Do You Need Big Hands To Play Bass Guitar?

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This week I’m answering the question “Do You Need Big Hands To Play Bass Guitar?”. In short, the obvious answer is…no. But I’m going to expand on this and explain how you can adapt your playing to compensate for a lack of natural hand size and maximize your stretch for those of you with medium to large sized hands.

In this bass lesson, We’re going to look at the three P’s. Posture, pivoting and position shifts. Each of these technical details can be addressed and you’ll find they can help with all areas of your bass technique.

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Video Rating: / 5

20 comments

  1. Discover Double Bass

    This thumbnail is the best image on the internet. 🙂 Great lesson mate.

  2. thank you

  3. The Three Ps make Green Onions a lot less daunting, but I still wonder if I should be looking at a short scale ( 30") or medium scale(32") bass ?

  4. A piano teacher I had once explained to me the benefits of smaller hands on piano….I was sceptical ….but watched some terrific classical pianists and know she is right….I was sure big hands were needed on Bass….then I saw Tal Wilkenfeld play…….
    Great info as usual Mark…thanks very much for your skilful and insightful teaching…much appreciated.

  5. This was very helpful. Thanks!

  6. Sébastien Di Meglio

    Great lesson…Perfect for my fingers Thanks

  7. THNX <3 very helpful <3

  8. Graham Whitehead

    Your suggestion to sit with the guitar between your legs, and the neck raised higher, is a good one. i started out playing banjo in that position, and carried it across to my bass playing. Most bass guitar bodies are shaped so that they sit comfortably on top of the leg, and that sucks players into doing it that way from the first time they pick up a guitar. Neither position is necesarrily right or wrong, but its important to try different things. As you say, we all have different physiologies. Great vid !

  9. I am a small guy in general, so I found this very helpful. Also I have a little complain about "switching legs" tip, in which case I cannot reach 1-3 frets on E and B string, because I have short arms…. maybe I am doing something wrong again. Otherwise brilliant video, I can play my beauty comfortably now.
    (my bass is Marcus Miller V7 Vintage Swamp Ash left handed 5 string and it plays amazingly)

  10. Ah… very useful. Thank you!

  11. Excellent tips. I have small hand and this gives me the "blessing" or "approval" for using these sort techniques no other teacher wants me to use. Like sifting is only ok if you really tried out streching and it absolutely won't work. I would like to have a lesson about when it is ok to be "one finger bandit" (so right hand is not doing alternate index/middle picking pattern but you're hitting the strings with your prefferred finger only). I know some songs like Paranoid by Black Sabbath doesn't sound right if you use alternate picking but still a lot of experienced bassists look down at you if you don't to the strict alternate regime.

  12. Learning how to shift has been the biggest improvement of my bass playing technique by a country mile.

  13. really liking these thumbnails

  14. Great video, Mark. One thing I notice in general: some bass players have standard sized hands, but have longer fingers but slightly smaller palms, whereas my palm length is a little bit bigger than my finger length. Have you noticed anything like this and do you think it makes a difference in bass playing?

  15. I'm dying laughing at the title of this post because I've used my skinny build as motivation to hang with the big guys who typically play bass. Guys like, Phillip Mann have baseball mitts for hands.

  16. Great teacher.

  17. Thanks Mark you're always such great help , the best.

  18. I used to think that my hands were a bit too small to play the bass. My hands (more specifically my fingers) are a little bit smaller than average, but I'm able to play a 6 string bass just fine. In fact, I can even do a one-finger-per-fret system on the first four frets of the low B string. Really the only issue I've had is getting my pinky up on the high frets of the lower two strings, because the neck is so much wider there.

  19. TheJedidragon529

    I have a rather large belly that pushes the bass uncomfortably away from me causing weird wrist positions and difficulty hitting notes. Any suggestions?

  20. Hit fret hand with ball ping hammer, repeat then sweep untill paralysis.

    Thanks for the education.

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