Specific Left Hand Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DaemonBass, Apr 5, 2004.

  1. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Hello everyone!

    I am primarily self taught so I need some feedback from the others on here about how I should go about playing this line from Master of Puppets (fingerstyle)


    This is played in eight notes around 220 bpm which is the same as playing 16ths are 110 bmp (right?)

    I lack the dexterity to play this at that speed and although I have been practicing at slow tempos I have a question. Which is the better way to play this line at that speed? Using 1 finger per-fret method OR using thumb as a pivot and playing the 3rd AND 4th frets with the pinkie? Or does it make any difference? I noticed that when I play this at top speed using my ring finger I get more pain than when using 4th finger only when needed. Any advice on how I can get this up to speed without undue damage?

    Also if you have any questions about left hand technique at the lower frets of the bass feel free to respond with your questions (specific examples please). Due the the bass's large scale we obviously can't keep our hands 1 finger per fret in first position can we?
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    What if you try fingering the 2nd and 3rd frets with the middle finger and the 4th with the pinky? (Sort of upright technique, but the first thing I thought while looking over your example...)
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I would play this with 'finger-per-fret'...looks like a good exercise for warming up. Not sure if I could keep it at tempo but for so long...
    Otherwise, I would use the pinky on the 3rd AND 4th frets(as you already mentioned).

    The other side of the equation is the plucking hand
    (unless you're pickin').
  4. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    It you have lots of trouble playing in first position, then maybe a shortscale is calling your name.
  5. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    No short-scale! My bass is only 21 frets as it is, next bass I get is gonna be 24, I gotta learn to deal with this fret-span. I can play anything in 1st position on my guitar using 1-finger-per-fret method because I can keep my fingers stretched apart while I am playing. As it is, on my bass I can't stretch from 1st fret to 4th without moving my hand. /sigh, I can play this no prob on me guitar because all I have to do is make my fingers go downward but on the bass I have to try and add some pivoting and the actual fretting...
  6. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane what goes here?

    Feb 23, 2003
    Denton, Texas
    If you tuned the 'A' string up 1/2 step, that tab would be redicuously easy. -just an observation.

    Edit: but moving your hand on the '1' to '4' is OK, 'cause you've got a '0' coming next.
  7. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    That's true about the open E strings making that particular figure easier. Gives you a little time to shift back up for that F note.
  8. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    You can have 24 frets on a shortscale.
  9. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    When i played this i did one finger per fret.
  10. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    I always thought that part was guitar... does Cliff actually play that part in the song???

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Man, I didn't realize this was Metallica.

    Anyway, if the guitar(s) is playing the above part, a viable bass part would be an OPEN "E" pedaled throughtout...either 'machine-gunned' triplets or 1/16th notes.
    In any event, the above example is a nice piece to use as a practice
    vehicle. I would say stretch the figure over 3 strings...maybe even 4 stings.
  12. bassuser35


    Mar 25, 2004
    watch cliff 'em all when they play this part during mop. cliff is seen doing the part using a one finger per fret. it's pretty simple once you get it down. the hardest part for me is getting the right hand fingering down in so that i hit each string in the same manner. so if i start with a 1-2 pattern on e string then I will hit the a string with 1 and so on. practice and you should be fine
  13. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm sure that is true but I was trying to be like Cliff!
  14. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    While the one-finger-per-fret approach seems reasonable (and perhaps best), I think omitting the ring finger would be a viable alternative - you could use the pinkie on the 3rd and 4th frets.

    You're experiencing pain when you do this?

    If you're standing when practicing, are you holding the bass high enough on your body? The low-riders look cool, but it's not good technique - at least for most players.

    Are your left-hand fingers parallel (or very nearly parallel) to the frets? If not, placing them parallel may remove, or at least decrease, the pain. Proper warmup and stretching is essential also, especially if you're in your 30s or older.

    Also, press each string as lightly as you can. Overexertion is a bassist's enemy - an enemy that too often wins!

    Good luck to you.

    This is what my bass teacher taught me:

    On the G string put your fingers index 1st (fret) middle 2nd ring 3rd and pinky 4th. once this is comfortable, the excercise can begin.



    Easy? Have your thumb on the back of the neck, get your knuckles high and keep your fingers curled over. When you do this, your index (i) finger stays on the string, same with the middle (m) and ring (r) stay on after you play the note. Repeat down on the D, A, and E strings, then back up to G and move your hand up a fret so you are coveringfrets 2,3,4,5. make sense? Should go like this:

    i p m p r p


    Move up a fret to get:



    Carry this on until your pinky hits the 12th fret. Hope this helps. :bassist:

    These should all be eighth notes (or semiquavers for my fellow Brits), but play it slow at first to get the technique correct.
  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...that exercise was is nice; IIRC, I remember seeing it in an old Guitar Player(possibly a Nathan East column?).

    The key & hardest thing is to keep those fingers, all of them...ON THE STRING! None should be standing at attention. If needed, use your plucking hand for assistance. If you're a fairly new player, this seemingly simple exercise may be frustrating. Hang in there, it's about training & discipline...it doesn't take that long to 'get' & it will pay dividends down the road.
    Putting some 'rhythm' to the above makes it more fun.
  17. I play this song actually lazily (word?). I hit the open E, hammer on the fret 1 with finger 1, then do one finger per fret. I couldnt stretch the 1 finger per fret thing either at first. It comes with practice. But even now i kinda move my hand after hitting the F (kinda like index on 1, then rotate my hand over to better reach the later frets). Anyways, just turn up distortion to sound blended in like Cliff...no one will notice if you cant hit clearly :p
  18. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Yup, I got me strap adjusted just right now :hyper: , and it makes playing a lot easier. Even though it's sky-high now compared to what I had (around the hip area), now the neck goes right across me belly and I can keep my wrist flat. I may not look as cool but it's way easier to play. I look more like a jazz player busting out some metallica now! :cool:

    Thanks for the fretting excersise post I will try it. Right now usually before I attempt anything too difficult I will just do a 1 finger per fret up and down all the strings from 1st position to 12th and back, a few times, and get the tempo up until I am loosened up.

    Thanks all... doesn't anyone have any other lines to post up we can critique?
  19. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    The bass does not necessarily have to be sky-high on your body.

    It's ok to have the bass at an in-between height (maybe even a little low), as long as you tilt it so that the headstock is fairly high. If you can keep your wrist straight, you should be ok at a less-than-sky-high height.

    Good luck.
  20. Is "across your belly" sky high? I wear it like that a lot...sky high for me is up like just at the bottom of your chest (ala reggae). Then you get wrist problems :D...belly is fine, but yeah, you can put it low and still have some comfort (i find that wearing it high is easier to work on higher frets, but for metallica low is fine).