Hey everyone. I’m a total beginner and I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to improve my stamina, speed, finger strength etc. Right now, I have a lot of fret buzz from pressing down too light, there are gaps in my bass playing from trying to find the next fret and which string it’s on, and my hands get tired after just a few minutes of playing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Patience. It will get better
Practice, practice and practice some more! But seriously, don’t be so hard on yourself. All of this is expected if you’re a total beginner, and takes time to improve. Keep practicing and don’t give up!
Edit: check out this video, and especially Tip #4: You Won’t Suck Forever
Thanks for the advice. After listening to Sid Vicious play bass, I now feel better about myself
Hand strength and stamina will come with time. Stretch out your hand and fingers as you warm up. Make sure your bass has a good setup, if the neck or action is off it can make your hand tire out easier. Focus on playing with as light of a grip as will make a clean note. Just keep playing!
It also might not be fretting pressure causing the buzz, and in fact probably isn’t. It takes very little pressure to properly fret a note, if the bass is set up correctly.
Have you had your bass set up? If not, you can do it yourself:
It’s easy and fun, you don’t need any special tools, and you will need to learn how to eventually anyway.
I measured my action and it’s around 5mm and Josh said that action should be no higher than 5mm so I don’t think it’s because of the action. What I’ve found is that if I don’t press hard enough, I get fret buzz.
5mm at the 12th fret is high. It’s more than twice as high as the action on my bass. I think Josh was giving an upper reasonable limit there.
Additionally, action height is not the only factor - neck relief curvature is at maximum at arounf the 7th-9th fret on most basses. If that’s where you are buzzing, could be the neck relief.
It really should take very little pressure to fret, if fretting in the correct position.
Oh ok. I’d better get a setup then. What’s the action on your bass?
Another thing to bear in mind is fretting in the correct position. Basically, right up against the fret wire on the body side (towards the pickups), almost touching the wire.
I wouldn’t worry about specific action measurements. What I would suggest is either getting the shop to do a setup, or if you do it yourself, try adjusting the strings until they feel good to you.
I generally lower them until they buzz and then raise them a bit until they don’t. Also you will want them a little higher if picking (but not much).
Last bit of advice, the order you do things in the setup matters. Marcelo’s video there is good.
Yeah I know. I’ve been fretting that way ever since I got my bass.
You’re ahead of where I was when I started then
It’s all thanks to Josh for helping me get to where I am.
Never tried, but I think my hand wouldn’t last long at that height either…
Properly setting up your bass (as others have already suggested) is going to improve almost everything you mentioned in your original post.
I just measured for fun, and my bass is between 2-3mm, closer to 3, at the 12th fret. And it’s higher than usual now, as I am doing a lot of pick playing.
Standard setup for a Fender bass is around 2,4mm. 5mm seems like a lot to me
Here’s the info that’s available on the Fender website, should be helpful for other brands as well:
I’ve now come to the conclusion that a setup will help my bass playing. As well as practice. Thanks everyone
The fingering exercises at the beginning of this book helped my fretting speed and accuracy a ton — Bass Hanon
Playing through those first 7 or 8 exercises (or even just the 1st exercise) for 20 min a day eventually made my fretting much more natural and smooth. If you wanted to speed up your progress I’d recommend this book and a metronome.
After some thinking, I’ve decided not to get a setup. Whilst I do acknowledge the fact that getting a setup will mean I won’t have to press down as hard and there won’t be as much fret buzz, I don’t actually notice any fret buzz anymore. And I’m fine with pressing harder since it means my finger strength will be stronger than if I had lower action and I’m used to pressing down hard. The tone is also fine on my bass. In conclusion, it all comes down to personal preference and I’ve decided that I want higher action.