Left hand technique
Hi everyone, and welcome to the left hand technique lesson, where I will give you three essential advices on how to position your left hand on the electric bass, plus a bonus tip exercise to let you practice efficiently without your hand feeling too tired (at least I hope so!). So, let’s get started.
Advice #1: your thumb in the center part of the neck and the other four fingers on the fretboard, in a relaxed position.
Remember not to raise your fingers too much and keep them as close as possible to the fretboard. When you start playing the bass, it’s natural that your fingers don’t want to cooperate, since they tend to move further from the fretboard, as you play. So, first of all your hand should follow the wrist in a straight (or almost straight) position, like in this picture, and never at a 90 degree angle.
Advice #2: extremely important, the relaxation of your hand: before starting your daily practice, stretch both hands with a soft ball, like this one.
Advice #3: always start your exercises at a slow tempo (usually between 60 and 80bpm), so that you can increase gradually, still focusing on keeping a good hand posture.
Bonus tip exercise: this last one is a very simple exercise that puts into practice the previous advice. I want to share it with you because I found it to be really effective among students that want to improve their left hand technique.
If you want to check the following exercise with a series of fretboard tabs, check this same video lesson here on YouTube.
Tips for the exercise:
- I don’t recommend starting from the top fret [F note], as this would require a hand extension that you will acquire with some practice (but if you have already some practical familiarity with the fretboard, you can also start from the top fret [F note]).
- When playing G and Bb with index and pinky, make an effort to let the middle and ring fingers fall together with the pinky.
- Move on the A, D and G string following the same pattern. Once on the G string, you will move one fret down with your index, going from the G string back to the E string. You will repeat the same pattern on your fretboard, so that you’ll start to familiarize with the fretboard and will be able to extend your left-hand position in order to play from the first fret as well.
At this point, you might ask, why is this exercise a good training habit for your left hand? Because it's a very practical and easy way to muscle memorize your left hand position. As I said, the whole point is to train all your fingers to stay as close as possible to the fretboard, so that you’ll be able to develop speed and accuracy in a more efficient way.
Remember: even if you’re using only the first and fourth finger, make an effort to make sure that your middle and ring finger fall on the fretboard together with the pinkie. This will help you a lot in keeping a very good left hand posture when playing. In my teaching experience, this exercise has proven to be the most effective among beginners, and even for students that want to correct at a later time a bad left hand posture.
That was it for this time, make sure to practice daily on this exercise and soon you will see improvement in your hand posture and technique. In the next lessons we will talk about the right hand position.
Thank you for reading and see you in the next one!