Tips for playing over bridge pickup

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by verstft, May 26, 2018.

  1. verstft


    May 16, 2016
    I'm looking for technique advice for paying melodic lines over the bridge pickup on a Jazz bass.

    I like the feel of a P-bass played over the pickup but love the sound of a Jazz played over the bridge pickup.

    I've been practicing for months and it feels really awkward still. My hand/arm strains form being so far back. Fingers get sore. Attack feels weak and harmonics are flying all over the place. I know it's probably my technique but I'm at all as to the very basics for practicing and getting better.

    Sounds half decent through my amp, but when I do this with D.I and some decent headphones it's a real mess.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. More Practice.

    .... and roll your tone knob back a bit.
    lfmn16, mcnach, sigterm and 3 others like this.
  3. verstft


    May 16, 2016
    Tone knob seems to control the harmonics a little

    How much is actually in the left hand..I'm focusing so much attention on the right hand right now.
    I know with the Precision I had this big revelation when I realized the tone I was looking for was all about left hand laying flat in front of my fretting finger.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  4. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    Two comments, one general, one specific:

    In general: Playing the bass should never hurt. Amplified electric bass is one of the physically easiest to play of all instruments. The amount of force required to play a note is about the same as to type a letter on your computer keyboard. If your hand feels strained and your fingers are sore, then you are playing much too hard and/or using bad technique. Turn up your amp, play with a softer touch, and study safe technique.

    Specific to your comment "My hand/arm strains form being so far back." Do you practice standing up or sitting down? If you practice standing up, make sure your strap is a comfortable length so that your wrist and elbow aren't sharply bent. If you practice sitting down, try using a strap, and set the length of the strap so that your bass is in the same position whether you are standing or sitting. Or, one technique that works well for a lot of people is, instead of resting the bass on your right thigh, move it in between your legs. You might find this makes it less awkward to play near the bridge.

    A final additional comment that occurred to me as I was typing: Most players move their right hands around; they don't just pluck in the same spot all night. Think of the entire area from the bridge to the neck as your "tonal palette" that you can use to produce different sounds. In my opinion you are limiting yourself by always playing directly over the pickup.

    Good luck! :)
    rickpascual, fleabitten, JRA and 10 others like this.
  5. Muting - esp Left hand muting - is your friend and a large part of turning wild notes into self-expression.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  6. The hardest part of switching from bridge to neck plucking is keeping the volume even. It’s easier to get more volume with softer attack over the neck pickup. That makes it easy play inconsistently between the two. Essentially my hand works the same in either position, but my attack changes.
  7. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    That could be a setup issue. Try moving the bridge pickup closer to the strings (or the neck pickup farther from the strings).
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  8. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    Upstate, NY USA
    ...except on your back
  9. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    don't forget , there is a bit more tension in the strings as you get closer to the bridge ... so yes , it does take a little more effort to get a similar level of volume ... i'll rest my thumb on the front edge of the bridge pup ( floating as needed ) and play at the front edge ( nearer to the neck ) of the bridge pup ... sometimes i do get carried away and start playing a bit to hard , and striking more downward than across the string ..!! sometimes that's OK ..?? i try to change my wrist angle more than my elbow/forearm ... any change like that will be a strain for a while until you get more used to it .. take breaks - stretch ..!!
    ThumbBum, hintz and MrLenny1 like this.
  10. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    Yes, there is more string tension near the bridge. Use you amp to get volume and play gently, whether near the neck or near the bridge.
    hintz likes this.
  11. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Just put in the 10k hours, soon enough you'll stop thinking about it.
    Don't strive for volume first, just accuracy and even-ness. With those (with a soft attack) you'll get endurance. After that you can work on volume.
    verstft, Pbassmanca and hintz like this.
  12. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    I had the opposite problem for the longest time as I practically *lived* on that bridge pickup and had zero control on the front. Just make sure not to bend you wrist even if that means not resting your forearm on the body (or minimizing contact) and lighten up a bit.

    Check out pics of how Jaco played, his fingers were always pointed at the body rather than pointing to the ground. By changing your hand angle to this you will get more volume and control with less effort.
    IamGroot and rufus.K like this.
  13. I'm far from an expert.

    I usually play over the bridge pup on j and pj basses. Just what felt natural to me when I first started. What hurts me most is when I'm stuck at the same spot on the neck without shifting, my hand 'locked' in to a specific spot or shape. Cake songs are a good example but not the only ones. A lot of Novoselic lines do it to me also. It's not as bad on short scales, but can still bother me.

    I find this less about where one hand or the other is, and more about how my shoulders, hips, and waist are positioned to make my hands get there. Shift your posture and where the bass body is relative to your body. Try the neck up higher or lower than you usually do.
  14. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Me too.
    I float (no anchor) over the bridge but anchor over the neck (when I'm lazy and dub'n) on the pup.
    hintz likes this.
  15. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    LOL, I have the hardest time playing without anchoring my thumb. I feel like a total beginner ever time I attempt the "floating thumb" thing
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  16. deliberately play some notes with your thumb. Helps me when I have to play off my anchor.
    Pbassmanca and rufus.K like this.
  17. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    What works for me on my Fender is resting my wrist against the front of the body where it tapers back to be a little thinner above the bridge. I've found that it puts my wrist at a more neutral angle and my fingers at the perfect arch.

    Rev J
  18. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There is exactly the same amount of tension in every part of the string between the nut and bridge saddle. Tension is the amount of pull the tuner has to exert on the string to get it to pitch.

    There are differences in feel, flexibility and excursion, but not tension.

    10,000 hours is a myth based on a study of violin students in one music school that compared their class ranking to how much they practiced.

    The results said that students who had practiced over 10,000 hours got better grades than students who had played less than 10,000 hours. That's all. 10,000 hours is not a magic number.
    Groove Doctor and Mushroo like this.
  19. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    10, 000 hrs is 5 man years assuming 8 hr a day x 5 days a week for 50 weeks a year. Most folks dont play anywhere near that intensity, so 10k might be 10 years or more.
  20. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The original study was college-age students lifetime total amount of practice, so depending on what age they started you're absolutely right. It could easily have been spread out over 10+ years.
  21. Primary

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