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One finger one fret

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MinorPentatonic, May 7, 2005.

  1. Help me please dudes.....been playing nine months, and cannot get the one finger one fret bit, I end up using index, middle and ring finger instead. Any tips, suggestions, I would be very grateful. Thank you
  2. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Try to incorporate your pinkie - it makes everything much easier. When you play in the first couple of frets then use your 1. 2. and 4. finger ( index, middle, pinkie ). For me it's the natural way to do it.
  3. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I started to use that technique in the first months of playing, just practice scales man!


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    yep...I still remember my first bass teacher's (Joe Santerre @ Berklee) comments

    "... first string 2,4; move over one string 1,2,4; move over another string 1,3,4. There's your major scale in any key. Got it" (fingering pattern)
  5. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    I am, for the most part, self taught. I can't say what I do will work for you, but here's how I do it most of the time:
    I use my 1 2 3 fingers one per fret. If I'm using my 4th finger on a four fret riff I will "help" it with my 3rd finger--meaning I set the 3rd on top of the 4th. If I am playing a four fret run up or down--say from a B to a D on the third string--I use one finger per fret. The main thing I try not to do is move my hand by sliding it to cover a fret that I can reach with a finger. I hope this makes sense, and in some way answers your question. Many bassist use the third finger as a "helper" for the forth finger until they can build up the strength through scales and such to use the 4th independently.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    It's only been NINE months.
    Anyway, you will soon find out that the ring finger is the weakest & how strong the pinky can be.
    There have been other posts about this before...

    For staters-
    Index finger @9th fret/E-string
    Middle finger @10th fret/E-string
    Ring finger @11th fret/E-string
    Pinky @12th fret/E-string

    Hold them down.
    Now, ONLY move the index finger...UP off the string, back DOWN on the string. UP....DOWN...UP....DOWN.
    Next, do the same with ONLY the middle.
    ...then ONLY the ring.
    ......then ONLY the pinky.

    If the other fingers want to move with the one you're attempting to exercise...HOLD THEM IN-PLACE WITH YOUR OTHER HAND! Only move the fingers UP/DOWN as small bit. You are seeking economy of motion + muscle memory.

    This is tedious, boring, & will be both difficult & frustrating...give it some time & be patient.
  7. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    This sounds like a good plan - I'm going to incorporate it into my practice and exercising :) I've been looking for other ways to improve finger strength.

    Cheers Jim!
  8. Something that hasn't been mentioned in this post is the thing that is stopping you play one finger per fret.

    If the limiting factor is pain in your wrist, in in the back of your hand, you may have to accept that your hands weren't built to do that movement, and you will have to find another way to hit those notes.

    The theory is fine, but some people will never achieve it, and will injure themselves trying.
  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've seen plenty of people playing scales with 1,2,3 and a lot of shifting around! It's about practising them with good fingering technique rather than awkwardly moving up and down them.

    For an exercise to get the pinky in on the action, I'd suggest working on various patterns that use 1 & 4. For example, root and octave patterns up and down the neck, perhaps ascending on the E and D strings and coming back on A and D:
    All notes on the lower two strings are played with your first finger and the rest with your pinky. Use any rhythm you like (although you'll benefit more if you choose a strict pattern to work to rather than 'flexible timing').

  10. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
  11. munificent


    Mar 15, 2005
    All five fingers on the high string? Does this guy not have thumbs?
  12. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Saw this one quite some time ago in a Stu Hamm or Dave LaRue video (I can't remember which...)

    Any time of the day, at work or school, in the car, etc - make a fist with your fretting hand. Use your thumb to hold down your index and ring fingers, while you extend the middle and pinky as much as possible.

    Then swap. Hold down the middle and pinky, and extend index and ring. Back and forth. After you get used to it, try to pick up speed.

    Helps with strength, but mostly helps all four fingers develop independence from their next-door neighbors. Today, my left (fretting) hand can do it well; my right, fuggetaboutit....
  13. First teacher I ever had called me a three fingered guitarist, that comment made me feel weak as a player. I learned pinky control useing scales as stated above. I'm suprised that nobody has mentioned the importance of thumb position. In early learning it is important to try and keep the joint of your thumb stationary in the center of the width of the neck. Also If you practice your first position scales you should try to keep your thumb stationary, instead of tryng to fight your bass. if you learn this way it will help consevre you energy, and make your playing look effortless. Once you have this down try to use as few thumb positions as possible. There are other thumb techniques, Hendrix style wrap aruond the top to fret, and the thumb under the bottom both used to fret notes. The Hendrix thing isn't as relavent to bass as it is guitar. the thumb under the bottom is only good for increasing the distance/range of your fretting hand, more for basses that don't have very deep cutaways and Double Bass. practice those scale. worry about advanced technique later.
  14. endorka


    Oct 15, 2004
    Glasgow, Scotland
    This is a very important point - for many years I tried the "one finger per fret" scheme and even after moderate levels of playing would get pain in my left wrist. To make matters worse, this was only on a four string bass with a very playable neck. I then came across something written by Carol Kaye who recommended playing with index, middle and pinky only, with the ring finger reserved for light work high up the neck, e.g. when soloing, apparently similar to the approach taken by a double bass player.

    I started using this method with the result of no more wrist pain. These days I regularly play for 8 hours or more on a six string bass with no wrist pain - my brain tends to tire before my hands do in these situations. Of course, you may need to shift your hand about more to accomplish certain parts, but not much more so, since you can still easily achieve four fret stretches with the index finger and pinky. What I'm saying is that your range isn't really restricted as much as you might think. I reckon this is a good method for the bass player with smaller hands.

  15. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY

    Also, I wanted to add something on finger "strength". You don't need to work on finger strength. Playing an instrument is not strength related. Playing an instrument takes coordination, not strength. Jeff Berlin has said this in just about every interview I've read. Gary Karr is one of the greatest living Double Bass soloists. You should never play with tension. Gary said that he has never played/practiced with pain or discomfort. He has always practiced a difficult passage slowly so it felt easy. I know we're not talking about Double Bass, but this really applies to any instrument.

  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I still say some strength + stamina are required.

    Carol Kaye's approach is right outta the Simandl book.
  17. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Did Simandl play with a pick? :p

  18. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Only recently have I begun using the one-finger-per-fret approach with my average sized hands (I used to use only index, middle, pinky).

    I only use ofpf at the 5th fret and higher up the neck. I don't use it exclusively, but sometimes it does help.
  19. Another post by those snooty fancy schmancy Extended Range Bass players. Those of use not blessed with the extra fingers have to learn to ignore them... :bag:

    Can you type with all 4 fingers? Wonder if its only partly a strength issue, and part a dexterity issue, the inability to actually isolate the ring finger from the others. They tend to want to hang out together, especially on your weak side.

    I often wondered why "right" handed bass players fret with their "left" hand. Seems like the dominant hand would be better suited to the complicated fingering patterns, so a "right" handed bassist should use the right hand on the frets.

  20. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    That's an interesting idea, but the right hand is often doing something equally or perhaps more complicated than what the left hand is doing (for a right handed bassist).

    To the OP:

    I would like to relate some advice that Dimebag Darrell (RIP) had to give regarding building one's chops up. He said that before tours, gigs, ect., to get his chops up he would do the following excercise (involving trills):

    1) Trill 1st and 2nd fingers in a steady rythmn between any two ajacent frets on the same string.
    2) Trill 2nd and 3rd fingers in the same manner as above
    3) Trill 3rd and 4th in similar fashion

    Start at a slow pace; and, as you increase speed your finger independence and strength will increase! I tried it and I can vouch for it.

    Another thing is to isolate the exact problem you are having in a bassline and practice that single motion over and over, instead of wasting time playing things you already know how to play.

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