Are Your Hands *too small* to Play Bass? (5 *BIG* Mistakes)

Are your hands too small to play bass? No, but… these five common fretting mistakes might be wrecking your reach.

If you watch this video, you run the risk of learning:

  • How not to suck at fretting with small hands
  • The manuever you should be doing regardless of hand size
  • How to get flexibility gainz
  • Does a short scale bass make it all better?
  • How stretchy do your fingers really need to be?

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, you can watch this lesson anytime you think it’d be helpful!

Small Hands Tips for Playing Bass

To summarize some of the goodies from the video:

  • Your hands aren’t too small
  • Getting the right position goes a long way (watch the vid for a walkthrough)
  • Microshifting cures many ills
  • You don’t need a short scale (unless you want one)
  • You don’t need massive alien fingers for 99% of bass lines

How have you small handed folks made the bass work for you? Any tips I didn’t mention in the video?


Great video. To the point and easy to follow. I don’t think there is anything else you could have added without dragging out particular details that may have been counter intuitive to a beginner looking for a simplified lesson packed with encouraging examples…

I really like the your production and editing. Even though it has been built on the same theme from the beginning of B2B, I have seen it refined (Lighting, edits, etc.) IIt’s not busy and makes it easy for the viewer to concentrate on what you are saying and doing.

@JoshFossgreen Not sure if anyone has asked this before but what is the pickup and preamp setup you have installed on the Squier Jazz? Thanks.


I thought it was an excellent wat to learn hand placement Viray similar to a golf grip lesson, very effective. Definitely love the explanation on micro shift. Love the video. Thanks


I believe Josh answered that question, but I don’t know where. Does anyone know what pup and preamp he uses?


Great video, Josh. Glad to see you in the studio again. More! More! :clap:


Stock pickups, Audere preamp! Pro JZ3 VB 4B Chrome


If you really wanted to impress us you’d have used this… :wink:


I hate these


What the what?!


Jamerson used it to get back to the upper strings so he could play with the 5th and octave more I think. It’s basically an octave shift, but it is really annoying even on short scale basses


Nope, I am the Queen of Microshifting and often point out Ellen when people wonder if their hands are too small :joy: I didn’t know who those other kids were, though, nice finds!


But seriously, I just tried it, and microshifting as I so often do, I actually just played them like it was totally normal even if I thought that it looked insane on paper :rofl:


Well, alright, alright, alright. I can envision doing that with some microshift fu.

Just seemed like either a musical typo or a hellish exercise from the Beginner to Beelzebub course.


Nice! Here’s the rest of the transcription if you want to play it in context


Oh, sh*t! Earlier this afternoon I read just the first part of the thread title, didn’t look at who posted it, and thought, “eh, quit yer whining I gots small hands and I’m gettin’ by just fine.”
Oops lololol! :face_with_hand_over_mouth: (this weekend has been a whole mood though, so the issue is me - not the title of the video)

(grabs yellow legal pad and three sharpened #2 pencils to take notes)
I’ll be back later :mantelpiece_clock:


This was an excellent video @JoshFossgreen.
Never ceases to amaze me how the basics (and working on them) really matter.
I’ve been trying to get my claw bat grabber hand back to bass reality of late, and love the simple reminders here.


This was a great video Josh. So many of us have to cope with this, showing us the fundamentals is a real help.


0:00 That look lol!
0:10 (starts laughing again)
0:12 NOOB JOSH! He’s back!
0:17 (still laughing – can’t…breathe…)
0:35 (gasps in shock and horror) NOOB JOSH WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? (I didn’t think he was athletic at all.)
0:45 And having your fingers twisted like that looks painful.
0:53 Noticed your giant alien fingers? Yeah just a little bit
0:59 – 1:01 <<< the three second point in time where we all stand a chance of sounding better than Josh. If we try real hard.
1:14 (looks at Josh’s shirt more closely now that I’ve stopped laughing)
Oooooh, Daft Punk!
(falls into a cosmic Daft Punk wormhole)
(wakes up on sofa two hours later, dizzy, and covered in space glitter)
“Aw, man – again?! I’m going to have to finish this tomorrow.”
(shuffles off to bed)
Next Day…
1:30 “Plop the neck behind your fingers.” Great and easy reset when you’re feeling twisted.
1:51 [Noob Josh loses his temper] Easily my favorite part of this video. :stuck_out_tongue:
3:27 “Microshifting saves energy.” I totally agree, because you know what’s really inefficient? Not playing because you can’t make a stretch.
3:36 “…shifting is a simple movement at the shoulder and elbow, which uses much larger muscle groups that don’t have to do much work to move your hand like this.” An important point! The more gross motor work you can push off onto muscles with more capacity, the more your fingers can focus on fine motor skills, like landing on the right fret.
3:56 “fretting hand thumb pressure as light as possible” my fretting thumb also doubles as my Achilles’ Heel.
4:47 Call to Action! “When can we stop putting these in every YouTube Video?” “preach, sister” LOL Nope! Your “struggles” with this YouTube peculiarity are fantastic dramady all on their own. :wink:
4:52 Whoooo, Kim Deal!
5:14 [noobasana] (partial Wilhelm Scream) My daughter ran to the kitchen to get a drink of water and then did a spit-take.
5:55 Stretching on 9, 10, 11, 12 – love this exercise! Partially because the bass line I learned for “We Are Going to Be Friends” is played exclusively on the 10th and 12th frets.
7:02 “Curse you, Leo Fender!” My daughter’s new go-to swear.
7:15 Every time you throw a pick over your shoulder in a video, it is a delight. But that poor cat!
7:27 Whoaaaa check out the bass face on Noob Josh!
7:55 [Stanley shreds] (Ella laughs at Noob Josh’s expression)
8:13 “plus some hubris” (Kristine laughs at Regular Josh’s expression)
9:08 Oh, Noob Josh – this is what happens when you use a bass as a bat. You end up in a boss fight.

Mostly the same way people with larger hands make it work - patience, accepting my own set of limitations, creating workarounds, not comparing to other people. A healthy dose of spite…I mean, persistence. :smiley:

Play in front of a mirror to see how your hands look. There are some riffs I’ve tried to play in such a way that all four fingers stay mostly together and straight, and it’s hard to tell which fingers are actually working. For added fun and mystery. :sunglasses:



. . . And I was starting to worry we weren’t going to get Kristine’s play-by-play of Josh’s latest video. Thanks, @kristine ! And thanks Ella. Great as usual.


Aw, I appreciate your concern, @david.addis ! Glad you enjoyed it. :smiling_face:

(There was a traumatic event in the apartment building directly across the street from ours Friday afternoon. Ella and I arrived home 10 minutes after it happened to cop cars e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Probably shouldn’t discuss further on this thread, which is supposed to be fun, but if you want to read about it, google “Van Ness DC local news.” I’m a little traumatized myself, and the mental processing is slow.)

Grateful for the levity of a funny video right now. :heart:

UPDATE: Had a great session with my therapist today. She helped me put a few things in perspective; funny how just shifting things around a little can move some things out of the way and open up new paths, like a key in a lock.

In addition to yearly physicals, I firmly believe everyone should have a yearly mental checkup, too. Might prevent some things from happening. Stay healthy, y’all. :heart: