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"Proper" Right Hand Positioning

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Lenmonster, Dec 22, 2001.

  1. I have a question. I've been told by other students in my teacher, other bass students in the Jazz program, and even the Jazz guitar instructor (who lowered my jury score for this), that my right hand technique is "wrong." When I do two finger pizz, I have my hand "sideways"...more like on an electric bass. When I use one finger, the fingers are more parallel to the strings, and I'm striking with the whole side of my finger, but the only way I can seem to get fast pizz runs is to use my fingertips, and have my hand more perpendicular to the strings.

    So, I thought this was "wrong," but I was just browsing back through Rufus Reid's "Evolving Bassist" and this is precisely how he shows the two finger technique. Additionally, the Jazz guitar teacher who marked off and said "right hand needs work" on the jury sheet, commented that I'm getting a really good sound given this hand position.

    So, should I tell my teachers "this is just the way I play," or should I try to get my fingers more parallel to the strings? The thing is, when they are like that, I can't seem to get them out of the way of each other to do faster stuff. Does that make sense?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I would have to hear / see what you're doing to be sure, but it sounds to me like you're doing it right. Going to the perpendicular 2 finger things requires a lot more effort to get a full sound, at the expense of stamina.

    I've seen some guys (Essiet Essiet for one) who have a really fast right hand and keep their hand in a more parallel position with the strings. I'm not one, and I don't see it too often.
  3. I want to see this teacher tell Michael Moore he doesn't know how to play bass. Moore does just what you're doing, and what you see Rufus doing, i.e., laying down time with two fingers pointing generally downward, and soloing with fingers at right angle to the string. Furthermore, in solo position, his right thumb is on the edge of the fingerboard and pointing up, not across or down. I have watched him play long eighth note phrases at 320 meter without batting an eyelash.
    Michael uses fingers down playing time below the octave, solo position when playing time above the octave (generally) and in all registers when soloing.
    On the other hand, guys like Steve LaSpina and Harvie Swartz will solo at the same speed with fingers more like 45 degrees downward. The moral being that you do what works best for you, same as french bow vs. german bow. Which brings us to the bitter reality. Right now you have a biased teacher who controls your grade. Going back to the bow analogy, regardless of which bow he uses, Gary Karr wants his students to know both. I don't know if this helps.
  4. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    I've come to the conclusion that the bottom line is.....DOES IT SOUND GOOD......Instruction is very beneficial to get a good foundation, this applies to technique as well as theory and composing bass lines.

    But if your getting good results (i.e. playing with a bit of an unorthodox style or bending the rules of theory now and then) and what your playing SOUNDS good......then as a musician that is what you are trying to achieve.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Kev & Don are dead on.

    I asked my first slab-teacher, Howard Post, how-come Stanley Clarke played with his fingers parallel to the strings. Howard said, "That's one of those things you're supposed to discover yourself -- when and how to switch from parallel to perpendicular, and how it changes your sound."

    It does sound like you would be wise to check into walking lines with two fingers more-or-less parallel. Much of many folks' walking-popping comes in that position.

    The only other thing I would add to Kev's post is that, in addition to good results and sound, make sure your posture and hand-position are not causing you physical harm.

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