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Please Help Me W/ My Left Hand Fretting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Trist6075, May 30, 2003.

  1. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    I just started taking lessons again and my instructor told me I need to fix my L.H. technique so that my fingers stay spaces one fret apart. The main thing is my pinky, but also I am having trouble understanding what the right position is for holding the neck so that I don't get Carpel Tunel. I seems as if I can't play in this position without my wrist being in some awkward position. I remember a former teacher telling me to push down on the strings with my finger tips, and that I should feel the tension in my forearm and not in the wrist. Is there anything else you guys can think of to help me out. Exercises, tips, etc.
  2. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I try to fret notes right against the fret. E.g. a G on the E string, would find my finger right next to the 3rd fret. This makes a slightly cleaner tone and will make it much easier should you decide to take up fretless.

    I also try to use the tips of my fingers. Another thought is to try to time the press of your left hand with the pluck of your right. I don't want to waste energy holding down a note that is not going to be sounded for another 1/2 second :p

    I'm all about economy of motion when I play. I've been working hard on it for over 4 years and it's starting to pay off. But, I still have a long way to go.

    I try to keep my left thumb on the centerline of the back of the neck or below (towards the treble side). This makes it easier to get my fingertips on the strings and my fingers (left) coming at the board from an angle close to perpendicular. I've actaully seen pros playing 5,6,7 strings who don't even move their thumbs to the back of the neck - they just rest it on the BOTTOM edge of the fingerboard.

    In short, I try to never let my thumb go over the top of the neck under any circumstances.

    One other rule I try to live by includes always trying to alternate my right hand fingers in practice. When performing, I play what I play, but I think about what I play when I practice (easy for me to say).

    As far as one finger per fret goes, I'm able to do that but I don't hover the fingers over the frets - especially for the wider spacings down at the low end of the board. I move my hand in kind of a rolling motion (hard to describe) to make longer jumps. In other words, if you try to hold all four left hand fingers at the spacing requiured when playing in first postition, you will hurt yourself quickly unless you have giant hands. I could never do this, so I worked on being very smooth in this rocking motion I've described. It's mostly in your wrist.

    Remember tension is the enemy of groove. If you are contorting your hands in any way, you should re-think your approach to playing that passage. Use your head as well as your fingers and you will make fast progress.

    Good luck. Rock on.

  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Keep your wrist straight and use a light touch.
  4. You may be interested in buying a copy of "Bass Fitness: An Exercising Handbook" by Joquin Des Pres. It has some basic LH fretting exercises. You could probably invent them yourself because they're pretty simple.
  5. When I started to refine my LH technique, someone told me that too. It's good advice.

    However, if you use a light touch, you may benefit from lowering your action. It helped me, because I have slender fingers and I don't really like pressing down hard, which was necessary the way my bass was setup.
  6. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Although it might not look as cool, you could try wearing the bass higher. I've recently started to do this after getting into Stu Hamm, and buying his video. When you reach a comfortable hight, you'll find you be able to keep the thumb on the back of the neck, and arch the finger over the front, so as to fret with the fingertips. Even in the lower fret positions. You'll also find slapping easier.

    As it goes you'll probably fond everything easier with it higher.
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Wear your bass higher and at a 45 degree angle if you're in the lower positions on the neck. This puts less stress on your LH wrist. If the wrist still too curved and it's causing you discomfort, you can (gasp) wrap your thumb around the neck. That's not the most dextrous position as far as fretting and position changes go, but it relieves the bend in your wrist.

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