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Left Hand Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ben_jammin, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. Okay so lately I've been having some trouble with my left-handed technique. (Or at least I think it's a problem) I've included some picture to show you guys exactly what I'm doing and I would like it if you could just take a look at the pics and tell me if I'm looking okay. I'm never uncomfortable but sometimes I get sore from playing, and it sometimes leads to pain.
    My concern lies with my thunb, it does this sweet curve thing and I also am concerned about my wrist placement as well as my bass height. Thanks for the help!
    ~Ben Jammin
  2. The first and main thing I'm noticing is that you need to "anchor" your thumb right about the middle of the back of the neck. But don't "anchor" it so much that you can't slide your hand up and down easily. Check out:


    He has a good lesson on left hand technique. But other than your too high thumb placement it looks good. One other thing: don't squeeze the neck too hard. You should be able to fret notes fairly easily without using your thumb at all.

    Be safe! :bassist:
  3. chrisb7601


    Aug 30, 2005
    Wow, that looks almost exactly like my old technique. The one that was ruining my wrist.

    What do you mean you're having trouble? You mention pain, is that the trouble? If so, I would suggest changing your technique.

    Here's the thread where I asked for help with wrist pain resulting from using that technique. The answers in there solved my "trouble."

    Good luck.

  4. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    OK, firstly you need to try and avoid having your thumb poking over the top of the neck, as a previous poster said try and anchor your thumb around the middle of the neck and think of it more as a pivot.

    Next..RELAX..the biggest problem I come across as regards left/right hand technique is that a lot of people tend to "tense up" when playing.

    You could probably relax the arch in your fingers as well..from the pics it looks uncomfortable, and vitally important if you feel pain STOP and rest.

    Dunno if this will help but try and imagine that your working a sock puppet (think kermit).now rotate your hand and do the same on the neck only try and spread your fingers out to roughly cover 1 finger per fret.

    hope this helps.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Son, you need to relax. When one tenses up and tries to get the perfect techinque down by oddly flexing their hand, that can worsen one's playing. You just need to relax and play so you feel comfortable. Good technique isn't something that takes practice, good technique is a result of a good, relaxed player who is confident in his (or her) playing. Pain isn't a good sign. If you're so bent on having good technique that your hand hurts, you're going in the wrong direction.

  6. Chris, it's funny you mention a wrist pain... this morning i woke up and had a pain not in my wrist, but in the middle of the back of my hand. Its very strange. But thanks for that thread reply!
    ~ Ben Jammin
  7. chrisb7601


    Aug 30, 2005

    I had that pain too. Mine was right around the tendon/bone for the ring finger that runs along the back of my hand. My problems included a little discomfort inside my wrist, mild pain in the back of my hand in that index-ring-pinky area, aching in the deep meat at the base of my thumb, and some mild numbness showing up on and off along the back of my hand, wrist area, and forearm. Basically I was wrecking a very complicated and delicate machine.

    From all my reading I have learned that there are massive, unusual forces going on in the wrist/hand/forearm when achieving the position you show. One of the DVDs I used for learning bass described your technique as "correct" technique so that's what I did. However this technique simply did not work for me (even though I have huge hands).

    Look at your hand position in the very first photo. Now hold your hand that way, without your bass. Now move your fingers-- all the muscular strength you need to press the strings down is coming from your forearm and going through your carpal tunnel. And see your wrist angle, and how your pinky and thumb are all unnatural? Locking in to that position adds even more stress and tension -- I was doing that, forcing all my fingers to stay in some "proper" location -- now I just move them around as needed, whatever feels right, and I CAN PLAY BASS! :hyper: I don't care anymore what is correct, I would rather play than be correct.

    (You WILL NEED one-finger-per-fret for some transitions! Just don't "Lock In" to that position, or hold it longer than necessary -- do your riff, then go back to bunched-fingers.)

    Good luck,
  8. Well, FWIW, I've discovered that pulling the thumb in towards the middle of the hand - as per very your first pic - helps spread the fingers just that little bit further. However, I've found it places a lot of tension into the hand so have tried to avoid doing it like that.

    I try to point my thumb towards the headstock a bit more, sort-of running it up and down the middle of the neck as though I'm following the truss rod. The fingers don't stretch quite as far but it's far more relaxed, so comfortable.

    I tend to get an ache in the fleshy part of the thumb in the muscle where it joins my hand. I've found switching to lower tension strings (TI Jazz Flats) helps this problem a good deal. I've just come back from some private practice with the fretless and there's definitely less ache. I'll probably invest in another set for the fretted 5er.

    Just how I've found it...

  9. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    One thing that no-one's pointed out is that the further down the neck you play the wider the fret spacing..so, you can get away with the thumb poking over the neck if your playing anything among the first 5 frets.

    Although as mentioned before if it starts to hurt..STOP!!!!

    Heck when I'm playing fingerstyle I do it by the book..ie finger per fret proper thumb position etc..etc.. however if I'm slapping or tapping a completely new set of rules set in.
  10. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Its hard to tell from those photos but it looks to me like you need to experiment with holding the fretboard up at a higher angle. Is your wrist angled when you play like that? If you raise the fretboard you can take some of that angle away and help your hand to relax.

  11. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    1) First off, I think this thread is cool. I mean it took a lot of effort for the thread starter to get those shots at those angles! Also, I thank the talk bass community for responding to the poster! Visitors that view this site also benefit!

    2) I really don't have anything to offer but I wish you godspeed! :D
  12. Again, FWIW, I feel that wearing the bass low down means the wrist has to bend further. I wear it high and stopping the notes is definitely easier IMHO, and causes less stopping hand stress. I think most of the great bassists either wear the bass high on the chest, or bass is lower but the neck sticks up at quite a sharp angle which achieves a similar effect.

    Some years ago I had a Squier P bass. It had a bit of neck dive anyway but I wanted to alter the wearing position to get the neck 45 degrees(ish) from the floor, but without damaging tha bass by drilling into it, etc.

    I experimented with tying the strap to the bridge with string, and all sorts of other silly things to achieve what I thought I wanted.

    My eventual solution was to take the body butt end strap post and screw it into one of the pickguard screw holes just near the PUP. It looked a bit odd and took some getting used to at first. But I don't think I've ever had a more comfortable and stress-free playing position. It worked for me... :hyper:

  13. Funky-Wunky


    Jun 15, 2004
    There are some good comments here. Your fingers seem okay..a finger per fret. I feel your left thumb should be on the low to mid back of the neck. I like my bass strapped on high, it is just easier for me. Looking from an ergonomic point of view, any work done with a straight wrist is easier to do than with a curved or twisted wrist. Also, when sitting and playing, your left elbow should close to your lap.