Playing bass guitar requires a unique combination of skill and coordination, as it involves using both hands at the same time. One hand plays the strings while the other presses down on the fretboard, causing the notes to be held in place.
It is important to learn proper left-hand technique, as this can have a huge influence on your ability to play with comfort and precision. In this blog post, we will explore five essential tips for mastering the art of bass guitar fretting with your left hand!
Physiology And Posture
Something I have told my students on many occasions is that you should aim to adopt as natural a posture as you possibly can when playing the bass. This means using the left hand (fretting hand if you’re a left-handed player) in the way that it naturally relaxes into.
To adopt this posture, let your hand relax completely by your side. Let your arm literally go dead. Once you’ve done this, bring your hand up and place the neck of the bass between your index finger and thumb. This is the ideal playing posture for your fretting hand.
The big advantage of this posture is that it takes no muscle power away from your hand. If you use another hand position – one that requires you to anchor your thumb to the neck, one that forces you to bend your wrist or get tense in anyway – then this tension is just taking muscle power away from your hand unnecessarily.
Moveable Anchor Technique
The idea behind the moveable anchor technique is to lightly rest your thumb on the back of the bass but only have it there to stabilize your fretting hand. The thumb should never be used to keep the bass neck in position. That’s what a good strap is for.
The upside of this technique is that it allows the index finger, middle finger and the hand as a whole, much more freedom of movement. As hand techniques go, it’s much better than many others which restrict the vital fretting finger as a result of having the thumb anchored.
A bass player who wants to practice this technique should focus on starting with basic movements such as scales and arpeggios and then they should move on to using songs as a vehicle to practice this technique.
It may also be helpful to go to a bass instructor who can advise on issues such as how to correct your index finger, keep your wrists straight or how to get the most out of your hand techniques.
Different Techniques For Bass Guitar
That being said, we’re all very different. We have different physiologies and this means we’ll all play the bass with a slightly different technique.
Whilst we do have some things in common physically speaking, we must also keep our own unique qualities in mind when developing a technique.
Some bass players will have double-jointed thumbs which can make anchoring the thumb, cover muting, quick movement in the index and middle fingers and floating thumb techniques easier.
However, some will be able to bend at the wrists a little more comfortably than others without suffering any damage.
The important thing here is to know that bass players must be bass players and they must learn to listen to their teachers and their own bodies.
Whilst you should aim to minimise tension as much as possible, you may find one thing better for your picking hand that someone else can’t have in their own right hand technique.
This is when we have to acknowledge that different bass plaeyrs will approach things differently and you must try things out, study with different teachers and form your own opinions.
Decrease the Distance Between the Strings and Your Fingers
When playing bass, it is important to decrease the distance between the strings and your fingers. This can be done by gradually lowering your hand until you feel the strings pressing into your fingertips. Additionally, it may help to slightly adjust your wrist so that it is slightly arched or curved when performing this action. Doing this will ensure that you don’t accidentally mute any notes while playing as well as make fretting notes easier in the long run.
How to practice with your index finger and middle fingers
When practicing with your index and middle fingers, start by playing open string patterns with just these two digits. Start slow and focus on accuracy over speed to ensure clean and precise finger placement on each note. As you increase in speed, ensure that each note is properly articulated with a nice attack followed by a smooth decay in order to create a clear sound. Additionally, try using alternate picking as this will allow for better coordination between both hands after mastering basic exercises using only downstrokes or upstrokes.
Let your hand approach the instrument
When first picking up a bass guitar, it is important to let your hand approach until your thumb rests either onto the thumb rest or at six o’clock towards the pickup selector switch depending on what type of guitar you have. Doing this ensures that both of your arms are in an ergonomic position thus allowing for better overall control when switching chords/notes swiftly without straining yourself physically in any way.
Reach for your high string with your index or middle finger
Reaching for higher strings on a bass guitar can be tricky but not impossible! When doing so with either index or middle fingers, begin by keeping both arms above waist level while slowly curling all four digits around them positioning itself precisely over its target string before angling downwards at about 45 degrees from its initial posture keeping everything relaxed at all times before plucking out its chosen pitch cleanly and accurately
Relax Your Hand
When playing bass, it is important to keep your hand relaxed in order to enable the most efficient use of your fingers when reaching for strings and plucking out notes. This can be achieved by gently shaking both arms and wrists around while keeping a wide grip when wrapping your hands around the neck of the instrument. Doing this will ensure that unnecessary tension isn’t applied to any part of your body which could potentially lead to injury if ignored over a long period of time.
Play Near the Fret and Apply the Correct Amount of Pressure
In order to achieve perfect clarity in each note, it is important to play near the fret and apply just enough pressure when pressing down with either index or middle finger. Sliding up or down from its intended target fret might create an undesirable sound so it’s best practice to make sure that you press firmly onto its intended location before releasing it again equally swiftly. Additionally, releasing too quick may result in missed notes so it is always recommended not to rush things as accuracy is key!
About the Plucking Technique
There are two main methods for plucking bass guitar strings: thumbpicking or using fingers. Thumbpicking uses only one finger whereas fingering uses multiple digits depending on what style of music you’re playing. Regardless of which technique you choose, make sure that all motions used are kept clean and concise in order to produce a clearer sound overall rather than relying on strength alone as this could create fuzzier notes than desired.
How Hard to Pluck The Strings
When plucking strings on a bass guitar, strike them using just enough force while being mindful not to snap any strings or distort their tones excessively. Generally speaking, modern genres such as rock and metal use a bit more force when picking compared against lighter styles like funk or jazz which require much more precision and finesse. Test out different amounts of pressure until you have found what works best for your particular genre and stick with it!
Anchor Your Thumb
Putting your thumb at rest on either side of the neck gives you additional control over both harmonics and posture when playing bass guitar chords/notes. This can be done by gently resting your thumb at approximately nine o’clock onto its surface with enough force enough so that neither arm can be easily pulled away from its initial position allowing for better accuracy overall.
Muting the Strings
Muting the strings is an essential part of bass guitar fretting hand technique. When playing, it is always important to suppress any unwanted string noise to keep your sound clean and crisp.
The most common way of achieving this is by “muting” or pressing down on unused strings that aren’t being played. This practice helps cut out distractions from other notes and creates a nice, even tone.
Ring Finger Muting
Another popular way of muting strings is with the use of ring finger muting technique. This involves using your ring finger to press down on any strings not in use while your other fingers are playing.
The advantage of this method is that it makes it easier to switch between chords without having to adjust your hand position too much or lift off any notes that you want to hold for longer periods of time.
Muting With Floating Thumb Technique
The final option for muting strings when playing bass guitar is known as the floating thumb technique. This involves keeping your thumb slightly off of the neck and allowing it float above the fretboard while you play with the other four fingers.
By carefully positioning your thumb just so, you can mute any accidental string noise and create a more consistent sound overall.
How do you use right hand on bass guitar?
Using your right hand on the bass guitar is an important aspect of playing the instrument. Depending on the genre, different techniques can be applied to create a desired sound. For instance, slapping and popping involve using the thumb and index finger to create a percussive sound, while strumming or picking uses alternate and downstrokes to create melodic patterns.
Also, a technique known as double thumbing involves alternating between both thumbs when playing higher notes.
What are some techniques that are used on the bass guitar?
There are many techniques that can be used when playing the bass guitar. These include plucking with fingers or a pick; sliding up and down strings; dampening strings with either fingertip muting or palm muting; hammer-ons, pull-offs and trills which involve fretting notes without picking them every time; tapping frets which involves using both hands to play two notes simultaneously; however, this technique is more commonly used on electric guitars and string skipping which involves creating melodic lines by combining elements from multiple strings.
What fingers do you pluck bass?
When it comes to plucking the bass guitar strings, most players utilize their index, middle and ring fingers. This method allows for greater control over dynamics while keeping your wrist in an ergonomic position.
However, depending on what style of music you are playing, some musicians may opt for using their pinky as well. Alternatively, some players may choose to use only one finger which is suitable for lighter genres such as jazz or blues.
How do you train your fingers for bass?
Training your fingers for bass requires practice and repetition in order to become comfortable with switching chords quickly and accurately fretting notes with precision. The best way to start this process is by focusing on developing dexterity in your left hand (for fretting) first before introducing scales or melodies into your practice routine.
Additionally, try experimenting with different fingerings for certain licks or patterns as this will help improve coordination between both hands whilst also building confidence when soloing over certain progressions.
What is the proper way to hold a bass guitar?
The proper way to hold a bass guitar is by placing your forearm parallel with the neck of the instrument while slightly angling it away from yourself at about 45 degrees from vertical. Then place your thumb behind the neck so that it rests at about 12 o’clock allowing enough room for all four fingers comfortably reach above frets without having extra tension build up in either arm then finally adjust accordingly until finding a posture that allow seamless switching between chords/notes whilst keeping everything relaxed.
How do you position your left hand on bass?
Positioning your left hand is a key part of playing the bass guitar. Depending on what style of music you are playing, there are different techniques that can help create a desired sound. Generally speaking, it’s important to keep your wrist straight and position your palm so that it lightly touches the neck.
It’s also important to keep your thumb slightly behind the kingpin, allowing it to move freely as you fret strings with other fingers.
Where do you put your hand on a bass?
When playing bass guitar, it’s important to make sure that your hand is positioned correctly. This will ensure accuracy when fretting notes and allow for greater control of sound quality.
The best way to position your hand is by keeping it towards the neck of the bass with light pressure applied. This eliminates any excess string noise and ensures the notes are played accurately.
Which fingers for bass?
The type of fingerstyle used when playing a bass guitar will depend on the genre of music being performed. Generally speaking, most players opt for using their index, middle, ring and pinky fingers when playing licks or solos on the lower strings. On higher strings, some players use their thumb in addition to these four fingers.
Is bass left handed?
No – though some left-handed musicians may play the instrument upside down or backwards for comfort reasons, most people play the traditional right-handed way with their right hand strumming and plucking the strings while their left performs necessary fingering duties like muting notes or pressing frets down correctly when necessary.
How do I keep my wrist straight when playing bass?
Keeping your wrist straight is an important part of learning proper technique for bass guitar fretting with your left hand. Make sure that you’re not letting any kind of extra tension build up in either arm as this could lead to fatigue after long periods of playing. When possible, practice with an upright posture and focus on keeping everything relaxed while making sure both wrists remain in line with each other at all times!
Should I play bass with a pick or fingers?
Whether you should play bass with a pick or your fingers depends on the genre of music and personal preference. Generally, playing with a pick is more common in heavier genres such as rock while playing with fingers is used more often in funk, jazz and blues. Most players usually prefer one over the other, as each provides a different sound and feel. However, it’s important to experiment with both to find out which one works best for you.
What fingers are you supposed to pick bass with?
When it comes to picking the strings on the bass guitar, most players utilize their index, middle and ring fingers. This method allows for greater control over dynamics while keeping your wrist in an ergonomic position. Depending on what style of music you are playing, some musicians may opt for using their pinky as well. Alternatively, some players may choose to use only one finger which is suitable for lighter genres such as jazz or blues.