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position on neck?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Meat, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. Meat


    Oct 24, 2010
    Hey all, i noticed recently that when i play bass for my band i always play as close to the top of the bass (tward the nut), but when i see other bands play live the bassist plays about half way down the neck. what are the pros and cons of this? is it just for the higher sound?
  2. Playing higher up gives you more choices with less stretching. You can go up, down and across. If you're down by the nut, you can pretty much only go up.

    Depends on the tune as well.
  3. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    Also the notes sound different when played on different strings in different positions on the neck. For example, the same note "C" can be played on the E string (8th fret) and the A string (3rd fret). But their timbres are different. I'll sometimes choose where to play a note based on the timbre I'm after.

    Not sure if timbre is the precise term to describe what I'm speaking of but you get the idea.
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    There are basically 2 main reasons to choose to play higher up:
    - the timber of the note
    - the moveable scale shapes are easier to apply.
  5. Samsound


    Sep 28, 2010
    Incudentally, this is one of the top reasons to go with a fiver - more time in the phat zone and less in the piano zone.
  6. +1. I like to play in the middle of the fretboard, I find it easier, however, the band wants me to use the lower notes - so I do.
  7. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    I suspect your band is making ignorant assumptions.
  8. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    Well maybe.

    What if he's playing an F on the eight fret of the A string but his band wants the low F on the E string? That wouldn't be ignorant of them necessarily.

    Or perhaps he's noodling around too much in the upper register and his band just wants him to lay down the foundation. Perhaps this is their way of communicating that to him?

    Tough to know without hearing their side.
  9. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    I tend to prefer mid to upper neck positions, unless the song calls for first position .. reasons being ... comfort for aging shoulders, easier fingering for arthritic hands, and probably most important most of the time the 'punchier' tone tends to articulate and cut in the mix better with less 'woof' ( I like old rounds) ... also, to a much smaller extent, it gives me the ability to slide up into the notes as needed ... JMHO
  10. Yes it is the F they do not like. I've been playing the key of C at the 8th fret. They like me to play the C on the A string 3rd fret and grab the F on the E string as you mentioned.

    It's a little thing, I don't mind. Puts me in the same spot for the key of G stuff.
  11. DarkArwen


    Oct 29, 2009
    What Mambo said. Plus I have shorter fingers so player higer up is a lot more comfortable for me, in addition to giving me more choices.
  12. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    Wow - pretty lucky guess on my part.

    So they prefer the sound of the low F to the one up an octave. Do you not like the low F in that part of the song? I must say that it would be tough for me to play in a band that told me which register to play a specific note in. Guess it depends on how musically mature they are and you are. If they are more advanced musically than you and their ears are better, then maybe you just trust them on this? I've deferred to the opinion of stronger musicians at times. Could be a good learning opportunity.

    If the guitarist is playing up the neck and the keys are playing in a higher register, it could sound very empty with you playing in the middle of the neck. Whereas a low F would fill out the overall sound very well. If others are playing in the lower register already, then you playing in a higher register would help you to cut thru the mix. It's about covering the sonic spectrum and not all playing in the same note range. Not a hard and fast rule but it does create a fuller sound and does prevent muddiness.
  13. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I wonder if you'd get the same ease-of-play and punch in the 1st position of a medium-scale bass as you would in 2nd or 3rd position on a long-scale bass?
  14. fmoore60


    Jun 11, 2008
    Jonestown, PA
    =1 Yes Yes Yes PHAT
  15. It is, and you splet it correctly :)
  16. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    You get easier access to notes, and also, personally, I like the A string C to E because of how punchy the note sounds when I get the right hold of that string.
  17. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    This is why I am learning to play my 5-string - to stay in the middle and have 2 the bottom 2 octaves easily reachable.

    I also find that when I am playing in the nut position, I use more open strings. They sound very different than fretted notes, are harder to mute and it makes it harder to change keys as you learn patterns where you are not fretting some of the notes.
  18. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    The reasons described above are good arguments for exploring a five-string. I guess what's keeping me from getting one is the ginormously wide necks that feel really uncomfortable. Take the Fender American P-Bass V. I can barely reach the low "B" string with the fingers of my fretting hand. That sort of inhibits good technique, making proper note production more difficult than it should be.

    I suppose I could look for a 5er with narrow string spacing. But even a five with tighter spacing than a four (most of them are narrower string-to-string, right?), the overall width of the neck is prohibitive for me in many cases.
  19. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Longer fingered or open strings sound different than shorter fingered strings, so your choice of position to play in should be according to the sound you want out of the string for a given note. Even on a fiver this is true.

    So, you get good at position changes, as well as playing in position.
  20. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    You could find a nice four string and sacrifice the g string.

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