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playing high up the neck

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by deadphish, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. deadphish


    Oct 2, 2004
    A guitarist friend of mine recently told me that he hought I played in upper positions on the lower strings too much. He said that I am sacrificng too much tone by playing higher up on the fret board instead of playing in the same notes in lower positions.

    I can certainly understand the concept here but I am wondering how much of a big deal this really is. I am mostly self taught so I need to ask the schooled players here if you were taught to play as far down the neck as possible instead of playing in a higher(closer together) position when given the choice.

    I know a lot has to do with what type of sound you are going for and your picking technique, but is this as much of a rule of thumb as, say, 1 finger per fret is?
  2. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    what do guitar players know. there is a tone thing, but if you dig it, so be it.
  3. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Well, it's personal choice, though position switching can be a concern.

    I often choose to play notes higher on the heavier strings because the tone can be thicker and more pleasing for a part.

    No real rule to it- do what sounds best that allows for smooth playing.

    I don't often use one finger per fret below the seventh fret. I can do that, but I prefer the sound of Simandl fingering down low. It's much easier for me to get a consistent sound playing in position that way.
  4. Mellem


    Feb 1, 2002
    Greenville, MI
    I usually play it where it's easiest to play position-wise, because I'm lazy. Hell, that's why I picked up a bass in the first place, no chords or anything (or so I thought, lol).

    Sometimes it sounds cool to slide way up on the neck on low strings I think, but my gear makes it sound like womb. Not the body part, but the sound, so I stick to using the D and G strings for those parts.
  5. deadphish


    Oct 2, 2004
    Thanks for the quick responses. What is simdahl?
  6. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Sorry, typo on my part.

    I meant simandl. Google for a full explanation, but the short version which applies to playing electric bass is that you reinforce the ring finger with the middle finger and reinforce the pinky with the ring finger.
  7. jjtsucka


    Aug 31, 2004
    when i'm playing 12 and below its always off the neck pickup but i find that the higher the frets get the further up the neck i like to play i like the smoother tone that get from it but liek everyone says its all personal preference, play around with diffrent techniques thats the whole fun in playing bass there are so many fun little things to try and the more you try the more personal your style becomes
  8. ...Actually Simandl is an upright bass method that uses a 3 finger system...I can't really imagine using it on an BG...
  9. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I like to play around frets 5-10 as much as possible. I like the tone in that area.
    sxwr likes this.
  10. I like to play as close to the first position as possible. But the song dictates the position of my playing more than my personal preference.

    If I wanted to play up the neck all the time, then I'd own a short scale bass.
  11. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Actually it's more personal taste, how long your fingers are too, and which "school" of bass you were taught: DB / Simandl or Gary Karr DB/ 4 finger method or EB 4 finger method, etc.

    I play both DB & EB: and on the EB's the lower positions from
    1st to 5th fret I use the Simandl tech. Especially on C note
    up to E on the B string on my 5 string.
    (Similar to Lyle)
    I have small hands too and it's easier in my head when you switch instruments every 3 tunes or so. ( to minimum-ize those senior moments us old guys can have on stage.. less confusion.) :D
    Sometimes if I switch from DB to the 5 EB, I also have to be careful not to confuse the B string as the E string too. :(

    When I used to play EB only I used 1 finger per fret method. :)
    The other aspect for a 5'er : when you playing higher on the
    neck- say in G. if you 're in playing the G on the B string
    you have access to more notes in a higher range.
    VS: playing the G on the E string.
    Tonally: I think the G sounds brigher on E vs B. But I prefer
    playing on the B 'cause it has a Fatter sound and more access to a higher choice of notes too.
    Many of the blues& jazz players I play with like it: and again it' s personal taste.
  12. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    I play up the neck on the E A D string all the time because I want that tone, instead of playing back down by the nut.

    So it is more about the tone and what fingering you are comfortable with, than technique in my opinion.

    Simandl is URB method, used sometimes on Fretless in lower position.

  13. What does a guitarist know? Hiding behind 2 extra strings ;)

    Sometimes I don't like or want the brightness that comes from playing in the lower frets. Sometimes I just want to use a particular fingering pattern that uses all 4 strings. Its so subjective that I can't imagine anyone having an absolute answer. Whatever you think is right for the song me thinks.

    - Andrew
  14. one technique i like to use (4-string) is to use fretted notes on the E string for the lowest note within a particular riff or part of a song. I like a big round and "punchy" sound so fretted notes on the E string tend to accentuate the lower notes, especially when they reslove a phrase.

    but it's really just personal preference.
  15. Playing the thicker strings higher up the neck instead of the thinner strings on the first couple frets yields a much bigger, fatter, less harsh sound.

    It can also be easier position wise for certain lines... if you're already playing on the G string and want to ascend a couple notes you have to make a position switch. If you're playing the same thing on the D string down the neck, no position switch necessary.
  16. waxbass


    Nov 13, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Tell your guitarist to take whatever it is he takes when he needs to relax. If he doesn't like your tone that's one thing. But where you're playing on the neck really shouldn't be a concern. Unless what he's trying to say is he want's you at a lower octave......

    I think where you are on the neck is an issue of fluidity. Where are you coming from and where are you going???? Did you just slide up to an octave thus settin yourself up for the bridge where it's been decided you were going to play your line in the upper register and then slide back down to middle e to hit the chorus so you can play a descending line down to the low e to finish the song?? You know....Where you are will usually be determined by where you just came from and where your going ;)

    wzx :smug:
  17. I'll play G(15th Fret E) to get that really dense sound...or i'll play G on the 5th fret of D to get the bright sound...It's all about the tone you get,and you like...not what your guitarist likes:)
  18. Gentlemen, seems we have a consensus.

    Position is about TONE! And indeed it is.

    Go for the tone :)
  19. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    My bass teacher played both electric and upright so he taught me Simandl fingering, although I almost never play upright. But it actually can come in handy on electric when playing lengthy ostinatos because your fingers are reinforced against getting tired.

    I have relatively small hands but I could play any long scale bass with little difficulty because I'm not trying to play it like a guitar. On the other hand (no pun intended), I occasionally switch to using all four fingers if I want to avoid a position switch.

    Also, when I'm playing my short scale Jerry Jones bass, I may use 1-2-3-4 fingering more often.

    One the great joys (read: annoying obsessions) that a bass player can have is to try different positions for both the left and right hands to see what different sounds can be achieved. With a good bass and sensitive amp, you'd be surprised at the great variety of sounds you can get just by changing your fingering slightly.

    In the old days a lot electric bassists started as guitarists or as upright players. You could usually tell who was which by their fingering!

    The main thing to consider when fingering is to try to be consistent with the method you use in any particular situation. If you play 1-2-4 below the fifth fret and 1-2-3-4 above it, try to do that all the time and if you make an exception to that rule, try to make the exception consistent (e.g.: "in this tune there's a lick that I play with all four fingers where I normally would play with three but it's OK because I'll always play this lick with four fingers")
  20. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I notice that I like to go an octave up on the same string towards the end of some songs if a chorus is doubled. I like playing up on the neck to build tension, or during solos. If you are doubling a heavy riff, then you should play near the nut, since you want it to be as heavy as possible. So if you are playing that syle of music way up on the neck, then the guitarist is justified in what he is saying.