How to hold a bass guitar

How to hold a bass guitar

You really need to understand the importance of good posture. A good posture with your bass guitar surely seems important. During my many travels, if you only knew the number of bassists that I see who had adopt a bad working posture! You need to adapt the position of your bass guitar to your body type and NOT the other way around!


Take care of yourself

A good posture at the instrument is more than essential. This will allow you to prevent musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain, shoulder, elbow, wrists, knees, etc. Know that proper use of your body will promote your instrumental playing, you will get better sound quality with your bass guitar, so you can express yourself more freely.

Here are 5 key points to optimize your posture on the bass guitar. I cannot stress you enough to reflect on these 5 points and apply them

Posture on a chair, sit well with your bass guitar

Sit comfortably on your sit bones.

What? Is that a weird word? Let me explain,  By sitting on your sit bones, the natural balance of your spine will be put in place automatically without you needing to exert any particular effort.

Let’s see how it works.

The angle of your back should not be 90 °. Very often when we need to sit properly, we tend to stiffen up and try to put our backs as “straight” as possible. If you do this, your back will be arched and stiff, and you will tire quickly.

So instead of thinking about standing up straight, if you sit at the back of the chair your back will be round, sit towards the front of the chair with your feet firmly against the floor, and try to feel your sit bone on the chair. You can then rock back and forth until you find a natural position. To help keep you from stiffening, you can imagine a thread pulling you upward on the top of your head.

You can then start working several hours in a row a day. You will not accumulate physical fatigue in the same way depending on your posture. You can certainly be tired, but above all, you will not have built up tension in your body with good posture

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Let’s take a look at two more good postures on a chair.

Let’s call this posture: Basic posture for bass guitar

This position is ideal for long-term work while sitting in a chair. I have been using this technique for many years, being a big bulimic of work, I sometimes stay seated for 14 hours on a chair, for my personal work, to learn repertoires before going on tour, to prepare a session of studio, etc.

It is also possible to use the tailor position. I will tell you about it soon, because in the West, this posture is little used. You have to know how to use it so as not to hurt your back, legs, etc. It is a habit to be learned and made.

Here are some examples of bad postures.

Does some posture look cool? Be aware that you will not be able to work in some of this posture for several hours at a time. You will end up having pain in your lower back, this will create other tensions elsewhere.

Also, bassists very often adopt a posture where their back is bent, head lowered to be able to look at the neck of their bass guitar. It is best if your eyes are looking up at the handle, not your head. You can still move your head down very slightly.

These two bad examples will give you terrible back pain.


Positioning of your left hand

For the positioning of your left hand, we will place each of your fingers in a box on your sleeve. This fingering is called: one finger per fret or one finger per fret. This position is extraordinary, since it has the particularity of making you work the stretching of all your fingers with your left hand.

When you are just starting out, it may seem difficult, even insurmountable, but rest assured, we will see, together, step by step, the process of learning this position, how to set up finger stretches without hurting yourself.

In this article, we’ll just focus on the position of your left hand. You can follow some tips and exercises to strengthen your fingers both left hand and right hand. It will help change your life as a bass player forever.

If the fingers of both your hands are flexible and muscular, you will have all the assets you need in your pocket to speed up your technical learning on the bass guitar.


Positioning of your right hand

Your right hand is the engine of your bass playing. This hand is also responsible for your sound signature! It is therefore necessary to take care of it.

Take care of your hands. The fingers of your right hand should be almost perpendicular to your strings.

It is comfortable to put your thumb on one of the preceding strings, for example, when playing on the G string, your thumb may end up resting on the “A” or “E” string. It depends on the size of your hands and fingers.

On modern bass guitars, it is possible to adjust the gap between each string. I insist once again, adapt the instrument to your body and not the other way around.


Breathing is an important key to your posture

As you already know, breathing has a very big impact on the whole body such as, blood, back, digestion, abdominals, neck, brain, etc. Breathe well. Don’t block your breathing

I often see musicians who have choppy breathing, especially during passages that are difficult to perform. I’ve been there myself, and I still do this some times.

The best way to quickly achieve a positive and convincing result is to breathe slowly and for a long time. It might sounds silly, but it really is the solution to a lot of problems.

If you apply good, slow, deep breathing and good posture to your work, you will have very little chance of having any tension in any part of the body, and your mind will also be much more relaxed.


Stretch & yoga

The Stretch & yoga are two disciplines that allow you to improve your posture, your physical and mental well-being. Well, obviously, I will not ask you to become a great master of yoga, but to integrate some principles of these disciplines in your daily life, because this can be a major asset in your musical learning.

For example, you can do 24 min of bass exercise followed by 6 min of stretch for your arms, hands, legs, back, fingers, while breathing deeply. This will prevent you from tensing your muscles, and will make a huge difference in your learning curve.


Few other things to keep in mind

Also, drinking water, herbal tea or green tea regularly between each exercise can help you relax and maintain the flexibility of your muscles.

If you are like me and like to try different things to progress faster, you can try 5 minutes of meditation or deep breathing before your workout with your bass guitar. You will see, you will have better concentration and you will be more relaxed during your exercises!

Remember that playing bass presents multiple challenges every day.

  • there is the synchronization of the playing of the left hand and the right hand.
  • there is the hold of your bass against your body.
  • all the elements of left hand technique characteristic of stringed instruments, such as articulation of notes, changes in hand position along the fingerboard, finger extensions, intonation, vibrato , etc.
  • playing with the right hand, changing strings, different playing techniques (slap, tapping, muting, etc.)
  • the multiple demands of the score: notes, phrases, nuances, etc., of which one could list a very long one.

This is why a good working posture should not be neglected.

At first, this may not seem natural to you at all, but it is by practicing on a regular basis that you improve.

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