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Left Hand Position?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tsal, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Assume your bass neck is in horizontal position.
    Ok, when you fret the notes with your left hand, are your fingers in 90' angle(straight upwards) looking from the fingerboard?

    I just noticed that mine tend to be in something like 45' degree angle, fingers pointing more towards the upper horn than to the ceiling. And I think this ain't the best style. Any suggestions, should I start to focus on my fingers and try to get them stay upright?
  2. Ívar Þórólfsson

    Ívar Þórólfsson Mmmmmm...

    Apr 9, 2001
    Kopavogur, Iceland
    I would also like to know this. My fingers also angle at about 45 degrees.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Why is your bass neck horizontal? I find it most natural, when standing, to have the neck at about 45 degrees and the left hand fingers perpendicular to the angle of the neck:
    If the bass neck was horizontal, my wrist would have to be twisted into an uncomfortable (and thus dangerous) position to point keep my fingers perpendicular to the neck... therefore I'd change the position of the neck rather than leaving it in place and risking my wrist by trying to point to the ceiling.

  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Wulf is right there. I do the same and usually raise the neck a little to reach the nut end, i.e. anything below the 3rd on the A, E and B.

    It also depends how hi/low you have your bass positioned. I'm at about stomach level, but I plan to go higher as the years progress :)
  5. Ívar Þórólfsson

    Ívar Þórólfsson Mmmmmm...

    Apr 9, 2001
    Kopavogur, Iceland
    Tsal wasn´t saying he has his neck in horizontal position. He was just trying to make it clear at what angle his fingers are.

    Assume your bass neck is in horizontal position.

    Note the use of the word Assume.
  6. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    Maybe Icez, but I can't assume that my neck would be like that and tell you how my fingers would be, because I'd never have my bass like that.

    I do the same as Wulf.

    ...sometimes I like to hold it upright, to look more like Fieldy! ;) :D
  7. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Ok, did a quick illustration to show what I ment. Wulf, I hope it's ok that I used the pic you posted earlier.


    Wulf's fingers seem to roughly be at 90' angle in the pic. Mine tend to be at 45' angle, so that my palm touches the edge of the neck on the spot where my index meets the palm. It seems to very similar to position where you are resting your thumb on the top of the fretboard.
  8. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    In my case if i held my middle finger straight up and down, it would be at roughly a 45 degree angle from the truss rod (centre line of the neck)
  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    To be honest, my hand position varies quite a lot from that shown in the picture - although that would be a pretty average position. A lot of it depends on where I am playing on the neck, where my hand has come from and where it's going to.

    However, my consistent watchword is to stay relaxed - not tense, and not held in a awkward position.


    ps. Tsal - no problems with you scribbling on my picture ;)
  10. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    My left-hand position? Thumb resting on the pick-up, index and middle (sometimes even ring) pointing downward at 90 to 60 degrees.
    :D :D :D

    If you ask the position of my fretting hand (FRETTING HAND), it varies from roughly 120 to 60 degrees, but it's mostly between 75 and 90 - the reasons are the same as Wulf just said. :)
  11. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
  12. Wulf and I and the video clip agree. It's the "classical" fretting hand position that, I understand, guitar/bass tutors hammer into their students. (I'm self taught BTW).:eek:

    IMHO it's the best method of fretting because it gives the fingers the most freedom to move about. It also seems to work well on the fretless.

    I found it difficult to get on with at first but now it seems entirely natural. Having said that, the 45 degree thing does appear to be less stressful on the hand. Who was it that produced a guitar with slanting frets wrt to the fretboard's centre line. It never caught on but those who mastered it really enthused about it.

  13. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Fanned frets? See:

    Novax Guitars


    Dingwall Guitars

    I found the ones I tried surprisingly easy, although I wasn't so blown away that I had to have one. Definitely worth checking out if you get a chance though - there's some solid thinking behind the concept (around hand position and string tension).


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