Help making this reach!

So I am trying to play the XTC song Generals and Majors and I can pretty much play the whole thing except this part

The stretch from the 1st to 4th fret is killing me! I have to do a little ‘jump’ to hit the 4th fret but then I have to jump back to the 1st and it just sounds terrible. I want to finish this track so badly. Anybody got any stretching exercises or maybe insight how to fret this cleanly? :sob:


You don’t need to stretch. Just micro-shift your hand to the 4th fret.


Both those notes, the F and the Ab are nowhere else on your fretboard (unless you have a fiver), and so there is no alternative fingering.

I can’t stretch that much either, so I (micro)shift. With practice, you will be able to do that consistently. And, here, practice means starting slow and building up speed as you get more confident with the shifting.

PS: also, about those Bbs on the 6th fret… I would probably rather play them on the 1st fret of the A string, unless you feel they “sound” better on the 6th. As it is, there is also a huge jump from the 6th to the 1st (which is the same note), which is potentially not necessary. (NB: this can be used as an effect since the 6th fret Bb will have a different timbre than the 1st fret Bb, but perhaps it is not necessary here!?!)

In general, take tab information with a grain of salt and explore whether there might be alternative ways to play a riff :smile:


Amen to this. I find that in most cases, when I start with a new tab, I generally always find better (for me) ways to play it.


If given the choice between stretching or shifting my hand, I usually choose the shift. I found that it is easier on my hands and forearm, and allows me to play longer. If you are adamant about stretching, start practicing the song as slow as you need to play the notes cleanly. Once mastered, start bumping up the speed by by 5-10bpm. When I first started playing, I had to start at redicuously slow rates, but as I play now, I can start at a higher speed, and the time spent getting to full speed playing cleanly is shorter.


Yeah, the 6th to 1st is also a very quick shift which I am also having some trouble with. You can definitely hear the difference in tone and I am a perfectionist at all things in life, I must play it exactly as it was recorded :muscle:

I guess painfully slow practice is my only way through it!


Actually, just looking at that line (and I don’t know the song, and I don’t have my bass nearby), I would say the toughest part is potentially that Bb-F (same finger, two strings). Just how tough depends a lot on how fast this needs to be played and whether you need to play the notes staccato or legato etc.

Have fun :smile:


They’re pretty quick notes, I actually don’t have much trouble with this as I use my inner knuckle part of my index on the A string then roll my finger over to fret the E. It’s the 1st to 4th to 1st then the quick shift back to the 6th that’s killing me


My advice is to practice the bassline for Hound Dog. It has this stretch in it over and over. By sheer repetition you will get it. And you will better stretch your fingers and microshift.


If this is a problem, instead of the 6th on the E go to the 1 on the A. It’s the same note

The note is the same but the pitch is a little different and it bugs me if it’s not 100% accurate in tone. No shortcuts for me!


Yeah it’s all choices.

Can you do it at 75%? Practice at a speed you can do it, then speed up the playback incrementally

One of the reasons I so (notoriously) hate tab! Learn to read music.


I just put those bars in Songsterr and looped it. Yeah there’s no way I’m making that stretch.

But I can quickly shift my hand and make work it at the full tempo…

If you’ve got the ability to loop it and then slow it down that’s a good place to start. Get the mechanics of the move clean at a very slow tempo and add 5bpm at a time until it’s easy.


Are you just shifting up one fret and still hitting the 4th with the pinky? That’s what I’ve been trying but when I do I get a little slide sound onto the 2nd fret which is irritating me

Bflat with my pinky twice on the E. Slide my hand up the neck Bflat and F with my index finger. I’m barring the E and A strings and rolling my finger. Then raking from the A to the E because it’s faster.

Shift my hand down the neck Dflat with pinky, shift hand back up and index finger for the F.

I’d break the bar into smaller parts. Practice the move from the Bflat on the E string to the Bflat on the A string. Again and again until you can do it without looking at your hand. Repeat this process for the other notes and put it all together.

It’s really just lots of repetition. I’m not very bright. I’ve just played longer than you. That’s all.

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Another tool you can use is Endless Video. Copy the YouTube video you want, adjust the part you want using the ‘edit timing’ sliders and loop away. You can slow it down using the speed feature on YT (bottom right)>

I’ve dragged it to what I think the section is you’re working on. Sometimes just listening to it on a loop helps me internalize it.


Mr. Dunning-Kruger, I presume!? :joy:


You could also try to detune the bass to Eb Ab Db Gb to make the stretch shorter. Or put a capo on the first or even second fret to make your bass a medium or short-scale. You can retune as normal after the capo is on.

When you shift, don’t forget that you could use the ring finger, too.

I have the same challenge with No Roots by Alice Merton, where you could play with open strings instead (2 to 5 or 2 to 0), which is why tuning to Eb might be an idea.


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Maybe I need more coffee, but wouldn’t they need to tune up a half step, not down? So F standard instead of Eb. Then the whole phrase in the screenshot would just be open string, 3rd fret and 5th fret.

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