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Squeezing vs Pulling

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Bass., Oct 23, 2010.


  1. Bass.

    Bass.

    Jan 23, 2006
    San Diego
    So I've been doing some searching after I came across someone mention pulling the strings with the left hand instead of squeezing them between the fingers and thumb.

    I have been trying this sitting down and standing up and it's helping a lot. Because, before i started this it would be impossible to play first thing in the morning. Squeezing was killing my hand and i didn't even realize that that was the issue! I assumed that's how you were supposed to play.

    Now i'm working towards pulling with my arm, shoulder, and back but i feel some pressure shift to my right thumb. I keep my right thumb behind the fingerboard and switch between anchoring and floating.. So now instead of squeezing i pull with my left hand and "push back" with my right thumb. It doesn't hurt or seem to affect my playing but i dont want to develop any more bad habits.

    any help on this would be much appreciated
     
  2. VonCakeman

    VonCakeman

    Sep 22, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    The squeezing vs pulling thing is really just a matter of staying relaxed while you are playing. There are a few things that can help you out.

    1)Make sure that your grip and posture are correct. When I started out, I had a tendency to drop my left elbo, or tuck it in when I had to stretch my left hand. My first teacher had me practice for a few weeks with a pillow between my left arm and body so I simply couldn't do this. It helped a lot!

    2)Focus on relaxing your right hand. If you relax the right side, the left will follow. The motions of your right hand are generally much more simple, so I found it much easier. If are doing it right, you'll probably be playing a little quieter. That's a good thing. Let the amp do the work for your volume. If you try to do much with your hands volume wise, you'll have all sorts of tension issues.

    3)Make sure your bass is set up well. A good set up can mean a huge difference on how easy your bass is to play. Trust me on this one.

    4)Do some strength training. For me, it took learning to play upright before I was ever able to truly relax on my electric bass. The difference was that I finally had the strength in my hands to be able to just pull the strings. Especially if you are a newer player, you probably just don't have the strength right now to play with 100% correct form for extended periods of time. It take a little work.

    The most important thing I can tell you though is to start taking private lessons if you aren't already. It's great that you identified this problem. I am willing to guess you have a few others that are going to creep up as you advance in learning the bass. Someone watching you play in person will be able to help point them out to you a lot better than any other way.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm really big on this issue, and it's a big part of the reason I play sitting (Lest I get flamed, I don't make my students sit, or even encourage them to do so unless they want to). Part of my practice routine involves being able to do whatever it is I'm working on with the left thumb not touching the back of the neck at all, then adding it back in for placement reasons without using it to generate force. In music as in Jiu Jitsu, gravity is free, and might as well be used to best advantage; in addition, large muscle groups (chest, back, shoulder) are using a much smaller percentage of their capacity to play the bass than the small muscles of the forearm (which is what is used in gripping) do, and are IME much less prone to injury for this reason. As always, IMO, YMMV, and YMWCB.
     
  4. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan

    Apr 10, 2006
    Australia
    I think he means stopping the notes on the neck with the left hand. Instead of only using hand/finger/thumb muscles, he's using larger muscle groups in the arms.

    Thats what I do as well, though its worth noting the angle of the neck in relation to gravity helps. If its more like an orchestral sitting position you can let gravity do part of the work.
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I bought the "Art of the Right Hand" Rabbath DVD when it came out. He has some interesting concepts in it... what I got out of it was something where you can use a little wrist "torque" to press the strings down - neither squeezing nor pulling. Just imagine turning a doorknob counter-clockwise with your fingers. You can also use gravity to help you twist that wrist just a tiny bit along with letting your arm weight weigh the strings down.

    If you have an angled endpin it makes a whole lotta sense. I bought an Eggpin off of another TBDBer and it's good for just messing around with different technique. Kinda spensive tho.
     
  6. Chansey

    Chansey

    Nov 25, 2007
    After experiencing great fatigue (occasionally to the extent of pain!) in my wrist and fingers, I finally caught up on the whole "pulling" thing. Basically, my arm "pulls" the entire bass and my hips where the bass corner is held against my body gives additional resistance.

    This really took the fatigue off my fingers, but the strange thing now is that the exhaustion is transferred to my left arm and shoulders and upper back. Does this mean that these larger muscle groups still need time to "open up"?
     
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Everything needs time to build strength. You are probably sore from also causing the muscles to fire repeatedly and quickly - stuff they're not used to doing.
     
  8. LarryR

    LarryR

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I'm self-taught. Been playing URB for 6 years or so. Aint never heard this pulling VS squeezing. Can someone explain? I ask because I'm playing more than ever. In the last year though I developed tennis elbow. Had a 2nd corisone shot last month. Feelin' fine now, but, maybe I'm doing something wrong.
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That was exactly where I was headed, Larry, until I started studying with Joe Solomon. Being in the same room with another human being who can not only TALK to you about conception and approach, but can either take the instrument out of your hands or push your body around until you viscerally feel how using physics can help your physical approach and sound is the only thing that has enabled me to play without an amp as much as I do. Developing a relaxed and tension free approach that gets you a big, focused, projecting sound can't really be done by typing.
     
  10. LarryR

    LarryR

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I gotta find me a Joe Solomon here in LA. Know anybody?
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not off hand. Warne Marsh was out there for a minute and there are million upright players. I'll ask Joe if he's got any recommendations or references for folks out there. I know (drummer) Tim Pleasant is in LA, if you can talk to him, ask him about bassists he likes. He's B A D...
     
  12. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Putter Smith. Contact him through the Musician's Institute about lessons.
     
  13. LarryR

    LarryR

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Thx for the tip.
     
  14. Mr. Wint? Great actor!
     
  15. Chris Symer

    Chris Symer

    Dec 13, 2009
    Seattle,Wa.
    Every time I see poor Putt being set on fire and falling off that ship I feel kinda bad......
     
  16. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    I named my first upright Mr. Kidd...
     
  17. + 1:p
     
  18. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Here 'tis:
     
  19. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Classic Bond! ;)
     
  20. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    For those of you playing at home, The bald guy is Putter.
     

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