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Jazz Bass Lessons: Left Hand Position

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The position of our left hand is very
crucial to not only producing
a good sound, playing in tune,
but to also to have an efficient
use of our body and
keep the tension out of our
body to protect ourselves
from getting into bad habits
that restrict blood flow or
actually cause pain later
on in our playing careers.
So first thing, we wanna think about with
our left hand is to have it balance.
Think of the letter C,
as if you were making the shape of
a letter C with your left-hand and
your fingers are curled and
your thumb is kind of behind the second
finger and you put that on the bass.
your arm is kind of a straight line not
a broken wrist, but a straight line.
the forearm has to be up a little bit.
It can't be slouched like this and
it can't be too high, either.
It just has to be [SOUND] coming at
the bass in a nice line like that.
[SOUND] This way, the fingers have
a chance to be lined up and curled.
When we setup in this first
position on the bass and
we'll get into my way of calling
the positions on the bass later on.
But right now, let's just say,
[SOUND] there's an open G.
[SOUND] After G in
the alphabet [SOUND] comes,
[SOUND] in the musical
alphabet is A-flat [SOUND] and
then A and then B-flat.
These are the first notes on
the G string of the bass.
We number our fingers on the bass.
One, two and three and you don't use
the third finger in these lower positions,
it just helps to support
the fourth finger.
So this is one, two and four,
that's how we number the fingers.
And since the first note we actually stop
with our fingers is called A-flat,
let's call this A-flat position.
Now my thumb is behind the second finger,
resist the temptation to press into
the back of the neck with your thumb.
Don't do that, just relax.
And remember that [SOUND]
these three notes are what
we call half steps.
Notice how I'm using the open
strings constantly to check and
see if I'm in tune.
So as I play
my first finger,
which is the A-flat.
[SOUND] I can check it with the low E.
[SOUND] The second finger
I use the D string.
And I'll stay there for
the fourth finger, as well.
In the theory section on intervals,
we'll talk about why we're
using the open strings and
what is the distance between those
two notes and why that helps us tune.
But for now.
See my left-hand is balanced,
is a straight line.
So, I would like you to
practice holding those notes down.
Slowly and then using the open strings.
It works on the D
string, as well.
Notice once I put
my left hand down,
I'm not moving my hand around,
it's just a position.
If I have to adjust a note,
I let my arm slide back and
forth a little bit,
but I don't start changing
the position of my fingers.
This will help us to play more in tune.
Once we've established a position
[SOUND] and our hand is lined up.
And again, on the lower
string This is the A string.
And just to
review the notes,
you have an A-flat
here on the G string,
an A [SOUND] and a B-flat
[SOUND] first, second.
First finger's A-flat, second finger's A,
[SOUND] fourth finger on B-flat on the D
string you have an E-flat first finger.
E second finger and
F with the fourth finger.
On the A string, [SOUND] we have B-flat,
[SOUND] B natural and C.
That's first, second and fourth finger.
It's always the same in this position.
In the bottom, it's first finger on F.
[SOUND] Second finger on F-sharp
[SOUND] and fourth finger on G.
So the hand comes around the neck
as we play the lower notes,
so that we try to keep that
line with our forearm.
We don't want to get in a position
where the wrist breaks,
we just want to move back and
forth like this.
So this is our basic left-hand position.
We can
check with.
Using open strings.
To check and make sure
that we're in the position
[SOUND] with our fingers,
that stop the notes
[SOUND] to stay in tune.
So that's our basic left hand position.