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The fingers are at it again!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassOfDiamonds, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. As a brand new student of bass (literally started days ago), I can now stretch my four fingers comfortably in 1FPF position.

    They, however, refuse to stay there. Every time I position them, they stay for a few seconds, and then I'll have fingers sliding back together again. (My middle and ring fingers in particular seem to be married)

    This is for the lower frets, 1-4.

    This is a problem even with the 1-2-4 fret positioning (where F1-Index, F2-Middle, F4-Pinky).

    My damn fingers need to get a grip. Literally. :rollno:

    Tips for my delinquent fingers? Thanks!
  2. Practice. Repeat. Practice.

    It's just that you are totally new to bass, your fingers are not used to being in this position in day to day life and it takes a little while for the hands to adjust. You're already on a head start from most people in that you are learning correct finger positioning for the lower frets from the start.

    Don' worry, be patient and keep practicing. In a matter of weeks it will be second nature to you.
  3. miiitch


    Nov 27, 2011
    never in life could i put my fingers on 1,2,3 and 4 for more than a few seconds, but i donĀ“t feel the need to do it either

    when i need to jump from the first to fourth fret, i just move my hand a bit. try that as well :)
  4. Have you been doing the same higher up the neck? Try a stretch between frets 9 and 12, play there for a while, then work your way down the neck.

    There's also a big difference between your hand positions when stood up or sat down. Get used to the 4 fret strech between 1 and 4 (and anywhere else) while sat down before trying it while standing.

    Edit: There's also a great exercise by Glenn Letsch called bass isometrics... Place fingers 1, 2, 3 and 4 at frets 9 to 12 on the G string. Keep all fingers in place while playing on the D string. Alternate each finger in turn: 1+2, 1+3, 1+4, 2+3, 2+4, 3+4. Inactive fingers stay pressed on G string. Keep alternating fingers hovering just above the D string while fretting with the other finger. Play with the metronome at 80 bpm and play whole notes (The slower the better).
  5. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Where is your thumb?
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    The secret is you don't have to stretch.

    Lots of beginners anchor their left hand in on spot and contort/stretch their fingers to make 1FPF in those lower frets. But what I learned form watching many seasoned bassists is: You are allowed to move your left palm along the neck to reach the note.

    your thumb stays in one spot on the back of the neck as a pivot for moving your left hand up and down the fretboard. When you fret a Ab under your pinky/4th there is no reason whatsoever to have your index /1st on F. All 4 fingers should be down to back up the 4th, but they don't have to remain "on their fret"

    "but you lose speed and economy of motion!!!!"

    no you don't, not in any significant and practical way. 1FPF migfht have a small speed advantage, if you were in some kind of race. But in practice, at musical speeds, you can match the 1FPF with left hand movement. The times when you will need to fire off E F Gb G Ab at maximum possible speed are rare. As for economy of motion: Fluidity and comfort trumps that any day.

    If you aren't used to the instrument, a little stretching does have to be learned, but not at the expense of fluidity and comfort.
    Fretting notes is not just about fingers, Its the whole hand (attention to your wrist and elbow is also important...)
  7. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Just practice. And man, you gotta relax. You've been playing for a few days and every day or two you post a new problem on Talkbass? Just spend some time with the instrument, get to know it, and don't freak out about every little problem.
  8. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    +1. Pivot that thumb!
  9. wemmick


    May 23, 2010
    Washington, DC
    I asked a similar question when I first started playing and joined TB.

    The big win for me was the thumb pivot -- see this response in my thread from two years ago:
  10. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    Here's a good demonstration of Carol Kaye using the thumb pivot.

  11. Awesome ideas everyone, can't wait to get home from work and try these out.

    @Mark Perry - 1FPF works perfectly for me on frets 5 and up.

    @Febs - Thumb behind neck, I try to keep it behind my middle finger, but sometimes it wants to go behind my index finger.

    Lol, obsessive Type A personality, plus I don't want to ingrain too many bad habits in my muscle memory.. . IME with other things, they can be a bitch to break. :meh:

    I'm only like this for now, once I've got the hang of the basics, I'll pipe the **** down. lol
  12. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    practice, you say you started days ago. The hand position of bass is not a natural position for the human hand, so time will develop that. There is absolutely no way to fix this over night.
  13. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    Let the thumb go where it wants. See the clip below :

    Also, be careful playing OFPF on the lower (1-5) frets. It can be too much of a stretch for some, especially people starting out, whose hands have not yet got used to playing the bass. As others have said, use the thumb as a pivot.
  14. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    Couldn't have said it better, its annoying.
  15. No one's making you open and read the threads.
  16. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    Im pretty sure you got every answer possible, its up to you to filter them and see what answers are best for you. Now, don't expect talkbass to improve your playing overnight, spend that time practicing instead.
    You will encounter problems while trying to get better at bass, everyone has encountered those problems, you overcome those problems by practicing.
    Pretty much everyone else has said it, practice its the only way, no shortcut here.
  17. Of course - like I said, I like all the tips I got, and they helped me out tonight. Practice is the way, I just wanted to be sure I was practicing the proper way so I don't end up with unbreakable habits at such a fundamental, basic level, that I end up doomed. Muscle memory is like an elephant, lol.

    That's why I'm asking a million stupid questions now. Once I'm OK at a basic level with the bass, I can figure out more intricate stuff on my own.
  18. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    My advice is trying to place your fretting hand's elbow a little forward.
    It helps a LOT.
  19. Anaughtybear

    Anaughtybear Guest

    Apr 3, 2012
    Fargo, ND
    It doesn't matter so much what your hand position is 100% of the time, as long as your fingers get where they are going. You will naturally develop your own style in time. Some people have stupid pinkies, for example. I do agree that economy has a lot to do with it. You see a lot of guys going up and down one string furiously, as if they didn't know that note existed in multiple locations.

    An audience might not be able to differentiate bad from good technique, as long as they are hearing what you are trying to convey. Only the other musicians are going to be watching your hands anyway.

    I have terrible posture, so one of the things I try to do to be easy on my body is not scrunch up. If you're not comfortable, it is hard to give anything your full attention. Try to keep both wrists as close to their natural straight position as possible. I play with the bass sitting at about stomach level, and the fretboard facing up slightly. That way your hand won't go to sleep, or you bend funny and pinch a nerve.
  20. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    Be patience.... Things will come
    I have seen an excellent upright player cannot do this one finer per fret thing at 1st position for a minute. I mean it is definitely takes some works.

    I cramped my armed when I start as maybe I am too rush for progress. But after awhile I could e comfortable with that, probably after 2 3 year.

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