How do I stop getting blisters when I play double bass for long periods of time?
Hello! I play the double bass in my school band and for fun, and I am continually getting blisters. I usually play slap on the bass guitar, so I have callouses built up, but the double bass just gives me blisters. Is there a way I can stop blisters or build up callouses? Thanks.
Edit: I play using metal strings.
Keep playing. Form callouses. Take a break when it hurts.
Is your school providing lessons with a doublebass teacher?
Time, dude, time. I started playing again after a really long hiatus (I'm talking decades). It took me a year to get my hands mostly back in shape.
Blisters are a way of life. It's probably just safer to just assume you will never be rid of them and find out ways that deals with a blister and how to callous up after you've had it tear off. I've been playing regularly for almost 10 years and always get blisters at some point - esp after not practicing for a week.
You're playing too hard. If the bass is set up well (if it's a school bass I guess its not) and if you play softly you should be able to coax a nice fat sound out of it without blisters. Do you have a bass teacher? Most schools do not, they just have a violin teacher who thinks they know how to teach bass... the reality is they dont know the first thing about it.
DB and bass guitar are different animals, the DB being much more demanding and sometimes painful. It is important that you get some instruction about proper pizz technique. Your physical approach is very important in learning to get a good sound from your entire body rather than concentrating on your hands. However, it does take time to develop calluses so my advice is to practice a bit every day and when it hurts, stop.
Try using the outside of your first finger, really the middle knuckle.
Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvbNifnccis
You'll see what I mean at 1:40 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg5YU3HB7JA
I have a thick callus on that middle knuckle and a bit less of one on the tip, on the outside half of my fingerprint. The tip of my middle finger is pretty tough because that's the only part of that finger available.
Ray Brown again. I've tried to emulate his right hand technique, particularly around :55 because it doesn't get any better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8QazNAZjhM
You'll also see it starting at 3:00: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKRqQ_HRBTs
Primarily using the outside of the first finger spreads the contact area and allows more meat on the string. I'll still occasionally get a bit of pain beneath the calluses and it's good to be able to switch my fingers for relief.
Marty is right. You need a teacher who plays the DB as his or her main instrument. If you intent to play pizz get some lessons from a jazz player.
Okay, I'm chime in my 2 cents. In my experience, 7+ years on the upright - it's impossible to avoid getting blisters if you play more than you usually do. If you'll accept that, then the only way to avoid blisters is to play frequently for as long as you usually do. That means, if you have a gig for 4 hours, four 45 minute sets, and you want to avoid blisters, you need to play for nearly 3.25 hours before you play your 4 hour gig. So, the advice to play every day - and get a teacher - are correct, IMHO - but I'll add that you need to practice for nearly as long as your gig if you want to avoid blisters. I've had really bad days with 2 4-hour gigs on 3 consequence days and my fingers were bleeding profusely on the 3rd day. Band-aids just don't hack it. So, now, I try to work up to the duration of the gigging with my daily practice. Don't even talk to me about hand cramps - which happen if I play both too much and too little!
A few weeks ago I had 6 gigs in one week and two of them were without an amp. One of the ampless gigs was 5 hrs and I didn't get any blisters. My pizz fingers have never bled either.
I don't think it's helpful to practice 3-4 hrs before a 4 hr gig.
I haven't had a blister in decades. Blisters will lead to callouses and once you get the callouses, you should be fine as long as you play regularly. You don't have to play a specific amount of time, just play. If you take off, say a couple of weeks, you may get some new blisters upon returning, but if you work into it easily, I think you will be fine. Don't play too hard. If you constantly get blisters with no formation of callous, I would see a Doc.
I got a rough blood blister at a free jazz session in Mexico City in Oct. Pizz is not a good technique for practicing the instrument, but if you play pizzicato, pizzicato must be practiced!
Practice the bass arco, and practice pizzicato pizzicato.
in the meantime-the best thing that i have found to deal with a blister or cut finger is white paper tape- if feels natural- get it a wal-mart in the band-aide section- careful, it's right next to another tape that looks just like it(plastic-i think) just be sure you get the white paper tape. It seems that it took about 2 or 3 months before I stopped getting blisters-so give it some time and when you have one try this white paper tape- good luck! good question!
The relationship between blisters and calluses is a myth. A few posts up, someone said "blisters are a way of life." This is 100% false. You have to take care of your body. You wouldn't lift weights or run to the point of extreme pain or injury, would you? So why would you play an instrument to that point? (obvious answer: you've got a gig)
Pain is your body's way of saying "hey, stop that!" The formula for good, healthy calluses is simple: play to the point of pain, then take a break. When you feel good again, play some more. Rinse and repeat, and you'll have solid calluses in no time.
People think blisters cause calluses because they play carelessly until the blister happens, which eventually heals, and they have a callus. But in reality, a callus is a reaction to stressed skin, and a blister is not necessary to initiate this reaction. You need to stress your skin to tell your body that you need a callus on that spot. Good, consistent technique will help as well. If you are consistent with the part of the finger you are using (left and right hand) the callus will build thick and hard in that spot. For any serious pizzicato playing (jazz, bluegrass, etc) this IS where your sound comes from.
Bottom line: If you don't HAVE to play, and you're in pain: STOP.
Pulling a muscle is not in the same category as getting blisters or serious injury that would really slow you down. I suppose if people are really that wimpy.
It's not just about gigs. Practice sessions, jam sessions, and some will suffer for the sound (like playing gut or ampless). IMO, blisters are something you live through if you're serious about your music. I dont' get pain when I get blisters BTW - if it happens, it happens - usually very small. If there's irritation, it comes after the playing is over. And generally, my blisters go very very deep, far below any callous that develops on top. Most of us can't get enough practice enough if we have to stop every time a blister happens. It's just impractical.
There's no one answer. It's foolish to think that everybody's body works the same. For some, it's chronic, for others it's a rare occurance. Good technique helps but isn't always the solution.
People like me who understand pizzicato is not an efficient way to practice the instrument need to remember that the act of pizz must be practiced to do it well and avoid blisters.
When I was playing more free jazz with drums I had no problems, in recent times I have been doing more drummerless improvised music and when I played some free jazz in Oct. in Mexico City I got a huge blood blister. Now do some pizz everyday!
How many times a week do you play DB? How long each session?
Shorter sessions and more often were the only way I developed calluses. Spacing practice/ gigs apart (esp during busy times) I don't get blisters.
+1 on a DB Teacher and a good set up.
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