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proper left hand technique R-5-8

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by drewphishes, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. drewphishes

    drewphishes Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2017
    Was wondering if anyone had any excerices to help me practice this.

    Right row I am playing like this

    Root - 2nd finger (sometimes 1st)
    5- 4th finger

    And them I am barring the 8 with my 4th finger. But my speed isnt great moving that pinky.

    Sometimes I try

    Root - 1
    5 - 3rd finger
    8 - 4th and that feels a bit better

    any excerices or insight will help;
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  2. There is a thing called "one finger per fret". That pattern takes place over four frets and we have four fingers.

    Major Scale Box - showing scale degree numbers.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Place the box's R over the chord's root note - C at the 4th string 8th fret. Then play the R-5-8-5 catching the notes with whatever finger is used for that fret. Running your scales using the box - after a zillion scales - your fingers just follow the box's pattern.

    That's the beginnings - making that sound like a groove comes in about a month.....

    Now that said; work toward not even thinking about which finger to use and sooner or later you will find that your fingers take over and decide which one will catch the next note. So learn the four finger four fret pattern, but, don't fixate on it.

    I know that is kinda like the old guys saying to feel it. When I started out - telling me to feel it - as far as I was concerned was a cop out; I don't feel anything yet, and that is why I'm asking the question.

    Learn the right way, but, all of our hands are different. If your fingers get the job done doing what they think best - let them.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  3. drewphishes

    drewphishes Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2017
    no offense and I appreciatethe advice. but I know the box pattern of the scales. What I am asking for is some help on technique to get from 5 to 8. It flows easily when 6 and 7 are involved but when going from 5 to 8 I feel awkward. just looking for some advice on that
  4. I'm not a believer that there is any one "proper" technique. It will vary from player to player and from song to song.

    Personally I play the pattern R-5-8 using my 1st and 4th fingers. Here are a few pointers for getting that 4th finger moving:

    Keep your hand (and entire body) as loose and relaxed as possible. Tension is not good for speed or accuracy.

    Move your 3rd and 4th fingers together as a unit. Don't try to move the 4th finger independently. I like to think of my ring and pinky fingers as "buddies" that help each other out.

    When you move your finger over one string, from the 5 to the 8, try to lift your finger as little as possible. The name of the game is small, economical movements.

    Here's a couple of specific exercises for your practice routine:

    Whatever exercise you happen to be working on (let's say major scales in every key) try playing that exercise using ONLY your 4th finger.

    Now, do the same thing, but this time, use your 1st and 4th fingers only. Try to keep your fingers incredibly relaxed, and the fretting force comes from a slight rotation of the entire hand, like you are turning a door knob. By using this "relaxed hand, fingers 1-4" technique, I find myself able to play root-5th-octave bass lines for hours with minimal fatigue. (For genres of music that require more complex fingerings, I would use different techniques.)
  5. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I would most often play 1-5-8 with middle, pinkie, pinkie ... leaving the index finger to hit the 3 or the 6 or whatever it can reach for leading, trailing and transitional notes. The pinkie finger is often supported by the ring finger (it's just the anatomy of the hand, really). I'm not barre'ing the 5 and 8, more of a rolling-off from one to the other, muting with the left hand. Good technique with left hand string muting is essential.
    MCF, Thumb n Fingers and Atshen like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Honestly, I think @MalcolmAmos nailed it. You want to practice patterns to "program" your fingers. Then when the songs starts, you just play.

    To stick to your topic, my ring finger is a little "stronger" than my pinky. So I might move the "box" over one fret. In other words, if I were playing a lot of octave work with some 5s thrown in here and there, I might use my index finger for the root and my ring finger to bridge two strings for the 5 and 8. But that's only if I'm doing that for a long time....like perhaps the bass line to "Two Tickets to Paradise" by Eddie Money for instance.

    But if it's just a passing phrase, I would just stick to the one finger per fret and do it as @RustyAxe described.

    Edit: Hey yer new here. Welcome to TalkBass!
    Thumb n Fingers and Atshen like this.
  7. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I agree. Sometimes I run into the same situations playing a line. When this happens, I practice that line first with the proper technique. And work on developing the strength and speed to do the line. At the same time I also work on developing a more comfortable relaxed way of playing it. I found that tension limits my accuracy, speed, and timing.
  8. IBJammin


    Apr 16, 2015
    pointer - ring - pinkie is how I usually hit the 1-5-8 barre chord type pattern. Also may depend on where I am going next, or what I just came from, but if I'm creating a pocket and moving around for different chords, that's usually how I groove.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    R 5 8, I use
    Finger 1 ,pinkie,pinkie.
    The pinkie is a tough one to train
    and will take some time.
  10. Well it's really how is best for you. If pinky, pinky is not comfortable - work on it. If it still is uncomfortable then find another way. Right now I do a lot of things with just my middle finger. Moving it where needed.

    I think you asked about speed. Just using the middle finger is probably not the fastest, but, with what we do it seems to get the job done.

    Good luck which ever way you go.
  11. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I use index or middle, then ring and pinky.

    I prefer to use seperate finger, I'm not very confortable to do the barring thingy.

    As for an exercise ... well play Easily - Red Hot Chili Peppers

    There is a line in the chorus that outline a Cmaj chord with the root-fifth-octave-third that will challenge your fingering if you aren't use to use all 4 fingers accross all the strings.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  12. rogerb


    Aug 31, 2010
    As others have said forget barring, index, ring, pinky is the success formula. Sure it needs practice to get that pinky happening, but you need it anyway for lots of other stuff too! Scales go a long way to get the pinky under control, takes a month or two here, not a day.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  13. I do a lot of octaves like this too.

    Index------------------- pinky on root

    It may be a stretch in the lower frets, but I have big hands.

    Me too... just not on bass ;).
  14. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    It's totally NOT proper, but if it's on the E string, I usually use my thumb for the root and second and third finger for the 5& 8 or Octv.This leaves my index finger open to play the 3rd above the octv.
    If it's on the A string, I'll use my index for the one and Barr the 5& Octv with my pinky.
    Again, nothing 'proper' about it, but it works for me.
    lostreality likes this.
  15. ba55i5t


    May 24, 2006
    Yep and the 3rd is in there too. Why not play the 3rd on the E string 12 fret and roll the middle finger to hit 5th octave?

    If I'm playing Sir Duke which has a frequent root 5 8 pattern I play index ring pinky. Just comfortable is all.
  16. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    I've had a lot of luck using my nose on the root, my elbow on the 5 and my knuckle on the octave. ... Oh yeah, and I pluck with my big toe. ... Don't knock till you've tried it. ... This is a joke for all you who give up humour for Lent at Easter.

    One finger per fret will get you there but also use stretch exercises to practice moving up the next. That's playing from G on E-string 3rd Fret to G on G-string 12-fret.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  17. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I play it different ways depending on the context; what notes proceed or follow that pattern will determine which fingering makes the most sense. I'll use:
    - 1st, 3rd, 4th
    - 1st, 3rd, 3rd (barre)
    - 2nd, 3rd, 4th
    - 1st, 2nd, 3rd
    ...all depending on what the passage is doing.
    Atshen and Gospel Bass Player like this.
  18. As always, a very well thought out, simple reply. We at Talkbass appreciate your insight and instruction.
    Atshen likes this.
  19. Thanks for the kind words.
    Atshen likes this.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'm usually big finger, pinky, and pinky, unless I play the 8 and 5 first with 2nd and or 3rd fingers, and decnde on the spur of the moment so add the root, in which case.... the thumb - if it's on the E. I have huge hands and that isn't a stretch for me; your mileage may vary.

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