How to strengthen left hand

One of the biggest problems I am having is that I get a lot of fret noise or buzz or whatever the proper term is from not pressing down hard enough with my left hand.
I know I am supposed to aim for the middle to end of the fret to help, but on Billie Jean, from the second bar and on about 80% of the time, when I play the A string 4th fret (which is a #C…I think…) using my ring finger, I can’t seem to hit the fret in the right place with enough force and/or accuracy.
What are some things I can do to strengthen my hand? I have one of those finger exercise machines, but it does not seem to be helping much.


@brandoncmurphy Unfortunately, the only reliable method for strengthening your fingers is to play. With time and effort, both strength and precision will increase.

And, be sure not to neglect your pinky. Bass players need that pinky strong!


You also might be surprised. It’s unlikely you actually aren’t pressing down hard enough. I would guess that the problem is more likely one of these (in this order):

  1. Fretting finger position needs to be closer to the fret
  2. Action is too high (if it feels like you need to press down hard)
  3. Truss rod needs adjusting (if it doesn’t feel like you have to press hard, but the buzzing is worse from the 5th-9th fret)

You really don’t need to press very hard to fret a note properly on a properly set up bass.


Howard you were spot on with this idea when I was wondering about it a few months back. :+1:

What a difference lowering the action made on my bass! :wink:

@brandoncmurphy, check that out . . . if your action is too high, it will definitely make it much more difficult to play.


@Jazzbass19 And by lowering the action you mean less movement in the fingers? Because I noticed when I have all my fingers closer to the fretboard, the sound is better.


Can I lower the action just by adjusting at the bridge or do I need to have the truss rod adjusted?


Lowering the action means adjusting the bridge of the bass so that the strings are lower, resulting in less gap between the fretboard and the string. Too high and playability suffers, too low and you get buzz when you dig in.


The action and the truss rod are independent - you can raise or lower the action at the bridge without touching the truss rod.

The truss rod adjusts neck relief - as the string tension pulls the neck to be concave, the truss rod straightens the neck to control the concavity. You want there to be a little neck relief/concavity, but not too much.

Too little neck relief (i.e. the truss rod is too tight and the neck is too straight) results in fret buzz mid-fretboard. Too much (i.e. the neck is too concave) and playability suffers.


Ah allright it means something completely different lol


Heh yep! Basically this is all about setting up the bass correctly. There’s a few threads on the forums about it; here’s a good one:

I recommend having a music shop do your first setup. That said, it’s a valuable skill and not hard at all. Here’s a good video that explains it well:


@Howard beat me to it, @ptreez . . . :slight_smile:

Every time he lowers his action, he says he smiles more! :laughing:

Cheers, Joe


It’s true. Every time I lower the action on my bass it makes me happy :slight_smile:

I had to raise it a bit as I was playing with a pick recently. Time to lower it again.


I have been having problems with a weak left hand. My whole left arm is weak due to a previous injury/nerve damage, and that includes the left hand.
I found this finger exerciser on Amazon, and have been using it for a while to strengthen my fingers, especially the pinky finger, which I struggled to apply any pressure.
It’s cheap and basic, but it has helped I feel.
Might be useful for others.


Speaking of “Gratuitous Ignoring Of Existing Threads”, @Mark_UK… no, just kidding :grinning:

But, there was a thread a while ago, and if you check the first reply (from none other than @JoshFossgreen), you can see what he had to say about these gadgets.

Still, I guess we all agree that whatever helps us overcome (physical) “handicaps” to bass playing is a good thing. Be that gloves or finger strength trainers or other aides :smile:


Thanks @joergkutter. I did do a forum search for finger exerciser to see what thread to post in, and in my defence I did post in an old thread! :grin: (Still any badge is a badge in my book!).
Seriously, I have found an improvement in my finger strength on left hand, just by using the exerciser at times I am otherwise idle, like watching TV. Seems a ‘free’ gain to me in the sense I am not spending extra time on it.