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Strap Height (L#56)

I get so many e-mails about right and left hand positioning, strap height and what's healthy or unhealthy, etc.

So, I made this short tutorial to show you the most 'sensible' strap height to avoid injuries…

Looking 'cool' can have a cost that perhaps you're not aware of, both on your health and the quality of your playing. You probably wouldn't look and play cool with a wrist injury!…

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  • Duncan

    Though I’m not really a beginner (not advanced either), this lesson was really helpful for me.

    It learned me to wear the bass a little higher, so now it has the same position whether I am standing or sitting.

    Thanks again

  • Marcelo

    Hey Mate,

    I am 100% a beginner and it is great to hear any ind of tip re protect ur physical integrity with proper ergonomics and technic…

    Recently I met an experienced bass player that told me I should never play with 4 fingers closer to the neck… he explained that musicians use a technique called 3-fingering (?) where u play the first fret with indicator, 2nd fret with mid with support from indicator and 3rd fret with minimun + anular, supported by indicator and mid…

    He also mentioned that bass players that use the “regular” four-fingering technique… learned guitar before bass and therefore play bass like if it was a guitar…

    Any comment on that??? I was puzzled… the guy was really convincing… and played great as well…


    • scott

      Yeah – he’s actually talking about double bass technique. I’ve seen a few bass players use it, but most that I’ve come across use more of a guitaristic approach.

      • I’m torn on this subject. I have small hands and started on guitar and then upright. I’m aware of four finger positioning but it does feel like an unnatural strain on frets 1-4. Especially when I try any sort of speed, like in F#maj from the E string for i.e. and I find myself switching sometimes between the two techniques. In the four finger pos., when my fourth finger is on F# on the D string 4th fret, if I stay in position and reach my first finger to G# on the G string, I’m basically depressing the the note with the side of my finger. and I;d rather be using the tip for tone and control. It’s been frustrating me a lot lately.

    • Jack

      well, it is a bass guitar. it’s meant to be played at least somewhat like a guitar. I don’t consider the double bass to be the definitive bass instrument, that all other bass instruments must model themselves after. each instrument should be played in a way that makes sense for the kind of instrument that it is. that’s why it would be considered silly and impractical to play the double bass with a pick, but it’s perfectly acceptable and common to play the bass guitar with a pick.

  • Jonathan

    Thank you for all of your lessons, you are my bass teacher :)

  • Bob Day

    Also a great height for slapping

  • Paul Callaghan

    Hi Scott. Really enjoying your leesons mate. I play lead/ rhythm usually but have recently bought a protools rig for my PC. So now im messing about with a bass just for fun. Im not too bad at it as the scales are kind of in my head already. My questions are , Does you strap length rule apply to lead guitars also as it sounds completely pheasable. Also ive been looking to buy a Cort action 4, only a cheapy but will do me. Theres a 5 string (action VA) option which is cheaper still but im not sure, you seem to have a bottom E as your 5 string, i thought it was tuned to a low B…..So where do I start 4 string coz its more digestable or 5 string coz its cheaper than the 4 string.??? Cheers mate

  • Paul Callaghan

    Hi Scott. I obviously dont expect you to divulge your medical history but I was curious. How does wearing a glove help with your Focal Dystonia? Its not something ive heard of before and it concerns me a bit. Is it something that can happen if you practice too hard for too long? Sorry to bring it up mate, maybe its sensitive to you.

    Superb lessons by the way, im not a bassist but i play lead guitar and im delving into it a little, just to help me suss out protools and a bit of theory, feel free to pop round :-). Cheers fella !

  • Prega

    I found what I was looking for… When your student get better than you, doesn’t mean they know too much, it just mean you did an excellent job… Cheers Scott.

  • Matt

    I guess my only concern with the position you show is that my right hand feels very cranked at the wrist with the bass that high. I lower mine just enough to straighten my right wrist but not so low that I have to reach. It feels very natural but I am very new so I want to make sure I’m doing it correctly for the long haul.

  • Dear Scott I just discovered your promo video’s on the internet, and find them realy great.
    My bassplaying is selfmade and i’m looking for a wile for an educational approach wich is not to difficult and on the otherhand can bring my playing realy to a higher level.
    I think I found it and looking foreward to al the lessons to come.
    As you can hear on our webside there is a lot of improvement to win
    Thank you so far

  • Mihai

    great video, especially about cool and un-cool positions :))

    but what about the right hand? :D both hands have pretty much the same position, either way you place the bass.. so? what is the compromise? i have a slight pain in my left wrist when playing too low and in the right hand when the bass is too high (and comfortable for the left :D)
    do you have some wrist exercises? for mobility, for pain relief/prevention?

  • Duites

    Thanks for the lesson… I planned on going back to the basics because years ago, I went ahead and play the bass without any lessons… I don’t know where to look for bass lessons but when I found your videos in youtube, I was amazed and visited your website… Keep up the good work…

  • Ramon H.

    Thanks for confirming my suspicions about strap heights. I had figured that it would be neat to have the bass not move between transitions, but always kind of wondered if I had missed some crucial detail that would harm me and my playing in the long run. Glad to know I was on the right track! =P

  • Mireille

    As a female bass player, that position is too high for me.

  • Dave

    Great video, just picked up my first bass, an Ibanez, and am looking forward to learning to play, both with your lessons and a local instructor. Glad you’re covering the things that are important even before playing/practicing. Nice dog.


  • Sam

    Friendly scratches behind the dog’s ear :-)

  • Sean

    Same height standing as when sitting? That seems a pretty arbitrary reason to adjust your strap accordingly. It should start not with sitting posture, but hand, arm and wrist position (as you detail in your other video). Once the hand, arm and wrist position is good, then then the strap length is good. It really doesn’t matter whether your standing or sitting.

  • Vincent

    I’m not a beginner but I’m gonna go through all your lessons, even the beginner ones.
    It’s always good not to think we know it all !

    Thank you for that one, I never knew how to set the strap height !

  • Alex

    Get in the shed?

    • it refers to the term woodshed. Musicians, mostly Jazz musicians I believe, used the the woodshed or places like it to practice in private, and it has come just to mean sitting down or going somewhere to practice diligently. Hence the Woodshedding or just shedding.

  • Ricardo

    Hey Scott, I just started to play yesterday (!) and I’m really enjoying your lessons. I signed up for your mailing list but I was wondering if your lesson archive is in order for someone like me. I feel there is a gap between this lesson and the next (Triads) for example.
    Thank you so much,

  • Will

    Also easier to throwdown/mosh/dance while performing with a sensible strap height :)

  • Roy

    Hey Scott..I just love every lesson so far that I have seen …YOur an amazing Instructor as well as an Awesome musician..I plan on making a Donation very soon . Best wishes from here in NY. USA..:)

  • arjun

    Thank you!!
    Keeeeep it up Scott..

  • Ima Troll

    About how many hours a week do you spend physically playing bass? (practice + rehearsal + gigging)

    Have you ever had to take downtime due to overuse injury?

  • Michael J Alexander

    There is some room for adjustment. The bass can be a bit lower, or higher. This is a topic a talk about when I encounter new students to the bass, or guitar for that matter. I tell them to experiment with strap height and find a spot that is most comfortable for both your fret hand wrist, and your plucking / pick hand. I demonstrate why it’s bad to have the bass too low by showing them the strain that is put on the wrist.

    I wear my bass somewhat lower than in the tutorial. But I hold the neck angle more like an upright, a-la Mike Porcaro. It is a comfortable position up and down the neck, and also leaves my other hand in a very neutral psition too.

  • Tony Gotelli

    Love all the tips and being a dog lover really love seeing the pup (pop) up on the camera. Awesome!