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I'm banning myself from using the first five frets

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fassa Albrecht, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. ^I know
  2. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    In Gary Willis' 101 Bass Tips he recommends as a learning exercise confining your playing to an arbitrary 6-fret range anywhere on the neck, and trying to play songs your used to playing elswhere within this limit.

    You might have to switch some notes up or down and octave, but It should work, because the 6 fret range contains all 12 notes.

    I used to confine my playing to the upper frets in order to really take advantage of "closed" scales - those fingerings that use no open strings, and are essentially the same fingering pattern no matter where you start your scale. And it was easier than memorizing all the unique shapes of open scales.

    But after delving into James Jamerson's playing, I went back to the first 5 frets and now days I generally hang out down there, unless the song dictates otherwise. I find I really enjoy the unique feel of various keys when you use open scales.

    the key phrase being 'unless the song dictates otherwise.' In peter hooks case, the synths were usually cranking out what I would consider the 'bass line'; allowing him the space to play much more melodically and in a higher register.
  3. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    Next arbitrarily choose either the first or second fret, and only use every other fret from there. Think of all of the position switching you're have to endure just to play a major scale.
  4. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL

    Why don't you just try playing what needs to be played in a given song/situation regardless of frets? :rolleyes:
  5. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I'll be sure to tell McCartney that the next time I see him...

  6. Play what feels right to you, and what the song asks for, don't be afraid to stay behind the fifth fret mark, as long as that is what the song calls for.

    There is not a single way to play your instrument right, for somebody you will always be wrong, so play what FEELS right

    I personally feel at home behind the seventh fret, where im actually playing at a register only the bass can reach, and most of the time doing my job, as the harmonic foundation of the song.
  7. Like my wise bass teacher once said " use all the notes on the fretboard, you paid for them"
  8. E2daGGurl


    May 26, 2008
    It's a good practice exercise - for awhile. It does train the ear. I have certain songs where I do the same thing, in order to be more accomplished on the fretboard.

    Longterm, of course, it's just silly. But informative and some of us really need to do this kind of thing.

    I like to think bassplaying permits some silliness. I have been encouraged to think that by reading this forum. Bassplaying is also very serious. Srsly.
  9. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    I'm banning myself from Fassa threads.
  10. funkifiedsoul

    funkifiedsoul Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2007
  11. BassmanNick


    Sep 12, 2008
    I can't help but feel that it's very strange to completely restrict yourself from hitting certain notes. I guess I can understand what your trying to do if you spend a lot of time from the 9th fret and up, but otherwise, they're just notes in a scale. It is true that basses hold down the bass notes on a scale, but you can break that rule if you want, and most importantly if the music calls for it. Where on the neck are you most comfortable playing?
  12. twinjet

    twinjet AJ, you're the MAN! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I've been playing the electric bass since my 8th grade year, and now I'm a highschool junior. I've hardly advanced in terms of frets. Until this summer, I played a regular four string, but now I play a 6-string from Schecter. I still am not so confident in using the frets between 5-11... 12 and on is easy, because it's just 1-5 but an octave higher!
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Fassa sweetie, I don't know what to make of you sometimes ;)

    You don't need to eliminate the first 5 frets to be creative. Creativity comes from you, not the bass. If you like the middle and want to play there more, just think in the middle and go listen to 50's and 60's music for inspiration.
  14. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    This reminds me of something my old upright bass teacher taught me. One lesson he took out a crumpelled 1 dollar bill and slid it underneath the strings. He said, "it's easy to find where the money notes are, just look where the money sticks." Needless to say, the dollar bill only "fit" in the bottom position.
  15. That is very true...
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Since I switched to fives, my fretboard stays a lot cleaner below the fifth fret. Never play an open string unless you mean it. On some of the older rockers, though, it makes life a lot easier to play down where every other note is an open string. Sometimes I just get lazy and go down there. The guitar players don't even know what's going on.
  17. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Yes, like the difference between the sound of F on the first fret as opposed to the sound of F on the 13th fret, of the E string.

    The secret lair of this evil dwells beneath frets 1,2,3,4, and five on your lowest string....these pitches occur no where else on the fingerboard. Treat them with respect.....to ignore them is to ignore the most beautiful woman who desires your touch. (Or man depending on your orientation). Only your touch can keep this evil at bay. Hell knows no fury like.....:D
  18. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    When I started learning bass I was forced to learn the whole fretboard up and down. I can say I'm thankful to that.

    I play what note I feel like I should be playing at and have actually received complements a while back of my playing "being like no other heard" because I could easily jump to a high position or play in a low position when needed quickly. (A former Sax player / producer of a former band). Anyway, the moral of the story is, play what YOU feel is the right tone for what's going on.

    Don't limit yourself to frets, mathematical thoughts, theory, what have you. Play what feels right and sounds good and you'll do well. (Don't get me wrong, theory is a VERY important subject to learn, just don't take it so literally. Where's the personal expression if you follow all the rules? :))
  19. JacobE


    Jul 19, 2008
    playing higher frets is for lazy people like me

  20. You are so right: It is both a terrible affront to our dear basses and range to ignore any frets or open strings. Turn your back on them and they will curse you and ultimately lead you to a premature debass.

    Serious: I switched to five-strings because I wanted to have more low-end. This has not altered my "all over the fretboard while playing in-the-pocket" playing style: If just offers me some smoking additional notes. Your intuition will tell you and experience will teach you where to fret what note, or even let (imagine!) an open string be heard.

    Playing bass is about freedom to bassify, not arbitrary boundaries and borders. Leave that for politics.

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