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Re: Simandl Method

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Posted by paige on January 04, 2000 at 14:55:03:

In Reply to: Simandl Method posted by David on January 04, 2000 at 13:49:50:

: I recently started playing bass. I've diligently been practicing and taking lessons from a pro. I am already a musician with BA in Jazz performance on trumpet. I've emersed myself in the bass literature and have also purchased video's. I've read several articles on the Simandl (sp?) technique where the 1,2,4 fingers are used for the first five frets. I was attracted to this idea because i really have small hands and one finger per fret is really a stretch for me. By the time, I get to the 4th fret, I need to move my thumb slighltly. I do notice that if I keep my left hand relaxed and thumb in the middle I have a little more reach and flexibility but not much.

: I also purchased Ray Brown's bass method and it seems like his upright method is basically the same as the Simandl method. It seems that these methods only teach the scales which according to my teacher and all the literature i've read...electric bass players want to avoid playing open strings because closed position sound better among other reasons given.

: I'm wondering how prevelant the simandl method is among bass players and if it really makes sense to invest time in this method (especially going it alone)as opposed of slighly moving my hand up the fret board to hit the fret correctly. It seems that there is no way to avoid playing one finger per fret especially playing closed position minor scales (C to Eb is four frets) Major triads (between the 3rd and 5th require a four fret stretch)

: Could somebody shed some light on this subject for me.

I would be glad to. I played bass from 1971 to 1982, put it down to raise my family and make some $$$$$, picked it up again in 1991 and have been actively gigging and not-so-actively recording since. Several years ago I developed severe pain and swelling around my left hand ring and pinkie fingers, mostly the ring finger. I was taking 800 mg of Motrin just to make it through two church services (I played in a Praise Band). I was put in touch with Carol Kaye who informed me of some basic physical issues we bassists have to take into consideration.
1. The pinky and ring finger share a ligament and the inordinate stretching necessary to stay to the "one finger-one fret" method (a guitar technique) especially at the first 5 to 7 frets on todays longer-scale more massive basses can cause real damage... especially if you don't have big hands. (I don't)
2. There is real danger of Carpal Tunnel issues as well resulting from not keeping your left hand relaxed while playing and from having your left wrist bent at an improper angle while playing. Again, if you stick to the "one finger-one fret" method, and your hands are NOT large, you can't help but tense up as you make those unseemly stretches in the first 7 frets or so.

Look to those old timers. The 1-2-4 left hand, with the left thumb placed lightly in the middle of the neck accomplishes several things:
1. You will reach for the notes with your pinky, not your ring finger, backing up the pinky with the ring finger.
2. Since you reach with your pinky, you will be forced to shift your hand or pivot around the thumb. This is much harder to do if you are all tensed up.
3. All this saves you ligament damage, increases your endurance and helps you to play with a lighter touch... all plusses in my book.

I know many players use the "one finger-one fret" method and teach it, but for me, my physical limitations (smallish hands) rule against my going that way. I do use the "one finger-one fret" method above the 7th fret or so, but never below that.
Hope that helps a little.... that's my perspective, anyway.

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