Left hand fingers perpendicular??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sturg, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
    Is it absolutely necessary for the fretting hand fingers to be at, or nearly at a perpendicular angle to the strings in order to play bass correctly? When I first took lessons my teacher said this was important. I have seen most of the YT videos that show this as being important. I, however, find it very hard to do and my fingers are usually slanted back towards me somewhat. Is it ok to slant them a bit? I was watching Stanley Clarke and notices that his fingers are not completely perpendicular. I have had carpal tunnel release surgery in both wrists... Not sure if that makes a difference or not.
  2. MosGuy

    MosGuy Keep it low and thumping..

    Dec 26, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Naturally my fingers in the lower position do slant, approaching the 12th fret they are more perpendicular. This video by Adam Neely explains how my hand naturally moves including the thumb:

    In my experience there are no strict rules, do whatever feels natural and comfortable.
    Kyle_S, Sturg and INTP like this.
  3. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Keeping your elbow close to your body will help depending on your arm position currently.
  4. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    This is an example of blind dogma that makes no sense. Our bodies cannot move in certain ways, and our fingers cannot remain perpendicular to the strings in all positions without causing serious problems.

    Playing relaxed and without tension is important. Adam's video covers this well.
  5. MosGuy

    MosGuy Keep it low and thumping..

    Dec 26, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Well said INTP; ever since taking up bass nearly 25 years ago. I found it difficult to use the perpendicular/thumb behind the fingers method that is so widely taught. My hand naturally does what Adam shows. For years I thought my fretting technique was wrong until coming across the video and realized it's valid.

    I'm baffled why the "traditional" method is so ingrained, other than being adopted from guitar. Thinking that a *one size should fit all* technique doesn't make sense. If the C shape works without stress, that's great and if not other ways should be explored. Forcing the hand/wrist into an uncomfortable position only harms long term health if not careful.
  6. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    I play with fingers vertical and thumb behind the neck with no problems.
  7. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
    the video posted by MosGuy really makes it very clear. thanks.
    MosGuy likes this.
  8. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years

    May 3, 2008
    About 10 years ago I started the opposing thumb pinch method, fingers perpendicular. It was hard, felt unnatural and I riled against the adamant demands of my instructor (upright).

    Nowadays it's natural and my technique/sound is cleaner and clearer, IMO.

    Keep playing and see where it takes you.
  9. +1. Here's some more blind dogma being blown out of the water:

    Duck's left hand is breaking all the rules... I doubt any of us would dare call him a hack though.

    At the end of the day, what matters is that you can play without discomfort. There isn't a 'one size fits all' answer as we're all built differently & have different body geometry. Adam Neely's video is the nearest that comes to that as it centres on the notion of a neutral position & that we all have our own personal one - it's just a question of finding it.

    INTP likes this.

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