A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

More ergonomics and technique

On the day that I started writing this blog, one of my first posts was about ergonomics. As a beginner, I didn’t know what the safest or most efficient physical techniques and hand positions for playing bass were. I’m still not certain that I do know these things in any absolute terms, but I’ve come across a lot of good information on the internet and from books that support each other.

Earlier tonight, when I should have been sleeping, I read some threads on the Talkbass forums instead. I came across a post in which a member asked how to learn to play the bass. One of the replies brought up the topic of proper technique, and both that reply and another linked to the videos on proper right and left-hand technique from Adam Neely that I posted back when I began blogging. They each also included an additional video, both of which I found interesting. I’m including them here, because they supplement my earlier post well:

Todd Johnson Bass Guitar: Floating thumb technique


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Gary Willis on finger pressure


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In his book  Essential Bass Technique: The Definitive Technique Manual for Bass Guitar, Peter Murray says that learning proper playing technique is vital in order to play without injury and bring forth the sounds from your head through your fingers and to the bass and speaker. He does believe that there is a correct way to play, based on how human beings are physically built. He says that there is room for deviation, but its not as broad as what some people think. Some things work because of how we’re constructed and not following them results in inferior technique that can also be harmful over time. Much of what he says is reflected in the videos I’ve posted, although he doesn’t seem to employ floating-thumb position. He seems to favor anchored thumb. I’ll write about those in a later post. Personally, I think that floating thumb makes more sense to play, even though initially its easier to use an anchor.

I’ve only read the first half of his book, so I’m not sure about his justification yet, but he said something else that I like. Don’t just play a certain way because you’re told to do so. Technique must make sense to you. It must follow natural and intelligent motion. If you’re told to follow a particular style, make sure you’re given a rationale. Make sure it makes sense to you. Murray thinks that its a cop-out to tell a beginner to find what’s right for him/her. Beginners don’t know what’s right or wrong, and more experienced players might inherit technique that isn’t necessarily efficient or safe. Question, contrast and research. I’ll write about some of what his book says in future posts as well. I’ve been impressed, overall, with the contents of  Essential Bass Technique.

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One response

  1. Pingback: HLBM 18: Notes on the A-String & River Roadhouse | Ugly Bass Face

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