Left Hand Guidelines

Number One: There should be a half step space between the first and second fingers and another half step space between the second and fourth fingers. The third finger is usually not employed by itself in the lower positions for beginners, so it will be used to support the fourth finger.

Hand Shape

Number Two: The thumb should be placed on the back of the neck somewhere behind the first and second finger. Everyone is different, so your thumb will find a place that is natural. You should not have to strain to keep your thumb in position. 

Number Three: Your wrist should always be slightly arched out. This should also feel natural and not forced.

Thumb and Wrist
Thumb and Wrist

Number Four: Your elbow should be up just below the height of your shoulder. You never want to raise your elbow above your shoulder, and you never want to rest your arm on the shoulder of the bass.


 Number Five: It is important to use as little effort as possible to press the strings down. Avoid clutching the neck with your thumb and fingers. You should primarily use weight from your arm and back for this. Although the weight should be applied by all of the fingers on the string, most of the weight should be shifted to the finger you are using. This is especially true for slower passages where vibrato becomes a key factor of your tone. For faster passages this is less of a factor.

Number Six: Hand shape should be maintained, without straining, while learning the lower positions. Remember, it is important to remain flexible and to use only the necessary amount of tension. While playing second and fourth fingers, keep your other fingers on the string in their proper position. Have your other fingers ready to play with the proper hand shape when you are playing a first finger.

Number Seven: Keep your fingers arched at all times. This will allow for greater accuracy and prevent future joint problems. Your fingers will have much more strength this way.

Number Eight: Keep your fingers close to the fingerboard at all times. This will improve your facility on the bass. This guideline goes hand in hand with number six. While playing an open string, keep your hand shape and hover closely over the string you are going to play next, giving the string enough room to vibrate.