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What should my other fingers be doing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DManTech, May 15, 2011.


  1. DManTech

    DManTech

    May 13, 2011
    Hey guys, I'm sorry for the newb question but I'm new to bass (bought it today, I've got about an hour of playing time on it). I've played guitar for a few years but I know bass is a completely different beast.

    Anyway, I noticed after a while that my ring and pinky fingers want to stay curled up into my palm--I tried to correct it, but it's really hard for me to keep them straighter and "loose". Is that how it's supposed to be, or do most people curl them in like I was doing?
     
  2. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Nov 17, 2010
    You mean on your plucking hand, right?

    "Supposed to's" don't always exist, but there can be arguments for doing something one way over another. My non-plucking fingers (I generally use just the two, but occasionally the ring finger also) stay pretty much straight and move sympathetically with the others.

    I get the sense that if you are curling yours up to your palm, you are putting tension on your muscles which may interfere with using the index and middle fingers. You may not notice it as you are learning and playing more slowly, but as you speed up and/or play for extended periods of time, you may find cramping in your hand and/or lack of dexterity in the two fingers you use to be an issue.

    Or you may not.
     
  3. DManTech

    DManTech

    May 13, 2011
    Yes, to clarify I meant on my plucking hand.

    I was a little concerned about future cramping from tension, I know the goal is to be as relaxed as possible.
     
  4. sammyp

    sammyp

    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    a player (dave marks) that does columns for the UK Bass mag had a youtube vid on bad habits - he was advocating tucking you pinky and ring finder in to your palm as you are doing ...specifically, you want to avoid the pinky gettting stuck out sideways as is what happens with alot of beginners ....anyway after watching his youtube i tucked my fingers in ....feels good to me ..

    i would say straight fingers and loose is fine too!
     
  5. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Nov 17, 2010
    After 30+ years of playing bass, I have no idea why it's a good idea to tuck your pinky into your palm. Why do you "want to avoid the pinky gettting stuck out sideways?"

    I'm not saying my way is right and that is wrong, but I've never encountered any difficulty in having my pinky sticking out sideways. In fact, it seems to lend a bit of counterbalance to my active finger motion.
     
  6. sammyp

    sammyp

    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    all i'm saying is that the pinky can tense up and cause some tension up the arm....this was the point of the Dave Marks tip...when i watch Rocco Prestia play his pinky is relaxed and straight in line with his other fingers ....that's cool...obviously ....i think the idea is too avoid tension in any case ...

    my pinky wouldn't seem to relax and fall in line with the other fingers ...it was always tense and vearing off to the right ..so it was better for me to tuck in and give it a home!
     
  7. I've always found it best to keep everything relaxed. Sometimes I'll use the pinky side of my hand to muffle the strings to get more of a percussive sound which in my mind would be tougher if I had them curled into my hand.

    My first thought on curling your fingers in is that it could possibly create a habit that will hinder you down the road. This stumbling block would be if you decided to incorporate more fingers in your right hand technique.

    As others have said, there is no "right way" or "wrong way" just better ways for you to play your instrument how you feel most comfortable.
     
  8. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland

    Here is that video clip.

    YouTube - Bad Habits For Bass: Tension in the plucking hand.

    OP; If you drop your arm down by your side and relax the hand, you will notice that the fingers naturally curl in towards the palm. It is generally accepted that both hands should be relaxed when playing, so for the R/H, the fact that fingers are curling in, means the hand is relaxed...and what you are doing is OK.
     
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    It is a natural response of accuracy and is supporting the rest of your fingers to work correctly, and more efficiently. In any task in which the hand requires accuracy the littlefinger and ringfinger get moved in to the palm to allow the other fingers and thumb to work better.

    Put a coin on a table and pick it up, the reaction is the same,the little finger and ring finger curl in. When you notice this you will realise that in many day to day tasks this reaction happens in different degrees. It is desirable and beneficial to the hand and to playing with a standard two finger technique.
     
  10. I agree with fearceol and Fergie Fulton.Obviously,if you were using a 3 finger plucking technique it might create problems.
     
  11. After a little thought I realized that I don't tuck the other two fingers in my palm,but they are curled.If I try playing with all my fingers straight,my picking fingers don't feel as flexible.I would suggest to keep at it and try to find the method where your picking hand feels comfortable.If you lined up 10 good bass players and observed their right hand technique,you'd see a lot of differences among them.For me,it's natural to have the 2 fingers curled while I play.
    ALSO,don't apologize for asking a newb question.That's what this forum is here for!
     
  12. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Any fingers I'm not currently plucking a string with are used to mute the other strings that I'm not hitting. Why anyone would want to waste a prehensile digit is beyond me.
     
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Yes indeed it can but i teach players to use the hand correctly by holding a coin in the crook of the little finger joints and roll it towards the palm....the ring finger witll follow.
    This gives the little finger something to do rather than restrict it.
    In the case of a two finger technique it will help both the unused fingers by giving them something to do, and it a three finger technique it helps to stretch the tendons that are shared by the little finger and ring finger for developing a three finger technique.
    The great thing about the coin is when you drop it then consider that practice session over, rest and start again after a few stretches. Consider the coin as your indicator to how the hands are coping with the tasks.
     
  14. DManTech

    DManTech

    May 13, 2011
    I think what I'm seeing here is that's okay to have the fingers curled, but not okay to have weird tension in either direction, whether it be straight out or curled in.

    In my case, I think my pinky especially has the tendency to curl all the way in, almost like making a fist, which seems to be tension. If I play like that for a while, it feels stiff and that's definitely not good.

    I've been trying to watch my right hand technique and stop my fingers from doing that, but it's really difficult! Reminds me of trying to "train" my left hand pinky to stay close to the fretboard at all times.

    I feel like I can pluck fairly well, but I thought that would be the hard part, not controlling my other fingers.
     
  15. This is what I find myself doing as well. Maybe give it a try. It might even improve your overall sound if ringing notes or accidental string contact is an issue for you also. But as I read this thread I picked up my bass and found that I am CONSTANTLY using all 4 fingers of my R. hand. I generally employ a three finger technique and a two finger technique the rest of the time....when I use either technique I am finding the unused fingers are used as mute's for unused strings or as mutes for staccato notes.

    This might take time to get used to or it might simply come with learning certain types of music. Either way sounds like your on the right track to getting the issue under control, or at least asking the right questions. Again, either way, its probally best to create the least amount of tension in all fingers. Hope you can get the issue under control before to many bad habits become second nature.

    Good luck!
     

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