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How to Position Your Right Hand for Finger-Style Bass Guitar

Although there are many popular right-hand bass guitar techniques, it is important to learn how to position your right hand for finger-style playing, which is the most flexible and widely used bass guitar technique, used in virtually all styles of music. This technique also allows you to work more efficiently with dynamics (accenting certain notes).

The name finger-style refers to the use of the index and middle fingers. You can hear this style in country, rock, jazz, and funk—and just about any other type of music. Jaco Pastorius, James Jamerson, and Francis Rocco Prestia are only three of the multitude of bassists who use this technique.

1

Bring your right arm up while keeping your wrist, hand, and fingers relaxed.

Keep your wrist at a 45-degree angle (approximately), keep your thumb facing your index finger, and keep your fingers gently curved, with your fingertips pointing to the floor. Bend your elbow and keep it slighty away from your rib cage.

2

Let your hand approach the instrument until your thumb settles onto the thumb rest or the pickup.

Keep your elbow next to your body, not behind it.

3

Settle the weight of your arm onto your thumb.

This position may take some time to get used to, but it keeps your hand and shoulder in their most relaxed state. In this position, you can feel which string you’re playing instead of having to look to see where you are.

4

Reach for your high string with your index or middle finger.

Your thumb has to bend a little more, and your hand must pivot out on it to reach the highest string.

The terms high string and low string refer to the sound of the strings, not to the position of your hand. Your high string is actually the string closest to your feet, whereas your low string is closest to your head.

5

Reach for your lowest string.

Your thumb is now straighter. Your hand pivots on the resting thumb, toward your body, and your palm is closer to the body of the bass.

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