Uncomfortable and Frustrated

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by stephanie, May 7, 2003.

  1. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I have a feeling this is affecting my technique and how well I play...

    I've been focusing a lot lately on my positioning (body position, how I hold my bass, etc. I'm quite short at 5'1 99lbs so I find I have to make a lot of adjustments.) and it seems no matter how I position myself I'm just plain uncomfortable. It's becoming quite frustrating. Here's an overview of some problems:

    Sitting - At my lesson there aren't any chairs that my feet touch the floor, so it's very hard to find a proper body position. Thank the gods I got a chair at home a year ago that my feet touch the floor! :D That used to be a major problem, but I got an office chair that's quite comfortable and has a back rest.

    A big dilemna for me is that if I wear my strap when sitting it's uncomortable, yet I need it for control. I have it at the highest setting. I have to have the bass resting on my leg, but when I rest it on my leg I have to hunch over to play. If I sit up straight, even with the strap, I don't feel I have much control over the bass. I have to cross my legs to get better control as well, but lately I'm finding myself sitting like a guy would (ya know, heel on the knee kind of sitting...my position goes from legs crossed to that) and my legs fall asleep.

    Standing - I don't practice standing too much, but when I do I have my bass set around my chest area and the neck held at an angle. The only problems I really have (and I know this can be resolved by buying a more decent bass for my stature) is that I have trouble reaching the first few frets b/c of my small arms and also the bass weighs me down after a while.

    Anyway, I also have another question while I'm at it, and I thought maybe because of improper body position this has been affected: My playing just seems rather choppy and sloppy (I like using those words hehe) and I can't seem to make transitions smooth enough. I've been playing for 3 years and this has always been something that annoyed me, that my playing just doesn't sound "clean". Sometimes my brain tells my fingers to move and where to move, but my fingers don't listen LOL. Any tips or suggestions on how I can improve this? Is this caused by my improper body positions? Or is it just something that just plain needs to be practiced at (believe me, I practice with a passion)?

  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    For your sitting situation, you can go to Walmart of KMart and by a folding stool that should be at a height where your feet will touch the floor.

    For your standing situation, sometimes the stretch is a lot but I find that leaning back at times makes it easier to play the lower notes. Me'shell NdegeOcello is about your height and she plays like she has no problem with a Fender Jazz bass.

    As for smoothing up your technique, the first part of fixing that is realizing that it needs fixing, really. After that, you just have to be concious of it when you play and work toward being smooth and play with other people in as many situations as you can which helps to increase your comfort level in a live situation. Lastly, 3 years isn't a lot of time.
  3. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Also, a Squier P is not the smallest bass on the planet, nor is it the most comfortable to play if you aren't very tall (I'm 5'6" myself). Have you tried any other basses that feel more comfortable?
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA

    When standing, I do find myself leaning back to reach certain frets.

    Yeah, this is one thing I do try to pay attention to when playing a song or exercise. I will play a measure over and over until it sounds 'smooth' to me. It used to be that when I played a song and made a mistake that I just let the mistake go b/c that's what you'd have to do in a real playing situation, but I've learned that doesn't help me much. I need to stop and fix it, b/c I know if I don't I will end up always playing it sloppy, you know what I mean? And sometimes if I make a mistake (say in a measure at the end of a line or part) I will play the whole line over b/c it helps to make the transition from measure to measure smoothly, esp. if the measure is hard to play. Hope I'm making sense LOL.

    Yeah, that Squier is definately not for me and I will be buying a new bass when I can afford it. I've played a few basses at the music store, including a Spector. I eyed the Spector from afar because of it's smaller body, until the music store got this one that I fell in love with, so I tried it out. While the Spector would be a wonderful bass to play standing up, I thought the body felt a little too small to me sitting down. Maybe just b/c I was so used to the bigger body of the Squier *shrug*.

    Thanks :)
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Sounds like a combination of both physical and mental relaxation issues. Without hearing specifically what you are describing, my best advice would be to record yourself playing and then objectively listen back and analyze what your weakest spots are. Once you have found them, focus on improving them. Good luck. :)
  6. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Wow, thanks for all that advice, DURRLFRIEND. :cool:
  7. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    My wife (bless her soul, she puts up with me :) ) bought me a drummer's seat last Christmas. This is the perfect practice seat for me because the height is adjustable (so you can get your legs at the perfect angle to sit your bass on). Also, since it's just a triangular wedge, the seat never gets in my way when I'm practicing since there are no side arms or chair back.

    Try one out the next time you're at a music store. You may be surprised at how comfortable these chairs can be.