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Old 10-26-2008, 05:20 PM   #1
anarkee
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Small hands, Big Bass?

Lately, weve seen quite a few threads on the I want a short scale because my hands are too small for a standard scale bass". Well, Miss G and I would like to dispel some rumours here.





Here are two pictures of my hands. As you can see, they arent exactly John Entwistle material. Im not a big person overall at 54. And yet, I manage a full size bass quite well, even those chunky necked Precisions. I have no problems with 5 and 6 string basses either.

What it comes down to is practice, esp. scales and good technique. For those smaller handed members, here are a few words to the wise.


1. Make sure you wear your bass higher and the neck slanted up. You will never play like Paul Simonon and be able to manage a P bass:



You should be more like Rocco Prestia:




2. Make sure your fretting hand thumb is behind the neck. Your thumb should act as a pivot, which eliminates unnecessary shifts, esp when shifting from a note played with your first finger to a note played by your fourth finger (pinky). This is not a recommended technique for you; its a vital technique for you to be successful.

3. Make playing scales part of your everyday routine. Run your scales in all positions and play them straight, broken 3rds, arppegios etc. If you go to the bass FAQ, there is a link to a bass exercise routine that covers this nicely. This will help you develop stretch and stamina. Make sure you play each note cleanly with good tone. As Applehead says, speed is a by product of accuracy.

4. Be aware that tabs are not always going to work for you. You may have to adjust fingering to be more efficient and make the song easier for you to manage.

5. Spider walk scales are going to be your best bet for developing flexibility and stretch. There are two versions of this exercise, both are worth considering. My former bass teacher taught me version two and it really pushed my speed, stretch and flexibility.

Version 1:

http://www.expertvillage.com/video/...spider-walk.htm

Version 2:




And buy a short scale because you want to, not because someone tells you, you have to.

And I've posted this before, but its worth a second look. This is my former bass teacher and he's got marginally larger hands than I do. And that his 6 string he's playing.

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Old 10-26-2008, 05:24 PM   #2
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yes! i'm doing everything right! except the spider scales i'm gonna have to check on those

btw, thank you very much anarkee. this helps. and i know how much you hate it when small people think they have to buy short scale basses
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:28 PM   #3
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Should be a sticky, me thinks.
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:36 PM   #4
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hehe i think my hands are about the same size. its really tough to play bass because of them. classical position helps tho
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:40 PM   #5
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Just about the spider exercise (the second one, which to me is 100x better than the first). In that video he didn't keep his fingers down, but you should try and keep your fingers down for as long as possible before having to move them to play a different note. This will definitely help with stamina and hand strength.

Good thread idea though.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:22 PM   #6
anarkee
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Bales is correct--you should try to keep your fingers in place and only move the finger that is walking to the next note. I'll see if I can drag up a better video to demonstrate.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:39 PM   #7
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And I thought MY hands were small at 3 1/2 inches for my middle finger.

Oh, and some advice, though its not one fret per finger, sometimes I use my pinky to do octaves low on the neck and for extreme fourths.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:47 PM   #8
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I have rather large hands. but it indeed still feels good with a high strap.
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:52 PM   #9
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Thank you anarkee! My hands are the same size as yours.

I hope these exercises will help...
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:08 PM   #10
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Yes!

My hands aren't very big either but I make my Squier's P bass neck my b*tch daily





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Old 10-26-2008, 10:05 PM   #11
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Great advise cheers!
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by the humanity
I have rather large hands. but it indeed still feels good with a high strap.

Oh yeah, I have my strap as high as it can go. and I look damn cool to.

Thanks anarkee, I think you should add this to the FAQ.
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:55 PM   #13
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Oh yeah, I have my strap as high as it can go. and I look damn cool to.

Thanks anarkee, I think you should add this to the FAQ.

I have mine higher...
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:58 PM   #14
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I have mine higher...

*raises strap until the bass neck points down*
I know how much you can't stand neck dive Humanity, therefore I win.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:34 AM   #15
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You guys are all lucky you can nipple ride. When I nipple ride, I have about 5 and a half feet of man below the bass and it's not attractive.

And as I always said - if my fingers (which are wider than they are tall) can play mandolin, anybody can play a full-scale bass. Although I must say that while I have a decent hand size, I have one of the smallest pinkies I've ever seen in proportion to the rest of my fingers and because of it cannot properly play unless I thumb the back of the neck.
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:33 AM   #16
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Thanks a lot for posting this. I'm a brand new bass player and I found this incredibly insightful and I could see how it would be useful. My pinky is so small, but the rest of my fingers are longer...
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:51 AM   #17
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You guys are all lucky you can nipple ride. When I nipple ride, I have about 5 and a half feet of man below the bass and it's not attractive.

And as I always said - if my fingers (which are wider than they are tall) can play mandolin, anybody can play a full-scale bass. Although I must say that while I have a decent hand size, I have one of the smallest pinkies I've ever seen in proportion to the rest of my fingers and because of it cannot properly play unless I thumb the back of the neck.

I look like a dweeb too. not a horizontally advanced dweeb, but a dweeb, nevertheless. just do a stupid dance, the audience will celebrate your dweebness.
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:01 AM   #18
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:18 AM   #19
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Just to further this, depite being 6'6", my fingers average about 0.2" longer than Anarkee's, and I play a 5 string Warwick.

And fitzy, I am just about as tall as you, and I pretty much nipple ride. Just adopt a Necrophagist style ninja stance while playing.
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:43 AM   #20
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I just look bloody ridiculous and it's not flattering. I don't have a ruler with me, but my middle finger's the length of my Samsung cell phone and that's all I can really say. I can play at my strap height very, very comfortably, but hitting the E string past the 10th fret with my pinkie's difficult without adjusting my position. My middle finger can actually reach it better than my pinkie. 5-string Warwicks have super-tight string spacing and maybe I could reach better, but picking would be a huge adjustment.
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