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How would you finger a diatonic run on only one string?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by rabid_granny, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Assume you had to run up the Emajor scale on the E string only. How would you finger that -- at which points would you move your hand and...whoa...where'd all the new smilies come from???

    :meh: :spit: :D -- SWEET!

    Anyways, back to the question, how would you play this?
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I would first ask Where have I come from? and Where am I going? :bassist:

    And yes, those new smilies are fun, although not quite as slick as the old ones. :cool:

  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    I wouldn't! Seriously, I cannot think of a reason to play it this way. I think if I really HAD to, like for instance you where holding my bass hostage and said, "do it or else ..." I would have to see the way the entire bass line looked. I would make the transitions based on where I needed to be and when I needed to be there.

  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I sometimes practice scales up and down one string basically to learn the notes on the fretboard.

    For E Major, I play it this way:

    E - open string
    F# - 1st finger
    G# - 1st finger
    A - 2nd finger
    B - 4th finger
    C# - 1st finger
    D#- 3rd finger
    E - 4th finger

    Don't know if it's the best way but I get through the scale smoothly.
  5. I think I misused the word "diatonic" in the title...I meant to change it but I couldn't change it...grrr...using words I don't really understand...

    Anyways, I want to know how to play this because the theory behind the hand movements can carry over.

    For example, in my piano lessons, I was taught a left and right hand technique for a C major run.

    Right hand - Thumb (C) , index (D) , middle (E - crossover), thumb (F) , index (G) , middle (A), ring (B), pinky (C).

    Left hand - Pink, ring, middle, index, thumb, middle, index, thumb.

    I've posted this question before and the answer is the same "I wouldn't". But that doesn't answer my question - it suggests that there is no method for efficient hand movement while playing bass. That can't be!
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Ok, let's try a different angle.

    Usually you try to stay in a position as long as possible, e.g. while playing walking bass. This is especially useable on 5,6 and multi-string basses.

    Gary Willis focuses a lot on this in his video, or in his book Fingerboard Harmony For Bass.

    The base is a 4-fret box, that he expands to 6 frets by stretching the 1st finger down and the 4th finger up respectively.

    For long scale runs, which are more in the domain of (rock) guitar, you can best borrow from there.

    But there also no one plays scales on one string.
    I guess the most popular way of creating patterns for scales, apart from "box playing" similar to the methode described above, is "diagonal playing".
    Here, your fingers move diagonally over the strings.
    You play 4 notes per string and then change to the next string.
    Playing 4 notes includes one position shift, either on the 1st finger between note 1 and 2, or on the 4th finger between note 3 and 4. Practice both.
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    On second thoughts, I try to give some tips if you really want to practice single string playing.

    You can usually play 3 notes in one position.

    A diatonal scale is 7 notes plus octave = 8

    You can perceive the scale as two groups of tetrachords (4 notes).

    This means you need to shift 3 times for a full octave.
    The first time either between note 1 and 2(index) or 3 and 4(pinky), then between 4 and 5, and then the same shift as in the first one (5 and 6 or 7 and 8). You can shift between 6 and 7 (ring) too, of course.

    Experiment what you like best.

    Example: A major on the G string:

    a b c d e f g a  
    i_i r p_i_i r p   
    then down again:
    a g f e d c b a  
    p r i_i_p r i_i
    i index
    m middle
    r ring
    p pink
    _ shift

    Usually it's not recommended to shift a semitone only.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Efficient hand movement = cross to new string when appropriate. Trying to play a scale on one string is as limited as trying to play a piano without using your thumbs.

    The piano is linear and the bass is multidimensional, in the sense that any given note can only be played in one position on the piano but in multiple places on the bass - therefore 'efficiency' is going to require a very different approach.

    Maybe you could try your piano chops for some two-handed tapping approach?

  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    This is really the true question! It is about efficient hand movement up and down the neck. There is an answer to this.

    In any one position use the pad of the thumb (behind the neck) as a pivot. Use one finger per note (not fret). Use all four fingers before changing strings. Now try a 2 octave major scales (on a 4 string) in this manner. You never actually change positions. The position for the next string lies exactly where you need it.

    There is a great book on this topic, "Fretboard Alchemy for 4, 5 and 6 String Bass" by Scott Hubbell. Here is a link.

  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I find the use-up-all-the-fingers-before-changing-string technique pretty uncomfortable at times. E.g. playing F-G-A on the E string (and that isn't even using up all the fingers!), I find rather uncomfortable. For example, in Pacman's scale practice method, he talks about playing three notes on each string, then moving to the next string. When these are three whole tones, I find it really uncomfortable! Surely I'm not the only one?
  11. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999

    It can be uncomfortable. But each player is different. Each player needs to do different things to make "it" work. If it works for you - great. If not, do what does

  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Fair enough :)

    Playing consecutive whole-tones like that on one string, down in the first few frets region, for me is complicated by the fact that I play a fretless. I can't 'cheat' :)
  13. I would practice the same thing using any number of different patterns, deliberately including quite difficult ones such as only using the third and fourth fingers.

    Working on one string only is an excellent way to improve your shifting technique, including big shifts of a fifth or more. When you do that over half and hour or so, the easiest fingerings and technical workarounds make themselves quite obvious.

    If you prefer the feel and musicality of stretching rather than shifting, then incorporate more of that into your technique. If stretching is uncomfortable or demanding, work on finding fingerings which work around that.
  14. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist

    Hi Mike,

    I'm trying to find this book in Canada...can you tell me the name of the publisher?
  15. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Scott Hubbell self publishes the book, here is a link



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