How to Hold a Bass Guitar Effortlessly: 5 Simple Steps

by Alex Winnerman  - October 18, 2023

We rely on the support of our readers. If you make a purchase through the links provided on our website, we may receive a commission as part of our affiliate program at no additional charge to you. Thank you!

Back in Lagos, Nigeria, a few years ago, I witnessed something fascinating on how to hold a bass guitar.

A local church organized a musical orchestra competition, and the criteria for selection weren't solely based on musical talent. 

Surprisingly, the way participants held their bass guitars played a significant role in determining who would be part of this grand event and have a chance at winning amazing prizes.

Believe it or not, even the most experienced bassists had to ensure they had the perfect posture and grip to qualify for the competition. 

This event highlighted the importance of holding your bass guitar correctly, not just for your comfort but also for your overall performance.

If you've ever struggled with holding your bass guitar or wondered why it matters, you're not alone. 

In this article, we'll explore techniques to help you master how to hold a bass guitar correctly, whether you're a seasoned player or just starting. Let's fine-tune your skills for a better musical journey!

Key Takeaways

  •  A guitar strap is crucial for proper balance and support while playing the bass guitar.
  • The correct angle and height for holding your bass guitar can improve your playing technique and comfort.
  • Maintaining good posture is essential in developing control and mastery of the instrument.
Music Facts

How to Hold A Bass Guitar: Why It's So Important

Learning how to hold a bass guitar is crucial for any musician, as it directly impacts their playing ability and technique.

Strap In

Securing your strap is the first step to achieving balance with your bass guitar. Remember to consider its importance!

The right setup will take the strain off your hands, allowing them to focus on playing and not holding up the instrument.

Ensure the strap is firm across your shoulder and straight between two strap pins.

To ensure you're comfortable standing or seated, adjust until it places the bass at a consistent height, regardless of your position.

This simple tool provides greater support and makes mastering bass techniques substantially easier, including how to hold a bass guitar.

Bass Angle & Height

The angle and height at which you hold your bass guitar can greatly impact your playing technique and comfort.

A slight upward tilt of the neck can provide better access to the higher frets, allowing for more range in your left hand.

As for height, the bass should be positioned to feel like a natural extension of your body when standing or sitting.

This ensures proper balance and posture while playing, reducing strain on your hands and wrists.

By finding the right angle and height for your bass guitar, you'll be well on your way to mastering this essential aspect of bass technique.

Sitting with Your Bass

Sitting up straight and maintaining a relaxed and comfortable posture is important when sitting with your bass.

Ensure the strap is adjusted so the bass sits securely on your body, taking the strain off your hands.

The neck of the bass should be angled upwards for better range on the fretboard. Keep your back erect and lift your chest for proper breathing while playing.

You can play with greater ease and control by holding the instrument properly and finding a comfortable position.


A relaxed and comfortable posture is crucial when holding the bass guitar properly.

As a beginner, sit up straight with your back erect and lift your chest.

The bass should be positioned securely using a guitar strap adjusted to the right length.

This will ensure the instrument's weight is evenly distributed and does not strain your hands.

Remember, the bass guitar should feel like an extension of your body, allowing you to play easily and fluently.

So, in learning how to hold a bass guitar, focus on maintaining good posture for better control and mastery of this versatile instrument.

How to Hold A Bass Guitar: The Techniques Behind It

Now let's consider the different techniques involved in learning how to hold a bass guitar and discover how to achieve optimal control and comfort. From hand placement to fingerstyle technique, we'll cover it all.

Read on to perfect your bass guitar technique and improve your playing skills.

Hand Placement for the Right Hand

Proper hand placement for the right hand is essential for mastering the bass guitar technique.

Here are some tips to ensure you're holding the instrument correctly:

  1. Place your right hand near the bass's bridge, resting on the strings lightly.
  2. Use a combination of your index and middle fingers to pluck or strum the strings.
  3. Keep your fingers relaxed and slightly curved, avoiding tenseness in your hand.
  4. Practice controlling the volume and tone by adjusting how much pressure you apply to the strings.
  5. Experiment with different right-hand techniques, such as fingerstyle or using a pick, to find what works best for you.

Fingerstyle Technique

When playing the bass guitar, one essential technique to master is fingerstyle playing.

Instead of using a pick, fingerstyle involves plucking the strings.

Place your right hand over the strings near the bridge and use your index and middle fingers to pluck the notes.

This technique offers more control and allows you to create different tones by adjusting how you strike the strings.

Practice slowly at first, focusing on accuracy and precision in each note.

With time and practice, you'll develop talent and skill using the fingerstyle technique on your bass guitar.

Using a Pick

Using a pick is popular among bass guitarists, especially those who prefer a brighter and more percussive sound.

When using a pick, it's important to hold it firmly in the middle of your thumb and index finger, with just enough of the tip protruding.

This allows for maximum control and precision when striking the strings.

Experiment with different pick thicknesses to find one that feels comfortable and produces the desired tone.

Practice picking exercises to improve your technique and build speed.

With practice, you can utilize the pick effectively in your bass playing, adding versatility to your sound repertoire.

Hand Placement for the Left Hand

We are still discussing how to hold a bass guitar. Next up, when playing the bass guitar, it is important to have proper hand placement for the left hand.

This helps ensure that you have better control and accuracy while playing. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Position your thumb behind the neck: Your left-hand thumb should rest comfortably behind the neck of the bass. This provides stability and allows you to reach all the strings easily.
  2. Arch your fingers: When fretting notes, arch your fingers slightly. This helps prevent unintentional string buzzing or muting and allows for cleaner note production.
  3. Use the tips of your fingers: To achieve a clear tone, press down on the strings with your fingertips, not with the pads. This allows for better precision and reduces unwanted string noise.
  4. Maintain a relaxed grip: Avoid gripping the neck too tightly with your left hand. Instead, aim for a relaxed grip allowing fluid movement between notes.
  5. Slide smoothly between positions: As you move up and down the neck, practice sliding your left hand smoothly along the strings rather than lifting it off completely. This will help improve efficiency and speed in your playing.

How to Hold A Bass Guitar: Learning From Great Bass Players

Let's look at some legendary bass players and the techniques they used to hold their instruments.

Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius, the legendary bassist known for his incredible technique and innovation, had a unique approach to holding the bass guitar.

He held it low on his chest with a strap securely attached to the instrument's body.

This allowed him to have greater support and control over the neck of the bass.

Jaco's hand placement for both the right and left hands was precise, with his fingers positioned just right to execute his signature playing style.

His attention to detail in holding and positioning the bass guitar contributed greatly to his remarkable playing skills.

Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce, a legendary bass player, was known for his unique and innovative approach to holding the instrument.

With his jazz and blues background, Bruce focused on fluidity and expression in his playing style.

He often held the bass low on his body, using a strap that allowed him to move freely around the stage.

He could achieve a deep connection with the instrument by keeping a relaxed posture and allowing the bass to rest comfortably against his body.

This helped him produce powerful tones and execute intricate bass lines with ease.

Jack Bruce's technique inspires aspiring bass players who aim to develop their own distinctive style.

James Jamerson

James Jamerson was a renowned bass player known for his unique holding technique. He would securely attach the strap to the bass and position it in a way that allowed him to play with ease comfortably.

His left-hand thumb would rest on the neck of the bass, providing greater support and control while playing.

He would create smooth and intricate lines with his index and middle fingers that added depth to the music.

James Jamerson's exceptional technique inspires beginner guitarists looking to master their bass guitar skills.

Mike Porcaro

Mike Porcaro is a highly skilled bass player known for his impeccable technique and solid groove.

He had a unique way of holding the bass guitar, allowing him to play precisely and easily.

His hand placement for the right hand was spot-on, with his index and middle fingers resting gently on the strings, providing control and accuracy.

Regarding his left hand, Mike Porcaro knew how to position his thumb properly to provide support while maintaining flexibility in his fingers.

This allowed him to move smoothly across the neck of the bass and play intricate lines effortlessly.

If you want to enhance your bass guitar playing skills, studying Mike Porcaro's holding technique can be beneficial.

Larry Graham

Larry Graham is a legendary bass player known for his innovative technique and influential style.

Regarding holding the bass guitar properly, Larry Graham has mastered the art.

He understands the importance of balance and stability when playing, allowing him to create a solid foundation for his music.

By securely attaching his strap and adjusting it to the right height, Larry ensures that he can comfortably navigate the neck of the bass without straining his hands.

His precise hand placement and thumb position on both hands contribute to his ability to control the strings with ease.

Watching Larry Graham play is inspiring and a great opportunity to learn from one of the best in the business.

Alexwinnerman Quotes

Wrapping Up On How to Hold A Bass Guitar

Like I mentioned earlier, becoming an experienced bassist includes learning how to hold a bass guitar.  

Master the techniques of holding the instrument properly and you are on your way to becoming a pro.

You can ensure balance and support while playing by using a guitar strap and adjusting it to the right height.

Practice proper hand placement for both the right and left hands to control the strings effectively.

Remember, correct posture is essential in mastering your bass guitar skills.


1. How should I hold the bass guitar properly?

To hold the bass guitar properly, place your left hand on the neck with fingers lightly pressing down on the strings, and rest your forearm on the guitar's body. Use your right hand to pluck or strum the strings.

2. Why is it important to hold the bass guitar correctly?

Holding the bass guitar correctly ensures proper technique, which allows for better control and accuracy while playing. It also helps prevent strain or injury to your hands, wrists, and shoulders.

3. Can I use a strap to support my bass guitar?

Yes, a strap can provide extra support and help evenly distribute the instrument's weight across your body. This can reduce discomfort during long practice sessions or performances.

4. Are there any specific techniques for holding a standing bass guitar?

When holding a standing bass guitar (an upright or double bass), stand up straight with one foot slightly in front of the other for balance. Place one hand on the side of its body near where it connects to the neck while using your other hand to grip and play its strings with a bow or fingers.

How to Do Harmonics on Guitar: 4 Crucial Secrets You Must Not Overlook
How to Play Amazing Grace on Guitar in 5 Simple Steps

Alex Winnerman

Meet Alex Winnerman, a seasoned music director and mentor, dedicated to guiding aspiring artists, recommending top-quality instruments, and mastering the intricacies of studio engineering. With a wealth of expertise, his online coaching sessions are readily available for those eager to embark on a musical journey. Married and eternally youthful at heart, Alex's mission is to make music resonate in the lives of others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

You may be interested in