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Playing at the top of the neck?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Herbal, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Herbal


    Jul 10, 2016
    I was trying to play some bits of John Entwistle tabs, playing up 15th fret onwards is pretty uncomfortable.
    I have a mustang bass so its not huge neck but I've small hands, I have to move my thumb away from the bass neck to be able to get up there, so it gets unstable.

    Any tips?
  2. I have small hands, and I've told the story of Peggy Sue and her smaller hands on her big Gibson many times. POINT, we small hands people do have to slide some. Or do something..... Practice running your scales (no, not specific tabs, generic scales) up in the area you are having trouble with is my only recommendation.

    I very seldom get higher than the 15th fret, so if my music was that high, I'd have to practice up there.... to get comfortable.

    Good luck.
  3. Herbal


    Jul 10, 2016
    Thanks Malcolm, that is sound advice I would not have thought of.

    I find that 12th fret+ playing the bass takes on such a strangely pleasant tone, but don't go there all the time.

    I played Amajor key starting at 12th & you quickly run out of neck to play on!
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Have you watched a lot of John Entwistle videos?

    The reason I ask is because of this statement: "I have to move my thumb away from the bass neck to be able to get up there, so it gets unstable."

    I'm not saying Entwistle was a "perfect, flawless, 100% conservatory-correct technician." However, I do think if you carefully watch the mechanics of his playing, especially the placement of his left thumb, you might pick up on some good tricks for playing his riffs at the top of the neck.

    ps Your comment, "it gets unstable," I recommend to invest in a good strap, that won't slide on your shoulder, and set the strap length so that the bass is in the same position whether you are standing or sitting. Use the strap, not your hands, to support the bass. You should be able to take both hands completely off the bass, and it still stays in playing position. This is a posture/ergonomics tip a teacher gave me a long time ago, and it has served me well. :)
    Herbal likes this.
  5. Herbal


    Jul 10, 2016
    I looked objectively at my playing & it seems to come down to where the neck meets the body against my small hands, where the neck meets the body is a big chunk of wood.
    Mushroo I have a good strap thanks, its more my thumb gets unstable not knowing where to put itself and going off into contortions.
  6. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    This is a strength/training problem, I think. It's just a matter of being patient enough to develop the muscle memory and chops to execute those moves. Just keep at it.

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