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My unique problem.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by parmezans, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    I'm 6'5, i have very long arms.
    I mostly play when sitting, been playing only for a year, but recently I joined a band and came to realize that I must practice standing up if I'm going to perform.
    Now, here comes my problem. Due to my long arms, if I keep my bass at a perfect angle against me (if the back of the bass is directly facing me) I need to bend my elbow way back to reach the fretboard with my hand, stressing the shoulder and also the forearm, because I need to bend it more than usual when my elbow is back there. Elevating the neck kinda helps, but you can't keep the neck up there forever. Also, I find it hella awkward to reach the first 5 frets when the bass is in this position I described, they seem too far to the left. (When the back of the bass lies on my belly button)
    All this makes it incredibly hard to reach 3 frets away with my pinky, even at 7+ frets. To do this, I need to bend over to the left and bend my elbow even more backwards. :(
    Now, rotating the bass a little to the left side of my stomach, I can mend the problem by a small amount because I'm practically widening the gap between the fretboard and my left arm. But then upper frets are a pain to play, and it is kinda awkward feeling and looking to play it like that.
    I tried shortening my strap by an amount, it didn't help too much, it only bring hew trouble. Bringing the bass up even more would probably help, but I'm not a jazz player, only those guys with severe chops can get away with that. Now don't get me wrong, I'm now shallow like that, I'm all for "if it sounds good and is comfortable, go for it", but there's a point where the height of the bass crosses the line.
    I'm sorry for the long post. Can anyone relate, share solutions, opinions or the way they play their bass? (To the side, neck up etc.)
  2. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    Come on guys, I'd use some help. I just learned that going lower does help a bit since I have long arms.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Strap length is the obvious answer. If that's not getting it for you, have you considered upright?
  4. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    I have considered upright and I just can't do what it takes to learn it.
    But yeah, looks like I'll need to wear my bass low and get used to all the frets being 20cm to the left than when I'm playing sitting. And cope with having to slap with an inferior technique. :(
  5. millertx


    Dec 18, 2006
    Flower Mound, TX
    I am 6' 6'' also, with long arms. There are a lot of us taller bass players around. For myself, I wear the bass standing up at roughly the same position it is in when I am sitting down, but more centered on my body. I do keep the neck at a good angle also, as it keeps the first few frets more accessible. And, I prefer standing while playing and practicing, because for me as a tall person I believe I can hold the bass in a more ergonomical position that facilitates my playing than I can when sitting.

    Some suggestions:
    • If the neck will not stay up, sometimes a strap that 'grips' your shoulder better helps.
    • Some basses are just neck heavy, lighter tuners might help.
    • There are (or were) a lot of tall bass players out there, Jeff Berlin and Waymon Tisdale come immediately to mind, see if you can find photos or interviews where they talk about this kind of thing. Probably you can think of others also.
    • Try using a 1-2-4 fingering up on the first five frets or so, makes it much easier, then you can move to 1-2-3-4 as you get further up the neck.
    • Keep experimenting! Ultimately it comes down to what works for you, just try to keep things as ergonomical as possible.
    • And the best suggestion I can think of, find a really good bass teacher in your area and take a few lessons, they should be able to help a lot easier since they can see you and talk directly, move you around to try different things.

  6. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Rule of thumb is to set your strap length so that the bass sits in the same place standing up as when you're sitting down. You shouldn't even notice the difference between sitting / standing.

    You will look nerdy though....
  7. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Give Stanley Clarke a call.
  8. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    That does NOT apply to tall players with long arms. When you sit and play, you need to bend over to the left to get an ergonomic angle of the left wrist, and then your right elbow pops forward, damaging the right shoulder.
    Thanks for all the answers guys, health's my #1 concern.
  9. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I'm 6'3", and I have longer arms than most 6'3" guys. I kinda thought this too when I was learning/experimenting with positions. I found a 35" scale more to my liking. I can play shorter scale basses, but just feel more comfortable on a longer scale.

    This issue is unique to each player. There is not really a one-size-fits all solution to this. You have to experiment over and over and find what works for you, you arm length, your dexterity and feel. You can look at 10 "popular" bassists, ones that most players accept as having great chops, and you'll find 10 different playing positions.

    I personally like the bass above my belt, and get the typical guff from band mates and the typical muso that knows everything at your gigs. Until they hear me play that is, then all of a sudden the height of my bass is not an issue :bassist:
  10. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Look up Krist Novoselic from Nirvana. He was a giant as well, he seemed to have solved the problem by wearing it by his knees. Won't for everyone obviously.
  11. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    Well, his technique isn't what you would call "correct" , nor do I think it's comfortable, honestly.
  12. wingmanborge


    Apr 12, 2012
    I am 6'6 and have been through lots of straps and positions over the last 25 years of playing - i always thought the "bass on the knees" looked greatest and had the coolest attitude - but i have had way too many back problems to ignore the fact that i need to listen to my body and stop looking in the mirror. First thing for me was a broad leather strap, a well balanced bass, in my case a jazz, and i now wear it fairly high, more above than under the belt. I also have an EB-3 and this i wear a lot lower and tilt the neck more again with a broad strap of leather so ones i position the bass i stays there. My best advice - practise as if you are playing live - stand up, listen to your body and stretch out afterwards. Good luck
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The most important thing is comfort. I'm not comfortable playing a bass strapped up to my neck or even strapped up in the sitting position, so I wear it lower. And don't let anyone tell you what the best position for you is. You know your body and what it's capable of. For every Victor Wooten and Will Lee, I can give you a Linley Marthe and a Rob Trujillo.

    One thing I might suggest trying, though, is rotating it to the right of your body. I know of very few bassists who don't do this, actually. Putting the bass flat against your stomach or to the left is so uncomfortable to me. But push it more to the right side and the neck comes in closer.

    Also, regarding upper frets, wearing it lower pretty much guarantees a struggle on the upper frets no matter what you do. The only time I wear it higher is when I know I'm going to be doing extensive work in the upper frets, which for me is at home practicing ;) I'll use them on a gig, sure, but not like I'm doing extensive soloing.

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