Six Common Problems with Left Hand Technique on the Double/Upright Bass.

Hi, it’s Geoff here from Discover Double Bass.
I’ve got another lesson for you. This one’s following on from the initial
left-hand lesson. We’re going to be looking at the six most common problems
that I see with left-hand technique. Of course I’ll show you how to
put them right. Let’s start straight in and look at the six problems. The first problem that I see is when people
are playing a note that they bunch up the other fingers. I think they’re
doing it to kind of support the hand by moving the fingers across. If it was
the last note that you’re going to play of the piece that’s fine. The
problem comes that when you want to play another note you have to separate
the fingers back out and you may or may not now be in tune. So problem number one is bunching up the fingers
and not maintaining hand shape. Have a look and make sure that you’re
not doing that yourself. Number two. This is to do with the little
finger. It’s a failure to maintain an arch on the little finger. If
you just let me explain a little bit more. If you stretch out and you’re struggling
with the stretch you might make the first, the little finger, sorry,
flat. You play using the pad rather than the finger tip. You can see there’s one movement coming from
the first knuckle there. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We want
a gentle arch. Now, I know you won’t be able to arch as much as in the other
fingers because of the stretch. Try to just have a gentle arch and
play through into the finger tip. This also applies in the first finger as well.
Sometimes I see people kind of doing this. Try to just keep the arch in
the fingers. The third problem is one that you will have
heard before. I just want to look in a bit more detail of that problem.
That’s to do with collapsing at the knuckle. I think you’ll be aware about
not collapsing at the first knuckle. That’s got to be obvious. Just check
by using the mirror that you’re not collapsing at the second or even
at the third, the larger knuckle. That your whole hand isn’t collapsing. It’s really important just to keep an eye
on that. Use the mirror. Look and see what’s happening. You’ll make some really
good progress with that. Number four is related to the previous one.
This is about collapsing the whole hand. A really good way to check this
is play the open G. Play the low G on the E string. Play them both together.
You should be able to keep the G ringing. The problem is, if you’re doing this, where
you collapse the kind of third knuckle, the whole hand down. Occasionally
I see this. The gap, there is no gap here. It needs to be a natural arch all
the way from the shoulder, through the hand, into the finger tip. Be careful that you’re not collapsing at that
part of the hand and choking off those notes. You may need to play those.
You need to maintain a hand shape as well. Problem number five is with the first finger.
It’s that sometimes people seem to be, instead of stretching out from
the middle of the hand in the two different directions. They start with
the first finger kind of angled so you approach it from above rather than
from this direction. You can see I’m pointing up from below. Now I’m pointing
down from above. It moves the finger round so you’re kind of like this.
Almost that you’re in line with the string rather than playing across them. When you do that you end up reducing the span
of the hand. You’re unable to play a three notes in tune. Just check that
you’re not doing that. If you need a bit of help think about this finger
extending up in this direction away from you. Maybe towards your own head
or to the scroll. The final problem is raising the fingers away
from the finger board whilst you’re playing a note. If you do this, I’m
putting the pressure into my little finger. Pushing down. I’m pushing away
at the same time. It is really common. Now if you’re using a heavy vibrato by this
[for instance] you may choose to make that choice. In regular playing you
keep your other fingers down. Don’t push in two different directions. Try
and be relaxed. Try and use your arm weight and your hand weight. Then
you’ll be able to keep the tension out of your hand and hopefully maintain
the correct hand shape. I hope you’ve enjoyed the lesson today. Don’t
forget to rate, comment or subscribe if you want to on YouTube. If you’d
like some more double bass lessons head on over to

47 thoughts on “Six Common Problems with Left Hand Technique on the Double/Upright Bass.

  1. Hey Daniel, It can be hard to get this so it comes naturally. You need to keep checking your left hand shape until the right shape becomes habit. Use a mirror and keep looking to see if you are maintaining it. It will take time, but it's worth the effort. Good luck with your playing, Cheers Geoff

  2. Hey Jem, that's really common and will take a bit of time to correct. You just need to keep focus on correcting it and over time it will start to feel natural. It should lift up only enough to let the string sound. Think about relaxing that finger as much as possible. Good luck, I know it can be tough to get that to become a habit, but it will happen. Cheers Geoff

  3. two things i immediately saw in my playing after watching this video.  my fingers are too bunched up and my pinky is not properly arched.  his videos are good and i have improved my technique significantly.  cheers!

  4. Great lesson!i found it very helpful! Personally im havin trouble with number 5 , maintaining the distance between finger 1 and 2 but im working on it , any advice to improve this?

  5. I really like this video! I do much of #1 and #5 #6. I notice I do this because I'm originally an electric bass guitar player but I'm making a switch to get more abilities but I have trouble not doing 1,5&6. It's difficult to use my pinky since my fingers are already pretty short. Any tips you have for my left hand to get better? Thanks.

  6. I realized that every time i play a holding note, my left hand subconsciously moves down especially when i play using my four fingers. It slides down the fingerboard and when i press using the index finger again it goes out of tune. How do i solve this. Can i ask how do you place your thumb too? When i play a low F on the E string my joints at the thumb hurt when i press for quite some time.

  7. youre sitting in this video, but if "one" is standing i find a completely different feel…should the arm almost "hang on" to the neck pull the fingers back?

  8. Good video, good examples, good production. But it could be even better if you show 'correct' variant on all examples. In order to show real difference

  9. Thanks for the lesson. I made the 2016 All-state Festival and Double Bass for orchestra. If you haven't heard, the All-state Festival gathers the very best high school musicians in the state of Iowa. Thousands of people try to get in, but most fail. I haven't played nearly as long as the other people there. I made it on my first try(senior year). Neither my band or orchestra can help me really with bass. One plays trombone and the other plays Violin. The only one that could help,(that plays for Omaha Symphony Orchestra) is an cocky, conceited, egotistic asshole. I wasn't going to ask him anything. In short I wondering why I couldn't play that long. My hand posture isn't bad at all. I knew basically everything you said, it was just nuance things that you mentioned, that made me check everything twice. There was one thing I know I definitely wasn't doing. All in all, good stuff. 🙂

  10. I have problem no.5 and am trying to fix it. It does feel difficult to main the stretch between first and second finger. Thanks for the lesson!

  11. I love your videos and very concise explanations. Thank you! I've learned so much from Discover Double Bass.

  12. Great tips. I have had pupils who are double jointed which makes it hard for them to keep a round handshape. Thank you, I enjoyed the video.

  13. I agree with 10% of what u're saying, but the rest I just find unacceptable. Just looking a few videos of Streicher, Stoll or Karr will explain better what I try to say, and then ina a jazz-vane there are also a lot of examples. I believe the only good left hand technique is the one that, first of all, doesn't exclude the connection with the right hand, the mind and the rest of our body, and that connection, of course, will vary a bit from style to style. If we only speak about the anatomic part of technique, then it should be the way we're able to use our hand "full-power" without getting tired and earning a tendinitis, without getting out of tune of course. In my and my students case, it's proven that having a thumb relaxed (but not static!) allows us to adjust perfectly the rest of the fingers on any board. As a clump between the thumb and the rest of them, with a difference that the pressure which is supposed to be coming from the thumb, in fact, is coming from where the resonate box is touching our body (stomac, hip, etc). That way, we work both left hand and the whole body position because each hand, body, double bass or bow is different. Greetings.

  14. My bass teacher bunched his fingers, but he also was missing the tips of two of his fingers so it was hard to play like that. Sometimes you gotta do what's works for you. Also it was for bluegrass bass qhich is played completely diffrent.

  15. I began learning double bass in 1952 and even after all this time I find it's important to review these tips. Sometimes our habits change so slowly that we may not notice. This channel can be very helpful. Very helpful.

  16. Thankfully I don't do any of these, but I have another one – the 3rd finger and sometimes 4th as well get stiff when I play with 2nd finger in lower positions (I – III). Because of a stretch between 1. and 2. it's hard to fix this problem, even if I keep attention to it!

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