If you have just picked up a bass guitar, I mean actually just picked it up from the store you will soon start picking up the technique to play it! Hopefully, it is not going to end up on a wall bracket.
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Dedication is the key to learning any skill, especially when you need to start using muscles you didn’t even know were there. The reason being that the small muscle group in the hands and fingers needed for manipulating the neck and strings of your bass guitar are rarely used.
Bass guitar + amplifier = sound, and the good news is that it is not so difficult to get a good sound fairly early on with this equation, soon you will want to practice in every spare moment you have.
So here are some of the do’s and don’ts to help you with your hand position, assuming you are right handed, sorry left handers but you will have do it all in reverse.
Of course when you go to “live” gigs you can observe how experienced hold their bass guitars as well. None of this is written in stone, yet.
So here we go;
- Keep the end of your left thumb in the middle of the back of the neck of the bass
- When reaching for notes, do not let your thumb go parallel to the neck, just shift your position instead
- Use your left thumb as a pivot, keeping your elbow out form your body so that it can be free to swing back and forth
- Curve the fingers of your left hand out over the neck to reach the notes on the thicker strings as your thumb pivots
- Play the notes on the thinner strings with your fingers flattened more against the neck with your elbow pulled back and your left thumb standing almost straight out from the neck
- Point your fingers slightly back toward the bridge so that the two fingers attack the string with about the same amount of force
- Keep the fingers of your right hand fairly straight with just a slight bend at the joints
- Use a walking like motion rather than plucking motion on the strings with the index and middle fingers of your right hand
If this all sounds very fiddly to you perhaps you can get a friend to assist you in the beginning. It can be a very private thing learning to play especially in the early days so perhaps you can make a step by step recording of these instructions.
You have a good chance of avoiding hand repetitive strain injury by using this advice on technique.
There is not much to be done about your “bloody fingers” though! Just take it easy; don’t over-do it to the point of drawing blood, no matter how tempting it may be to play day and night.