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Help for impaired left hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BassChuck, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I was auditioning bass players for our school jazz band today. Mostly I'm just listening for control of sound and time. Most played well, but one kid had a hard time keeping up and noticed that his left hand (neck hand) was all over the place. He was doing the usual beginner thing of stacking all his fingers on top of each other and so all his fingers were bunched over one fret. Well, that was keeping him from making the changes in time. I asked him if he was taking private lessons and he said yes. So asked what his teacher had said about left hand technique (I didn't want to negate anything his teacher was working on). The kid said they hadn't talked about it.

    Then he said, "Well, my left hand is weird". (don't we all feel that way sometimes!) So I said, "how is it weird?" He held it up and showed me. His left hand was noticeably smaller than his right and he clearly had some strength and co-ordination issues also. (I couldn't tell if it was a birth thing or from an accident)

    He was pretty cool about it. So we talked a while about some things like maybe finding a shorter scale neck (he has a very nice Yamaha BB and I'm guessing that's a 35" neck) something in the neighborhood of 30" would be good for him. (Didn't Tina Weymouth have a 30" neck with Talking Heads?). I told him that I didn't see any physical problems that would keep him from playing bass, but that he would have to really deal with the problems. I also mentioned Django Reinhart as an example of someone who overcame a handicap to play music.

    But I was really bummed. He's a great kid who obviously really wants to play bass. I know its not right to force a level of human fairness on a universe that seems to be piloted by other agendas, but would it hurt too much to let people who want to play music have a even break?
  2. chasfr


    Jan 4, 2005
    Just a thought--maybe it would serve him well to switch to a left-handed bass, so he's fretting with his right hand. Couldn't hurt to try it out, anyway...

  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I second the motion. If he can at least alternate two fingers or even pluck with two fingers held closely together as some double bassists do, or maybe play with a pick, he might be better off to trade in that nice Yamaha for a left handed model. I mean, why not try?