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Smooth/Very little hand movement?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Esquillama, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Hey. I hope this fits into this forum.
    I was at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, and I saw several
    bass players using what I call "Smooth/Very little hand movement".
    I hope you know what I'm talking about. It looks like they're
    hardly moving their hands, and there's all this FUNK coming out!

    My wife was with me, and I said,"look at his hands, what do you
    notice?" Her reply was, "it doesn't match up". I thought that
    was a pretty good observation from a non-musician.
    What I was trying to get at was, that some people seem to get
    this great sound, and at the same time it appears effortless.
    It drives me nuts! I told my wife that I can't play that way,
    and when she asked me why, I had to think about it.

    The answer I came up with was, that the type of music my
    band plays doesn't require it. I'm in a 50's, 60's, & 70's showband.
    I'm playing a lot of root - third - fifth most of the night.

    I guess what I'm wondering is, is this a technique that can be:
    A) learned?
    B) used in any genre of music?

    Thanks for reading, and any insight would be appreciated.
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    It's called 'economy of motion' + being confident enough so you're relaxed while playing.
    Confidence = Knowing your fretboard(knowing what notes are beneath your fingers) & hearing the sounds you wanna make before they occur; hearing a couple/few bars ahead.

    'Economy of Motion' can be taught or learned.

    There have been countless threads here that have dealt with the technical issues-
    Fretting Hand exercises
    Plucking Hand exercises

    The Fretting Hand abridged version-
    Index finger at the 9th fret
    Middle finger at the 10th fret
    Ring finger at the 11th fret
    Pinky finger at the 12th fret

    Move ONLY the Index finger Up...the Down; Up, Down. Only raise it a small bit; your finger should still be making contact with the string. KEEP EVERYTHING ELSE STILL...USE YOUR FRETTING HAND TO ENSURE THE OTHER FINGERS STAY STATIONARY!
    Next, do the same with the Middle...then the Ring...then the Pinky.

    Stay with it 'cause it will be frustrating at first.

    Eventually, start moving each finger to the adjacent string...ONE AT A TIME & WHILE KEEPING ALL THE REMAINING FINGERS STATIONARY.

    Michael Manring used to have a nice fretting hand permuation exercise at his site; not sure if it's still there or not(or maybe I read it in a magazine...or both).
  3. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    WOW this is funny ...i was thinking of posting this once myself. I saw a good Motown band this summer and the bassist a long time local pro hardly moved his hand unless he poped a string and he did that smooth also. I was amazed I look like a monkey on speed when fretting the fretboard compared to this guy. I also play 3rds.. roots and 5ths and and need to learn this .... thanks the above post helps but dang it sounds hard to learn.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Trust me, it will be frustrating...stick to it, give it a couple weeks.

    Manring's 'beginning' permutation exercise went something along these lines
    Fretting hand-
    On the "A"-string...
    1)Index at 5th fret
    2)Middle at 6th fret
    3)Ring at 7th fret
    4)Pinky at 8th fret


    To get the plucking hand involved-
    Double each(1/8th note feel; 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&)




    Another thing to try...with the fingers at the same above location, MOVE ONLY THE INDEX & RING(toggle between them) WHILE LEAVING THE MIDDLE & PINKY STATIONARY & PRESSING DOWN ON THE STRING.
    Then, move ONLY the Middle & Pinky(Toggle between them) while leaving the Index & Ring stationary & holding down the string.

    Use the fretting hand to hold down whatever you need...it takes some time, effort, concentration, & discipline.
  5. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Good players make it look easy. Only way I know how to get there is to practice doing things right and play a lot.