Beginner Bass Playing – Structure & Strategy to build up techniques (Part 1)
Firstly, there is no such thing as "proper" technique. It is up to each person to find a safe technique that works for them.
You dont seem to be having any problems with your present technique, except that you are comparing it with others.
Bass player is considered as one of the best hard working role in a band, due to the capacity of rhythm syncopation with the drummer. To count on the beat and deliver the note precisely, you need to be able to pluck the strings with your right hand with the minimum effort and consistency. This ability could developed from a proper practice routine on your right hand.
First of all, the plucking fingers included index finger and middle finger is the target to work on. Bass guitar is essentially stick with plucking and fingering style. If you are not familiar to this instrument ever before, just pick it up and give it a try with these simple guidelines.
1. Pluck the strings with a slow metronome. Around 60bpm – 70bpm. This is not my own thought but it could be the best advice from every top musicians that trying to tell you a slow metronome would be easier to approach to any instrument.
2. Switch index finger and middle finger to pluck the strings, in order to get the same amount of volume and dynamics in between these two fingers. You should be able to get the same or fairly equal- sound from your plucking fingers. Certainly, the bass sound needs a powerful momentum and solid rhythm feel to lock-in with drums, you don’t want your bass sound feels like an instrument played by two different persons for every single note just because your index finger and middle finger doesn’t sounds the same, that would turns into a really annoying situation to the music and your band mates.
3. Pluck the strings with subdivision rhythm. Start with a slow tempo means you could be able to hear the sub-divided beats and mimic the feel more correctly. The feel of whole note, half note, quarter notes, eight notes, triplets, sixteenth notes should be competent and clearly understand from this stage of musical foundation. Getting a right feel of these materials not only help you in counting the bars, tracking song’s progression but also create an inner metronome for your musical feeling. The ability to recognize time signature and instantly hit on the snare drum of the beat is a gift to a bass player, you would never miss a single beat if you achieved the inner metronome with a sense of good rhythm.
Knowing proper left-hand position for bass guitar will make fretting chords and fingering strings simpler because the left hand will be more comfortable. By keeping it loose and relaxed, you’ll be able to fret the strings with the least amount of effort. The proper position also enables you to play at great speed and with great accuracy.
You want your left hand to cover one fret per finger without causing any undue stress in your hand. This spacing will set up your hand to execute almost any musical figure without shifting. When you do have to shift, a move of one fret in either direction usually suffices.
1. Stretch your left arm out in front of you before practice. Keep your wrist and hand straight. Don’t put your effort to practice an instrument without a comprehensive mind, energy for a practice session is limit and you just don’t want to waste them to gain none of a productive result. Keeping your wrist straight to the hand’s gesture is necessary to avoid inaccurate fretting technique for the left hand. Bending the wrist only makes it more difficult to you when you’re trying to land the fingers on fretboard and quickly drain out your left hand stamina even though you are not intentionally using muscle. First of all, your left hand should be relax and there’s no muscle stiffness are needed.
2. Without changing the angle on your wrist, turn your hand over so that your palm faces up and your fingers are slightly curved. Position your thumb so that it faces your index finger, or the area between your index and middle fingers. A good position of the instrument on your hands could get you more time to enjoy the process of practicing, durable and consistency is the key to be solid. A better posture to reach the neck is holding the bass closer to your chest as you could hug your bass in arms, this is an optimize option of playing posture could be seen very common in electric Jazz bass players. (Marcus Miller, Hadrien Feraud, Victor Wooten, etc).
3. Bring your elbow in to the side of your rib cage (without moving your hand) until the bass guitar’s neck is in the palm of your hand.
4. Place the tip of your thumb on the middle of the back of the neck. Make sure that your fingertips are pointing upward. The most important thing to remember when stretching your fingers on fretboard is to put on one finger – per fret. As the following example.
5. Gently spread your fingers onto the strings, with each finger close to an adjacent fret. Curl your fingers until your fingertips are on one of the strings. Be sure to keep the tips of your fingers close to the frets as you play.
“THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE IS THE ONE THAT GETS YOU THE MUSICAL RESULTS YOU NEED”. A “GOOD/RIGHT” TECHNIQUE IS THE ONE THAT GETS YOU THE MUSICAL RESULTS YOU NEED WITHOUT CAUSING PAIN OR UNNECESSARY TENSION. EVERYONE HAS UNIQUE MUSICAL VOICES AND GOALS, A DIFFERENT BODY, DIFFERENT STYLES OF MUSIC THEY WANT TO PLAY, AND DIFFERENT WAYS THEY WANT TO APPROACH THE BASS.
TECHNIQUE IS A TOOL, EVENTUALLY, WE ALL WANT TO ENJOY THE MUSIC AND PLAYING MUSIC! HAVE FUN WITH IT!