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Help with Moving into different fretting positions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by WillPlay4Food, Jul 8, 2002.

  1. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ

    Background: I'm still a complete newbie to the bass. I've been playing for 3 months to the day today. I have an instructor, and we work out of Chuck Rainey's Complete Electric Bass Method (Vol. I, go figure :) ).

    I'm on a piece now (key of C) that I play every bar until the last in 2nd position. For the last bar, I have to slide up the neck so my pinky can hit the 10th fret on D (C note, think this would be 7th pos.?), then hit E & D on the G string (7th & 9th frets), then finally hit fret 9 & 10 on D (B & C notes).

    My problem is I can't get consistency sliding my hand down to those frets, and almost never on the first try. I've been working on this piece for two weeks, and while I think I'm getting better, I think I should have this down by now.

    Do you folks know of any exercises / techniques I could use to nail down moving between positions? I've spent at least 14 hours on this piece alone (try to practice at least an hour a day, and always play at least once a day in general) and I'm starting to hear it in my dreams! I think if I have to play it much more I will drive the people around me insane! :eek:

    Please help if you can.
  2. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    What comes before that last little figure? I would recommend playing the last bar or two somewhere up around third or fourth position. This will accomplish two things: the shift to the last figure will be shorter and therefore easier to get consistent, AND you will gain some familiarity with the mid positions, which can only help your growth.

    I have seen string bass players guilty of this: they will play everything possible in first or second posisotion, then climb up the G string for a run up to high G. Silly, and difficult!
  3. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Before the last bar is a run that goes F{Q} - E{e} - D{q} - E{e} - F{e} - G{Q} - A{e} - B{h}

    {q} = quarter {Q} = dotted quarter
    {e} = eighth {h} = half

    . I guess I should've scanned the sheet music, but really, everything but the last bar is tailored for the 2nd position. The object of the exercise is to get me better at going from 2nd to 7th, then back to 2nd (the whole line get repeated).

    Actually, last night, I think I figured out what I was doing wrong. I think I've been gripping the neck too hard while trying to slide up it. Once I started just barely touching the strings with my fingers and neck with my thumb, I've been able to hit it about 3 out of 4 times on average.

    I've set doing the piece perfectly 4 times in a row as my goal. So far, I can do it 3 times with consistency, but I lose it on the fourth try. Probably because I've built it up as my "goal" it makes me nervous or something.

    You are absolutely right though, I need to solidify my knowledge of the neck. Like I said, I am only and egg (beginner) so this exercise is the first one to make me move beyond D on the G string. I've been getting quite frustrated since I've been working on this for weeks now and until last night I was worried that I would never get this move down.
  4. Something I try to do ... practice the notes of your scales in different positions. Start the scale in 1st position until you have to switch strings. Instead of just switching strings, change position too. In some cases you stay on the same string, and in others you switch strings at the same time. Seems to help ...

    Later -
  5. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Here's my suggestion for fingering that passage:

    Shift up to play the first F you described with 2nd finger on D string. Then E with first finger, D on 5th fret A string with 4th finger, and back up the same way, then G with 4th finger 5th fret G string. This is all in 2nd position. Then play the A and B on the D string 7th and 9th frets with first and third fingers. And presto, you're ALREADY in position to play the lick you described in your first post.

    Why is this easier? Because you've broken the big shift down into two much smaller, more manageable shifts. It also helps that the G is a dotted quarter -- gives you a moment to think about shooting for the A on the D string. That jump from the 4th finger to the first finger one step above on the same string is a REALLY handy pivot point to have control over, because it can fix a lot of situations just like this one. It takes you from second position to, what is it -- fifth or sixth? -- in a single, reasonably easy move. You will have to play it through a few times to get it to sound smooth, but that's what practice is all about -- teaching your hands to remember something so eventually they do it themsleves without you having to think about it too much.

    To get it under your fingers, play just |: G-A-B-A :| on the D string (fingered 4-1-3-1) as quarter notes, over and over until the shift works. Start slowly; when it sounds smooth, speed up. THEN start playing the G-A-B with note values as written (Q-e-h). Do that for a while until it gets into your hand. THEN start with the 2nd finger F and play the whole thing.

    Another way to do this is to play the F-E-D as I described, but then play the E-F-G on the A string on 7th 8th and 10th fret with fingering 1-2-4. Same shift, from finger 4 (note D) up two frets to finger 1 (note E). Now you;re in position for the whole last figure, and as an added bonus you've also just learned a whle slew of notes up on the 7th-10th frets, down on the A string! Bg ol' fingerboard doesn't seem so scary any more, does it?

    When planning out any piece, look for large groups that you can play in one position, but if there's a big jump, you need to find a group of notes you can play in some intermediate position. Break up the big shift into several smaller ones, and the whole thing gets easier.

    Let us know how this turns out, K?
  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ

    Thanks, Eli! :)

    I don't know why, but the way you described seems to be a thousand times easier than what I was doing. Like you pointed out, I'm still moving to the same (7th) position, but somehow it is easier hitting this spot like you described.

    Thanks again! I've always known that I have to learn the neck completely, and this exercise shows to me just how important knowing the neck is.
  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Well, glad to see this board has actually done something for someone. Glad I could help!
  8. stroggnoy

    stroggnoy Guest

    Jul 11, 2002
    Also, how you practice matters a lot. Do you practice it very slow over and over (perfectly) and move the tempo up little bits at a time? Slow is the key to practice, though. The more you practice something slow (without err), the faster/cleaner you can play it - weird logic, but true.

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