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The correct strap, position and why.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fergie Fulton, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    There are many ways to play bass guitar, as there are many styles and genres of music and each has its merits in a given situation. One that seems to be good for all is strap position.

    1/A strap should be wide to spread the load.
    2/ A strap should be away from the neck and towards the outer shoulder.
    3/ The outer shoulder is hard bone, not like the soft tissues near the neck. The outer shoulder supports better without compression of this soft tissue.
    4/ It will be part of the design of the guitar that will help in this. As a rule long top horns on a bass will help the strap stay away from the neck area.
    5/ The height of a bass can in some case be a factor. It is amazing the difference an inch or so can make either way.
    6/ The ability to move the bass from the front to a side on postion, to an up-right, to a flat position make access for the fingers easier in some situations.

    Because the bass hangs on us we cannot vary how we get to certain positions. On an up-right, or free standing bass, bending the knees, dropping the shoulder, bending over it a bit more will give us access.
    But because the bass gutar hangs on us, these factors do not affect it, the bass stays at the same height to playing whether you bend the knees or or bend over.

    Is the strap height fit for purpose?
    Is it made of the right material?
    Is it a fashion statement for the genre you play?
    To high and the plucking hand suffers because it has to make compensations in angle of access with the arm and wrist, but the fretting hand has better access and angles for the wrist. To low and the fretting hand suffers with access and angles while the plucking hand now has better access and angles due to the arm and wrist being straighter.

    In the neck at location C7, is where the main nerve, artery and vein runs from the torso to the upper limbs and ultimatly the hands. From the spinal column leaves going along the shoulder through the arm and to the hands. C7 has a longer transverse process on its left and right side to allow for the carrying and protecting of the nerve, vein and artery to pass safely to the upper limbs and then on to the hands. Any problems here with pinching or compression will be felt in the finger tips as that is where the nerve ending are at their most concentrated. Think of it as like a garden hose when the water stops coming out the end, it is usually a problem somewhere else in the line. What you see is the result of the problem in the water stopping, not the cause.

    So if you strap or strap positon is wrong, and you inhibite these functions you will suffer as a consiquence in-directly whether you are aware of it or not.

    As rule wide strap and keep it to the outer shoulder, never near the neck if possible.
    Also avoid karate chopping spies, ninjas, TV detectives, action heros, or failing that Vulcans that are pissed with you.:D
  2. The bass should be the same height standing or sitting, though some fine players have their bass even higher on their chest.

    It seems that there are two types of bands now: The low hangers-down to-the knees and the same-height-standing or sitting genre. To the low hangers I ask this question: If you DO practice, do you practice sitting? If not, why? If so, why do you want your bass in two different positions?

    As for strap style...who cares?
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Good point, so i'll push you on it as you gave no reason..Why should this be so.
  4. crack-boom


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Zealand
    I practice sitting and standing, my bass is lower while standing. I find it uncomfortable to be as high while standing as my bass is while sitting. I dont know why. But low is fine for me, never had a problem with sore wrists or anything but up high just makes my plucking elbow feel cramped.
  5. Serious musicians have to practice long periods ideally daily. Studio sessions and show rehearsals can run hours. Sitting is often times a necessity, sometimes a requirement. In order to keep you reference points the same standing or sitting, the bass height should be the same, where all parts of the bass are best accessible.

    When I see a bass player on stage with his instrument around his knees, I know that, at that moment, he can’t reach a large part of his fingerboard. I also strongly suspect that he doesn’t practice alone -unless he stands. Then I ask…why stand when you practice? If he does practice sitting, why does he have two completely sets of parameters standing and sitting. The answer then come to me, only me, is that I am looking at an entertainer, not a serious musician, and look to his audience to make my point…to me.
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Wow!!! forgive me please, as i feel you might be offended when i say i thought you had a point of fact or reference to offer, rather than the condescending, pretentious, narrow minded reply you did give.:rollno:
  7. wittynamehere

    wittynamehere Guest

    May 11, 2009

    I agree, are you taller btw? I don't know if this had to do with height, but I cant play sitting with my bass hanging from the strap. If I do, It forces me to play with either a bent wrist or my shoulder too far forward.
  8. Hey Fergi-

    HMMM, YOU”RE the one who seems offended. I apologize to you if you consider yourself an entertainer.

    I stand/sit by what I wrote.
  9. In my experiencie, that applies only to me, really, higher is better, though not to the extreme where your wrist is totally stressed and your elbow cramps. If any, I think about Entwistle's bass strap position is what works for me (to give a reference).
  10. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    I practice sitting at home and in the jazz band I have a stool (also I play EUB so it works out). With my other group I practice sitting and perform standing with the bass strap(s) adjusted so that my axe is pretty much in the same place, 'high' on my chest.

    So Low Bass - thot you were right on target for the first paragraph, then editorialized in the second.

  11. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Since when are they mutually exclusive??
    If that's indeed what you're saying, I find it quite a worrying statement.
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I for one sling a little lower than needed to be the same sitting and standing. But I generally practice like I gig: standing.

    To me, the most important consideration is what bass position will keep my wrists straight.In tend to angle my bass head up wards and hand out mostly below the 9th fret, so It's comfortable.

    I use a foam padded comfort strapp and my bass weighs 7.5 lbs, so that also helps greatly.

    Never consider the look of my strap, really. If wardrobe is a consideration, the strap is pretty far down the list of what an audience will care about.
  13. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    I like slinging mine a bit low. I like having my hand at that straighter for picking. Yes it makes it a little more difficult to get higher up on the neck but it can be done. I practice this way, eventually it becomes normal.
  14. His post was fine. It makes sense, for consistent muscle memory it's best to have one set of reference points for your instrument. If you practice sitting, and than stand and your bass is down by your knees it feels completely different. When I practice sitting I have my bass in a classical guitar position because that's where it is most comfortable on my body when I stand. So I can go from sitting to standing with no changes to my technique, or the position of my bass, so I always know where I am on my instrument.
  15. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    i use to wear my strap so that the bass didn't move when transitioning from sitting to standing.

    i recently acquired a p-bass that has become my #1 (over my stingrays). however, i found that wearing my bass at that height was uncomfortable for my right hand, as it caused an awkward angle at my wrist when anchoring my thumb on the pickup. i have since lowered my strap for the sake of comfort. i find it easier to use a pick w/ a lower bass as well. i still wear my stingrays at the old height.

    as i have found w/ many things bass related, there are suggested, approximate guidelines, but it seems futile for anyone to set exact rules.

    for what it is worth, i practice for about 1.5-2 hours daily and stand for about 85% of the time, i am on a stool for the rest. my main reasons for this is because i do not rehearse w/ bands sitting, and have only played one show (of a little more than 200) sitting. in standing, i have to focus on technique and posture.
    a few other reasons i like standing...
    -as i am quite a fan of effects (and a little synth), i find it easier to tap-dance while i play.
    -early on, i played a lot of dance music (and still do, though not exclusively). i found that i take better ownership of my parts if i "feel them," bouncing and moving with them.
    -lastly, and most importantly, standing works for me... i know that it does not work for everyone.
  16. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    No offence taken here, your ignorance excuses you of that.
  17. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Sorry but that post was not fine.
    Thank you for the reply that should have been, to the point and relevent.
  18. Granted I do suck at getting to the point in a clear and concise way. However the reply is relevant.
  19. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    I have my strap set so that the bass is in the same position whether Im sitting or standing.

    I usually stand while playing, but its nice to have a chair when youre doing rehearsals, or doing a musical.

    Makes most sense to me.
  20. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Sorry for the mis-understanding, your reply was fine and the sort of reply i would expect to a question, which is one that explains a point of view with relevent information. The comment was to thank you for explaining what maybe So Low Bass should have written if he had a relevent point to make.:)
    The only thing So Low Bass offered is that you can judge and tell a serious musician on the height of his strap and his need to practice long hours. He implies that access to all the finger board is nessesary for music to be worthy of serious content.
    He seems to believe that music and entertainment are seperate because of the height of a bass.:D

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