1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Intermediate player has technique questions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mightypog, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. mightypog


    Apr 21, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    I always subscribed to the one-finger-per-fret technique, but now am getting a lot of advice that especially at the nut end it's ok to use four fingers on three frets, which might make sense for my fairly small hands. Which finger do I use on the middle fret, then, though?

    Soloing: How do you guys build your solos? What thoughts do you bring to it? I'm okay, but I'd like to improve. What's your most useful thoughts on soloing?

    Play a ton, and struggling with carpal tunnel issues in left hand. What's helped you?

    What's the single best thing you ever did to improve your groove playing?

    What approach do you take to interfacing with your drummer, beyond putting the root on the kick more or less?

    I really ought to split these up into seperate threads, and might, but I've looked around here a lot today and didn't see these things come up.

  2. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Whichever feels the most comfortable.

    I don't ;)

    Keep your wrist straight. Try to keep the hand relaxed.

    You really should since the questions are all over the place. You will get better answers to targeted questions.
  3. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    1- I don't overthink fingering, since you have 30+ years in music like me, just let the song dictate the fingering, it comes naturally. Play the song a few times and get
    your line worked out, pretty soon the fingering works itself out.

    2- Solos need to be built off the roots and root groove of
    the song. They may harmonize, mimic or paraphrase the basic
    song strucure, but mine always incorporate the root groove
    counterpointed with a call/answer kind of phrasing that
    keeps cycling back to the ONE.

    3- I have had no carpal tunnel issues to date. I do play 12
    string acoustic guitar for additional finger and hand strength.

    4 - Best thing I did to improve my groove playing was to
    go back and study the work of some of the best groove
    players. Too numerous to mention, but Jamerson and
    Duck Dunn were a good start. I went back after
    25 years of playing bass and decided that I still had
    something to learn. Today I listen to other bassists with a
    different set of ears.

    5 - With a drummer, it's time in the harness. The longer you
    play together the tighter you will get, assuming you
    have chemistry in common to begin with.
  4. Johnny StingRay

    Johnny StingRay

    Nov 24, 2006
    For fingering at the nut, I will use my index finger at the first fret, my middle finger at the second fret, and my pinkie finger at the third fret. I'll reach with my pinkie finger to the fourth fret if needed. BUT, that's not 100% of the time. It depends on the song and if it's comfortable or not.
    Sometimes I reach with my pinkie to the fourth fret and use my ring finger at the third.
    Again, it all depends on the song, the progressions, the key, etc.
    If it hurts to use a certain finger, then something is wrong and you should use the finger that doesn't hurt.
    Good luck.
  5. Johnny StingRay

    Johnny StingRay

    Nov 24, 2006
    Oh, to improve your groove, the best thing is playing live with other musicians.Trust me, they'll let you know if your off or on. Ray gun stares your way you're probably off. Smiling and really getting into their playing, you're probably hitting the groove just right. Really listen to and play off how the drummer emphasizes certain beats and use that as a guide. Of course, that is assuming that the drummer knows how to keep good time.
  6. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    For working with drums and working on groove and solos record everything you do and listen to it in the car or at work or w/e.
  7. BiigM


    Nov 11, 2007
    I use and teach all my students to use second(middle) finger when they are using 3 finger technique. This is standard Upright bass technique, and it works fine on electric. It makes sense to use the second, because second and fourth are more independable from each other than third and fourth.

    Mixing this more compact handposition with the one finger per fret position, will probably also help you to relax better in you left hand, helping you to avoid carpal tunnel issues. Other factors go into this offcourse (fairly straigth wrist to name one)

    Usually i recommend not using one finger per fret, unless it needed for the specific line you are playing.
  8. mightypog


    Apr 21, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks guys! My pinky is actually getting a lot more use now and as a result I've had to build some strength in it, but it's such a relief to not feel like a wuss because I'm not playing one finger per fret! My notes are cleaner and more consistent as I work in the new technique, so far. I'm stoked! And the recording and listening suggestion seems like a no brainer, except I wasn't doing it! It makes a huge difference, mostly in confidence, because I sometimes find it sounded better than I thought it did while I was playing it!
  9. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    as for fretting hand pain/CTS:

    Make sure you're not having to hold an unbalanced instrument. This is a recipe for disaster. In fact, I think Bunny Brunel's video where he talks about his carvin signature bass should be required viewing for everyone:


    In particular the part about balance (i.e. neck dive), a problem that probably 97% of the basses out on the market have.

    I used to think it was an annoyance only, until I started having trouble with my left wrist and discovered this was in fact a major design problem (only my L2000 is balanced) that can really tear up your fretting arm.

    What I do on my basses that have neck dive is sit on the strap when I play seated. I added an (awful looking) upper horn extension on my tobias to allow it be balanced when playing standing up, and I'm working on one to put on my L2500.

    As for fretting hand technique, I try to follow the Carol Kaye method as closely as possible (there's an interview with her on bassplayer.tv where she shows what she does), with the thumb on the back of the neck and my wrist as straight as possible. I get the neck up as much as I can when I have to play down in half position so I'm not craning my wrist around to reach the lower strings. I don't care how goofy it looks, I'm old and fat anyway so I go ahead and hike the bass up as needed.

    Even so, I stop playing and rest for a day or two the very _instant_ I start to have any kind of pain in the wrist in the familiar place. Don't ever try to play throught a pain. Stop and rest, then pick it up again only when you can do so without pain. These things are career-enders so don't taunt them!...

  10. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    in order-
    1-2-4 comes from 500 years of upright bass history. So many of our grooves only cover 3 frets anyways... play ofpf when you need it, when you don't, don't. Closely related to #3.

    soloing- learn some horn solos! Miles is a great place to start. Learn your theory inside and out and humble yourself before the mighty legacy of jazz music!:D Gotta argue with the root business mentioned above. You have 11 other notes to pick from.

    Carpal tunnel- STRETCH!!!! yoga, massage etc are wonderful but prevention is key.

    Groove playing- don't listen to yourself. A healthy groove is all about communicating. When you only listen to yourself in a verbal conversation it's considered rude. Bands shouldn't be any different!

    Interfacing with drummer- project joy through your instrument and try to get the girls on the dancefloor. Everything else fixes itself.

Share This Page