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I'm struggling with a good left hand position, and there are multiple things that I'm not sure about. I will concentrate on one particular element here in this question:

What one usually reads (which makes sense) is that the hand should ideally be in a relaxed middle position, like the following graphic indicates:

Bad and good wrist positions

However, it seems that for playing the lower frets on a bass, I don't have an option other than bending my wrist, especially if my thumb is placed adjacent to the index finger, as (for example) the following video of a big music educator suggests. I have also added a screenshot from the video. I see bends like this regularly on youtube, and I was wondering - Is that level of bentness ok?

enter image description here

To be specific, by bentness I only mean the flexion of the hand here, not the radial or ulnar deviations - those are separate topics that I want to cover in another question.

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  • Does 'How to hold a bass guitar while playing' answer your question?
    – Tim
    Jun 3, 2023 at 10:52
  • Link to the question mentioned by @Tim music.stackexchange.com/questions/3390/… I would say that does not answer the question, as "wrist" is only mentioned in two answers, and only with respect to strap height.
    – Edward
    Jun 3, 2023 at 19:04
  • How is your hand so red? Jun 3, 2023 at 19:13
  • @ElementsinSpace That's not his hand, and it's a red glove.
    – Edward
    Jun 3, 2023 at 19:19

2 Answers 2

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This musician disagrees! I recommend watching that Adam Neely video in full, even though it is not nearly as well-produced as his more recent content, because it will give you some contrasting ideas to think about with regards to technique. The key part is between 2:10 and 4:20.

To summarize, if you place the thumb between the index and middle finger, as the above video suggests, and you place your fingers perpendicular to the strings, also demonstrated in that video, you are predisposed to the awkward wrist angle that you see. Adam Neely suggests placing the thumb outside the index finger, pointing almost toward the headstock, when playing in the lower positions (close to the headstock).

I guess the actual answer to "Is that level of bentness ok" would be "yes, if it doesn't cause injury"... but you can't test that out without possibly causing injury. At the very least, if it causes pain, stop doing it.

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  • I know Adams video, it's just that the vid is 13 years old and there still seems to be disagreement on the topic, so this thumb placement is either not yet settled, or it isn't a big deal in the end, and hence my question here in Stack exchange. I tried playing like Adam suggests for some time, but I then run into other problems: The 45 ° angle of the index finger in the low frets makes it hard to press the strings by simple flexing. Jun 5, 2023 at 9:43
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Somebody else's rules regarding how to hold your hand and your wrist might just be perfect.

For them.

I will add this much.

Leave your arms, elbows, wrists, hands FREE to move about in whatever angle works for you.

As Edward implied, you want to avoid injury. You want to avoid restrictive postures, chair arms, structures, couches, bed pillows, anything that causes you to contort your wrists and tendons in an unnatural and uncomfortable position.

That's why I am a fan of practicing and performing standing up, with the bass guitar strapped on high on your belly.

Free yourself. Find that which feels natural and comfortable. And that will lead to your groove, your own vibe, and your long life of bass playing without injury.

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    I hope it will come like that, but at the moment I feel like the thing that causes me to contort my wrists and tendons in an unnatural and uncomfortable position is the bass-guitar. Jun 5, 2023 at 9:45

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