26th November 2020

Extended Fingering Patterns

In this article I talk about the extended fingering technique and how this can help you to play more smoothly and economically on the bass.

Fretboard Knowledge

I have recently made a YouTube videos about how we do not always have to use one finger per fret.  For those of you that missed that video, we can also used a ‘closed hand position where we use three fingers over four frets.  This is particularly useful when playing octaves and 5th's, and also when playing down the lower end of the neck where the fret spaces are bigger. 

Click here for the Youtube video 

Bass Guitar Fretboard Closeup

We can also use ‘extended fingering’ which is especially useful higher up the bass.  This is where we use four fingers over five frets.  For those of you with short fingers (like me!), do not panic!  You do not have to stretch the full five frets, but you move your hand as you go from fret to fret.  To do this smoothly, ensure that you have your thumb in the correct position behind the neck. 

One example where extended fingering can be used, is when playing patterns based on the major arpeggio.

  Look at the following example which is an E Major Arpeggio with the 3rd added on top.

 

E Major Arpeggio Bass Guitar Tab
E Major Arpeggio Bass Guitar Fret Diagram

 

If we play it the tradition way then we have to make a big jump to the last note and it’s easy to mess this up. 

Now try this with extended fingering, using only fingers 1 and 4.  Once you have mastered the smooth transition between the five fret intervals then this becomes a much easier way to play the arpeggio.

 

E Major Arpeggio For Bass Guitar
E Major Arpeggio Extended Fingering Bass Fret Diagram

 

 

Extended fingering also helps to get you to higher parts of the fretboard.  You can travel much more economically this way with less jumping. 

I have written a short exercise to help you to practise extended fingering by using this 1-4 fingering pattern. 

Before you try the exercise, play F# Minor Arpeggio.  You don’t have to stretch five frets but you still only use fingers 1 and 4.