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Pinky Above the 12th Fret?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bozzy, Sep 15, 2020.


  1. Bozzy

    Bozzy

    Apr 29, 2020
    I'm just now getting into some songs that require a lot of fretting above the 12th fret and it's quite a bit more difficult to play cleanly. I was wondering if you guys use your pinky while playing up high? I've seen some people do it but it makes it way worse for me. Any advice?
     
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    I don't think I use my pinky as much above the 12th fret as I do below. I think I use my 1-3 more up there.
     
  3. Bozzy

    Bozzy

    Apr 29, 2020
    Perhaps I should put time into switching positions quicker?
     
    matdras likes this.
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Whatever works for you. I may be an anomaly.
     
    millflora likes this.
  5. BarfanyShart

    BarfanyShart

    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I do use my pinky up high on BG, I think always have, but I suppose how comfortable it is kind of depends what kind of neck joint you got. I got a BG with a contoured heel and I can use my pinky on the last fret, and I got a ABG with no cutaway that I dont think I could use pinky comfortably above the 12th fret.
     
  6. Lagado

    Lagado

    Jan 6, 2020
    I use it as much as I do below the 12th. Check out the guys who spend the time up there, get finger independence together.
     
  7. jeronimoski

    jeronimoski

    Sep 27, 2011
    Yeah, I would also like to know how people manage to use to pinkie that far up the fretboard.
     
  8. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    I use all my fingers all the way up the neck. Getting the bass at the right height helps. But the real key for me is that as I get into those upper frets, my fretting hand thumb creeps down the back of the neck and I’ll even get to where it’s resting on the edge of the neck next to the G string, so it’s really the side of my thumb in contact with the neck. I just need something to stabilize my hand up there and moving that thumb around makes it easier to use all my fretting fingers.
     
    bassrique, 12BitSlab, dkelley and 4 others like this.
  9. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I switch from 1-2-4 to 1-2-3-4 somewhere around frets 4-6.

    So yeah I use my pinky on the whole board.
     
    12BitSlab, Persona87, aprod and 5 others like this.
  10. MichelD

    MichelD

    May 19, 2014
    Where's that?
     
  11. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    It depends. I play a 6-string and my 4th finger words pretty well on the C string, but it become progressively less useful as I cross over to G, D, A, etc. I don't generally play much above the 12th fret. For context I use one finger per fret.

    Also I tend to rotate my thumb out from behind the neck when I play up really high.

    Ultimately it depends somewhat on the bass, how you wear it, and your physiology. IMHO, figure out what works best for you.
     
    Nashrakh likes this.
  12. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    It's actually my third (ring) finger that gets less use. I tend to use a 1-2-4 whenever I don't need to adhere to "four fingers, four frets".
     
    M0ses, Erik Asma and MisterFabulous like this.
  13. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Yes I use my pinky also in the highest regions. Why wouldn’t you? It can only become a bit more awkward when playing really high on the E or B string.
     
    AEVAREX and Nashrakh like this.
  14. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Same here. I generally use OFPF up there, with maybe the exception of the E and B string as my pinky isn't that long. However, playing that high up on those two strings would be an extreme outlier case anyway, IMO.

    For me, there's other issues to overcome that make playing high on the E and B strings a problem - like tone. Especially on the B string, anything past say, the 15th fret just sounds tubby, no real definition to it. I would rather switch positions.
     
    OptimalOptimus, thabassmon and Wasnex like this.
  15. I know I use my pinky a bit less than my other fingers over the whole neck. Not really a lot, but a bit. I had no idea whether I use it even less above the 12th fret so I went and played for a while and paid more attention. The answer is 'yes'. I use it a bit less than a bit less than the other fingers above the 12th fret. But it doesn't worry me.
     
  16. Leo Lyons

    Leo Lyons

    Sep 13, 2020
    I think it's a good idea to use your pinky all the time wherever you are on the fretboard.
     
  17. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    Pinky Above the 12th Fret?
    Yes.
     
    gebass6 likes this.
  18. MotorCityMinion

    MotorCityMinion

    Jun 15, 2017
    Of course. Perhaps not as much when trying to span 4 notes on the same string, gets a little crowded but I've framed scale patterns the same way most of the time so it's pretty much muscle memory at that point.
     
  19. Papageno

    Papageno

    Nov 16, 2015
    France
    Above the 12th position, it do not use the pinky.

    What I do though is using the (left) thumb like on double bass. Because the thumb is by far the most mobile of all fingers, it gives access to plenty of notes in a very fluid manner.

    This technique is used frequently by Steve Bailey. There is a TB thread discussing it.
     
    Les Fret likes this.
  20. What's more comfortable is preferred.

    With Fender necks, I don't use pinky over 12th fret - only if it really can't be done otherwise - because it hurts the natural position of wrist. Even in fast tempos I prefer to switch positions, using only 1-2-3 or even just 1-3. 3 is strong enough for all of the bluesy bending and vibrato stuff. @Papageno 's thumb idea is great, I use it too, but I don't recall ever really needing this outside solo playing. It's a great help for playing nice jazzy chords.

    On my Pedulla fretless with two octave neck-through I can safely use pinky up to about 18th fret.
     
    mert98 and Papageno like this.

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