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Left Hand Conflict

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by timidbassist, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. So I have been asking a lot of questions on here and I have come across another one.....

    Since I have been playing bass guitar for 6 years my left hand has become very stretched out and my finers automatically postition to bass guitar frets. This makes it difficult to do the 1-2-4 fingerings of upright since I need to stretch my 2 finger farther away from my 1 finger. The other thing is my 4 can stretch farther away from my 3 than most normal because of the guitar experience. I am wondering if anybody knows of anybody that uses the 3 finger in place of the 2? If one of the two isn't going to be used why does it have to be the 3rd?

    Is this something somebody else has tried, or is there something I am over-looking at the moment? I have not yet asked my instructor about this because I have lessons on Saturdays and I only thought of this today.

    Let me know what you guys think of this. Thanks alot!
  2. I could be wrong, but I believe that's what the Italians did or are still doing. I know the Bille method books all say 2 instead of 3 for fingerings, so I'm going to guess that this method still works. I've never heard of anybody using this method today though.

    I think the reasoning behind using the second finger instead of third has to do with strength and independence. The ring finger and the pinkie use the same tendon, which is why it's very difficult to move your ring finger without moving your pinkie. This makes it much easier to group the third and fourth fingers together and act as one finger essentially.

    Here's an easy demonstration:

    Close your fist and lift up each finger individually. The hardest one to lift up by itself should be your ring finger. Now if you try lifting your ring finger and pinkie at the same time, it should be just as easy as lifting up the first and second fingers individually.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't think that you should be stretching all that much.
  4. Yeah I guess it is just hard for me converting from my other fingering feel......I wonder if I am going to run into problems switching between my two instruments after a while....haha

    Well thanks for your guys' input!
  5. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    Why don't you try using an extended position so that your hand will reach the minor 3rd? My teacher hands are huge and he's really into doing that when he's playing some really fast licks in orchestra so as to eliminate some awkward shifts. I'm sure he applies it to his jazz stuff too. Obviously, if it causes discomfort you should try something else, but if your hand is already working that way, why not try it out?
  6. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    As of what makes the most sense to me, the reason why many bassists use this 1, 2, 4 hand position is because the largest webbings in our hands are between the 1st and 2nd finger and the 3rd and 4th finger.

    I would recommend for you using some kind of open hand position where you can utilize all 4 fingers as if you were playing bass guitar. Gary Karr is actually famous for using "bass guitar" fingerings in his book. Also, this would help so that you don't have to worry about running into problems switching instruments.

    Check out Eugene Levinson's School of Agility, Gary Karr's Books, Mark Morton's books, and also from reading on TB, Tom Gale's books.
  7. Thanks guy! I will take all of your advice into consideration. I really like the idea of using all four fingers, however I will have to see if my instructor will allow me to do this.

    I will keep in touch. Thanks again!
  8. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    I don't see a problem. In the lower positions, it's easier on the left hand to use the 1,2,4 covering a second - don't use the Italian 1,3,4 covering the second. As you move up, 1.2.3,4 covering a minor third and 1, pivot 2, 4 covering a major third. It's the mix of techniques - open, closed. etc that really gets the musical problem solved! If your teacher can't understand that, try switching teachers.
    Tom Gale
  9. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    In the closed hand tech. (Simandl, etc.) and the open hand (4 finger, Franke, etc.) the distance between the first finger and the second finger are the same half step. The difference occurs between the 2nd and fourth finger - either a half step or a full step.
    Tom Gale
  10. Well I spoke with him today (and he is the orchestra director at St. Cloud State University so I trust him pretty well) and he said that playing a four finger technique in the lower positions will lead to injuries in the future. He is working with me on getting rid of all the tension through-out my limbs which is starting to help some.

    The thing I explained to him was that my 4 on my left hand seems to stretch farther than my 1 and 2 so my 4 goes past the desired note. He said that I could try a four finger technique but he would rather I work on the 1,2,4 technique by just losening up all of my tension. This seems to make sense to me I guess.

    Thanks for all of your input!
  11. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    He's absolutely right. Four finger (open) tech in the lower positions can injure the hand because the half steps are further apart than, say, in position 4 or 5. BUT once you reach pos. 4 or 5, you have a choice of the techniques - open, closed or mixed. I like to start the mix with the first finger in B or C (G string). Often stay with closed because it's easy but it's fun to toss in the open (4 finger) to clean up little messes the composer left for us to figure out. ALSO - don't lock down all the fingers! Roll the weight and remember;
    "Don't block andf lock -
    Just rock and roll!!"
    Tom Gale
  12. Thanks Tom!

    I will keep your advice in mind when I start to do more work in the higher postions!

    Danke sehr!
  13. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    I started the opposite way. I played upright for a few years, before picking up the electric. I immediatly played the EB with the 1-2-4 fingering, and it worked well. I have heard many people talk about using this technique on electric to much success. I've never tried EB fingerings on DB, but I would imagine that the lower positions would require way too much stretching. You want to be as relaxed as possible. I have, however, stretched my first or fourth finger out of position while keeping the rest of my fingers in position. I don't know, maybe even this could lead to injury though.

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