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Two fingers on fretting hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Yannick Yoran, Nov 1, 2018.


  1. Yannick Yoran

    Yannick Yoran

    Oct 14, 2018
    It is, to me, much more confortable to play with only my index and middle finger on the fretting hand, and I seem to be able to play faster this way, but I've been playing for a few weeks only.

    I also do not bend my wrist when I'm playing this way, as I would do if I were to use all my fingers.

    Should I play the way that feels confortable, or should I force myself to learn the "normal" way, the one with 3-4 fingers?
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Lots of pro players use only 1 or 2 fingers on their left hand. If it's working for you, no worries. Eventually as you learn more difficult songs, you'll learn more advanced technique.

    Do you have a teacher, and if so, what does your teacher think of your plan to only use 2 fingers?
     
    Uncle Hanky and Yannick Yoran like this.
  3. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    Why handicap yourself right out of the gate? I’d recommend using all four fingers on the left hand and the three middle ones on the right. Now’s the time to build good habits or sloppy, limiting ones. The choice is yours.

    You don’t need to pay a guy to sit across from you to say “knock it off!” Free: right here. Beside, admit it; you already know what the right thing to do is.
     
  4. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    Lots of pro players only use one finger on the fretting hand? Do tell.
     
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are plenty of easy songs that the OP can play with 1 or 2 left hand fingers. This will allow him to get a few tunes under his belt, feel good about his progress, jam with his friends, join a band, and start gigging.

    @Yannick Yoran : The vast majority of bassists do not use all 4 fingers equally. If you are interested in learning the "one finger per fret" technique someday, there will be plenty of time for that. But using all 4 fingers is not a necessary technique for you, as an absolute beginner, to start learning easy songs. :)

    Here are a couple to get you started:


     
    Ducerro, Badwater and Yannick Yoran like this.
  6. bolophonic

    bolophonic

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    OP, I always, 100% defer to what is most comfortable and ergonomic for me, due to general physical wear and tear issues. However, after 30 years of playing, I basically have eight fingers and two thumbs at my disposal to hit any given note. So, I recommend trying to advance your skills at a comfortable pace, but you should always be pushing yourself to achieve more.
     
  7. donotfret

    donotfret

    Jun 11, 2018
    Your wrist should be relaxed no matter how you play (and even if you didn't mention anything about it, I'll add that the thumb should be relaxed too). In that sense you shouldn't do anything uncomfortable. But if you don't start building up chops - both strength and technique - you will never feel comfortable.

    Practical suggestion: start practising the one-finger-per-fret technique higher up the neck where you don't need to stretch. Then gradually work your way down where it is indeed a bit of an effort unless you have massive hands. Like every workout it takes time.
     
    noeinstein and Yannick Yoran like this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    Welcome to TalkBass!!!!

    I am not on your fretting hand. :D
     
  9. JZQuantum

    JZQuantum Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2008
    Use all 4 fretting hand fingers, fretting 1 2 3 4, 1 finger on each fret. And do not put your thumb over the top of the fretboard like a guitar would do.

    Start here then by much practice other techniques will come to you with time. Transposing a lot of songs will help develop your technique too.

    YouTube is your friend on this, too. In my day before the internet, I read Bass Player magazine for insights about this kind of thing...yes the paper stuff they send you in the mail.
     
    gebass6 likes this.
  10. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I'm the opposite. I use all 5 fingers on both hands.
     
    gebass6, chaak and bolophonic like this.
  11. StatesideRambler

    StatesideRambler

    Jul 1, 2015
    The last clause speaks loudly.

    A bit of time with a competent teacher can prevent this.

    Do not "force" anything. Learning to do something properly needs no force, is worth the effort and you'll get better faster if you do.
     
    Jon McBass, bolophonic and neckdive like this.
  12. nnnnnn

    nnnnnn

    Oct 27, 2018
    How do you manage bass lines that have notes two or three frets apart? Especially down near the nut where the frets are wider.
    How do you manage chromatic runs that have three or four different notes in a row on the same string?

    If I had to I could get by fretting with just my index and pinky, but not with just index and middle fingers.
     
    gebass6 and interp like this.
  13. I can't imagine making any sort of a firm decision on how to go about doing something that I've been working on for such a short amount of time. Also, I think you will find that, on any instrument, what is "comfortable" will change immensely over time.
     
    Nashrakh and interp like this.
  14. thewildest

    thewildest

    May 25, 2011
    Montreal
    Django Reinhardt only needed two fingers
     
  15. CentralCoastBass

    CentralCoastBass Guest

    Feb 4, 2004
    That reply took a little longer than I expected
     
  16. nnnnnn

    nnnnnn

    Oct 27, 2018
    Maybe it was typed with only two fingers?
     
    Oddly, Badwater, Jhengsman and 14 others like this.
  17. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    You are at the stage of your development where habits are being formed. Restricting your fretting hand to using one or two fingers is a bad habit and will take a LOT of effort to correct later.

    The fact that some players use one or two fingers is completely irrelevant.
     
    byacey, Nashrakh, LBS-bass and 4 others like this.
  18. Use all of your fingers. I've developed a bad habit of not using my ring finger, took months to fix it.
     
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Get a good teacher. Unless you have some kind of physical issue, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to play comfortably with four fingers on your left hand.
     
    gebass6, foolforthecity and Frank77 like this.
  20. Especially south-paws! :woot:


    @Yannick Yoran : Do whatever works best for you. If you're able to get across the ideas that you want in your own way, all the more power to you.

    However... If you're unable to make the music that's inside your head come out of there the way you want it to sound to others, then you'll need to change your game plan.
     
    gebass6 and Badwater like this.

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