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Upright Technique used on Electric

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SacOnBass, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. I've developed a habbit of using the my pinky on my left hand in place of my ring finger on electric bass. Your taught on Upright to not use the ring finger unless your in the higher range and Ive taken that technique and transfered it to electric.

    Is this a bad way of playing electric? Im pretty well trained in both and was just wondering if this is having a negative effect on my electric playing.

    What do you guys use?

    Thanks :smug:
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No, it's not bad. Some guys use it, some don't. Since I started studying upright, I've used it more.
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I do it on fretless. I was doing URB right-hand plucking technique today in the studio.
  4. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Some gals use it, too. ;) If I'm not mistaken, Carol Kaye is a big proponent of this approach to electric bass, and credits it for keeping her from repetitive motion problems over her years of playing. Interesting, since she was a guitar player, not a bass (viol) player first.
  5. If it's not stopping you from doing what you need to do, then there's no problem in my book, and you couldn't really say that way is "bad."

    For my own purposes, I don't believe in the necessity of the 1-2-4 approach for electric bass. I use it sometimes in first position, or when the fingering seems to demand it for other reasons, but as a rule it's 1-2-3-4. I wouldn't avoid using a finger unless there was a good reason to--why waste?--and I've never encountered a good enough reason on electric bass. But everybody's hands are different, and basically, whatever works works.
  6. Sometimes I play my electric bass vertically like an upright bass. It sounds different because your fingers are plucking the strings from a different angle -- in fact, it sounds a lot better for walking bass, I find.
  7. i do that with my acoustic (not upright) bass...and it does make walking bass sound different (for the good) :).
  8. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I play both electric and upright bass. I started first on electric and began learning and continue to learn through Carol Kaye's methods. No, there is little need to make much use of the ring finger and that also applies to upright playing.

    I am learning on upright that the best way to get good intonation is actually to make extensive use of the 1st and 4th finger. Try it some time if intonation is a concern. As far as electric bass, check out her website. There are extensive playing tips on how to play electric bass correctly. I started playing both electric and then upright in my 40s and I have never injured myself playing, have never had carpal tunnel, but I understand that extensive use of the ring finger and other bad habits can contribute to this and do a lot of damage.
  9. No offense, but I can't see how extensive use of the ring finger on electric bass is a "bad habit," no matter what Carol Kaye says. Plenty of great bassists use their ring fingers a lot, and make it work without hurting themselves. And Carol's way is not synonymous with playing bass "correctly." It's what works for her and some other folks, which is completely cool, but personal preference shouldn't be confused with objective "correctness."
  10. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I am expressing my preference for electric bass playing here and what works for me.

    After trying a few methods, I settled on Carol Kaye's ideas of how to play the bass and it has always worked the best for me. This includes many aspects of how to hold the bass, what fingerings to use, etc. etc. This is all well documented in her free playing tips on her website www.CarolKaye.com. Since the ring finger is the weakest and there is apparently a correlation between carpal tunnel and overuse of the ring finger, I am happy to say that I am not one of the many gals and guys who experiences various types of pain in playing. I know for a fact that Carol has helped many with lessening and/or eliminating their pain and discomfort when they have adapted her methods. This may not be of interest or work for everyone, but I can only express what has worked best from my experience.
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Please don't quote this as fact - there's not one shred of data that actually shows this. Carpal tunnel comes more from bad wrist angles and overuse than from using one finger too much.

    Ever heard of a pianist who didn't use their ring fingers?
  12. chimp


    Dec 4, 2004
    South Africa
    what about steve baileys technique for uper register reach? hes the only person i know who does that on electric bass
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    I dunno, if you're the sorta player that wants economy of motion...finger-per-fret is the way to go. Think about it, on a 4-string bass, you would have 16 notes 'under your fingers';

    Nothing wrong with 1-2-4, either. I'd venture a guess that anyone who started playing electric bass back when I started employed that technique...many still use it, too.