Having issues stretching your fingers across frets? You’re not alone! This is difficult to master without proper practice and to be honest when you are moving quick it is hard to not get some fret buzz sometimes.
I am going to show you a series of exercises below that will not only help with stretching your fingers across your fretboard, but also help you master it too!
Before you even pick up your bass I want you to stretch your fingers and wrists. Now this may sound strange but trust me this is a great way to get your fingers and hands warmed up.
It is important to have all your fingers stretch across the frets. Start off by doing half step intervals and progress from there. For example, place your pointer finger on any fret and then while keeping your pointer finger there place your middle finger on the next fret (half step). Continue this for your ring and pinky fingers and keep going.
Stretching your fingers starting at the second octave frets, will be a lot easier since the frets are closer together.
P5 stretch: This stretch extends from our root (1) note to the 5th of that root. Meaning that basically any note 5 steps away from the current note you are working with will work. As you can see we are utilizing D and G#. Five steps away from D would be A and then five steps away from A is E. Do this with as many notes as you want!
Beginner: D (pointer) – A (ring) – A (pointer) – E (ring)
Beginner: G# (pointer) – D# (ring) – A# (pointer) – E# (ring)
Advanced: D (pointer) – A (ring) – A (ring) – E (pinky)
Advanced: G# (pointer) – D# (ring) – A# (ring) – E# (pinky)
1-5-7: We are moving from our root (1) note to the 5th of the root and then the 7th. Now in this particular example I didn’t lay out a specific key signature but if we want to get technical it is in the key of d minor. You can use this example with any type of scale so as long as it follows the format of 1 – 5 – 7.
Beginner: D (pointer) – A (ring) – E (pointer)
Advanced: D (pointer) – A (ring) – E (pinky)
V Stretch: I call this exercise the V stretch because when you are playing it it is in the shape of a V. It might make your fingers feel a little uncomfortable but once you do it a few times it gets much better!
We are utilizing the following notes in two different octaves and four positions on the fretboard: F# – C# – E – C# – F#
Pointer to Pinky Stretch: This stretch is pretty self explanatory. We are practicing stretching using just your pointer and pinky fingers. Your pinky finger is very weak so it is important to strengthen it by using it consistently while you are playing.
One string: D (pointer) – F (pinky)
Two strings: D (pointer) – Bb (pinky)
Alternate strings: D (pointer) – Eb (pointer)
Song to Practice
This song is in the key of db minor and it encompasses the use of your fingers across one or more strings. Pay attention to the fingers that you use for each note. Take it slow and don’t become overwhelmed. The more you practice the better you will get!