Trouble reaching higher frets

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mattsbass, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. mattsbass

    mattsbass Guest

    Aug 12, 2008
    I am having trouble with reaching higher frets with my pinky on my bass. Specifically E and A strings.

    I have rather small hands (4.5 knuckle to tip of middle finger) but I dont feel comfortable playing with the strap too high so its a bit low but not much (The upper horn on my P bass is just above my belly button) and I am 5'9.

    The only way for me to reach the frets is to stab my crotch with my strap lock and look like a dufus.

    My question is that is rare to use the higher E and A frets? I just dont like feeling limited...

  2. curious_george

    curious_george Guest

    Jan 5, 2006
    Austin, TX
    It might not be comfortable at first, but raising the height of the bass will really help with this. It will allow you to not have to torque your wrist as much to reach these notes. It might not look "cool," but you'll be ripping up the entire neck.
  3. daveag

    daveag Guest

    Jan 5, 2009
    I had a similar situation when I first started playing, though mine was due to some previous injuries that reduced some of the natural range of motion.

    I found that shortening the strap just a little bit every three or four practice days was much better than trying to make one big jump in position.

    And yes, there are almost always fingering alternatives, especially when playing higher on the E and A strings. Though fingering high E and A string notes lower on the neck with higher strings may create some awkward transitions, these transitions may be easier for you then reaching higher on E and A strings.

    But it would probably be easier to get used to playing your bass in a higher position than to alter fingering technique. At least for me it was.
  4. Implosion

    Implosion Guest

    Oct 19, 2007
    Just out of curiosity, what do you mean by "4.5 knuckle to tip of middle finger"?

    Four and a half inches from knuckle to the tip of middle finger or 4.5 cm? Or something else?
  5. GC13

    GC13 Guest

    Jan 11, 2009
    I'm pretty sure he's saying his middle finger is 4.5" long.

    If that's small, then I have small hands too. :eek:
  6. Implosion

    Implosion Guest

    Oct 19, 2007
    99% of the population have small hands compared to that :D
  7. Mr_Sore_Fingerz

    Mr_Sore_Fingerz Guest

    Oct 10, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    try leaning over as you play the higher-ups....that tends to do it for me

    I understand not wanting to be limited, but the note will probably be a bit clearer if you use thinner strings for those high notes. If at all possible, go for the thinner strings instead of just zooming up the fretboard on the thicker strings.

    But, whatever suits you is of course best, because it's you playing. These are just suggestions so I won't be offended if you regard them as such =)
  8. TheoFly


    Nov 4, 2008
    Charlotte, NC
    I have trouble playing one finger per fret up high too. Old wrists I guess .... didn't seem to be a big deal years ago. I have started keeping something handy that I can put my right foot up on. A monitor, a stool, a box ... whatever. Then when I need to go up to the dusty end of the neck and play some high notes on the E or B string I just put my foot on the prop and all the geometry instantly changes so that reaching those notes is a breeze. It can be done so that it looks like a cool stage move too, as opposed to the aforementioned crotch stab!
  9. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    -Raise bass to height as when sitting down
    -Move your fretting hand's elbow a little forward
    -Practice chromatic scales up there
    -Be patient
  10. 2x4strgkramers

    2x4strgkramers Guest

    Dec 15, 2008
    Can you get someone to take a picture of your reach and bass position with your hand in place.
  11. Ghost_Note

    Ghost_Note Guest

    Dec 27, 2008
    Southern California
    You can also move your hand over the top of the fretboard as if playing a double bass. Very effective for double stops.
  12. tbone409

    tbone409 Guest

    Feb 17, 2007
    kenosha, wi
    IME crazy bad for your wrists on electric bass
  13. mattsbass

    mattsbass Guest

    Aug 12, 2008
    I actually have very petite fingers really. At a right angle position my finger is 4.5 inches from knuckle to tip.

    Heres how I am practicing on doing it.


    Its not a very good way actually because I literally have to knee my bass up so I can get my pinky up there.

    Here is the furthest I can get it when I am in my normal position.


    Also dont mind my closet lol
  14. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    The answer is don't use your pinky on the last frets on your E and A strings.

    1) Those notes are available elsewhere on the neck
    2) Those notes are out of tune anyway
    3) Your pinky isn't long enough

    In double bass world we go into "thumb position" above the octave. That means your thumb comes up over the top of the fingerboard and it replaces your first finger. That means you only have to use T-1-2-3. How does this apply to electric bass? Find some videos of Steve Bailey and watch him play like that.

    The point is, you don't need to use your pinky on the last frets of your lowest strings and you know exactly the reason why. It doesn't reach.