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Left hand agony

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by kip, Feb 7, 2004.


  1. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    I've got 2 problems that, hopefully, some of you can help me with. 1) maintaining a strong thumb to second finger configuration, and 2) keeping the fingers on or near the fingerboard.
    I have a teacher, use Simandyl, and am doing some 1/2 position exercises therin designed to address these problems, but I cannot get comfortable. The bass is well setup. How do you relax? of course practise, practise. Just hoping some other clues might work.
    Thanks, Kip
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I may get flamed for saying so, but I don't think question "1)" is all that important if you are talking about pressure and not just alignment. The most liberating exercise I was ever given was by my first teacher (a Rabbath disciple) who instructed me to practice without my thumb touching the back of the neck whenever I experienced LH pain. His point was that the pressure to press down the string should come from elsewhere - namely from the weight of the arm controlled by minute motions of the shoulder, back, and chest muscles.

    2) Try playing without ever losing contact between your LH and the strings, and practice slowly. When you shift, stay on the string. When you don't shift, stay on the string - in other words, try playing with your first finger being on the string at all times other than when using open strings.

    Good luck.
     
  3. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Thanks, Chris. 1)Some believe (namely, my teacher) that those who learn the Simandl positions first, then move to a Rabbath pivot are more likely to have solid intonation than if you play Rabbath from the get-go. I don't know but I know I'm not relaxed, as Tina Turner said "i don't do nothin nice and easy" and for many years on slab, I played high tension, big guage Labella flatwounds with high action in kick-ass blues bands. Sooo I will try to recognise how the shoulder, back and chest and hand interplay. ( any Rabbath players got calistenics).The "no thumb" exercise is appreciated. I think Rufus Reid's book has some similar input.

    Pressure vs. alignment? I guess if you minimize the pressure, the alignment between thumb and fingers should therefore become more automatic w/ time.

    2) "and practise slowly" Erudite, Durryl.
     

  4. I have a question about this Durrl. Do you brace the bass against your body when you do this? Over the last few months I have adopted Donosaur's method of balancing the bass vertically and lowering the endpin. This has alleviated several problems but like Kip I also occasionally experience some pain in my hand. I know some of this comes from squeezing the neck--sometimes I suddenly become conscious of how tight I hold the neck. I would like to get away from this and am intrigued by your thumbless practice.

    I have finally located a teacher and will be starting lessons very soon and this is definitely one thing I have to work on.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    You have to remember that I'm a sitter, and so is my teacher. I sit in "neo-cello" style on a stool, and this "arm-weight" thing is one of the biggest reasons why (Check the link under my signature to see pictures of the position if you're interested). The bass leans back into me, so I can basically just hang my left arm from the finger that's playing without using much in the way of arm muscles. It's a little unconventional, but it works for me. My teacher thinks it's good - he tried it and liked it, but can't adopt it himself because it doesn't allow for room for the bow. If I put my right leg down on the floor and scoot forward a bit on the stool, it basically turns into his seated position.

    Hope this helps.

    EDIT: I notice that those pics are a couple of years old. The way I sit now is almost identical, only now my right knee (bent with the foot on the highest stool rung) gets placed inside the C bout on the RH side. I've never been more comfortable playing, and I can feel the vibration of the bass at all times, almost like massage therapy!
     
  6. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Chris says: [I can feel the vibration at all times, almost like massage therapy![/QUOTE]



    That's why I want a Harley. This is some good stuff. I have, as of late, concentrated on playing sitting to eliminate weight on the thumb.This and your above noted exercises are valuable info. Kip
     
  7. I can see where this would be really good for sitting. I recently played in a WWWAAAYYY off Broadway musical and spent the entire thing perched on a high stool--my first real experience at sitting. Between rehearsal and 5 performances, I spent 4-5 hours per day for about a week and a half playing that way. I can only imagine how my rapidly aging back would have enjoyed that if I stood the entire time.
     
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    KIP, the point is not just to have the thumb and 2nd "aligned" but to make that beautiful "C" shape -- you need to be on your fiinger- and thumb-tips, not the pads.

    I'm on record as no fan of Simandl. Try moving around the bass. You will probably find that there are spots on the neck where achieving that great position comes easier than 1/2 and 1st. And above all, don't hurt yourself.

    Good luck, hombre.
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Stopping notes without gripping the neck with one's thumb is an essential building block for technique, but all you have to do to get started in the right direction is begin vomiting and working in thumb position.

    That's how I cracked the code, anyway.
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm back.

    Practice sitting and perhaps check out something called the 'Streicher' method. I'm not sure of that spelling. Learning what this feels like without balancing the bass will make it more attainable when you do stand and play. This is in parallel and addition to Chris's advice about practicing some without the thumb touching the back of the neck.

    Thumb and second finger is a useless at best, destructive at worst, concept.

    I'm still working on this next thing, but I've pretty much fallen out of love for the 'keep your hand in position' concept. By this I mean, keeping your fingers over the note that it would play if you were to put it down. I've found much more success, both in pitch and playing without out tension by letting my hand fall naturally and letting my ears guide my hand into position. This really does warrant further explanantion, but best left for another time.

    Another good place to start is to spend a few seconds before you play the first note of the day studying just how much pressure is required to actually touch the string to the fingerboard.

    A trick that I use to assist while I'm playing is to visualize playing the string specifically and getting the picture of the fingerboard out of your mind. In other words, with your left hand, just place your finger on the string, not thinking at all of pressing it down. If you then listen for you sound, i.e. let your ears drive your endeavour, then you'll find that you use a lot let pressure on the string and tension in your hand.
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Man, I think I just saw a ghost. How's PORTOBELLO doing these days? Still opening up? Welcome back to the funhouse!
     
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    This just made my day, which was going pretty good anyway. Good to see you back, Ray!
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Thanks! It is good to be back.

    Isabella's doing well. Given the time that I put in on her, having been offline with loads of time on my hands, especially.

    I'll try to keep this post, as well as future posts, to a minimum so that I can keep the shedding-steam up. That 4-7 hours a day of good, focused practice, plus gigs, rehearsal, etc. has been a real boon the my growth.
     
  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    It's nice to have you back, Ray.
     
  15. It has already been said but worth saying again--good to see you back Ray.
     
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Eh? Is this serious advice? It doesn't sound funny/amusing/ironic in any way - have I missed something? :confused:
     
  17. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    It's serious advice, and you have missed something if you've taken it otherwise.

    Vomiting is slang for sliding up and down the fingerboard with your left hand. I go up and down doing a major scale - 2 octaves - with each finger. You can do whatever you want, but the goal is to allow your body and hands to learn to use the entire fingerboard.

    Since thumb position doesn't allow for squeezing the neck, your body and left hand must learn to stop the note in other ways. When I learned this, then stopping notes without squeezing the neck in the lower positions was a cinch (and helps me with vibrato too).

    It's great for the bow too.

    Got to see Paul Erhard from University of Colorado play Indian music by using one finger and sliding up and down on the string. He sounded great. So if one needs evidence of vomiting's musical value check him out.
     
  18. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Just when things seem to start getting routine around here, a Paul Warburton pops up, or a Ray Parker returns. Welcome back, and thanks to all of you for your help!

    I'm printing these posts and putting em on my music stand, and will work "slowly" though each suggestion. Kip
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Oh - I've never heard this word used this in this way before - I wonder if it's an "Americanism" that hasn't made it over to the UK - I'll ask a pro Jazz bass player next chance I get at workshops/lessons etc.

    :oops:
     
  20. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Welcome back, Ray! Good to hear from you again.