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Relearning my fretting hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Travisx2112, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. I posted some videos on YouTube last week of me playing Hysteria and Time is Running out by Muse on bass. One person commented that I play Hysteria amazingly well considering that I only use my index finger 70% of the time. Some other people didnt like that and said I was playing it the hard way (which is probably true) so now I'm trying to re-learn how to play my favorite instrument using more fingers and it's making me enjoy playing it a lot less because this is so frustrating. I mean, I have gradually been getting better, but one thing I've realized that annoys me most is that there are 1234523095483498 million different ways to play the songs that I can normally play, but with more fingers and I cant decide how to play them! I like just picking it up, hearing something a couple of times and going "OH! thats how its supposed to sound, so that's how I'll play it" rather than "well, I know how it sounds, but where should I put my index and ring fingers on the board to do that?" Spider exercises hurt my wrist a lot which is annoying. For example, when I watch Chris plays Hysteria on the HAARP DVD, he makes it look easy and he makes it look GOOD. I cant do that and its frustrating. /end rant.
    My YouTube account

    Any tips?
  2. dmilt23451


    Sep 5, 2007
    Dallas TX
    Keep up the hard work...if you continue to re-learn you will be able to play fast lines much easier, and you wont tire as fast because you wont be jerking your arm all over your fretboard.
  3. OliverH


    Aug 2, 2008
    I try to keep things as simple as possible by staying in the one position as long as possible, which usually helps speed and technique unless there are some awkward transitions between two notes (like the same fret on the E and then on the A string).
  4. Wow! I've never seen anyone do that before! You're playing style reminds me of a pedal steel player.

    Ultimately, sound counts. If you can sound like you want with your style, that's cool. dmit is right- more fingers will allow you to save a ton of arm movement and play faster (though your tone will change because you won't be sliding all the time).

    You should try a fretless-- with all that sliding, it could sound really cool! You would totally have your own sound.
  5. I guess I'll keep trying this then. I'm sure it'll pay off in the end.
  6. Actually this is very frustrating. I was trying to play Monster Hospital by Metric, in which Josh does slide around quite a bit, which normally I would be fine with but now I'm very disoriented.
  7. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Well, Kim Deal of The Pixies just uses her index finger too, so if you want some validation I guess you could look to here.

    In watching your Youtube videos I think you could benefit from getting your left thumb on the back of the neck and play on the tips of your fingers right behind the fret wire.

    The problem with using one finger and jumping up and down the neck is not as much a question of speed but how can you possibly connect the notes like that? Not to mention that your accuracy really suffers if you're trying to jump more that a perfect 4th.
  8. I have an example of something that I would NOT be able to play using only my index finger, so I am trying to play it using all of my fingers. Muse - Osaka Jam aka "Bass & Drum"

    It's all played on the low D string, Chris' bass is tuned DADG, so I am adaptable for things that I cant possibly play accurately in my style.

    What do you mean by connecting the notes, and whats a perfect 4th?
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Kim Deal is a horrible bassist who got real lucky to have found Frank Black. Anyone who looks to her for technique advice gets what they deserve.

    You should never have pain. It sounds like if you're serious about getting better, using more than one finger, and not having pain, you need a qualified teacher to straighten you out.
  10. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    I never said she was good. I was just citing another "pro" bass player as is the norm when someone wants validation for their technique. See also: Gary Willis when people start gushing about floppy thumb technique.
  11. Just be patient, keep trying to get better. Self improvement is NEVER easy, music is NOT easy. Try adjusting your attitude and understand that the learning process itself can be fun and interesting.
  12. L-A


    Jul 17, 2008
    Play the spider exercises s l o w. My bass teacher made me start at 30 bps. On my first two months I couldn't go past the third position without taking a break to stretch/relax my wrist and forearm (which is mandatory, btw). Now I have no strength problem for any of my four fingers.

    Do them for a warm-up every time you can, and don't try to distort your actual playing by forcing another method. As you grow more used to reaching for frets with all of your fingers, it will blend into your playing. You will do it out of laziness :)
  13. Are you supposed to play each note one right after the other and not remove your fingers on any of the frets for this one? :)
    String: Fret
    E: 1 (index)
    A: 2 (middle)
    D: 3 (ring)
    G: 4 (pinky)
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    You want economy of motion...keeping all of your fingers "on" the neck would help in that regard.

    You may want to try 'the spider' exercise on TWO strings (E-A; A-D; D-G).
    You may need to use your plucking hand to hold the fretting hand's fingers down...until your muscle memory kicks in.
  15. I've gotta say, I've been practicing a different way of playing Hysteria using up to the 12th fret (as in thats as high as I go on any of the strings) Edit: and less open strings.... to play the main riff and using all of my fingers, and now I cant imagine playing it another way! Thank you guys so much for pushing me in the right direction!!! This whole more fingers thing ROCKS!

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