Help with starting bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by XxsharpglassxX, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. XxsharpglassxX


    Oct 13, 2005
    I have got my first bass guitar barely a week ago, and since then I've been trying to practise as best I can.

    However, I have a big problem. I want to learn to play with fingers, but I cannot get my technique exactly correct. I cannot find any sites that help me with this.

    So, basically could anyone give me a step-by-step guide as to the correct way to play bass with fingers or direct me to a link with this information?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. it's hard to some live clips of a bass player you like, then try copy what they do (although slower). Or just try plucking/slapping the strings in different ways till you find one that sounds good and is comfortable for you. There are many subtle variations that create slightly different sounds. it just takes practice to feel how hard you should push down on the string and how hard you must pluck the string :bassist:
  3. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    If you play right handed....

    With your left hand,

    Below the 5th fret (towards the headstock) use your index finger to fret your first fret, your middle finger for the second fret and your ring AND pinky for the 3rd fret. Yes, consecutive frets.

    Above the 5th fret use the one finger per fret technique.

    With your right hand,

    While resting your thumb on the side of the pickup alternate between your index and middle finger to pluck the strings. If you like, you can also include your ring finger but I don't.

    or if using a pick,

    holding the pick between your index finger and thumb, rest your hand on the bridge and pick for a bright sound or
    rest your pinky on the body below your lightest string for support and pick closer to the neck for a deeper sound.

    Did that help?

    Also, I have never used this but here is one link I found after I googled .beginner bass books'. I think the dvd might be cool to learn from.

    Click here.


  4. Plucking technique is a very personal thing.

    You could do it Lowtonejoe's way if you wanted, because that's a perfectly valid method, but at the same time it's not the way I recommend. I prefer to use a floating thumb technique rather than anchoring on a pickup. I put my thumb on top of the strings somewhere to mute them when I play. That lets me mute with it and move my hand to pluck wherever I want without needing an anchor point.

    When I pick I don't normally rest my hand on anything (although I do brush the strings to mute and give myself a reference point), and I never ever anchor my pinky.

    There's a lot of controversy.

    The only absolute advice I have is to be very aware of the direction you're plucking the string in. You want to make it go back and forth at an angle that doesn't hit the frets to avoid buzzing.
  5. RhythmBassist01


    Aug 31, 2005
    I think that using the thumb as anchor point is a good start. Anchor your thumb on top of a pickup or strings.
  6. yes on the left hand,but one thing. USE THE PINKY ON THE 4th FRET!!!!! if you nail your pinky skills now, you'll never have to worry about it later on, but if you get stuck with your pinky hanging off, its going to kill your technique and speed. get that pinky IN. also when i first started out playing bass, my tutor broke out the good ol metronone on me and had me play whole notes, to half notes, to quarter notes at slow tempos to get both my hands in sync. worked for me, worked with a lot of the buddies i taught bass basics(no pun intended).
  7. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    NO! (I bet that got yer attention :D) Below the 5th fret you significantly risk hurting yourself especially when just starting out if you use the one finger per fret method.

    Use it all you want above the 5th fret but I would not use it below the 5th.

    Do a search on hand injuries if you don't believe me.



    This is a good idea. A metronome or a drum machine to help keep time is a huge help.


  8. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I've got little hands, and I use my pinky on the 4th fret. I just don't anchor my index finger on the first. There is an economy of motion to moving a little to use the pink vs changing your index finger a full fret to accomodate the ring finger.

    As far as plucking, I recommend getting a basic learning dvd and taking at least a couple of lessons (if you can). If you can't, get out there and see a couple of local bass players. Each will have good and bad habits, but you can take something from everyone you see.

    I try not to pick the same way all the time, because I get different tones from different attacks. This might be my relative position to the bridge, the part of my finger that contacts the string, the strength that I use, or the use of a pick. I try to play in a way that lends itself to the mood of the song.

    Nothing can replace some interactive lessons, if you can get them.
  9. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    As you can see, the "finger per fret" rule is open to some debate - at least below the 5th fret. Just to add to the confusion I'll add my comments. My teacher told me that he had me start finger per fret even in the 1st four because I had some experience playing by the time I got to him (although not much) and because I'm an adult and have huge hands - he said with a younger, weaker player with smaller hands he'd start them out Lowtonejoe's way and then later after they'd developed some strength and flexabilty have them work toward the finger per fret all the way down method. It really depends on the player - and we can't see you. This is one more good reason to get a teacher if you can

    regarding your plucking hand - I would recomend that you "anchor" your thumb on top of a pick up to start out, and I'd also recomend that you learn to "float" your thumb later on.
    One last thing I haven't seen mentioned - with that plucking hand make sure that you are plucking parallel to the body of the bass so that the strings vibrate parallel to the frets and don't buzz against the frets.
  10. Bassinhand


    Oct 20, 2005
    Rogers Ohio
    Aside form finger technique, I can off some help tips
    1. Start slow and small (i,e, Intros and easy riffs)
    2. watch, and listen to lots of differnt music to learn about as many styles as you can
    3. If you got a girl friend dump her ass now, she'll only get in the way of your playing, Girlfriend hate guitars because they can make more noise than thay do