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What Position?

Discussion in 'Ask David Overthrow' started by Breathinstephen, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Breathinstephen


    Jan 22, 2012
    Hi, Im New to the forums, and new to the bass ( sort of)

    At the age of 56 ( after a 40 year break) , I just started playing the bass again ( 4 string electric). I'm not in a band or anything, I just play for the pleasure of playing. I actually played acoustic bass for a couple of years starting in Junior high school and learned to sight read fairly well at that time. It's taken me a few months, but most of what I learned back then is coming back to me and I'm pretty comfortable reading and playing within the first 8 frets.

    My question is(and I hope it doesn't sound dumb), but when reading music, does it matter what position on the fret board you play the notes, as long as you hit the correct ones? Should beginners stick to first position and open strings? Are there any rules, or does it just depend on your skill level?

    Generally, what I do before even attempting to play a piece of music, is scan over it a few times to see the range of notes and experiment with different positions to see what might be the easiest way to play them .

    Playing something in Eb or Ab maj in for example, is tough for me in 1st position because I have small hands, so sometimes I'll play some of those notes or passages higher up on the fret board.

    Thanks a million!
  2. These are not dumb questions. As far as where on the bass you play the notes, it really doesn't matter where you play them. Everyone is different so if someone says "you must play in the sos and so position when playing these notes" they are tooting their own horn. Whatever works for you is the way to go. For me, it often depends on what notes come before and what notes come after that dictate what position I'll play notes in. Also, you may want to play at a certain location of the neck to get the "Sweet spot" of the bass.

    I also scan the music before I play and check for key signature, any tricky accidentals, rhythms, or notes in the upper register and prepare for them before I play.

  3. sunnycal


    Aug 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I got a chart from studybass.com that is titled "Bass Clef Notes on the Bass Fretboard." This chart has the bass cleff with suggestsions to correspond to the fretboard which is great for reference. I am a beginner and use it for help. If you have trouble finding it I would be glad to scan and email it to you. It also has a short discussion about which position and shifting.
  4. Breathinstephen


    Jan 22, 2012
    Thanks for the input. I learned how to read a little bit when I was very young, but I don't really remember too much about playing positions.

    One thing I'm learning as an adult reader though ,is that they're are multiple approaches to the same notes. For me, it's usually the finger closest to the note that gets the note. Ive noticed also that if you're playing in the Keys of E or Ab , they're mode patters or scale patterns that require shorter finger reaches to hit the proper note. You're absolutely right about the fretboard "sweetspot". For me it's the 5-8th fret. I will usually play the A and E notes on the 7th frets rather than the 2nd fret.:hyper:
  5. Artobass


    Jan 21, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    For me it depends on the song and what sound will be best for the song. Ofcourse you can play an A in many different places on the fret board but an open A sounds a little different that a fretted A and that A sounds diferent in each spot on the fret board. It's all about the song.
  6. I studied upright bass from a symphonic teacher in early 1970's. My experience is that the "correct, Symphonic' fingering" positions as in the Simandl Method will be a hindrance to you when playing Electric, even if you are sight reading. Can't use your "ring-finger" until you get up to the octave position, then you can't use your pinky? COME -ON..Ridiculous.

    With Electric bass, it is perfecly legitimate to use Symphonic fingering/ positions, or you can use all 8 fingers[ 2-hand tapping] as well as thumbs, picks, etc with electric bass..whatever works. You will find that you can play scales and arpeggios 3 or 4 different ways, depending on how high you want to go. Use whatever works or is best to accomodate the tune, not what some book dictates. Again..whatever works..your choice; there is no "correct-way"

    After decades of not using Simandl, It still finds it's way into my muscle memory, hindering how I approach a tune.
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