Fretting hand fingers when doing octaves

Hi, I am focusing on improving my fretting hand (left, in my case) technique and, in particular, to stop “flying” the fingers around so much.

What do you suggest for octaves? E.g. if I take a C on the 3rd fret of the A string with my index finger, and the octave on the 5th fret of the G string with my ring/pinky… where do I put the middle finger? I am currently placing it on the G string (let’s say on the 4th fret).

In general, what is the “recommended” finger placement when jumping around from a string to the other?

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There is no right or wrong way when getting around the fretboard, @f.guerrieri ,
I would focus on trying to get 1 finger per fret, then mixing it up across 2 strings, then play on first and third string , then stretching from first to fourth.
Make sure you practice this with one finger per fret, that will build dexterity.
You should YouTube John Patatucci’s spider exercise for an example,
Cheers Brian

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Here it is here @f.guerrieri

Cheers Brian

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I’ve never thought about it before. When I think about it now, I come to the conclusion of “It does not matter.”

We’re not playing the D string at all when jumping from A to G, so if it touches that string, no problem. Extra muting, yay! If the middle finger touches the G string, it’d be before the pinky’s fret anyway. It really should not even be able to touch the string the index is fretting.

Ie, I think it’s a non-issue. Put it where you want, basically :slightly_smiling_face:

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I am trying to work on the 1 finger per feet approach, but I am still very slow.

That Patitucci video is really good but quite beyond my current level, I am having a difficult time with much easier exercises! Thanks for sharing it as a motivational pointer of what could be possible…

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That’s ok @f.guerrieri ,
Patitucci is a very good bass player in the jazz fusion style of playing who probably practiced for a few hours a day for years, I struggle playing at his fast pace on the spider exercises.
Everything gets easier with time and practice :+1:
Cheers Brian

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TL;DR try to see where your hand needs to be next and use the method that allows you to transition easier
Like others have said, a lot of it is going to come down to preference. I find that the major scale fingering with 2nd finger on the root and pinky rolling the 5th and octave gets me through 85% of situations. However I don’t find this position very good for playing a lot of ascending octaves (like disco etc) as it requires you to be more conscious of your muting. If I’m playing fast 16th note lines that allow me to rake the strings I’ll use my pinky for the octave and ring finger for the 5th, and 1st finger for the root because my fretting and muting are a lot more consistent. If I’m staying in the same key after the rake and might have to grab a lower 5th I just use the major scale position since I don’t have to move at all.

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My tip would be to practice just fretting, ie keep your plucking hand away from the bass. Concentrate on moving a single finger and try to keep the rest not moving. It takes real concentration and can be quite frustrating to begin with, but eventually you’ll be able to do it.

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Something we can all learn from that video, no matter our bass skills, is the appropriate amount of hair gel one should use when playing.
Thanks, John Patitucci, for the valuable lesson.

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Shred grease!

Head friction, man. Holds us all back with that air resistance. Or at least it did when we had hair.

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No hair? I think I’ve found the problem.

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That for sure is something that I could try to apply and use in my day-to-day practice. While I despair (or rather, I am realistic!) about fretting hand technique, I am sure that with dedication and patience I could be able to tame my unruly hair, sooner or later! %-)

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