Small hands need help!


So I have a four string bass and my hands seem to always touch the bottom of the bass when I begin to play. I start playing in this positions and then bam! My palm is no bueno. How can I pay attention to this without loosing concentration on the notes I’m playing.



Any chance you can start to notice when/where the “Bam!” happens? Going for certain notes? Certain strings? Certain fingers? Certain changes between string and fingers?
Maybe a few more details would lead to more detailed pointers… but in the meantime - I’ll add this longer post for those who care to read a neat way to conceptualize developing any new technique - in anything*

As any technique develops, it moves through the 4 stages of learning:

1.) Unconscious incompetence
2.) Conscious incompetence (now you can actually start to address the problem!)
3.) Conscious competence (the long period of working & practicing)
4.) Unconscious competence (the part where your attention and focus can finally move on without backsliding / losing the progress you’ve made)

So as any technique is in this spectrum, just remember that it will take a long time before you’re able to do it without thinking about it. BUT! You will get there… and once you do, you’ll be able to focus much more closely on whatever new thing needs work.

The idea that your body is doing strange things without your permission is firmly in stage 2. “AWARENESS CURES!” as my college bass professor would allllllways say.

So as your familiarity with the instrument develops, as your right hand becomes more comfortable, as the material becomes more comfortable, there will be more and more focus for you to apply to the technique problem in the Left Hand.
Then - you’re at stage 3 - willing and watching yourself to make sure you’re correcting the technique and working it out correctly each time.
Then… over time - it moves into step 4, and you’re shredding with your LH.

Holy Cow.
And all of this after I deleted 2 other sections…
If anyone wants really long answers to things - hit me up!!!

*music lesson – life lesson. Bonus.


I like your 4 stages of learning. I went through that with the drums. I catch what I’m doing wrong at the same time my instructor does. I’m getting to the concious competence now. Yay!


Thanks - I can’t take any credit for them. A student found them and posted them on the lesson room wall. I love 'em!
Looks like (according to google) it was a fella named Martin Broadwell, back in 1969 who came up with it for a teaching model he designed. Nice work, Martin!


Wow you really helped me more than you’ll ever know because I’m easy to quit on things because of the fear of not being good enough. I’m hopeful and im not going to be too hard on myself. I love this forum and everything about Josh and his vision for us beginners to learn together. Thanks again for all your help. :slight_smile:


Don’t be hard on yourself. Nobody was born knowing how to play the bass. I always look at things I’m learning as: Well, it can’t kill me and it can’t eat me, so I’ll just keep working at it. Have fun!


Hey Cecilia! That’s a great attitude. And I second what @asantora said,

So all we can do is keep progressing. And your hand actually doesn’t look bad in the photo. So I’m curious about the same things @Gio asked, any specific moments where the palm thing happens?


So I practiced tonight and I found that my psalm wants to touch the bottom of the neck when I’m going down the neck to another lower fret. When I realize it I lose my note. I just wanted to tell you what it actually was. No worries though cause I wasn’t born with a bass in my hand, right?! BAM! Moving & progressing.


One thing I’m curious about from you sharing that is if your strap is holding enough weight? Are you playing sitting or standing? Are you wearing a strap?

I sometimes find that students who practice sitting down (which is fine, I do it often) don’t have their straps tight enough, so they aren’t holding the bass stable the way they should, and then our hands tend to compensate by gripping the bass in various ways. So not sure if this is what’s happen for you, just an idea.


Good call, Captain Josh! Very, very important!


thanks for asking your question. the whole conversation that ensued was helpful to me and probably to others. no more quitting for you :grin:


Hey Hey everyone, I’m back and I have breaking news on my BAM hands!! So I checked myself and when I’m sitting down, which is mostly my practice position, my strap is just kinda dangling enough so I don’t drop My Beauty. So you are saying I should tighten it where it doesn’t move so much.

you can’t really see it in here. But where on my chest should my bass always be located. Thanks for all of you guys help


Yeah, like it should hold your bass stable enough that even if you take your hands/arms off the instrument, you can move your torso around and still not have the bass move much. That stability allows your hands to do as little work as possible, which is crucial for good technique.

There’s not an exact spot that works for everyone, as far as I’m concerned, should just feel comfortable and stable. You’re definitely in the right ballpark.