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Wearing Low

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by wishface, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. wishface


    Jan 27, 2012
    Rock bass players tend to have their bass low on the body.

    Is this because they just don't play in a way (soloing high on the neck on the low strings where a low bass is uncomfortable) that requires a better position? What about those players that do play high?

    I can't for the life of me see how someone like that guy out of Metallica ever plays? If I see him play high he's bent double like he needs the toilet really badly. This can't be comfortable.

    I've tried wearing my bass low (it does look cool of course), but it puts pressure on my wrist if i want to play around the 12th fret on the E or A string. I don't imagine my anatomy is that bizarre, nor is my guitar shaped so unusually.
  2. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    I'm 6'5" tall and keep my bass higher up - it provides more control for the more technically challenged parts I play.

    However, I recently got an old Hondo Explorer-shaped four string - it is uncomfortable to play at my 'normal' height (it's not comfortable any way I play it really) but the thing just sounds great for what I'm using it for - our drop-D stuff.

    So I had to get a "Monkeyman" extra long strap to hang it lower than normal so that I don't have to contort my right hand as much. It's not down by my knees by any means, but lower than normal. This has had a side effect of putting my other basses down a notch or two on my strap.

    It's playable now, and fun for stage presence - but I too wonder how some folk play with it down on the floor...

    codycon96 likes this.
  3. No, it doesn't look cool!!!:bassist:
    Imaginary Pony likes this.
  4. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    if you have the confidence / stage presence, you can make anything look cool.

    that being said, in rock, the lower your guitar/bass is, the better. this is somewhat less true these days, but it's definitely a thing. in my first band, people made fun of me because i had my bass at a 'fusion height'. i do what i want now, but if you can see a person's belt under their bass, they're going to get harassed now and again if they play rock (and not classic rock or oldies or such things...)
  5. MrTaff


    Jan 20, 2014
    I find it much easier to play with the bass low but then I rarely play around the 12th fret, I keep the neck angled more vertical so it keeps both my wrists fairly straight whereas I've noticed most people which the bass at nipple height have their forearm wresting on the body and the wrist bent at 90°, it also makes it much more of a stretch to play 1-4 frets.
    Monster Truck likes this.
  6. bassexplorer


    Sep 29, 2008
    As far as the height of bass is concerned, they say you can play with your balls, with your guts or with your heart. :D
    Some say to choose the attitude you like the best, and train for it even if it hurts (e.g. Trujillo).
    But the comon sense dictates to play confortable.
    IMO the lowest position is better to play with a pick (more energy AND rock attitude).
    The highest position allows greater precision for the fingers (slappers, jazz).
    The medium position is the normal position (finger or pick). The conventional bass guitar is design to be worn at belly height.
    Don't forget the height has an impact on the string attack and how you will eventually sound.
  7. marko138


    May 24, 2013
    Perry County PA
    I don't think there's anyone who looks cooler on stage than Rob Trujillo. I love his look.
  8. wishface


    Jan 27, 2012
    With a bass that low I don't even get how you could pluck the strigs without a massive bend in the wrist. He doesn't float the thumb either.
  9. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    [​IMG]...you can't get much lower then the stage floor...:bassist:
  10. bass geetarist

    bass geetarist

    Jul 29, 2013
    At one point I foced myself to learn to play standing with my strap extended about as low as it could go (body hanging around my waist). It took some time to get my left (fretting) hand comfortable in this position, but it eventually became very natural feeling. My right hand actually felt much more comfortable in this position, as I could keep my right wrist straight, which made it much easier to play fast lines for extended periods of time.
  11. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    If you want to look cool:

    *Wear your bass low if you're playing rock
    *Wear your bass high if you're playing jazz :D

    I wear mine with the middle of the body at or just above belt level. Some will claim that wearing it higher is more ergonomically correct, but I think it's more dependent on the individual's dimensions. I'm 6'5" with really long arms, so wearing a bass any higher is uncomfortable for me. That said, don't just wear it as low as possible simply for the looks, this can lead to problems down the road.
    codycon96 likes this.
  12. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    playing low has its advantages ... mainly it keeps your picking wrist straight instead of the bent, like from people who wear their bass high up


    not that i am ragging on marcus miller, but i have seen people who bend their wrist that way for long periods of time, and it hurts. i know, cause ive tried playing like that. marcus miller is safe, since he alternates between slapping and finger playing a lot, so i dont think he bends his wrist to the point of CTS.

    playing low is also good when you spend most of the time playing on 2 low strings, or if you dont go below the 12th fret, which is true for most metallica, or rock songs in general.

    if you spend a lot of time high up the 12th fret, you better raise strap level, even if it means not looking as cool
  13. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Trujillo is a badass.

    That being said, a lot of rock players have un-ergonomic technique. A lot of the ones who wear their basses super low play with a pick and move their right shoulder to get the picking motion. Plus they don't play above the 5th or 7th fret.

    Too high can also be bad for you.
  14. Mvilmany


    Mar 13, 2013
    Upstate NY
    I met Trujillo once when he was in Ozzy's band. Seemed like a really nice guy.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I saw an interview with Liberace one time, and the interviewer, Tom Snyder, asked how he can play piano with a bunch of big diamond rings on his fingers...Liberace replied, "Very well, thank you."

    Find your own way to play, and don't sweat how others do it.
  16. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    when i see that, it makes me think they'd dislocate a shoulder or something.

    you can see it when the person's arm is fully extended and he is dropping his shoulder to reach the strings. seems more common with guitar players though

  17. 2behead


    Mar 8, 2011
    I've gone from playing very low to reasonably high. For me it has as much to do with tone as style. If I wanna get rowdy I play low. I can pick my bass up, shake it, throw it around. This is for punk, hardcore, rowdy Rock'n'Roll. So in addition to the fun of tossing a bass around you end up picking at about the neck pocket. This produces a deep aggressive tone if you clobber the snot out up your strings. If you play quietly or want a more mellow sound you mute at the bridge. Totally the opposite of jazz or R&B where most people play near the neck or pick ups for a mellow sound and near the bridge for a aggressive sound. For playing above the 12th I will actually hold/hug what ever I feels fun at the moment while soloing or a bigger fill up high. It adds to the chaos. People get a kick out of it. Rowdy rock is for the what's going to happen next, holly crap experience, not skill, fast fingers.
  18. marko138


    May 24, 2013
    Perry County PA
  19. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Long white tube socks? What a nerd....