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Simandl or 1-2-4 positioning: Where do you place third finger?


bass2345
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Third finger is the ring finger when playing bass, right?

Does it matter where exactly you place your third finger (ring finger) when playing with, to use first position as an example, first finger on first fret, second finger on second fret, and fourth finger on third fret? Where do you personally place your third finger on the fretboard when in various positions (1st, 2nd, etc.)?

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Read up on and practise all the simandl and 1 finger per fret stuff and then do your own thing. For most folks it's simandl up to frets 7-9, and then one finger per fret after that. each to their own, and if it works, sounds good, and doesn't hurt it's fine.

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I just let my fingers fall where they want, never thought about it. From this picture taken a few days ago, it looks like I have all fingers on one fret!

[attachment=154639:1555468_650542758322701_1601227606_n.jpg]

Edited by Dad3353
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The third finger acts as a "support" for the pinkie as they both share a tendon, in which case the third finger doesn't need to be anywhere specific on the fingerboard. I use 1-2-4 up to about the fifth fret and then use OFPF. I'll only use OFPF near the nut if a phrase needs to be articulated in that range, but even then I'll pivot so I don't knacker my fretting hand.

A lot of it depends on you hand size - I've got small hands for a bloke, so if you feel comfortable using the 1-24 hand position beyond the fifth or seventh frets, go with it. It's all about playing the right notes and feeling comfortable at the same time.

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Why would people not use their third finger to fret? It seems a waste of a perfectly good finger to me.



Lots of people use the third finger, but generally they do it higher on the fretboard.

Using OFPF on frets 1-5 is too much of a stretch for most people
and can cause injury if forced. Edited by Dad3353
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That's the point of the name.... you don't use the 3rd finger.

1, 2 and 4 fall naturally over the notes so that's why 3 doesn't usually get used until you move further up the neck. 1, 2, 3 (and sometimes 4) are used by guitarists because their notes are closer together.

I think it's a bad habit to use 1,2 and 3 when playing lower down the neck instead of 1,2 and 4. You're stretching unnecessarily if you use 3 instead of 4 down there.

Generally I'll only use 3 when playing a walking bass line and then only when I'm going up the notes. It depends on the piece, but it's 1,2 and 4 for nearly everything else.

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I find that the 1-2-4 system means that I can play comfortably in the first 9 or so frets of the instrument without stretching or straining my left hand - I find that my 'natural' hand span is 3 frets up until the 8th/9th fret, which is where I start using OFPF. Obviously there are exceptions to this, and occasionally I'll use OFPF in lower positions, but only if there's no other way around it.

I find the using 1-2-4 feels more secure when fretting notes and allows me to stay more relaxed when playing, especially on longer gigs.

There's a Dave Marks vid from a while back where he shares his views on OFPF in lower positions:

[media]http://youtu.be/y57-2eaTBwc[/media]

Edited by Dad3353
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  • 4 years later...

Using the ring finger in the first and half positions for most people, depending on the scale of your bass, causes the pinky to flail about needlessly and the hand tires quickly if stretched out through the whole song needlessly. (How to spot a guitard impersonating a BP!)

Try the standard R&B box in F for four minutes at 133 bpm on a 34" scale bass with the 1-2-3-4 fingering (1-1 8-8 7b-7b 5-5 or F-F F'-F' Eb-Eb C-C) and then see if you feel like/enjoy continuing as the horn section is starting a series of solos. Even if you employ pivoting, it just don't feel right. With Simandl, a BP can play this all night without ever shifting the hand and laugh.
 
Same goes for Disco octave playing. Same goes for using tenths in your bass line. 1-2-3-4 fingering becomes very awkward and limiting in lower positions. Even in higher positions, it is far more comfortable to use Simandl. There's also the advantage of keeping a parallel and balanced hand. This makes a difference in your sound. And it will become noticeable very quickly if you sight read music without looking at the fingerboard. On a fretless bass or upright bass (and especially if you bow) the Simandl 1-2-4 hand becomes a caliper that measures the intervals and lets you know your neck position by physical feedback.

If your hand is so b-e-e-e-g that you can ignore all this, then why have we not heard of you? Surely you must be a rich and famous bass player... Have you not thought of beginning bass players with normal hands who will now follow your public lead and get carpal tunnel syndrome in the process...? Someone needs to put you in your place before innocent people read your rubbish and take you seriously...

Next, you'll be telling us that you strap your bass down to your knees and play while having a smoke...

Edited by StringNavigator
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Simandl was aimed at huge double basses with fat gut strings and high actions .. and playing deep orchestral notes in low positions.  You can use it on electric basses, but I don't think it's ideal or compulsory.  Certainly involves a lot of position shifting!

Personally I use a modified simandl ( plus thumb pivots) method on the double bass, but it has a 44" scale and my hands are not big.  Also play the cello, on which standard technique uses four fingers with extensions in both directions and two different first to second finger spacings; the scale is only 27" but it's tuned in fifths, so quite a stretch.   The electric basses are only 34" scale so easy enough to 4 finger if you want to.  Plus if you use the technique I think is called "blocking", then you can play any major or minor scale without changing position, but only with all fingers in play.

In the end it's whatever suits your physique and instrument, but good to expand horizons by trying different things.

 

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10 hours ago, NickA said:

Also play the cello...and two different first to second finger spacings...it's whatever suits your physique and instrument

Playing the 44" scale double bass turned me onto Simandl fingering and then I applied it to the low end of my Fender bass. Talk about comfort. Especially in Latin bass playing and R&B where we use the octave box repetitively. Alternating the index and pinky beats using the index and ring fingers even on a 34" scale. I can't believe that bass method books still teach guitar fingering in the first position (which would be akin to half-position on DB), except for Ed Friedland, who recommends SimandlI on the low end of the bass guitar. A word to the wise.

At times I'll use guitar fingering in first/second  position, especially with chromatic passages, but prefer Simandl as I can concentrate on other stage matters while the stopping hand goes into auto-drive. The minor shifting involved becomes automatic soon enough. Especially with the pentatonic major scale which falls right into Simandl seamlessly as 1-2-4-2-4-1. I guess the really important issue is carpal tunnel syndrome in beginners. My advice to beginners is to stay away from guitar fingering in the lower neck positions on bass. Use 1-2-3-4 around the 12fth fret and then start working down the neck over time until the stretched hand is comfortable. In time a beginning bassist will be able to play guitar fingering near the nut without shocking the tendons into RSI and cutting short a rewarding hobby.  

I've studied some cello books years ago when I had a cello and learned to play one string major scales with their fingering of 1-1-3-4, 1-1-3-4. But I had to decide between the cello and the bass. That cello fingering opened up a lot of the fingerboard for me on bass as it connects different neck areas - like am elevator to the dusty end... 

 

Edited by StringNavigator
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22 minutes ago, NickA said:

When I DO use simandl, finger no 3 just rests on the string mid way between 2 & 4. Don't think it matters.

I hope that no beginners try that. I wouldn't advise anyone to learn Simandl with a floating ring finger. It has a splendid role in SImandl fingering. What you've described may be a personal modification or deviation from Simandl. The way I learned the methodology was that all preceding fingers assist to stop the string. Especially on a double bass. Especially when bowing. On my bass guitar, I can enjoy a high string action due to this feature of Simandl. Also, the ring finger assists the pinky for the same reasons I mentioned above or to play with ease in half-position.

I also recommend practicing shifting, in fact embrace it, as it leads to the dusty end, fingerboard mastery and a range of nearly three octaves.

These two paragraphs will directly answer the OP and be a guide to anyone interested in learning Simandl properly to avoid RSI / Carpel Tunnel Syndrome..    

Edited by StringNavigator
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On ‎04‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 12:08, NickA said:

When I DO use simandl, finger no 3 just rests on the string mid way between 2 & 4. Don't think it matters.

1 hour ago, NickA said:

Saving my ring finger for when I get up into thumb, 1 2 3 territory .. ;¬)   

Well, that certainly clears things up, now, doesn't it? I always proofread my own posts carefully so that I don't give any new players bad gin or recommend any harmful shortcuts that may impair their future playing. By the way, I have the Sanky version of Simandl as a reference for my post, above. Which one were you going by? 

The Sanky (blue cover) edition teaches that all preceding fingers assist in stopping the string. Especially when bowing a double bass and the string height is high for clarity and volume. Also, the ring finger assists the pinky. Beginners often "tie" the ring and pinky together to learn. And the stopping hand will be more balanced and stable as one plays and shifts, as all four fingers are aligned together. 

I guess your fingering technique is fine for you, as long as it doesn't spawn a generation of new Simandl users who think that the middle finger has to be "saved" and "just rests on the string" and "doesn't matter" in Simandl technique, .

 

Edited by StringNavigator
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