Playing across the neck is the real secret behind an Extended Range Instrument (ERI). Whatever position you play in, first, third, fifth, you have several octaves across the neck. Guitar players have experienced this convenience for years. As a four-string bassist you have the primary range to play 95% percent of all American Popular music.
I’m asked all the time, “Why do you have so many strings?” The key word is options. If music is a form of tonal communication, then having range may help you interpret your tonal thought better. If all humans talked and sang only one octave, then the scope of our variations that make us different would be that much closer. We are drawn to things that are new. In western music, we only use 12 notes. We expand upon our creativity by leaping octaves, thus adding linear alternatives.
If you play an ERI, then you might learn a song in two positions. The tonal change would be a welcomed change and you would learn more about the neck of your instrument. It seems that we hit a brick wall sometimes because we can only play as well as the music we learn. I like to cut on a tape recorder and sing ideals into it. Then I put on my bass and learn whatever I sang. I’m not the best singer, so it’s hard to lock into the note I intended to hit.
I find that the brain to the mouth connection is immediate. Sometimes it can even be brilliant. Our hands mostly react to muscle memory. If you have an Extended Range Instrument, play a scale across the neck and skip a string in between every other string. You have to start in the fourth position to pull this off. It’s great for your hands and concentration.
Your pal Al Caldwell