measures 6.5" from the base of my palm to my middle fingertip, and my main axe is a 42.5" DB.

    EDIT: Hand is 7", sorry.
  10. bassisten


    Sep 15, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    A little story:

    When I was starting to get into bass-playing some years ago I wanted to buy a nice 6-string bass. I asked my teacher back then about my hand-size and you know what he said?

    "The bass you want to buy is as wide as a highway (Celinder Custom 6), but have you ever seen Anthony Jackson play his 6-string Fodera? He's small and fat, with fingers so small that you almost can't see them. Does it stop him? NO! Of course you can do it!..."

    -I bought the bass and it was the best thing I ever did, so don't be afraid, it's all about getting used to playing your new fretless bass.
  11. bfitz


    May 18, 2005
    lorain, ohio
    i have very small hands and it used to really bother me. most of my favorite players have huge hands, or at least long fingers (jaco, les). but lately i have forced myself to learn there songs and i have found that i can play anything tey do, i just have to force myself to do it. if you have to play with only a three fret span (e-f) then do it. listen to upright players. as far as i know that is the standard umong them and people like mingus seem to do just fine with it.
  12. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    This is the correct way to do it.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    While AG is wrong about it being the correct way, it's one of three correct ways. There is also 1-3 and even 1-2 if you're trying to get a 5-fret span.

    David, if a Jazz Bass is too big for you, then you should quit playing altogether. Which you shouldn't. Instead, look for proper technique that allows you to make those spans comfortably. There's tons of info about it on Talkbass. Just do a search on left hand technique or LH technique.
  14. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    It's not the size that counts, it's how you use'em.
  15. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yes, it is ONE correct way.

    When someone asks me about fingering, I always have to ask "What's the NEXT note you intend to play?" If it's going to be an Ab, I'll play the G with my ring finger. If octave G, D or Db, I'll shift and play the G with my index finger. Any other note, I'll be playing that G with my pinky.

    I agree with the consensus that size doesn't [shouldn't] matter. However, if using a shorter scale helps someone to learn, it's not all bad.
  16. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Interesting note on Mingus and his fingering systems. He actually started on cello and his cello "teacher" was a complete hack who never showed him proper fingering technique. Sure, later, he had some excellent teachers, but his fingering after that was never "standard" by any means and if I recall correctly, an entirely individual system he made for himself. However, you are very much correct in the F-G stretch (and Bb-C, Eb-F, etc.) being done with the index and pinky finger on upright as the standard.
  17. Well, thanks for the replies. I did let go of the 1 finger/fret technique it feels much better... Minor adjustment, big difference!!!
  18. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    This is what I do on my Fretted Electric bass. It's much more comfortable. I can do the 1-2-3-4 fingering but use the 1-2-4 from playing Double Bass. It just feels so much better. Like what's already been said just be careful about your fingering patterns and think things out so that you can play in tune smoothly. Good luck, I can't wait until I'm un-poor enough to get a fretless.
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002