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Use fretting little finger alone or supported?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MichelD, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I've been looking at some bass instruction videos and I see guys reaching to use one finger per fret. Looks awkward to me because i have short fingers.

    I use index on the first fret, middle finger on the second and ring and pinky together on the third and shift hand position to get the fourth fret if you know what I mean.

    I don't know if it is the wrong way but that works for me.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Your way is the more popular approach from what I've seen. :)
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Use whatever works for you, but each finger should work independently. I have stubby digits, and I make it work.
    IamGroot likes this.
  4. I do one fret per finger from the 5th fret upwards. Below that I mostly do what you described.

    To get extra reach up/down the fretboard, I bend my thumb joint (nearest the wrist) sideways. Still keep the tip of my thumb touching in same position on the back of the neck. Less position shifts of where my thumb touches = less looking at neck, and IME less fatiguing on my hand during longer gigs.
  5. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    One finger per fret across the board.
    BassChuck and IamGroot like this.
  6. What he said.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Nothing wrong with your way, MichelD. I've done it for decades. I'l go 1234 when needed, but 12(34) is more relaxed.
    12BitSlab and viper4000 like this.
  8. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    Thanks Russell.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    00 images2b2.png :thumbsup:
  10. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I learned both methods and then use whatever is most comfortable. You also have to consider the next note or phrase. If using your pinkie alone allows you to get to the next note more efficiently, then you should do that. If you learn both, then learn when to employ them, you eventually get to a point where you just use what you use.

    Don't let the "I have ______ type of hand/fingers" hold you back. All hands are different, and we've seen all types of hands do amazing things on stringed instruments.

    Good Luck!
  11. ak56

    ak56 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    Carnation, Wa
    Being able to use your pinky alone allows you to still have three fingers to fret with when you accidentally smash your index finger between two weights at the gym and can't use it for a couple of weeks.:eek:

    Don't ask me how I know.:(
    Gigglingbuns likes this.
  12. It's fine if it works for you. I'd think you lose a lot of speed doing this, but if you don't have to play fast runs or "unusual" lines, it shouldn't matter much. I use all of my fingers and I know that if I didn't have that finger independence, I wouldn't be able to play the phrases that I do now.

    Doing a little myth busting, you are not supposed to be "reaching" to play finger per fret. While you do want to keep your fingers spread out, there is no requirement to weld any finger to any fret when you play the next note. You shift your entire hand as a unit. Just because you see something on YouTube, you don't have to take it as gospel.

    Many people do finger per fret completely wrong and then claim it either doesn't work or injures them.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    RyanOh, IamGroot and ak56 like this.
  13. What he said.
    You will want 4 finger independence for playing solos like jazz guitar or sax. Think Jaco.
  14. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    People are telling you that you need four independent fingers. Yet classical double bass technique teaches you to only use the ring and pinky together, and plenty of bassists who learned that technique rip on double bass, which is a far bigger instrument than bass guitar. And some of the best instrumentalists of our musical history have had hands that were physically compromised and still managed to have incredible technique. It’s not so much about fingers, IMO, as it’s about fluidity and movement. Keep your wrist and hands flexible and micro shifting all the time and it almost doesn’t matter what fingering you use.
    Rilence and Mushroo like this.
  15. Why exactly are you trying to compare double bass technique to electric bass technique? The only things these two instruments have in common is the word "bass" in the name and they both have strings. They are completely different instruments in nearly every way. The fact that the strings of a double bass are bigger and more difficult to manage is one reason that some people use the pinky and ring finger together. The top upright bassists that I've seen all have finger independence.

    Also please don't pull the "Joe Blow played with two (three) (zero) fingers and he turned out fine" card, ok... Seriously?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
    IamGroot likes this.
  16. Upright is 42" scale and ropes for strings. Classic technique is well suited for that.

    Electric bass is 34" scale and can be played from an upright or guitar technique. 4 fingers on a 34" scale electric bass is very doable. And it hasnt crippled me after decades of playing.
  17. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    Not on my list of things to do at all.

  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Jaco used primarily 1-2-4 fingering. Notice how he uses his ring finger to support his pinky finger (just like @MichelD) and how he shifts his hand position to reach the 4th fret:

    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  19. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I like Scott Devine's take on this (he of Scott's Bass Lessons): Use one-finger-per-fret when you need to, but don't when you don't.
    IamGroot likes this.
  20. Did you watch the rest of the video.?

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