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How important is it for me to use my pinky on the 4th fret?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Appogee, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. Appogee


    Jan 18, 2018
    I took delivery of an Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro short scale (28.5") bass today, and I was immediately delighted by how easy it is to play compared to my standard 34" basses.

    One thing I noticed is that I can now use my strongest three fingers (index, middle and ring) to stretch across four frets... a habit I formed when I first taught myself bass many years ago.

    I've been re-learning bass over the past couple of months, and I've been trying to force myself to get my pinky to do its duty on the fourth fret as part of the 'one finger for each fret' style of playing. However, it's been an uphill battle... that recalcitrant little finger has little strength, little precision and seemingly little interest in doing its share of the fretting.

    Anyway, I thought I'd ask you experienced bass players. Should I stick at trying to force my pinky into the action? Or do some accomplished bassists primarily rely on their three strongest fingers?
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Try using your 3rd and 4th fingers together, as "buddies." Put your 1st finger on the 1st fret, your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret, and your 3rd and 4th fingers together on the 3rd fret. If you need to play notes above the 3rd fret, then keep your hand in this relaxed position and move your whole hand. Just a suggestion of course. Different players have different preferences. Do you have a teacher to help you with this stuff?

    Russell L, TomB, Element Zero and 4 others like this.
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Very important. Consider it just as important
    as #1/2/3 fingers.
    12BitSlab, TomB, Mechanical and 2 others like this.
  4. I learned one finger per fret - index - middle - ring - pinky. And played this for years, then all of a sudden the fingers started deciding which one would get what note. I let them.

    For the music I play this is not a problem. Not sure what music you play, however, I really do not see a problem - as long as you can get to the note and keep the music flowing.
    ruju, Badwater, gln1955 and 3 others like this.
  5. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I always try to use it. I think the TB pinky police will come and amputate it if I don't! :hyper::woot:
    Appogee likes this.
  6. I use my pinky all the time, but I am not a 1 finger per feet person. A lot of times I’ll use it on a 2 fret jump just because it’s already there and I don’t have to think about it. I think the most important thing about the whole idea of using your pinky boils down to just making sure you use it. Not using your pinky will limit your ability to move around the fretboard easily as you get further along in your learning.
    Element Zero and Appogee like this.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I can think of only one result from this action....injury. Generally speaking (not sure about lower scale basses) using OFPF is best used above the fifth fret. Otherwise use the ring and pinkie together. Also, instead of over stretching, use the thumb as a pivot to move the hand to where the fingers are required. Forcing anything is going to end badly.
    tzn and Appogee like this.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Your little finger is like any other finger...the more you use it, the better at using it you will become.
  9. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    I've used my pinky from the first day I started playing bass.
    It's unnatural for me not to.
  10. Appogee


    Jan 18, 2018
    I need to get your pinky to give my pinky a motivational talk.
    ReggieRochester and Lobster11 like this.
  11. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Can you play everything you want to play using the technique you describe? That's really all that matters.
    InternetAlias, pcake and Appogee like this.
  12. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    I use my pinky a LOT, but I don't believe in the 4 fingers/4frets. You can move your hand. I think of it like my golf game- If I did everything by the book, I'd be a crappy golfer.
    Dub56 and Appogee like this.
  13. kilgoja


    May 26, 2005
    it doesn't matter. there are ways around everything. everyone's playing style is unique.
    Appogee likes this.
  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    In principle, at least, you could fret with only one finger, but you'd obviously be very limited in what you could do. Being able to fret with two fingers would open up a lot of other possibilities, but still be limiting. Three fingers would be better, and four fingers better still. If I had a fifth (non-thumb) finger on my left hand I'd want to be able to use it too.

    This isn't to say that you need to use OFPF all the time -- only that the ability to do so when you want to is better than not being able to. As I've often said in threads like this, I think Scott Devine has it right: Use it when you need it; don't when you don't.
    trothwell, Appogee and gebass6 like this.
  15. Gravy4001


    Jan 9, 2012
    You can certainly get by without it, but using your pinky you’ll find will be a total game changer. Keep at it!
  16. basst scho

    basst scho

    May 30, 2017
    dont force it, that hurts.
    but keep practicing, it´ll come with time.
    when i started 2 years ago, i was in the same situation,
    but now pinky´s got no problem with fretting (at least a, d, g strings. on the e its not very nimble, let alone on a b)
  17. basst scho

    basst scho

    May 30, 2017
    and one finger per fret only when you need it
    Russell L likes this.
  18. Appogee


    Jan 18, 2018
    That's what I noticed last night. My pinky is starting to be able to fret somewhat reliably on the smaller strings. But the E is a disaster area. The A is still hit-and-miss.

    I will keep at it :) Thanks for your advice.
  19. Drgonzonm


    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    I have big meat hooks, and play ofpf, starting in second position. If you want to play 1,2,3, instead of 1,2,4, or ofpf, play it your way.
    At one time, I did a lot of practice on a mini-squeir, lower 4 strings of course. While the ofpf police might not like it, most bass players I see look like they are playing with oven mitts on, lots of hand movement.
    To me ofpf, is exercising economy of motion.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    So deep and yet so simple.
    Groove Master likes this.

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