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One finger per fret - can anybody else not do it?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by whitedk57, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    I just started going to a new bass teacher, and he wants me to work on the OFPF for scales. But, he wants me to stretch without lifting my hand.

    I have the Ed Friedland bass method where he talks about the OFPF method, and he mentions shifting after using the index and middle fingers so that the ring and pinkie can be hit their target.

    I have tried to stretch my hand like my bass teacher wants while keeping my whole hand in place, but I don't think it's physically possible with my hand.

    Are there any others out there that can't physically stretch that far? Am I crazy? Wait, don't answer the last one - I know that answer.
  2. Quite a few of my students have trouble with OFPF when they first start playing, but nearly all of them work through it. It's just a matter of getting your left hand to open up. So try to be patient with your progress first and foremost. With that said, I have had a couple of students who had small hands and just couldn't physically do it. If you are young and still growing I'd wait a bit to see where you end up sizewise before freaking out too much. But if your hands are as big as they're gonna get you could get always get a smaller scale bass. I teach a young woman who has tiny hands (she's barely 5' tall) and she just got a 30" bass and plays much more comfortably on it than on the standard 34" scale. And you can also just say 'screw it' to the OFPF method. While I think it is a great ergonomical way to play it's certainly not the only way to get it done!

    Good luck!
  3. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC

    I am actually 41 years old - I just started last year. So, I am pretty sure my hands will not grow any more. :crying:

    When I try to stretch my hands across 4 frets, I have to use my right hand to get it that way. And even then, my index finger is on the fret while my pinkie finger is almost on the ring finger's fret. Also, by the time I get it that way, my index finger will rest at about a 45 degree angle.

    Maybe Ed Friedland's OFPF method (using a shift) would be the best approach for me. I guess I could get a shorter scale bass, but it would be a hard sale for my wife since I just upgraded my amp and cab.
  4. I can do it just fine, but I have huge hands. I have to strain to fit them over the keyboard right now actually:p
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I don't use or teach the OFPF method. I think it causes strain. I have never had a student with big enough hands that I would let do it this way.
  6. CaseyCorr


    May 22, 2005
    Olympia WA
    I have small hands (I've only run into a couple grown men with smaller) and I can still OFPF comfortably from the fifth fret down. I can stretch and do it at the very top of the neck, but I'm slower because its not as comfortable and I have to push harder because my pinky is landing towards the top of the third fret. When I first started playing I remember being daunted by the size of the neck (compared to guitar) and I had trouble playing OFPF anywhere on the neck. I just kept playing though and my hands have naturally gotten more limber. If you work at it you'll probably be able to achieve at least the same results as I, small hands or not.
  7. xonebass


    Feb 17, 2005
    Orange, CA
    Well as a student I personally will say that at first I could not do OFPF (and I have pretty good sized hands). However, my bass instructor (who has smaller hands than I do) said to stick with it and I did. It's not a decision I regret. In fact I'm teaching my guitarist how to do it (since he wants to be Petrucci). It may not be the only way to play but it is highly efficient and makes scales considerably easier.

    Also, having the correct scale bass is very important. At first I was attempting this on my Modulus (35" scale) and it was very intimidating, however, on my other bass a Yamaha (34" scale) I was getting close. After several months of practice (and I was not a beginning bassist by any means) I was able to get very good on the Yamaha and pretty decent on the Modulus.

    To make this process easier I practiced (and still practice) a finger stretching exercise that focuses on different finger combinations (like your middle finger with your ring finger etc.) that takes about five minutes a day. At first I had no luck using my pinky (so I faked it or left it out). Over time I was able to improve to the point where my pinky is just as solid as my index or middle finger. I feel that this has taken my bass playing to a whole new level. Obviously as I stated before you can get along alright without OFPF but I much prefer using it.
  8. john c

    john c

    Jan 26, 2006
    What's OFPF?
  9. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    Can you explain this some more? I would be very interested.
  10. john c

    john c

    Jan 26, 2006
    OOpps never mind I got it one finger per fret -
  11. MicceO


    Aug 12, 2004

    Yes, I thought I couldn't but now I can say that I've overcome the problem. And how?

    Practicing without using my LH thumb! It is perhaps not easy in the beginning but shouldn't take too long either. Once you master it stretching is no problem anymore!

    Practicing without LH thumb is, IMO, the best way to learn LH muting, too.

  12. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Who's your teacher?

    This method, while difficult at first, helps down the road. I don't always follow it while playing out, it is a good exercise for stretching and for playing walking lines, y'know proper technique and all that. My hands are brutally average.

    It makes uptempo walking blues in F# or G easier, may keep you from cramping.
  13. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I think everything has its place, I always play 1FPF when I'm above the 5th fret. If i'm playing something in the bottom 5 frets that requires me to strech 4 frets I'll play 1FPF and If I only have to strech 3 I'll use my pinky cause its more comfortable.
  14. herpes


    Jan 20, 2006
    Austria (tyrol)
    what styles are there, i never heard of different styles which have a name - i always thought that every bass player gets his own style with time :D
  15. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I use it, and it helps a lot, especially getting away on fretless I think.
  16. mlove

    mlove Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2005
    i also can do it but i have large mitts aswell.
  17. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Only do it above the fifth fret.

    Especially for beginners, there is a high risk of injury if you push yourself too hard.

    Don't do it below the fifth fret unless it is already comfortable.

    Below the fifth fret do what Ed says.


  18. If you've not been playing long, the OFPF thing can be a little uncomfortable.

    The trick is to do some stretching excersises with your left hand, and take things slowly when practicing.

    The reach you can acheive is spectacular, especially when you're playing past the 5th fret, so it's definitely worth working at.
  19. I teach OPFP to all my students as an ideal, and many are able to do it surprisingly quickly, others rather slowly. I have NEVER had a student strain and/or otherwise injur themselves. The first thing I teach students is if it hurts, stop, try again later. IMO, peolpe who hurt themselves attempting OFPF are likely impatient, trying to get results too fast, practicing repetetive exercises too long, too often. Learning bass is a slow climb, so relax and enjoy...
  20. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    I use it when it's needed. I was taught that way, so I have the option without much strain. If i'm playing octaves, like the G to G, i'll use my first finger, and my pinky. If i'm playing a note in between the octave, like the B, i'll use my middle for the low G.

    It's all preference. I'd suggest to learn the OFPF method, and use it at your discrestion. No two bass players are unique with technique.

    Or you can be like Felix Pastorius and stretch 7-frets! :eek: