Fingers

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Peejay
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Fingers

Post by Peejay » September 3rd, 2007, 4:26 pm

I just found Vic Lewis's hand size thread and I thought it was really unfair that I could only just touch the 6th fret on my guitar. :wink:

Anyways, I'm new to the bass since about 3 or 4 weeks ago...my only other guitar experience before that was more or less some open chords on a regular (non-bass) acoustic guitar. I got my first amp 2 days ago (Peavey Minx 110, I just had the bass hooked up through my soundcard until then) and my eyes (ears) were finally opened to the amazing amount of sounds that I was making unintentionally: ringing strings, bumping strings, notes sounding when I fret them before I pluck them or when I lift my finger off the string...I assume some of this will quiet down as I learn better technique, right?

Back to my original question. I have long, spindly "piano" fingers (good for stretching, bad for muting, it seems). I can do a 4-fret stretch okay (not great yet, of course :lol: ) on the first 4 frets of the G string, but as I move up to the E string, my hand/wrist starts to rotate counterclockwise so I end up touching the strings with the sides of my fingers instead. I can improve the situation by putting the neck in a (much) more vertical position, but can't really do that sitting down.

So, any beginner tips for hand/thumb/elbow placement would be appreciated, as well as tips from the long-fingered on what to do with the nice extra length when it's just getting in the way bumping other strings and needing to bend them more (maybe?) just to get down to the strings and such. :P

Thanks!

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slejhamer
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Re: Fingers

Post by slejhamer » September 3rd, 2007, 7:00 pm

First, welcome to GN! And especially to the "bottom end" of bass land.

I've only been playing a year and I've got somewhat small hands so I can't help you much, but:
Peejay wrote: I can improve the situation by putting the neck in a (much) more vertical position, but can't really do that sitting down.
Try wearing your strap even when sitting down and it might help you get a better angle, but it still shouldn't need to be too severe.

Hopefully some of the more experienced players will chime in too.
"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."

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Post by Kalle_in_Sweden » September 4th, 2007, 12:39 am

Hi Peejay
Follow slejhammers advice and use a neckstrap even when you are sitting.
Adjust the neckstrap so the body of bass is hanging in the strap even when you sit.
And raise the angle of the neck as vertical as you need to be able to play all over the neck.
I may not look cool (for rock band bass player) but it works.
One way to do it, is to spread the legs and let the bass body drop down between legs and let neck pointing upwards.
/kalle
Tanglewood TW28STE (Shadow P7 EQ) acoustic
Yamaha RGX 320FZ electric guitar/Egnater Tweaker 15 amp.
Yamaha RBX 270 bass/Laney DB 150 amp.
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Vic Lewis VL
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Post by Vic Lewis VL » September 4th, 2007, 3:27 am

The biggest difference I've found between playing guitar and playing bass is the way I wear my strap - playing guitar, I like to have the guitar reasonably high on my body, whereas playing bass, I like it low - almost as far as the strap will allow. This way, I've found it easier to angle the headstock on the bass to the optimal position.

My long fingers come in handy for playing bass! I've never had problems muting strings, or with them getting in the way - but then again, I had quite a few years guitar playing experience under my belt, so all I've done is adapted the various techniques I already used for guitar for playing bass, ie. palm muting, finger-picking. Maybe I play the bass like a guitarist, instead of a bassist, but then again I've no intention of switching to bass full-time - I just wanted to be able to play bass-lines for some of my songs.

I found this picture from a couple of years ago - I was just picking up the bass then.

Image

Obviously, the thumb peeking over the top isn't ideal, and my posture isn't great - leaning forward, looking where my fingers are on the fretboard! - but I've worked on that, and I try to keep my hand more straight now.

This picture's more recent;

Image

As you can see, what I said about playing bass like a guitarist holds true! OK, I'm playing higher up the neck here, but you can see the wrist is in a far better position, and it's fairly easy to do a 4-fret stretch. If I was playing further toward the headstock, I'd probably angle the neck more - but it's not something I've ever thought about, I must have acquired the habit kind of subconsciously. The main thing - more so than when I play guitar - is keeping the thumb in the middle of the neck!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Peejay
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Post by Peejay » September 4th, 2007, 8:13 am

Vic Lewis wrote:The main thing - more so than when I play guitar - is keeping the thumb in the middle of the neck!
Oh right, the one other atypical thing I have is a "double-jointed" thumb that bends backwards at unnatural angles. ;)

I have been wearing the strap more or less all the time (when I play, not really all the time :lol:), if only because it adds some stability, and also I had read (probably here) that was a good idea. I haven't played with the height since the first few days though, so I'll revisit that tonight (although I don't think it's all too low otherwise it'd go slack when I sit). I did try the bass-on-left-leg approach (easier to angle upwards) last night, but I don't have a real opinion on that yet.

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Peejay
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Post by Peejay » September 4th, 2007, 4:52 pm

Making the strap shorter made my left shoulder hurt. Making it longer gave me a little more flexibility in pointing the neck upwards.

Here's what happens to my thumb on the backside (approximate, since I can't hold the bass with both hands and the camera):

Image

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Vic Lewis VL
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Post by Vic Lewis VL » September 4th, 2007, 5:50 pm

Wow, I've NEVER seen a thumb bend that way before - I can curl my thumb round, and drag it behind the first knuckle of my index finger - on both hands - but that's just plain WEIRD! Maybe you should think of taping it back? Or grow a new bone in it, if medical science has progressed that far?

You've just put me off chicken legs for life!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Peejay
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Post by Peejay » September 4th, 2007, 6:15 pm

The scary part is, that's only about half as far as it bends back (it's not so weird to me because it's always been that way [both thumbs, actually they bend a lot less than they used to :shock:] but most people have the same reaction as you). :P

I'm just not sure whether to try to force it to stay "normal" or just deal with it the way it is. :lol:

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Post by Vic Lewis VL » September 4th, 2007, 6:33 pm

Gaffer tape and some matchsticks for splints would be my recommendation - but not too tight with the tape, you'll need some flexibility of movement.

That's still the weirdest thumb position I've ever seen.....by FAR!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Peejay
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Post by Peejay » September 4th, 2007, 6:43 pm

Vic Lewis wrote:That's still the weirdest thumb position I've ever seen.....by FAR!
What do I win? :D

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Vic Lewis VL
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Post by Vic Lewis VL » September 4th, 2007, 7:26 pm

An air bass - if I can get Nick to spring for one!!!!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Post by Kalle_in_Sweden » September 5th, 2007, 12:41 am

Hooly sh...
A thumb with Z-bend.
When I play bass I try to have the thumb straight and in line with the neck.
This picture http://www.box.net/shared/4qpx7sjbzh#1:7875317:75955327 indicates how I hold the bass with my right and left arm.
/Kalle
Tanglewood TW28STE (Shadow P7 EQ) acoustic
Yamaha RGX 320FZ electric guitar/Egnater Tweaker 15 amp.
Yamaha RBX 270 bass/Laney DB 150 amp.
http://www.soundclick.com/kalleinsweden

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Post by Vic Lewis VL » September 5th, 2007, 1:42 am

Yeah, that picture of Kalle is pretty much how I hold the bass - maybe a touch lower on the picking side (I have long arms as well as big hands - not quite knuckle-dragging neanderthal, but not far off!) Just experiment and find the best position for you.

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Peejay
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Post by Peejay » September 5th, 2007, 3:49 am

Kalle_in_Sweden wrote:This picture...indicates how I hold the bass with my right and left arm.
Right, but I need the picture of how you hold it with your thumb. ;)

Also, I have the RBX170, which looks just like that. :)






Maybe I can take the air bass along for practicing at work. :P

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Post by Kalle_in_Sweden » September 5th, 2007, 5:54 am

The picture shows a bit how I hold the thumb when I play.
The thumb is nearly straight behind the neck, between the upper edge and mid part of the neck.
The extreme of this "grip" is the way double bass players hold their fretting hand.

This is quote from a Bass players instruction "Book" :

"There is much concern (and rightly so) in the bass playing commuity about repeat stress injuries (e.g. tendonitis, carpel tunel syndrome) to the hands and wrists as a result of improper practicing techniques or too much practicing. With this in mind, I'd like to stress a few things about left hand fretting (though I'm not a medical doctor and this in no way should be taken as medical advice).

Fretting notes requires pressure and you will probably be tempted to try to get that pressure entirely from your fingers and your thumb, turning your hand, effectively, into a vise holding the neck of the bass. This is not a good technique to turn into a habit. First off, it will tire out your left hand very quickly. Secondly, it may lead to wrist injuries.
Strive whenever possible to pull with your shoulder and back muscles (like upright players do) when fretting notes.
The thumb will still exert a little pressure, but it will become mostly a guide to help your fingers find the notes.
The pull should come from your shoulders and back.
If you do this correctly, it will have the added benefit of reminding your to keep your wrist straight, which is something else I'd like to emphasize while we're at it.

If you keep your left elbow close to your body while you're fretting low notes, it will put your wrist at an unaturally sharp angle (which *will* lead to repeat stress injury. I can vouch for that one).
Practice keeping your elbow farther out (especially while going for those low notes).
Keep your wrist as straight as possible, and remember to pull from your your back."

/Kalle

PS I found this link with pictures :
http://www.adamnitti.com/bass_player_03.shtml
Tanglewood TW28STE (Shadow P7 EQ) acoustic
Yamaha RGX 320FZ electric guitar/Egnater Tweaker 15 amp.
Yamaha RBX 270 bass/Laney DB 150 amp.
http://www.soundclick.com/kalleinsweden

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