I’m about 4 weeks into playing bass with this course, bass being my first instrument ever.
But lord, my fret hand looks and feels atrocious while playing grooves, especially changing between fingers.
I understand it will ease up with time, but does anyone have tips on how to relax my fret fingers so they aren’t so claw like?
I’m wary of it becoming a bad habit and causing joint pain later on.
(FYI, I make sure to keep my palm away from the neck, and try to keep my fingers perpendicular to the neck as well. I think I may be putting too much pressure on the neck when pressing down on strings, causing my fingers to flex)
I think Josh’s video here is the best approach and breakdown of it all:
The emphasis that I’d add is to keep things very slow and focused on control at the beginning. The problem that I run into (and all my students) is that as you’re learning good technique, as soon as you go to play the songs that you want to play, the challenges you face in that real world ruin the attempts at good technique.
I think playing the music you like is the most important ingredient in staying with the bass, so I always encourage folks to try and play whatever they love - just make sure to stay with the fingering exercises in the meantime.
If you train and strengthen your fingers regularly, they will eventually do what you want them to do with nice, clean, efficient technique. It just takes a long time and, most likely, a longer time than players have patience for before going into the world of real bass lines and tackling something fun (but challenging) to play.
Use Gio’s point about paying attention to the details of technique as a motivation - if you work on your technique, you’ll be able to play the songs you like better and faster and so on.
As for the claw-thing, I personally think it really helps to move your hand around rather than to keep it in one spot. A lot of beginner exercises, such as a scale or riff stay in one position on the neck. Don’t do that, experiment with shifting your hand around! This way, your hand will be more relaxed.
Another thing you can try is to go through all the “bad” positions too and see what happens. For example, the “thumb over the E-string” grip has its place in some situations, but it also shows you how restricted your movement is.
My two cents (or Pfennige) are, don’t just look for one position, there are many different, useful ones.
Oh, and post here: Introduce Yourself! (2023) - #1056 by autumnsdad1990
and, if you like here: Show Us Your Basses (Part 2)
PS: I am a beginner and I do all the weird stuff, too.
Welcome @iseraashogar ! Good info here. Check out the video from @JoshFossgreen , and just be mindful of your hand position. It will come to you.
I need to move my hand and consciously use my little finger.
I got one of those finger excersise things where you push down buttons with springs
I use it like this to stretch and set it to full (I sit at work using it sometimes)
Also I actively stretch my fingers apart by opening my hand as wide as possibly but keeping my thumb in my palm.
Seems to help.
This may very well be the case, and it’s a very common issue. One of the things you can try is this: try to fret notes without your thumb touching the back of the neck at all. Just fret using your fingers, and use the forearm of your other arm to counterbalance your bass. You should be able to fret notes cleanly this way without too much effort. If you are, then it’s just a matter of practicing and consciously trying not to grip the neck too hard. However, if you are unable to fret notes cleanly this way or if it requires a lot of effort, your bass may need a proper setup. Lots of information about that on the forums!
It’s very very common when learning to be hyper focused on your fretting fingers. I would guess you’re using way too much pressure when fretting notes because you’re so concerned with what you’re playing and making sure you hit the right notes. I think this is mentioned in the video Gio posted, but try fretting any note, then play it while you ease the pressure, you’ll be surprised by how little you actually need. If you have to press down really hard to get a clean note then your action is probably too high.
The more you play the easier it becomes, as you get more comfortable playing certain patterns of notes, changing between them becomes much easier.
You’ll get there. Relaxation come with time. Keep practising using the best technique you can, but when you play, just play and enjoy it. Eventually, the technique you have been working on will creep into your playing.
@iseraashogar how are you going?
I had the exact same problem with claw hand and I don’t know how it happened but one day I noticed it just wasn’t like that anymore when I was taking my time. I started learning about 8 months ago. I do still get crab hand but I notice it happens when I’m practicing something new and just going too fast because I’m trying to get all the notes. My hand tenses up and I make rookie errors. Or when there’s a part of the song that’s tricky, that’s the point where the claw hand comes out.
As boring and painful as it can be, taking things sloooooow really does help a lot.
Yes. Slow. Then slower. This really does work. This also prevents getting a death grip on the neck. The thumb should only exert enough pressure to keep the neck from moving from the fretting fingers.
Learning this early and well pays off huge.
Careful with those hand exerciser thingies. They can very quickly do some bad damage which wouldn’t be good for playing. I used to use one to relieve some hand tension due to typing all day (programmer). My doctor told me to stop using them altogether unless I want permanent damage.
Stretches are good though. Make sure you’re doing good ones and not something learned from TikTok or Instagram reels of TikTok videos from a week ago.
My 2 cents. When you are starting, practice less…as in, stop when you feel tired/ have finger tension. I played with “the claw” for a while because i was trying too hard and “powering through”, which led to finger/wrist pain.
You are making your fingerz move in ways they haven’t before and getting neurons to fire in new ways.
10 min of “good” pain-free practice is better then an hour torture session.
Once you start straining, you aren’t helping anything and causing bad habbits.