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playing vertically: good balance, no wrist tension

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JimmyTheSaint, Mar 15, 2005.


  1. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I was searching through lots of discussions on the forum regarding wrist pain from the strain of fretting the first few frets, and other RSI problems due to the bass guitar's asymmetric playing position. Lots of remarks too about other pain due to neck diving basses preventing a more ergonomic playing angle. They *all* want to go horizontal, by the way--it's just a question of degree. The best solution I see recommended is for a strap that has enough friction to hold the bass's angle against its unbalanced weight. I've never found a strap that worked this way comfortably enough for me. Yet I've always wanted to translate the playing angle of the Chapman Stick to bass guitar. I don't have a Stick any more, but I do have a Ztar mini-z that I use for two-hand tapping (it has strings too), which is the most comfortable guitar-esque instrument I've ever played because you can even sit it vertically on your lap.

    From this vertical experience, and also looking at pictures of people playing Warr guitars, I had the idea of attaching my 10lb. 6-string bass guitar's strap locks to the outer edge of both horns, then playing it Warr-style, but fingering, not tapping or picking. In this configuration, I'm able to use the slider strap that so many people on this forum have reported as unusable for bass guitar, even though the even distribution of weight onto both shoulders would be desirable. This is working out really well, the only downside being that the playing position is limited when sitting down because the neck contacts my chest at frets 6-8 and my plucking hand can't reach down to the pickups when sitting because it contacts my right leg.

    Standing, however, the bass rests naturally at about a 20-degree angle with the neck about two inches from my cheek at the first fret. The neck is away from my body down to the 14th fret, past which you have to fret double-bass style anyway (you lose the pinky option) due to the changed wrist position. The right hand fingering angle is perfectly fine, but a little changed, and the whole neck is just visible if I need to look down. As an additional technigue, plucking over the neck, around fret 12, is extremely comfortable (the Stick playing position), although the resulting tone has limited use.

    As a whole, this Warr-style position with the slider strap is entirely strain free on the wrists and shoulders, and doesn't limit plucking-style technique except when sitting down. Using a pick is out, and the changed geometry throws off your orientation just enough that it took me a couple days' practice to fret with my left hand without having to look. As a whole, though, this technique seems so obvious to me that I wonder if anyone else has tried it and what their experience is?
     
  2. I've got a nice little line of holes walking up the side of my bass left over from when I was trying to achieve a vertical position. I ended up leaving the bridge end button in the usual place and moving the other one to the face of the bass, on the other side of the neck. In essence, I've achieved about the same thing that you have, but I can still rotate more horizontal when I want to. I think an upright position is cool, but I don't like having the neck so close to my body, as it makes my elbow bend too sharply for my tastes. It also mucks up my slapping and my pick playing, so I don't do it. I still angle, though. If I were mostly a fingerstyle player who stayed down low, my position would be different.
     
  3. Man, I was expecting to see Fieldy bashing, not a legitimate suggestion about playing position. I'm lucky enough to have a bass that balances in such a way that I can adjust it to almost any angle and the friction of the strap will hold it there. I occasionally swing it up to something like 35-40 degrees for playing down low. Very comfy.
     
  4. xonebass

    xonebass

    Feb 17, 2005
    Orange, CA
    I really dig this idea, but I'm a little unclear on how you achieved it. Is there anyway you can post a picture of the setup or a picture of you playing with this setup? Thanks.
     
  5. [​IMG]
    This is what we are talking about. My bass has its strap buttons where the green one does, and Jimmy's is more like the blue one's.
     
  6. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    Right. Thanks for saving me from photographing and Photoshopping.
    lemur821 is right that the left elbow bends more, but that's minimal in my setup and not obtrusive. Maybe my position is less vertical than lemur821's. Slapping and using a pick are both out, though as I mentioned there are more options for plucking over the neck, if you find that useful.

    Since my whole aim was to exploit the shoulder and back friendliness of the slider strap, I can't conveniently rotate horizontally more than a tiny bit. I did, however, attach a rubber chair leg stopper over the strap lock on the outside of the slider strap at the short horn. For practicing, I can then sit down and play at a high comfortable angle without neck diving or the bass sliding down off my right leg as every bass wants to do, except the Steinberger I used to have. The upper horn rests against my chest with no weight and the thing sits so stably on my lap I can reach out to the computer keyboard to adjust stuff while practicing. I can stand up any time and the guitar goes vertical again in the slider strap.
     
  7. R3d

    R3d

    Nov 21, 2004
    Southern IL
    Glad I'm not the only one thinking this is a more comfortable position on the wrist. My bass seems to have a fairly heavy neck, so I'm constantly lifting. I thought maybe I just needed a more grippy strap, but then realized it would just pull on my shirt. :meh: I've tried playing with the bass higher up on my chest, but my strap only gets so short and that doesn't really correct the tilting.

    Thought I'd seen someone wearing a strap over their shoulder with an additional strap round their waist to keep the bass in the right spot. Was I just seeing things?
     
  8.  
  9. i think i've seen a strap advertised somewhere that looked something like that, IIRC it kinda went over both shoulders and round the chest i think. claimed to spread the weight better, dunno 'bout anything else. anyone else seen this? looked a bit crap imho, but if it works...
     
  10. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    After looking at some Warr players, I moved the post on the big horn down to almost the middle of where the body curves in. This makes the imaginary line running through the strap locks parallel to the ground while the bass is in playing position. This evens out the straps on my slider strap, enabling it to distribute the weight more evenly onto both shoulders, and for the slider strap's buckle to stay centered in the middle of my upper back. It's a keeper, inspired by this great movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0311289/
     
  11. beerthebear

    beerthebear BEADG

    Apr 8, 2005
    Stockton, Cali
    Just curious, when you have your bass this vertical, do you have left hand problems with fret access 10th fret and higher?
     
  12. Yikes! Necropost!

    I don't have any trouble getting to high frets with a vertical bass. I actually find it a little easier to get my pinky up around the 20th fret if I tilt the bass up. I tend to keep the bass level-ish with only a slight slant, and combine tilting the bass up a bit more and leaning over it when I need reach, rather than putting the bass as vertical as I can, but when I do tilt it up a lot, my fretboard access is about the same.
     
  13. I like to have my bass at about 40 to 45 to the floor. My sixer doesn't balance as well as my four string, but I raised it up and it is better now.

    lowsound
     
  14. beerthebear

    beerthebear BEADG

    Apr 8, 2005
    Stockton, Cali
    yeah I know I did a search about holding a bass vertical and even put a post asking about it, but I didnt get any good information about it. I was actually experimenting with the strap and actually found a way that keeps it vertical as well as keep it in the middle of my body where the belt buckle is. Sounds kinda lame, but I found if I put the strap between my legs rather than around my right waist it stays perfectly up, and in the middle of my body. Just wondering if anybody else has tried anymore ideas. The idea of moving the straplok connectors sounds great, but im scared to drill any holes in my bass. Pretty soon I will have a swiss cheese bass.....
     
  15. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
  16. beerthebear

    beerthebear BEADG

    Apr 8, 2005
    Stockton, Cali
    Pretty neat double bass, electric bass hybrid. Does it sound similar to a double rather than a electric?
     
  17. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    It pretty much sounds like an electric, but the large chambered body alters that a little. Its sustain is freakish, though.

    The Barker sponsored forum is at http://www.talkbass.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=133
     
  18. beerthebear

    beerthebear BEADG

    Apr 8, 2005
    Stockton, Cali
    Looks neat, too bad its a little big for my tastes (my opinion only of course). But as for keeping just a regular electric more upright is still a challenge. Also it really depends on which bass you do have, cause the center of gravity is going to be different on many of them. Like putting the strap in between my legs works with my Ibanez, but then it doesnt with my squire. I just wonder if there is a way to attach my straplok on the bass without having to screw it in, to test where on the body I should place it, when I actually do drill holes. I tried lemur's way, and the body of the bass doesnt stay close to my body, and the way you have it makes it a little too hard to put it in a horizontal position if "need be". I have actually seen some people with straps that look like they are connected to the bottom of the fret board. Shoot!!! I gues anybody else have any great ideas?