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Open Strings?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jackajesusfreak, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. jackajesusfreak


    Mar 5, 2009
    Is anybody else as quirky as I am and only plays an open string about 10% of the time? My illogic is, I like to have more control over the note, as far as sustain and punch go.
  2. The more string vibrates, the better the sound.

    Also with an instrument like this one, the less you do, the better, therefore open strings are good to use.

    But if there is some complex fretting to be done, I often transpose one string down, 5 frets up and doodle in an area which is more around my comfort zone.

    It's just about how you feel it.
  3. unfortunately, I am that way too (and I think it lowers the ceiliing on how good I can get)... I've gotten too good at "cheating" in certain spots, so it's all good I guess.. there's really a time and place for both I honestly think... depends on the style and the particular song...

    funny you ask because lately I've been riding an open A string as much as possible and i've become a big fan of the tone I get from it.. especially with new EB slinks... you can really hear the true sound of the guitar with open strings, but ya, I don't play nearly enough of them..
  4. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    It depends for me. Most of the time, I will not use open strings for that same reason (the tone is different on an open G as opposed to the fifth fret on D). Mainly though, I've been playing kind of high on the neck, so using open strings is a little more counter-productive than just keeping it all in the fingers.
  5. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    On bass guitars, almost never. On the upright bass, every chance I get ... ;) ... but not for the reasons you mention. I play in closed positions so I can instantly transpose on the fly. Helps a lot when I'm subbing with several different bands, as I am now. Same song, different key, same patterns.
  6. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    +1. Rarely play an open unless there is no other option.
  7. tobie


    Nov 26, 2008
    Depends on the sound I'm looking for. I prefer the sound of closed D to open D. But then again the sound of open A is much nicer than closed A.
  8. I have heard both advice.

    My teacher advises me to use the open string as much as I can.

    But then I am terribly confused and unable to think that open string = first finger, and can't transpose a pattern. Yes, I am a bit rigid. Major scale = 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 (those are finger numbers).

    I can't play it as 1 3 open 1 3 open 2 3. It's not a gymnastic I've done and maybe I should.
  9. I typically fret the strings, since I have a five-string Jazz and the "E" sounds massive when played on the "B." However, if it's a quiet part of the song, I'll use open strings (for E and A at least) as they get boomy otherwise.
  10. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    Ive learned to use open strings as a positioning aid (playing the open string while moving to the next position) on the fretted bass, and using it additionally to keep my intonation honest on the fretless

  11. standupright


    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    fingering the note :bag:, rather than letting it ring open, gives a chance to warm it up or do something else with it.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Depends on the bass. On my basses with flats, I'll play open strings more often because the tones match up better. With rounds, hardly ever, though I will use them if it's easier or better sounding to use them.
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I was taught to consider opens strings as a device in movement around the instrument. Used only when the fretted note was not available or impractable to use.
    So for me its never more than a passing note with the exeption being the lowest available, because i have no option but to use it. But as a rule i try fret rather than play open on bass guitar.:bassist:
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think your teacher is right and it is a bad thing to get locked into these patterns - it really limits your playing and thinking!

    Some of the best players - like James Jamerson and Nathan Watts with Stevie Wonder - use open strings all the time and if you try to play or transcribe their lines, they are much harder without using the open strings!

    It's really just a case of leaning proper muting techniques !
  15. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    I would much rather play the 5th fret of the next lower string, than the open note.

    Sounds fuller, and you can do slides, hammer ons, etc., much more easily.
  16. jackajesusfreak


    Mar 5, 2009
    This is a good thread and response. I'm glad I started it as I am picking up some good ideas and alternatives. Thanks to everyone so far, from weighing in.
  17. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I too learned to scale on bass guitar by patterns. It's not a very musical approach to things IMO, but it gets you by (and sometimes you just don't know any better). I didn't use open strings very much either until I started playing upright, because you really have no choice but to.

    I use my left hand a lot for muting though, which I think helps tremendously for open string playing on bass guitar.
  18. I have always used open strings alot. Especially when I 'm playing in higher positions. I often use open strings as passing tones.
  19. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Mostly use fingered notes. With fretless the tone is more consistent when you don't use open strings, you have more control over the note and it's easier to transpose if needed.
  20. wittynamehere

    wittynamehere Guest

    May 11, 2009
    Recently I've been trying to make myself use open strings when possible, just because I normally avoid them, but sound-wise, I prefer the tone of fretted to open.

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