Here's the deal guys, I've been playing bass for about 3 years now. I play every day for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half. I love music, and I absolutely love bass. I'm just not getting any better. Sure, I'm better than I was day one, but it seems like after about a year, my progession of my skills just stopped. I don't really play all that intricate stuff, just punk-pop and a few different styles of metal, so I shouldn't be struggling. I mean, maybe I am decent and it's just lack of confidence, or maybe, I actually suck. I also wonder if maybe my gear is holding me back. I'm currently on a crappy Dean bass, and a 15 watt amp. I was pretty much forbidden to ask for a bass for christmas because my mom said I have to be more practical. So that's out. Maybe when the new year comes around, I'll (hopefully) get a job. Anyway, some questions: 1. I don't think my technique is terrible, but I can't seem to get my pinkie up on the fret board. 2. My hand cramps a lot when fretting notes. Especially down in the lower region of the fret board. 3. I'd like to, in the future join/start a band, but I'm worried I'm terrible. ANY and ALL tips on how to be a better player would be TOTALLY welcome!!! Thanks for reading this horribly long post!!!!