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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassesOfDeath, Sep 18, 2003.
I have small hands and really have to strain to reach the 20th fret on the E string, am I a freak?
to reach the 20th fret from the 1st fret?!!
yes you are a freak
seriously though, no it's no thing, people with no hands have succeeded in being bassists(forget the band, but there is a guy with just a stump for a left hand and he plays a mean upright) it might require some extra work, but it's not impossible, and you shouldn't feel bad just because your anatomy is hindering you.
I have small hands and I used to use that as an excuse/rationalization for a number of my shortcomings. Then I began taking lessons from a top player who, lo and behold, has hands about the same size as mine. Small hands aren't an excuse, he told me, just something to make you work a bit harder than some. So, I will continue to work at developing my reach. I may always make a funny face trying to make that 1st to 5th fret stretch on my 35" scale bass, but I'm not going to make any more excuses for *not* doing it!
I've been working on a set of finger exercises that have really built strength into my left hand. I played two separate 3-set shows last Saturday - something that would have left me sore before - but I played with more authority and less fatigue than I ever have in 20 years of playing. Further proof that hard work trumps excuses every time!
I teach people with small hands to play bass (kids). There's nothing freakish about having small hands - mine aren't exactly large either. Dexterity comes with practice, however, if the "C" note on the 20th fret of the E string is too difficult to play comfortably, why don't you find a comfortable spot on the fretboard to play that "C"! There are C's all over the fingerboard.
It just takes practice. I've seen a lot of guys with big hangs bumbling all over the place when they get to the upper frets because their fingers get in the way. Practice playing chords, that will help develop dexterity and the ability to stretch. A good triad to work with is root+fifth+maj9. Small hands are not a big deal though.
I'm always looking for different exercises, what have you been using?
Given to me by my current teacher, I believe they are based on fingering permutations developed by Michael Manring - they may be available in some of his instructional material. They are not specifically 'strength/stamina building' exercises so much as a 'muscle memory' builder, though if you practice them repeatedly with attention to correct hand and finger position (and a metronome), that effect is unavoidable - I think that would be true with just about any fingering exercise...
Permutations are golden, I highly recommend everyone spend at least 5 minutes a day doing some permutations.
the best thing about them you can assign values to practically anything and then Permute it
and for all you lazy cats out there, here's a site that will calculate your permutations for you.
I have tiny hands as well -- my handspan (pinky to thumb) is only a little over 6 inches and my middle finger is only 3 inches long. But I don't let that discourage me. If that means having to try a little harder or alter a technique (sometimes angling the wrist differently can do wonders) then that's what I have to do. I don't want to do any damage to myself trying to stretch too far beyond my limits, however. If I find it hurts too much to reach a note I find a different way of going about playing it. I do have trouble a lot of times reaching notes past the 12th fret, but I don't let myself get frustrated about it. I just keep practicing.
Hmmm...I have never played the 20th fret on the E string LOL. But like Xavier said...that C is at other places on the fretboard.
There's a technique similar to the upright method (used by Steve Bailey, among others): The thumb is under the neck with the other fingers, rather than behind the neck (it can even fret notes). I've used this technique a few times, and it helps reaching the lower strings on the higher frets, when needed.
Thanks for the site. I wish I could be lazy with 3 kids 5years old and under. Practice is a Golden time
Presumably you mean you have a problem fretting the 20th fret on the E string when your hand is round that area of the neck? What bass are you playing - the cut of the lower horn and the 'heel' where the neck meets the body make a big difference to how easy it is to access the highest frets, especially on the lower strings.
I think this is much to do over nothing. After all, how often do you have to hit that "C"? I certainly wouldn't fret over it (pardon the pun). I can reach that "C" on my basses, but it's not the most comfortable thing for me... so, I avoid it... that's all.
- Is there another way to do it? Hand down around the 5th fret and pinky stretched out, perhaps?
I blame Wrong Robot ...
I can't think of what else might be meant but it always pays to check...