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Left hand "piling" up

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JmD, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. JmD


    Sep 13, 2005
    I'm having problems with my little finger and my ring finger (the one next to it). Whenever I'm pressing down with my little finger the ring finger automatically presses down on top of it. It seems this is natural muscle action, and however much I think about it I can't stop it happening.

    Is there anything I can do?
  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I'm guessing you are naturally right handed?

    Most BG players keep the 'one finger to a fret' rule, and for the most part that works fairly well. Try to do a little exercise like this: start up the string with 1st finger, then 2nd then 3rd and then 4th. But keep the first finger in place as you add second... keep 1 and 2 in place as you add 3rd and then 1, 2 and 3 in place as you add 4th.

    Probably your hand just lacks a bit of co-ordiation and strength and that will come in time. Just keep at it. Work different finger patterns keeping the 'one finger one fret' rule in place.

    This worked for me. When I started bass my left hand was just about as good as my foot as far as co-ordiation was concerned. There may be some other fingering ideas here, and if you intend to add DB to your list of instruments, it might do you well to get with a teacher who does both so they can give you some advice for that.
    Dennis C and Frank Higgins like this.
  3. A fantastic exercise for building up independent finger dexterity is the 'spider', as shown on John Patittuci's video.

    Start by using the D and G string, one finger per fret, with your fingers about the 5th fret. Then play (finger numbers over the top of the TAB):

    1 3 2 4 3 1 4 2

    Repeat this many times. Then move the pattern one string apart:

    1 3 2 4 3 1 4 2

    and repeat. Then one more:

    1 3 2 4 3 1 4 2

    and repeat.

    Use a metronome, and start the pattern in quarter notes, making each note sustain to the next as much as you can. Move to eights and sixteenths, and then start speeding up the metronome.

    Make sure you shake your fingers and hand out between runs - this is very stressful on the hand. also make sure you play lightly and with no stress in your left hand, especially as you speed up, because it's easy to start cramping your hand as you gain speed.

    15 minutes of this for one week, and you will notice a massive difference - I promise!!
    Loring, Darryn N, JPDsma and 11 others like this.
  4. Tomass


    Nov 1, 2005
    hey thats a great exercise, my guitar teacher gave me this other exercise to improve hammer ons.

    Fingers 1313131313
    -------5h75h7h5h7h5 (amount of times doesnt matter) try to produce the notes entirly by left hand(or right for leftys)

    Fingers 24242424242
    Ladybirdprecision likes this.
  5. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    Relax dude, that is commun. The fingers arent completly independe from each other
    John6 likes this.
  6. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    What you're doing is similar to an upright bass technique. It isn't all that bad. I do this sometimes in the lower positions. But I think its worth while to develop the independence of each finger. You should be able to use the pinky without help. Try the exercises above for a few months.

    Why do you think this happens? Is it because you need to use both for strength? Or is it simply habit?

    If it is because you need the extra strength then you might want to consider lower tension strings, if the exercises above don't help. There is a reason that URB players use that technique. There is a certain limit where you're body just can't do what you ask of it. So, find a way to make it easier on yourself.

    If its simply habit....then break it! It won't be the first bad habit you have to break.
  7. AspiringBassMan


    Dec 10, 2005
    for the spider, do you have to pluck the string each time you move your finger to a new position?
  8. Yes. It's about finger independence not strength. Pattitucci also has some good hammer on strength exercises straight after the spider part in his vid.

    You also have to leave the finger on the string as long as possible - don't worry as much about muting ringing strings.
    Ladybirdprecision likes this.
  9. Geezerman


    Nov 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Could your write up those hammer on excercises? Or which DVD is this? I've been looking for a good DVD or some good left hand workouts
  10. AspiringBassMan


    Dec 10, 2005
    in that case, there are huge chunks missing from my understanding of the spider. from what has been explained so far, i put my 1st and 2nd finger on the 5th and 6th frets respectively on the G string, then put my 3rd and 4th fingers on the7th and 8th frets respectivelon the D string. i then move my 1st finger to the 5th fret D string and pluck the D string (why? :meh: :eyebrow:. because the 4th finger is on the D string, thats the one thats going to sound). i then move the 3rd finger to the 7th fret G string and pluck the G string, etc.
    like i say, i really can't see what this spider is meant to achieve :eyebrow: :meh: :help:. it doesn't appear to achieve anything. either it han't been explained comprehensively enough or i'm a complete idiot. then again, being a software developer, i suppose i always do need everything to be precise.
    does anybody know where i'm going wrong (or perhaps its easier to say where i'm going right :D)?
  11. Mean Mr Mustard

    Mean Mr Mustard

    Oct 8, 2005
    With the spider excercise do I have to keep my fingers ON the G string or just hovering about their respective frets?

    Wow its working after 30 minutes, Got any excercises for finger speed.. I mean on the plucking hand,.
  12. OK, by far the best thing to do is to go out and get John Pattitucci's DVD - "A Dictionary of Grooves and Techniques". It is a fantastic DVD and well worth it.

    BUT, couple of things on the 'spider' exercise:
    - make each note sound as long as you can by keeping your just plucked finger on the string as you fret the next note. Move the finger only at the last minute. The idea is to make the fingers stretch and gain independence.
    - the tab is showing you what notes to pluck, not simply where to put your fingers. Pluck the strings and the notes in the order in the tab. So, looking at the first tab only you would put your 1st finger on D 5th fret and pluck, leave it ringing and put your 3rd finger on G 7th fret and pluck. Leave it ringing as you simultaneously lift your 1st finger and put your 2nd finger on D 6th fret and pluck, leave it ring and ditto for 4th finger on G 8th fret and pluck.

    The exercise is meant to look like the way a spider moves, putting one finger down as the previous one on the same string lifts.

    The Hammer On exercise is pretty simple, but there are several ones he suggests. The main two I found useful were:

    1. Put your fingers one finger per fret, starting on the G 5th fret
    2. Anchor 1st finger G 5th fret - this is the base note in the sequence
    3. Anchor 3rd finger A 7th fret - this deliberately keeps the 3rd finger from influencing your 2nd as you hammer on and pull off
    4. repeat this sequence on the G string, plucking *only* the very first note - all other notes must be played by hammer ons or pull offs (it's an 8 note sequence, I have repeated twice below:

    G -5--6--8--6--5--8--6--8--5--6--8--6--5--8--6--8--

    Repeat this exercise but now anchor your 2nd finger A 6th fret and do:

    G -5--7--8--7--5--8--7--8--5--7--8--7--5--8--7--8--

    Start slow like the spider with quarters and move to eights and sixteenths.
    krimo likes this.
  13. AspiringBassMan


    Dec 10, 2005
    thank you :). you cleared it up for me when you said this:
    some of the details that i'd read previously about the spider were hazy at best. they didn't state the finer points.
    thanks again.

    i will try the hammer on exercise too at some point.

    ps there was a slight error in the above, though. i've highlighted it in bold with what it previously said in brackets.
  14. Thanks for picking up the error - it's so much easier to just play the damn thing than write out an explanation!

    Everyone - get the DVD instead of reading my ramblings. Not only is it correct, but you watch the master do it and you can see exactly how his fingers work, when they move, how far he lifts them, how he rotates his hand/elbow round in in the G-E string spider, etc.

    This DVD gets my vote as one of the best instructional DVDs I have come across. He is really, really good at playing, teaching and showing. Not to mention him grooving with Dave Weckl on drums - it's so good, you can tangibly feel the pocket they create.
    LowActionHero likes this.
  15. wow what an awesome exercise. Thank you so much for puting it up here, this will get my left hand in shape so it can keep up with my right.
  16. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    This exercise is awesome. I find that when I am doing the second half of the exercise (the minor thirds) that I am muting the g string with my left hand pinky. Is there a good exercise to correct this?
  17. LOL - the best exercise is to slow it RIGHT DOWN!!

    I do exactly the same, especially after periods of being slack. I halve my metronome speed and focus totally on clarity of sound and finger placement (my personal weakness is placement of the second finger on the G - I drop off the string or the neck), then speed it back up again.

    Massive difference - it's all about muscle memory.

    The other thing you should notice on the latter part of the exercise is that you will 'roll' your hand/elbow to better get the fingering on the pinky/lower strings. This is all in Patitucci's video - please buy that and watch for yourself! I'm not trying to sell the video but I want to credit MY source of information at least! Don't know if he made it up or not, but his explanation is the best around.
  18. Seigi


    Jul 3, 2005
    I actually have a similar problem; I was forced to learn the one finger per fret rule within about a month of starting bass, so I got that over with quickly, but whenever I fret with my pinky, my ring finger automatically pushes down on the fret just before the fret my pinky is on. Hasn't really been a problem for my playing, though. It's seriously annoying when I play guitar, though.
    hintz likes this.
  19. HeavyFingers

    HeavyFingers Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    There are a few lessons on this site (http://www.cyberfretbass.com/misc-wisdom/index.php) that help to develop left hand str. and independance. If you can hack it (and I suggest this exercise to everyone since its an ass kicker) check out the "PITA" exercise. Just hit up the link and scroll down a bit. This is also just a great site for basic theory and instruction. Good Luck!

  20. yellowtuesday


    Jul 3, 2006
    I don't get the fingering chart
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