(Originally posted on Mar 11, 2016 as /archives/10854)
Scott Devine from Scott’s Bass Lessons created a video lesson about why you shouldn’t always use one finger per fret. He gives us some advice on when to use it, and alternatives, for when you shouldn’t.
Here’s the video:
Here are my thoughts:
For myself, on a short scale bass, one finger per fret is fine.
There is an optimal amount of tension that the strings should have. If the neck is too short, then they will flop around when the bass is tuned correctly. Even with that in mind, the 34″ scale neck is longer than it needs to be.
I suspect that Leo Fender measured the scale length of a standup bass, and that was that. (Standup bass necks, and bass guitar necks, are the same length. The standup bass neck only looks larger, because it’s bridge is in the center of the body, and a bass guitar’s bridge is at the end.)
I had a professor that insisted that I push with the ends of my finger bones, use one finger per fret, and not slide my hand at all. He believed that this would help me avoid tendonitis. He was incorrect. My hand’s bones aren’t even long enough to do that at full stretch. A full scale bass isn’t a plastic-stringed classical guitar, and different techniques are needed. Which are discussed in Scott’s video above, and other videos by Scott.
“I found a way to emulate Jaco’s fretless sound on fretted instruments… I’d play with or without a pick, but definitely going for an enhanced attack with a thin sound playing through an Eventide Harmonizer with the pitch ratio set to 99 or 101—right below or above pitch by a cent…” – Ross Valory of Journey
The guy below me (at 30 Larnard St, Potsdam NY, in the early 90s), had a loud party, and played metal and classic rock records, real loud. Did he invite me? No.
Kids: if you are going to have a loud party, then you always invite the neighbors. In most cases they won’t come, but they will appreciate it, and they won’t call the police. Here endeth the lesson.
So I invited myself by plugging in my bass amp, and playing along with all of the songs. He eventually turned it down.
Did that end it? Not exactly: this started to become a regular thing, but at least he turned it down much quicker.
So one day his girlfriend stops me in the store, and says, “Hey, you’re the guy that lives above us. Every time that we have people visit, my boyfriend turns up the stereo, and then lowers the volume so that he can show everyone how you play the bass!”