How To Make Large Stretches On Bass Guitar

2019-02-02T18:22:58+00:00July 27th, 2013|Categories: Bass Playing Fundamentals|Tags: , , |14 Comments

Bass guitar is a pretty big instrument and sometimes it can seem a real challenge to play even basic sounding basslines or solos because of the stretches involved. In this lesson I show you how to make the most of the hands yo mama gave you and even stretch an octave on one string without moving your hand. Boom.


Tips For Large Stretches

  • Keep the thumb relaxed and centered on the back of the neck
  • Try not to pull the thumb back too much or curl it around the front of the fretboard
  • Keep fingers in a claw shape to maximise precision


Pivoting is a way of angling the thumb to the left or right in order to jump wider distances.

Practice this technique using the G major arpeggio below. Pivoting will help with the stretch between the 7th and 12th fret on the G string.

You can apply this to pretty much any arpeggio for practice. Here is an example of the F major arpeggio – try pivoting between the 5th and 10th fret of the G string this time.





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  1. Mike Y. November 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Great, concise, well explained lessons! Thanks very much!

  2. Mike M November 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great, easy to follow, lessons.

    Regards stretching, I have small hands with short fingers and don’t seem able to spread my fingers to cover the frets as I should. Also, I have a problem moving even short distances up and down the neck without sliding my thumb up and down.

    Any suggestions for players with hands like mine?

  3. samson January 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    hi mark your videos have being of great help. please do you have any lessons on modes and how to apply them in rythm. Samson from Nigeria.

    • admin January 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks a lot Samson. I have a lesson on Modes coming up soon. There’s an order to the lessons I release. There are the last chord construction lessons coming up, then a couple on chords in a key and then Modes of the major key and modes of the minor keys. Hope they’ll be of use to you. Mark

  4. Adela February 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Love your lessons, so concise, makes sense easily in a non jargon way thanks 😀 I would just like to ask, I suffered a bad wrist fracture( needing plates and screws) just a month after starting, I don’t gave the same stretch in my fretting hand now, will this impede my progress? Thanks Adela

    • Zias June 26, 2015 at 5:21 am - Reply

      i believe your doctor should inform you on that and not the bass instructor 🙂

  5. Sarah Quick August 16, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I’m a complete beginner. I love your lessons. It must be so boring for you to go back to basics for people like me but we’ve got to start somewhere. Just wanted to say thank you 😉

  6. Robert Galen March 26, 2016 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Im in mid 50s and been playing drums long time on and off. been wanting to play bass just never seem to have time. But listening to these well informed lessons have push me to learn. Thanks

  7. wilfredo May 27, 2016 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I sure likeep the way you explain ,
    the instructions for you fingers it makes it easier.

  8. Max Tomlinson August 24, 2016 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Great lessons! Regarding position, I find I tend to hook my fretting hand thumb over the top of the neck, which does not help with stretches. I understand this, but it simply does not feel natural (to me anyway) to place the thumb on the back of the neck (pivot) where it affords the best stretch. Is this normal? Does one have to learn the proper placement or am I doing something wrong? Thanks!

  9. Spencer S May 16, 2017 at 3:16 am - Reply

    “In this lesson I show you how to make the most of the hands yo mama gave you and even stretch an octave on one string without moving your hand. Boom.”

    I love it

  10. nella huijssoon July 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Hello! This is a great video. I will take lessons in september, but until now i don’t knowon which fret i need to place which finger, is there a certain structure or dio you as you feel?

  11. Estera July 26, 2018 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Hi, Mark, thank you very much for your lessons, you are my favorite online teacher 🙂 I have a question: this exercise must be played without moving the thumb up and down the neck?

  12. cheryl grier November 29, 2018 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Hi, I love your lessons. What is the best way to keep pinky on fretboard? Mine wants to hang out until needed.

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