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How To Hold A Bass

When I first started playing, I wasn’t really concerned about how to hold a bass at all. I just wanted to play all of my favorite songs with my friends. I just slung it over my shoulder and away I went.

This was fine for a while, until I started having pains in my left wrist. This was really bad news and threatened to stop me playing forever.

There was more than one thing that contributed to this pain, but the way I was holding my bass was one of the main factors – but more on that soon.

Now I don’t like to talk in absolute terms, (everybody is different, you know…) and there is a little bit of wiggle room, but in general, there is a ‘right’ way to hold your bass and it pays to know it!

Take care of this sooner rather than later. The longer you wait to address this, the harder it will be and the more unnatural it will feel when you get around to correcting it.

Remember – it’s much more difficult to change a bad habit than it is to form a good one.

So do yourself a favor and try this.

How To Hold A Bass – The Steps

How To Hold A Bass Guitar

Sit Up Straight With Your Bass On Your Knee

1. Sit Down

Sit up straight with your bass on your leg and get comfortable. Notice the position of your bass on your body. Unless your bass is outrageously shaped or missing large chunks, this will be theĀ best place for your bass to be on your body.

 

 

How To Hold A Bass Guitar

Adjust Your Strap So It's Firm Across Your Shoulder

2. Strap Up

Put on your strap and set it’s length. It should be sitting firmly in place while you’re still sitting down. That way, when you stand up, your bass will stay in the same place in relationship to your body.

You want your bass to become like an extension of your own body.

How To Hold A Bass Guitar

Your Bass Should Stay In The Same Position In Relation To Your Body When You Stand Up

3. Stand Up

When you stand up, do you feel your bass sliding down your body? If so, sit back down and bring your strap up a notch or two. Keep doing this until you can stand up without your bass sliding down too much.

 

 

 

As it turns out, the pain that I was having was a result of having my bass WAY too low on my body. It was low enough that I had to put my wrist at an unnatural angle to play any of the notes.

If the pictures weren’t enough, try the video version.

Of course, everybody is different, but remember, that the more your bass is below the ‘sitting’ level, the more stress it puts on your fretting hand. Sure, it might look cool to be holding your bass around your knees, but is it really worth the potential carpal tunnel or tendonitis?

For me, it’s not…

I don’t want to risk any kind of serious injury that would stop me from playing. Being able to play is far too valuable to me.

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re the same way.

Remember – You play the bass…don’t let the bass play you!

If you have any questions or comments about how to hold a bass, leave them below. I read all of them. I’ll talk to you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to How To Hold A Bass

  1. Ron Carter May 17, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Greetings from Ron Carter (not the Ron Carter; I’m from Oregon.

    Just starting, but I play four times a week with my worship band. My left hand cannot reach four frets. Do I work on stretching the hand or play higher on the fret board?

    • Luke McIntosh May 26, 2014 at 6:06 am #

      Hey Ron!

      That’s a great question! For the moment, I would recommend playing higher on the fretboard rather than stretching your hand. You don’t want to overload your hand stretching too far in your low register. It can lead to all sorts of nasty things that can stop you playing and really do you some damage. (I actually fell into this trap – and ended up with tendonitis – my arm in a splint and a fair amount of pain when I played. It took a while to correct my technique)

      Eventually, your hands will get more flexible and you’ll get more dexterity in them – THAT’s when you can start creeping down into the lower part of your neck. You’ll find that your hands will be able to stretch further than they could before – perhaps even further than you thought they could!

      Cheers,

      Luke

      P.S. I did a massive double take when I saw a comment from “Ron Carter”. Haha!!!

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