GETTING YOUR FINGERS IN
A TWIST WHEN CHANGING
POSITIONS? STATHAM IS
HERE TO HELP
H
a vin g to sh ift po sitio n
on the b a ss in order
to acco m m o d a te a
particular line is a
fre q u e n t ch a lle n ge w e
face, and so I thou ght
it m igh t be helpful to take a
loo k at our vario u s o ptio ns in
th is regard. W e've probably all
had the e xp e rie n ce of playing a
particular figu re that requ ires a
po sition shift, played too m uch
of it in a low er po sition , and
ended up trying to sh ift up on
the top strin g on o ne fin ger - not
the ideal solution.
Let's break dow n the typ e of
po sition sh ifts w e m igh t u se into
a nu m b er of different ca teg o rie s.
O n e m ethod w ou ld be to use
exten d ed fin ge rin g, w h ich is
to sa y sp an n in g m ore than o ne
fin ger per fret. W e have looked
at tw o w a ys w e m igh t co n sid er
th is w hen looking at different
fin ge rin g patterns in a previou s
co lu m n ; sp e cifica lly, w e m ight
u se a five-fret sp an , or, beyond
th is, w e m igh t u se exten ded
fin ge rin g w h e re w e can co n ce ive
of as m uch as an interval of a
perfect 4th b e tw e e n first and
fourth fin ger on the sa m e string.
For in stan ce , G on the third
fret on the E strin g w ith our first finger, then reach in g to C at the eighth fret on the sa m e string w ith our
fourth finger. In m y e xp e rie n ce , reach in g m ore than a perfect 4th - a span of s ix fre ts - sta rts to b eco m e
d ifficu lt to e xe cu te accu rately, d ep en d in g on tem po , and is b e st avoided w h e re p o ssib le.
O ther than th is m etho d, w e m igh t have to sh ift from , for in sta n ce , the fourth fin ger on the fifth fret to
the first fin ger on the se ve n th fret on the sa m e strin g to a cco m m o d a te a po sitio n shift. N ot the e a sie st
approach and b e st avoided if p o ssib le, but so m e tim e s it m igh t be our o nly option, as w e shall see.
A n o th er m ethod w ould be to u se open strin g s to facilitate a shift, thou gh th is is only an option in certain
keys of co u rse . The m ethod w e probably m o st w an t to avoid is to sh ift on the sa m e fin ger on a strin g,
m aybe attem pting to play a su c c e s sio n of n o tes w ith the sa m e fin ger on the sa m e strin g as w e a sce n d or
d e scen d . H ere w e probably have le ast control, so th is is so m e th in g to avoid: th ere's a lw ays a better w ay
than this, if w e plan it out effectively.
In
Exam ple 1
, I d e m o n stra te h o w useful open strin g s can be to facilitate a position shift, in th is ca se
in the co n te xt of a tw o o ctave sca le of F major. In th is key w e have three o p tio n s u sin g open strin g s; the
A , D, or G strin g , all o f th e se n o te s requ ired in the sca le , and so I h a ve tabbed out th e se p o ssib ilities.
O b v io u sly the notation is the sa m e in each e xam p le , so it is th e tab w e n eed to take n o te o f here. In the
first bar w e sh ift on the o p en A , then playing a five-fret sp an for the n o te s B b , C , and D, an d then the rest
of the sca le can be played in a fam iliar four-fret po sition. Th e n ext tw o bars u se the open D strin g and
G strin g resp ectively, and here, o n ce w e have m ade the po sition shift, w e can again u se one fin ger per
fret to co m p lete the scale . T h e se three ap p ro ach es sit qu ite n icely under the fin ge rs, p erh ap s the first a
little harder w ith the five-fret sp an , but, as m entio ned, w e m igh t not have the ch o ice of an open string
d ep e n d in g on the key, and in h igh er p o sitio n s th ey w ou ld be of no u se anyw ay, so th is is not an option w e
can rely on.
Exam ple 2
is a useful e xe rcise to p ractise our five-fret sp a n s and exten d ed fin ge rin g of a perfect
4th in the co n te xt of a tw o -o ctave m ajor triad arp e ggio , here initially w ritten in the key of G. Th e sa m e
pattern sh o u ld be p ractised in other keys too and so I have s u g g e ste d th is in the se co n d bar, m oving
up a se m ito n e, a pattern w e co uld co ntin ue. A s you can se e , w e play a five-fret span from 1st to 3rd of
the triad, then again on the D strin g for the 1st and 3rd an o ctave higher, fin ish in g w ith a stretch of a
perfect 4th on the G strin g to reach the se co n d o ctave. T h is is a go od w arm -up e x e rcise to g e t our fin ge rs
stretch in g , and I often sta rt a practice s e ssio n like th is, perh aps m oving do w n in se m ito n e s from a higher
po sition , th u s having to stretch a little m o re each tim e.
Exam ple 3
u se s a co m b inatio n of ap p ro ach es to co ver a w id e range in an e xe rcise I w ould reco m m en d
as an e ffective w ay of facin g th e se po sition sh ift is s u e s and g e n e rally getting to kno w the fretboard
thoroughly. H ere w e are playing the sc a le of E m ajor from the lo w e st p o ssib le note in the sca le to the
h ig h e st p o ssib le note, a top D # on a 20-fret b a ss, tw o o cta ve s and a m ajor 7th from the root. In this
c a se the lo w e st note h a p p e n s to be the root note, but the idea is to play the lo w e st note in the sca le or
m od e w e're attem pting re g a rd le ss of w h ich e ver d e g re e it h a p p en s to be in the key w e 're playing it in,
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