Left hand ring finger...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dudemeister, Nov 27, 2001.

  1. I've had two diffrent bass teachers. The first one is a really good bassplayer but originally a guitarist.
    The second one is a pure bassplayer.
    The first one taught me to use my ring finger to fret notes whith me left hand and the second one taught me not to use my ringfinger.
    When i played double bass I was also taught not to use my ring finger.

    How do the rest of you do and what advantages and disadvantages are there?

    (of course I also use the rest of my fingers to fret notes... :))
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I guess the majority here uses the one finger per fret approach (all four fingers), and maybe index, middle and pinky (together with ring finger) on the lower positions.

    I'd recommend learing to use all four fingers, to get dexterity, even if you don't use it exclusively later on.
    It's way harder to learn it later, breaking habits is very difficult.
  3. dude, you're right with that one. i've been playing about a year and a half, and i never used my ring finger, and just fretted the higher notes with my pinky... then i saw this gig with the bassist hardly ever using his pinky, except for long stretches, so now i'm thinking, damnit, if i use my ring finger more, it would give me so much more flexibilty.
    i've been trying it the last couple of weeks, and, damn, it's hard breaking the habit i've got myself into...

    simon a
  4. I dont get this..
    If you got the fingers there... why not use them?? I use 4 on my left hand, and all 5 on my right. I cant even imagine not using my ring finger for fretting... that'd slow me down a lot.
  5. CtheOp


    Oct 11, 2001
    Toronto, Canada
    I don't see how you could NOT use your ring finger. I was taught to use an OPEN hand position for sight reading (i.e. each finger assigned to one fret position across a 4-fret reach).
    You can use a CLOSED hand position for most material you'll end up playing. Basically, the index and middle finger are assigned to the 1st and 2nd fret positions and the ring/pinky fingers share the 3rd fret position.

    Personally, I would be completely lost if I didn't use my ring finger. I try to have my fingers in the most efficient position as possible. I can move a finger a lot faster than moving my hand.
  6. geoffzilla


    Oct 30, 2001
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification
    My guess is that your bass teacher was classically trained on upright first. Did he know that you also played double bass? Maybe he was going for consistency between instruments. OR maybe wanted to make the transition from electric to upright easier. I started on electric, and when I started classical training on upright, I struggled forever to avoid my ring finger in 1st and 2nd postions. I agree with everyone's beef about "the pain of relearning" but don't forget that it can work the other way too.
    After all that nonsense, I still use my ring finger when playing electric;)
  7. Why aren't you supposed to use your ring finger for playing upright?
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I guess it's just the accepted technique. Ring finger and pinky are used together to balance against the stronger index and middle fingers.
    Classical instruments usually have an established technique, which is taught and learned everywhere.
    I learned classical violin, and everybody learns it with the same technique, so you're even taught to play right-handed when you're a lefty (this has some other reasons too. It looks better in the orchestra pit, and you don't clash with your neighbour's bow :D ).
    No classical teacher would let you play like a country fiddle player (violin placed at the elbow etc.), for example.

    There are upright players who use four-finger-technique though, Francois Rabbath probably being the most progressive and prominent one.
  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The reason for not using the ring finger with the double bass has more to do with the fact that the instrument has a 40-42" scale than with the finger's inability to hold the string down. Most people can't comfortably span more than a major second in the 1/2-V Simandl positions. Keeping in mind that there are no frets on the DB, it makes sense to sacrifice the use of one finger for the sake of solid intonation in the lower registers.
  10. Aaah.... interesting!
  11. What Christopher said:

    You just can't do it (finger-per-"fret") on a thick-string, high-action, loooong-scale upright in the first few positions. At least I can't. The stretch is too far and the finger strength too demanding. Upwards on the string, however...

    I also use the closed fingering sometimes on bass guit for the first few positions (varies by song). Helps out with long-term fatigue for songs that play the box pattern bass down low. But when walking, I pretty much avoid the bottom few positions or do 1-per-fret.

    Do what feels good. But stretch your boundaries. :)
  12. I've never had a teacher, just picked up the bass, some instruction books and went for it! I use all of the fingers on my left hand - it works for me!!! Of course I only play bass guitar and don't think I'll ever venture into using an upright!
  13. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    You don't need to limit yourself to one or the other fingering style. I started on g****r, and was taught the 1-finger-per-fret thing, which I transferred over when i first picked up electric bass in high school.

    In college, I got into the jazz big bands, and it being a HEAVILY traditional jazz department (U of Illinois in the late 70's under John Garvey), ya pretty much hadda play string bass. (They all referred to electric as "fake bass".) So I bought an old string bass and when I took a few lessons, they taught me the Simandl 1-2-4 hand position (which, yes, makes life TONS easier in the lower registers where you spend most of your time anyway). So this position is where I really learned the musical art of walking.

    But now I hardly ever take my string bass to gigs, and I have 34" scale electrics. But when a jazz swing tune comes up, I walk in four... in the Simandl hand position. Then back to 1 finger per fret on the rock tunes. And on fretless, sometimes I'll slip into the Simandl fingering on the lower frets -- helps to stay in tune.

    More arrows in the quiver? You just use what you have when you need it. All in all, if you are playing electric only and have reasonable-size hands, I suppose I'd recommend one finger per fret.
  14. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    If you don't use your pinkey and ring finger together on Double Bass, you are headed for Carpel Tunnel city! Unless of course you are up in thumb position. On electric however, you can use each finger independently.
  15. i use all my fingers, and i happen to use my ring finger alot, i don't use my middle finger too much though, every now and then
  16. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    using your ring finger on electric bass makes for much easier playing IMO.. I use all four fingers.. and I mainly use my pinky for reaches are fast runs... but I use my ringfinger all the time.. if you want to increase dexterity, you can always start by playing scales, or even the chromatic scale
  17. There's a girl at school who was giving me electric bass lessons when I first started out and she taught me to not use my ring finger, but then when I got an instructional book it said to use all four. So now I do use my ring finger for fretting, but I'm going to be getting some 'proper' lessons from a more qualified teacher soon, so I'll wait for his adjudication on the matter. The girl at school who was teaching me is classically trained in the four main string instruments - violin, viola, cello and double bass - so that might have something to do with the way she taught me. But I say use all four fingers for electric, dudemeister.
  18. If I didn't use all my fingers to play bass, I would have no further use for them
  19. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    For electric, i use all four. On double-bass i use my ring finger anything above the position of e or f (depending on the bass i'm using) on the g string, and in thumb position. I took lessons on upright for a while and learned about nothing, but i learned everything i know about technique from reading and watching.
  20. I have been playing about a year now and i exclusively use my 1st and 3rd fingers on my left hand. (i play righty bass) Is this ok?