I'm learning to play the bass guitar and I've come across a lot of phrases that span 4 frets (call them 1,2,3,4) where notes on 2 and 4 are emphasized. I've played these using two methods and have mixed feelings about each. I'm wondering if either of these methods is preferable and should be my first choice.

The first method is to use the four corresponding fingers. Here, the middle finger and pinky get a real work out. This usually sounds okay, but my speed and stamina are fairly limited.

The second method is to use my index finger on fret 2 and ring finger on 4 and shift my index finger to 1 when necessary. This is a lot more comfortable for me and my playing seems better at higher speeds, but quick shifting between 1 and 2 seems a bit sloppy.

1 Answer 1


On guitar, it's common to use 'one finger per fret', with a hand spanning four consecutive frets. Up the neck on a standard bass guitar, the frets become smaller, and this is comfortable. However, by the nut - the first 5 or 6 frets - it's different, unless you have long fingers or big hands. Put your fretting hand on the frets, say, 2 and 4, and you'll probably find in a relaxed state, your index rests on 2 and pinky is on 4. Using these, without stretching, is a nice way to play. I'm guessing that as a beginner, you're playing down at that end.Often, there's no need to, but beginners do. Get up the dusty end and try patterns out there. One finger per fret works well there, and you'll change tack as you get to the lower notes.

  • @ Tim. Thanks Tim. I haven't found stretching to be too much of an issue and play one finger per fret most of the time. I guess what I really want to know is if I'm better off over using using my pinky rather than under using it for the type of phrase described above. Apr 28, 2014 at 2:42
  • 1
    @keystonethewizard - use it or lose it is a bit harsh, but it's one of only four ; the more it gets used, the stronger it gets, so keep working it. The opposite also applies !
    – Tim
    Apr 28, 2014 at 7:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.