Simandl or One Finger One Fret or Both?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CaribooBass, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. CaribooBass


    Nov 30, 2017
    I have stumbled upon an interesting change in my bass playing. As you have seen in my threads I have found myself absolutely enthralled with playing fretless. So I was looking on the internet searching for ways to understand and play the bass better and came across an interesting video.
    It showed how to use the one finger per fret technique and combine it with F Simandl, new method for the double bass. Simandl is great for parts in the lower register of the neck and O.F.P.F is better in the higher register on the neck.
    I picked up the Simandl books at the library and found my playing is smoother now.
    Has any else tried this and if so how has it worked out for you? Do you have any advice for me?

    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I use both, everywhere on the neck, depending more on what I’m playing than where on the neck it is. I have no real advice, except to figure out as many fingerings as possible for everything. I feel it improves both your technique and your ears.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I use both, too, and sometimes if the music may be particularly difficult to play, I'll do a slight pivot to reach 5 frets. But if it's fairly easy to play for the left hand, I'll usually go Simandl, though not a true Simandl because I'll often sub out my ring finger instead of the middle. Don't know why but it's what I do.
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  4. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Also (and this is probably true of a lot of experienced players), I don't really stick to one or the other system. Sometimes 1fpf, sometimes 5 frets, sometimes 3 frets, sometimes it's sliding one finger for every note. I mean it's bass, for a lot of styles you could fret the strings with your nose and it would probably work a lot of the time.

    EDIT: But don't tell anyone about that last sentence. Shhh. Bass is just as hard as guitar.
  5. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I’m more likely to use my pinky as I approach the 9th fret and up.
  6. rpt50


    Jan 10, 2021
    As a long-time guitar player (one finger on fret) who is now pretty much exclusively on bass, I've found my technique varies depending on the scale of the bass. On a short scale, I play it just like a guitar. On a regular (34") bass, I find myself shifting to using my 3rd and pinky together to get more strength.
  7. Corto14

    Corto14 Guest

    Feb 6, 2019
    Generally Simandl up to the 5th/6th fret then 1FPF
    But it really depends, sometimes my fingers won’t cooperate so I need to glue the ring and pinky in order to execute a line
    Simandl (technique) allows me to stay more relaxed without stretching too much, if is not necessary
  8. I was taught with those old Simandl books in orchestra and I had that well ingrained in my head, still seem to revert to it on upright.

    but I would say on electric it is probably more that I do 1 finger per fret except where I’m sitting in one position for a long time then I still combine the ring/pinky. Also on electric versus upright I much more have the other fingers just actively muting than helping hold down the strings.

    It was a good teaching technique for young hands in need of strengthening but I can hammer out and play bass one handed for ever now.
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  9. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Simandl (and other) techniques were developed for DB. The joining of the ring/pinky fingers was driven by the need to depress a string that has quite high action (classical DB’s have pretty high action to provide more projection). The hand positioning is also key to maintaining proper intonation and you’ll see many (if not most) classically trained bassists employing that technique (or similar) regularly, regardless of their hand strength.

    Electric bass action is very, very low compared to a DB, subsequently it takes only a relatively light touch to depress the strings. I, personally, see no real value in Simandl positioning for bass guitar. But if players find it helpful in developing their own style, then go for it … after you’ve been playing for some time you’ll fall into your own style and techniques as you get more comfortable.
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  10. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Use both techniques depending on what you are playing and where on the bass you are playing it, but if you find yourself stretching you're using the wrong one.

    Simandl is the best technique for lower frets positions and either can be used higher up the neck.
  11. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    My first bass teacher was an upright bass player who loathed electric (odd choice to teach it then), and insisted on Simandl method, which in my opinion, is simply unnecessary on an electric. I quickly developed one finger per fret on my own, as it seemed obvious. My hands are small/average, and i never had any trouble reaching 4 fret, or 5 with a little pinky stretch. Electric bass and upright dont share much beyond tuning. If it works for you, use it, but I think most people use one finger/fret or some variant.
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  12. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    One finger per fret on electric, simandl on upright
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  13. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    The Simandl fingering is simply the most natural way for the human hand to preposition for good intonation, especially when the distance between stops is large, as on the upright and in the lower register on the electric bass guitar.

    But, the Simandl fingering is just a starting point for beginners. Those “rules” are merely intended as a guide; they aren’t law. Even on upright, there are certain passages in the literature that require modification of the technique, including one finger per stop. I believe it is the Mozart 34th, which has such passages, IIRC, which are literally unplayable with Simandl fingering.

    One of the keys to using Simandl fingering is to learn shifting strategies, which mainly boil down to playing at least two notes per shift. Again, another guide; but, useful nonetheless.

    I tend to use Simandl fingering in the lower register of the bass guitar, simply because it is most comfortable for me; and why work if you don’t have to? Playing is supposed to be fun, not work.:D
  14. 75Ric

    75Ric Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2019
    My teacher introduced me to Simandl a few months ago. I've been using it extensively below the 5th fret, but also above when appropriate. Recently, we been combining Simandl with some of Jamerson's early tunes. I had always tried to stay away from open notes, but this has changed my approach. I'm becoming a better bass player. So glad I ran into Simandl.
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  15. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, Aguilar Amplifiers, Ear Trumpet Labs
    1-3-4 fingering is sometimes referred to as italian fingering, I think it’s taught in the Billé method. I find it makes for more accurate half-step intonation sometimes.
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  16. IvanBassist


    Jun 8, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Dingwall & Aguilar Artist
    I use both and changing them depending on the phrase/bass line that I have to play.
    Most of the time I end up using the Simandl method, though. It allows me to have a more neutral arm and wrist and to stay more relaxed.
    chris_b likes this.
  17. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Indeed it is. This from page 4 of the Practical Course:
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  18. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Both or neither depending on context. Slavish adherence to 1fpf ( combined with unwise wrist and arm positions) seems to cause beginners a lot of grief.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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  19. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Has anybody noticed that the Simandl 1/2 position works very well for many charts in flat keys, especially for jazz bands and horns, and the Simandl 1 position works very well for strings, keys, and other charts and styles in sharp keys?
    75Ric likes this.
  20. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I started on Double Bass and studied the instrument at Ball State University with Dr. Phillip Albright. So for 6 years
    I used Double Bass fingerings on EB and for the most part I still do. Oddly enough, for my fretless playing I use a lined fretless and DB fingering. On a fretless BG, with it’s flatter fingerboard radius, I play better in tune, because the fret lines have a tactile feeling under my fingers. Weird
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