Is this a bad fretting technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Buhgingi, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Buhgingi


    Feb 13, 2019
    So I have been play for 5 months now and have not taken any class due to time and money and whatnot. Though I feel like I've developed a bad technique because I didn't really take positioning into consideration and I just kinda took off and did pretty well.

    Ok so, I fret (if that's how you say it) with like the upper part of my finger pads. Is this alright to to or should I play with the very tip of my finger?

    And also, let's say I have to go from 11th fret on D string to 11th fret on G string, I'll use my joint to play the note on G string or the other way around. Is this aight?

    And the structure of my hand feels natural. But I don't know. At all. I'll give you an image here: WIN_20190424_21_21_51_Pro (2).jpg
  2. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Looks a'ight to me. Lots of basic technique tutorials on YouTube. ScottsBassLessons has some good freebies.
    Charlzm likes this.
  3. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Your thumb should point upwards and I'm assuming that your ring finger is the one fretting here? If so, it shouldn't be right on top of the fret wire, but just behind it.

    Try this:

    RickyT, the baint, stigbeve and 2 others like this.
  4. Buhgingi


    Feb 13, 2019
    For the photo, I was just doing what I would do anytime. I got the fretting down.
  5. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    I was just trying help, dude. You asked if it was bad fretting technique, but now you say you have it down. My apologies if I answered the wrong question.
    RickyT, RustyAxe, MattZilla and 9 others like this.
  6. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    It looks as if the fingerboard is facing up at the ceiling. This would be fine if your laying down but I can’t tell from the pic.
    The13thFret and gebass6 like this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Not necessarily. That's the way it has traditionally been taught, but a lot of us have found that letting the thumb point toward the headstock (especially when playing down near the nut) is a great way to help keep the wrist straight and the hand relaxed. It's hard to tell from one photo, but it looks to me like OP is using the technique that Adam Neely illustrates in this oft-posted video:

    JoshS, Sid s, dab12ax7ef and 6 others like this.
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    The thumb is there simply to support the fingers and should be allowed to go where it naturally needs/wants to go.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You are off to a good start. What I particularly like about that photo is that you look relaxed. Your hand does not look contorted or unnatural.

    However it does look like you are supporting or cradling the neck with your left hand. That is not good technique. You should be able to take your left hand off the neck, and the neck does not drop or change position. Try to practice standing up, and adjust the length of your strap so that the bass hangs in a comfortable playing position, without any support from your left hand.

    Once your bass is in a better position, you will be able to drop your left elbow. This will straighten out your wrist and fingers, allowing you to play with more dexterity. Specifically I want to see more space between your palm and the back of the neck. Imagine there is an egg or tennis ball in the palm of your hand. Let gravity pull your elbow and wrist toward the floor, and this will straighten out your fingers.

    If you can't take lessons for whatever reason, then I recommend to watch YouTube concert videos of pro bassists, and really study their moves in detail. In particular, study players who have had long and productive careers.

    Good luck and please post back with your updated hand selfies!
    IamBF and Lobster11 like this.
  10. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Ya learn something every day.
    Sid s, fearceol and Lobster11 like this.
  11. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    randini, The Rage and OptimalOptimus like this.
  12. Anything that doesn't hurt and gets you the sound you want is good technique. If the bass is balanced and you're not supporting the headstock weight with that cradle hand position I could see it working.
    SoCal80s, MattZilla and Charlzm like this.
  13. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Not sure I entirely agree with this. It is certainly true that if it hurts it is probably not good technique, but I don't think it follows that if it doesn't hurt it is a good technique. For example, fretting with a bent wrist might not be painful in the short run, but can have cumulative, injurious effects over time.
  14. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your fretting hand technique needs work. You want your thumb behind your fingers (ideally positioned somewhere around middle and ring) and your hand and fingers perpendicular to the neck so that you’re fretting with the tips, not resting on it at an angle.
    gebass6, RickyT, Cricket55 and 4 others like this.
  15. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal

    Fretting with the tip of the fingers, curled fingers, like playing a piano.

    Thumb behind and between first and second fingers. The tip should be the part that touches the back of the neck, although I touch it with the part that has the fingerprint the pad.

    When playing staccato or muting is the only time where I flatten the fingers, so they mute the upper strings. The lower strings are muted with the right thumb or right first finger. This is how I do it.

    After reading some replies, I now understand why so many people don't like high gloss necks. If you only touch the back of the neck with the thumb, that's not a problem.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    IamBF likes this.
  16. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    This is false. The OP’s technique is bad because his thumb is over-extended, which impairs his ability to reach notes, his hand is broken over, which impairs his mobility, and he’s fretting with the sides/pads of his fingers which requires too much force to get a sound, results in poor finger tone, and makes dynamics and ornamentation completely impossible.
    Gooney and J_Bass like this.
  17. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I'm confused. You "liked" my post (#7), but what you said here directly contradicts everything I said. The whole point of the video I posted is that it is NOT necessary to keep your thumb behind your fretting fingers and perpendicular to the neck -- that allowing it to get "out in front" and more parallel to the neck helps to keep the wrist straight. Or am I missing something?
  18. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    I liked that you included Adam Neely, who’s an expert bassist, composer, and theory geek. Thumb placement is tricky; when playing in closed position or Simandl, I agree with you, but for a newbie with no muscle memory or automaticity, I think it’s better to start off strict, where you’re developing your chops to maximise the number of notes under your fingers. Once you have the basic idea down and can play basic chromatic exercises with good finger tone and no strain, you can then choose which road to take technically.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    RickyT and Lobster11 like this.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    This is why it's go important to start off with a qualified teacher. The fact that it feels natural doesn't mean it's right. It feels natural because that's what you'e been doing. When I started out, plucking with my thumb felt natural, it didn't mean it was the best or most efficient way to play the bass. I used to wrap my thumb over the fingerboard, that is also not efficient.

    It's a lot harder to break a bad habit than develop a good habit.

    If you've got time to practice you've got time for lessons. ;)
  20. It looks like you are fretting the 5th fret on the e string with your ring finger.
    If that is the intent then your finger should be behind the fret (or closer to the headstock) than it sits. Fretting on top of the fretwire is not going to sound great.
    Also, your thumb should sit below your fretting position. If you are fretting a 5th fret on the e then your thumb would allow you more flexibility if it was somewhere between your middle and ring fingers on the back of the neck. It would also help if you’re hand was making more of a c shape rather than a grab the whole neck shape.
    Realizing these things often comes with time and working on how to make your body play more complex pieces though.
    Best of luck to you.
    RickyT likes this.
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