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Shoudl I extend my left elbow away from my body?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CJK84, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    In New Orleans, I recently saw a highly skilled upright bassist who was part of an instrumental duo (w/ electric guitarist).

    His technique appeared superb and I tried to pick up some pointers for my fretted electric bass playing.

    At times he raised his left elbow quite high - about to shoulder height I'd say. If I recall correctly, he did this when playing close to the nut - probably to minimize wrist angle and/or to keep his left hand "squared" to the fingerboard.

    Playing eb, my elbow usually remains fairly stationary - and is pretty close to my torso.

    Should I, at times, extend my left elbow (away from my body) to a greater-than-normal distance?

    If so, what's the benefit on eb?
  2. Bruiser


    Jan 12, 2004
    I think that anything which allows your wrist to remain straight is a good idea. I often play with my elbow out for that reason.

  3. You don't want your elbow hanging around your torso when it makes your wrist angle get funny, but you don't want to send it way out there either. Keep it within reason on both ends. If it feels strange, there's a good chance it is.
  4. I don't think that you should be forcing your arm unnaturally either way. As said by lemur, you should really be trying to keep your wrist in a comfortable and preferably straight position. Whatever feels most relaxed is generally going to work best for you.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Any kind of upright bass does require a totally different technique and acoustic Double Bass generally has longer thicker strings and much higher action - both of which mean it is a very different physical exercise to playing bass guitar.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I teach my students by getting them to rest their left hand on their knee and relax it - it should rest with fingers and thumb sort of half closed. You then place that shape round the neck and there you have it - the ideal playing position - you should able to reach accross four frets with virtually no stretching.

    The aim then is a constantly relaxed and as straight as possible wrist, and the elbow serves to put the wrist in the right place, to maintain the correct shape. The shoulder works to put the elbow in the right position... and so on :)

    Make sure you keep your shoulders 'down' and relaxed at all times, this really is key I think in not getting tense and uptight...

    The thing is stay realxed (not as easy as it sounds - physical stretches as a warm up will help - you'll need someone to demonstrate in person)