I have some stupid questions/worries about my hands and such.
(I'm currently kind of a nouveau-novice when it comes to bass-playing--explanation for that is in my intro, here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f147/g...sists-1014025/--so all my questions are gonna be selfish/stupid. I appreciate your patience with me, and hopefully I'll be at least talking like a respectable bassist in another year-ish.)
Okay, so all I ever wanted was to be a bassist, right, but I'm cursed with these TINY HANDS :bawl:
My problem is that I know there's supposed to be this nice gap between your hand and the neck of the bass, but when I get past the 12th fret on the neck, I can't seem to reach the E-string with my 3rd or 4th fingers without forcing my hand against the neck and/or bending my wrist way the f@$# out, and that can't POSSIBLY be good. So if anyone has any videos or pictures or can just tell me well enough with words about how to fix this, that would be super-awesome. (If you do explain it to me with words, just pretend I'm an 8-year-old and go from there.)
Also, I've literally never met anyone else with this same problem, but I have some kind of muscle-tendon-whatever weirdness in my left hand--the way I explain it is that "I can't hold up a peace-sign with my left hand." When I try, my 1st finger straightens fully, but my middle finger is locked at about 80 degrees while my third finger is held down. (So when I hold up the number 3, my 2nd finger can extend just fine.)
I've had this problem forever (so it's probably not CTS), but I have never had it evaluated, it doesn't come up as a "limitation" that often (because I'm right-handed) and it has never caused a problem until recently. I've been noticing muscle pain along the side of my wrist, just on the side of my arm below where my thumb muscle is, and also along the top of my hand (I guess between the 2nd and 3rd metacarpals).
I don't know if it's just because I'm woefully out-of-practice or because I've been typing a lot lately or what, but I'm kind-of-sort-of a broke college student right now and not really in the mood to go see a specialist, right in the middle of everything. I wonder if there's much else I can do besides rest, ice, Ibuprofen, bracing etc. and my stupid brain won't let me stop thinking about it.
I'd love to be practicing right now, but I'm starting to worry a bit, so, uh... what do? :confused:
What kind of bass are you playing?
Has it been setup recently?
Ever play a short scale bass?
Stop worrying - if you can't play the E with your 3rd or 4th finger high up the neck - play it somewhere else. I just sat here thinking about what you want to do. I couldn't work out what you were struggling with, then I realised we do play a couple of songs where I play like that with my weaker fingers. Just work out a different position. I have a classical pianist friend who has small hands. It just means he has to devise strategies to cope with his lack of 'spread'. If you result to weird positions to play certain phrases, that's how it is for you. Does it matter? I know a petite lady player who has short arms, so she has to stretch to reach the nut end, and she just shunts the guitar right to get there. The pain suggests that however you're doing it now is not good - so maybe you need a different guitar - narrower neck maybe? If you play a 4 string, but need those high notes, how about a narrow neck 5 string and re-string to EADGC (or B) ?
If you have a medical condition that prevents your fingers working properly - I wonder if playing will help it or make it worse? That could be worth checking. If it's going to make an undiagnosed condition worse, it's best to find out now?
Where's your thumb when you're playing past the 12th fret?
I have small hands, and my thumb is towards the top of the neck in the lower positions, and as I move up the neck it moves towards the middle of the neck and by the time I get to the 12th position it is actually sticking out quite far under the neck. This isn't something I worked out, it just happened naturally.
Edit to add; I'd go see a good teacher so they can see what you're doing and give you some proper one on one feedback on your technique.
I have (what I think is) a similar issue with not being able to use the traditional four fingers four frets past the 12th but only with one of my basses... My 20 fret Fender Jaguar is very hard to play once you get close to your body but on my 24 fret spector its not an issue. I found that raising the bass higher with the strap helps you gain more access and avoid any extreme wrist bending. I think it largely relates to the type of bass you play, when I first got the Jag it frustrated the heck out of me but I eventually got used to playing it in such a way that it doesn't bother me too much anymore.
I've got shorter fingers than my mom and a pinky that's half the length of my ring finger.
The solution I've found for being able to fret any note with any finger anywhere on the neck is to tilt the headstock of my bass way up, to at least shoulder-level. Think Randy Rhoads. This is not a particularly comfortable way for me to play, regardless of how I sit or stand or adjust my (wide, padded) strap, but it works. I keep my fretting-hand thumb behind my index finger and pointed toward the headstock, as per Carol Kaye's instruction, and when playing at the 9th fret or higher my thumb will frequently pop out from under the neck if I need to hit the E or A strings with my pinky (yes, it's that short).
The solution I've found for playing comfortably and hitting the notes I need to in the practical places is to play how I like to play: bass resting lightly on my right leg when I'm sitting, but mostly held up by the strap, the neck horizontal (I try to tilt it up a little, but neck dive makes that a losing battle), and I pretty much let my fretting-hand thumb do what it wants. Except for squeezing the neck, that is: wherever the thumb is, it's light and ready to glide along or across the neck as needed. It's got nothing to do with holding the bass--that's the other arm's job.
In my normal position I just focus on avoiding a sharp angle in my wrist, and for me that means no pinky on the E or A strings above the fifth fret. Above the twelth fret the thumb goes under the neck and I abandon the pinky completely unless I'm playing some kind of chord.
This is what's working for me--doing whatever I have to to avoid sharp wrist angles in either hand--so I'm going with it. I've found videos and writings by Adam Neely, Fergie Fulton, and Carol Kaye extremely helpful in my cobbling-together of technique.
Thanks to everyone who gave me advice and video references--I will keep these things in mind going forward. Damn, I love this place already! :D
Just a thought: Presuming your right handed - in this situation is your left elbow jammed up against the side of your belly? When I was a beginner i had the same problem as you & it was caused by my left elbow being in the wrong spot.
As far as the pain goes, take a few days off, rest, ice, NSAIDs. See if that helps. If it doesn't, you should see a dr.
While you are taking time off use your practice time to work on right hand technique, and read the heck out of anything you can in regards to how to position yourself/bass/hands etc when playing to avoid RSI and pain.
When you start practicing again pay a lot of attn to this. You can take a vid of yourself playing to evaluate.
This will be a start for you, not an end all be all. An instructor who emphasizes technique and position is really what's needed.
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