Short finger blues ;)


Thank goodness Josh says microshifts of the fretting hand are ok. Here’s what I’m working with… longest finger is only 2/3 the length of my palm! hahaha But I’ve seen vids of badass kids playing bass so if they can do it, I can do it, too. :wink:

Day 3 and loving the lessons!


Welcome to my world. I’m the Queen of micro shifting. I use all four fingers as much as I can, but I can’t span 5 frets like Josh does with his extraterrestrial-like fingers. I’m not sure what planet Josh is from, but he’s a damn good bass teacher!



Your hands look normal to me, mine are about the same really! It’s funny, I actually measured my hand after watching some bassists online. tl;dr, it’s dead average but all the length is in the palm. You’re not alone :slight_smile:

I posted this a while back for inspiration:

This is what got me going down that rabbit hole:

I decided that if she can do that… I can manage :slight_smile:


When I was learning guitar, I figured out that finger stretching is not natural at all. At the time, a lot of complex chords were absolutely impossible to me. But with hours and hours (and years) of playing, I finally gained much more amplitude and now I can play what seemed impossible.

Of course everyone has their physical limits and has to adapt his technique (hand placement, shifting) but I’m pretty sure there is a big progression margin here for a beginner.


Agree completely. It’s not natural at all and frankly feels bad at times. Pivoting or shifting is a much better feeling technique for me. Josh (and Gio) explain these techniques well.

My hand is slowly opening up. I can properly fret the one-per-fret thing on all strings above the fifth fret now (E string is tough until the seventh though), and can almost do it on the G and D string for the first four frets. But that took months for even that minor gain.

Ironically for me the hardest part is not the fingers but is what to do with the thumb, and I have gotten some wrist tendonitis on and off from that, when stretching vs shifting. Need to be careful with the stretching. Leaving the thumb in the “proper” position while trying a four-fret stretch just isn’t physiologically good for me.

I found this video super helpful for that:


to me it’s not a minor gain ! each time you “gain a fret” it expands your playing possibilities, even if there are other ways to play. it’s always good to have different playing options, in my opinion.

I just tried what I believe is the one-per-fret thing you’re talking about (playing one note with the index, then the next fret with the next finger, and so on with all 4 fingers) and I can do it from the first fret on all strings. my thumb sits right in the middle of the neck and my hand is roughly parallel to the fretboard.


thanks @PamPurrs, @howard and @terb! I’m working on using middle finger to do 2nd fret on G with index on first (originally was using ringfinger to make the reach). There’s some forearm ache but with more practice, I know I can do it. Every gain is a good gain. :slight_smile:


Disclaimer: this is not intended to mock anyone with small hands - I am also struggling with reaching over several frets…

We haven’t mentioned yet that this is also depends on the scale of the bass, and I just saw these:
28.6’’ scale!! So, there are alternatives to these 34’’ beasts!!


One thing I’ve been trying to work on is my thumb position. I started out playing with my thumb outward behind the neck in a “hitchhiking” position, which caused all the fingers to take on a “claw” shape. That claw shape makes it very difficult to independently control each finger, and also minimizes the span.
I’ve found that by holding my thumb more inward, and placing it behind the second finger, my fingers tend to spread out more and it’s easier to manipulate them. This position feels very awkward, and even cause some discomfort at first, but I think if I keep at it, it’ll feel more comfortable after awhile.


yeah @PamPurrs , at my current level, somewhere between beginner and badass, I see two distinct hand positions : the “claw” is very useful to me because it allows a very good control over muting every string when needed, but it closes the hand and reduces drasticaly the amplitude to maybe 2 frets at best. the “flat hand” position, which is the position teached by Josh in the course, allows way more amplitude (both in the horizontal and vertical way) and more control over the notes, but there is no possibility to use the thumb to mute the E string.

I we had to choose/learn only one position, I’m pretty sure the “flat hand” would be a much better choice because it allows an overall better control on everything except muting on the lower strings.

But again my point of view is that it’s always a good thing to have more than one option in our bag :slight_smile: assuming we are able to choose the right option in any given situation

Just my point of view at this moment, maybe I’ll change my mind when I’ll be a badass :smiley:


Hey Terb, good point! I didn’t even think about muting the lower strings when I posted that comment.
I adopted the “Floating Thumb” plucking technique right from the beginning when I started playing bass a couple months ago. I saw some videos about it, and fell in love with it. I’ve been using it ever since and I’m most comfortable with it. The advantage of the floating thumb is that it automatically mutes the lower strings as you move it around. I only have to worry about muting the higher strings, which I do with my fretting hand.


what exactly do you call “floating thumb” ? do you pluck with the thumb or just let it sit on the lower string you don’t use for a part of the song ?


Todd Johnson is the master of the floating thumb. Here’s a video.


Here’s another one. I like this one because I play a 5 string


that’s very interesting, I never heard about this technique ! I have to give it a try ! thanks @PamPurrs !


HAAAAA love the look of terror.

I’m not sure either, I think I got Men-In-Black memory wiped… :alien::male_detective: They left the genetically enhanced fingers though.


Don’t forget the Ibanez Mikro either. A $200 28.6" scale 5-string :slight_smile:


Do short scale basses have a lot less space between frets? I wouldn’t mind giving one a try if they do.


Yes. You can roughly estimate how much by looking at your 34" scale bass and removing one fret per scale. In other words, on a 32" medium-scale bass, the first fret is about the same size as the second fret on your bass. On a 30" short-scale bass, the first fret is about the same size as the third fret on your bass, and on the 28.5" Mikro (and on that Jackson), the first fret is about the same size as the fourth fret on your bass.

There’s other differences in feel too, though. In general, the shorter the scale, the less tension on the strings for the same pitch. This makes me want to try a 28.5" 5-string because I bet that B string is kind of flubby.


Thank you, @howard. That is exactly correct :+1:

I have only marginally smaller hands, and have always used a 34" scale. I tried a 30" scale bass in our music store the other day and I did NOT like it. :frowning: Perhaps it was because of the poor quality of the instrument I tried? More on this later.

All best, Joe