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Right Hand Location

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by David Abrams, Mar 2, 2003.


  1. Todd Coolman, in his book, The Bottom Line, makes the useful distinction between "ping" (attack) and "ring" (sustain). He suggests placing the right hand primarily within the area of 3 inches from the bottom of the neck in order to obtain the best "ping" and "ring". He says you can obtain more sustain by plucking higher on the fingerboard and more attack by playing lower to the bottom of the fingerboard. I am wondering if this distinction is true, since Ray Brown has great "ping" and amazing "ring", while playing primarily at the very bottom of the fingerboard. While Percy Heath has a good balance of both "ping" and "ring" as he tends to pluck much higher on the fingerboard.

    What do others suggest as the best place for the right hand?
     
  2. Experiment. Not all fingerboards are the same length, basses are different, strings are different, people's hands are different, and the soundspeople are after are different. A couple inches either way makes a huge difference.
     
  3. Don P

    Don P

    Jun 2, 2001
    Not to mention the set up of the bass..oops, I just did.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Man, I can't believe you left a big fat straight line like that just dangling out there in the wind for any sophomoric idiot to jump on. Thank god we're all mature enough down here to leave such things alone. :)
     
  5. On the bow. :)

    That's my preference, but I guess you're asking about pizz, huh?

    I ususally pluck about halfway between my left hand and the bridge for a warm, blossoming tone. If I want to cut more, I'll go closer to the left hand.
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald stated, "...you want to have a wide range of timbral options available to you at all times, right? I know that if I'm really trying to drive the groove and put a serious HUMP in it, I'll be playing down at the bottom of the fingerboard. On the other hand, when the music calls for a softer, smoother sound (as in a ballad, or a place in the music where you are letting someone else define the time, etc. ), it's often a good idea to move up higher and use that color. I think it's good to feel like you can grab any color you want at any time, so I practice moving my right hand location based on what color I'm hearing at the moment."

    That's very important, Chris. However, it is a real problem to play different colors, while simultaneously playing with your own individual personal tone in all registers, as Ray Drummond does with his big, weighty tone in all registers, if you don't maintaint the right hand in pretty much the same location and same angle of plucking the strings?

    As Ray Drummond stated in a recent interview, "I try to have a consistent tone no matter where I am on the bass, and my right-hand angle stays constant now matter how fast I'm playing," says Ray, who plucks with two fingers. "There's a misconception that when you play fast you have to play lighter. You can, but you can also play intensely at fast tempos. It's something you have to practice, and when you do, you find your fingers stay in the same position. There are implications for the left hand, too. When you play loud the string moves a greater distance, so you have to make left-hand adjustments to account for that."