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123...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Russell L, Aug 26, 2012.


  1. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Uh oh, my pinky is sore. And now I am finding out how hard it sometimes is to play low on the fingerboard without it. It got sore last Monday at the Blues Shack, so it's been almost a week. Feels kinda like a stone bruise, or maybe inflamation at the junction of the tendon and the tip. Resting it hasn't done anything so far, but maybe it just takes longer. I had a knuckle that got sore, too, and now it's fine. I tried to work a little with it today to see how it responded. It just got sorer when I played with it, so it's not ready. I have a dooctor's appointment in September. I'll try to make it til then, but if it gets worse, I'll go to a doc-in-a-box.

    Anyone play regularly with just 123? My hat's off to ya, I swear. I have to do it, though, with a new band just starting up, and the regular gigs and all going on, too. Shew, maybe I'm playing too much. Heh, heh.:meh:
     
  2. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Maybe I'm gonna need a short-scale bass, if this doesn't quit.:(
     
  3. Jazzkuma

    Jazzkuma Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    yeah i wouldn't be able to live without my pinky. I mainly play upright and without a pinky is just impossible. I also apply the same technique to electric bass in the lower registers so i really can't do 123 exclusively.

    You might want to consider taking a break or things might go downhill... Also if you can just play with 1 or 2 (if the lines you play allow it to). A lot of rnb players play with one finger and move around a lot when using the left hand muting technique. But again, it really depends on how fast your basslines are moving, consider playing alternate easier basslines for now too.
     
  4. Cycho

    Cycho

    Nov 30, 2010
    Yeah, my pinky is pretty useless because of arthritis. I had to relearn everything with 123 which is how I play today.

    When you are going to a higher fret your pinky is often the first one to get there, but it is not designed for high lateral loads.
     
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Usually when people use three fingers it is actually 1,2,4.

    Santana never used his pinky so I imagine it wouldn't hinder a bass player.
     
  6. Jazzkuma

    Jazzkuma Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    I disagree, Bass players have been playing with pinky since the upright bass was invented and since the first electric bass was invented. If upright bass players play with the pinky there shouldn't be an excuse for not using the pinky on the electric.

    Just like any muscle group it requires practice and development of muscles connected to the pinky. If you don't work on using your pinky then it won't be strong enough to be used regularly.

    I personally feel my pinky is as strong as my ring finger, primarily because the ring isn't used in upright (unless you go in thumb position).
     
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I recommend working closely with your teacher to correct the technique that is causing this soreness. Go really slow, break it down, and concentrate on the fundamentals.

    One red flag for me in your original post is that, reading between the lines, it sounds like possibly you are playing 1-2-3-4 fingerings in the lower positions (near the nut)? I would consider that bad technique and recommend only stretching 1-2-4 down where the frets are farther apart, with the 3rd finger supporting and lending its strength to the 4th finger. If you make this simple adjustment to your technique, your left hand will thank you!

    Another tip is to experiment with different strings. I find roundwounds hurt the tip of my pinky finger quite a bit, and therefore use low-tension flatwounds for the health of my hand (doesn't hurt that I also love the sound). Even if you're not a flats guy, maybe experiment with going 1 gauge lighter on your favorite strings, or a groundwound/coated string design. Also good to have a tech setup your instrument for low action, which will require less effort for the fretting finger.

    Good luck! :)
     
  8. INTP

    INTP

    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I work under the assumption that ligaments and tendons are slow to strengthen, easy to injure, and slow to heal. This means that I try to practice slowly-but-surely rather than having marathon sessions. It sounds like you had an event where you played longer and/or harder than usual, and now you have pain.

    I don't know the precise source of the pain, but I'd take it very seriously and back off from playing on it until you get a better diagnosis from the doctor. You don't want to turn a minor injury into a major one. In the meantime, an NSAID (naproxen or ibuprofen) might help.

    I have been pretty lucky that one finger per fret doesn't cause me too many problems, even in the lower frets on my 35" scale bass, but I have been using more of 124 or 123 in the lower frets lately. It seems more relaxed, and that seems to benefit my playing about as much as does the economy of having the one finger per fret (but tense).

    One thing you might want to work on is practicing your shifts, to make them as transparent sounding as you can. This will help if you're limited to 3 fingers instead of 4. When the pinky heals, you'll have smoother shifts, plus one finger per fret, so it's going to help you in any case.

    Hope it heals well and heals soon.
     
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Youtube has some video lessons from a great player who rarely uses his 4th finger. Good inspiration here:
     
  10. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Well, ya'll here's some background. I've been playing bass since 1965, although more fulltime since 1988 as the bassist in a band. Studied upright classically and played in an orchestra for six years. I now play a Jazz bass Special and an MIA Jazz, both with flats (the Special has the lower tension Fender strings, the MIA has Chromes). I have ALWAYS played 124. I think that is part of the problem since it's more like 14 a lot of the time. My pinky has seen a lot of action, and its callous is pronounced. That, too, may be a problem, the callous being like a small round pebble under your heel while walking. I have wondered if a large callous can do this. Also, I have a light touch and both my basses are set for fairly low action, allowing a little room for a heavier touch when needed. But, basically I play lightly with both hands. I think I may have played too much in the past two weeks, considering rehearsals and at least one gig and home practice (I even played at home some after the gig---hey, I love to play).

    The pain feels exactly like what it has ever felt like when I have ever bruised or strained my finger while playing. Usually, it's been my index finger, though, never my pinky. I'm kinda proud how useful and resilient my pinky has always been. But, like I said I have trained on upright for many years, so it's to be expected that I have full use of it, and I do---except for right now, dangit. Normally, I wouldn't be worried because such injuries have always abated after a day or two (I never make it worse by continued playing). But, right now, it's been a week and no change, so that has me concerned. I tried playing on a bit just to see how it responded, but didn't abuse it. Nope, it doesn't like it yet. So...123 it is for awhile.

    One odd thing: this morning after my shower I scratched some dead skin off the callous. It was very, very little, but right afterwards it seemed not to hurt. I quickly threw on my shrt and grabbed my bass. Sure nuff, it didn't hurt. But, an hour later it was back to hurting. I'm sure it wasn't the skin I scratched off, but maybe the water soaking deep. Maybe I need to let the callous diminish some. But, that would take weeks or years.

    Then again, maybe there is another problem, although the pain began while I was playing, just like whenever I've overplayed. Anyway, I've been reading up---but not jumping to conclusions. I'll let it simmer for awhile more and see if resting it as much as possible will help. It will be an interesting night at the Blues Shack tonight (I HAVE to play), as well as the gig this weekend. Makes me wish I had a Mustang bass, lord help me. LOL, if it keeps up I'll buy one, or a Bronco, hee, hee.
     
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    By the way, thanks, guys, for all the advice. And yes, I have been practicing my shifts---a lot! Sometimes the ole pinky jumps in there before I can catch it, though. Gotta keep my thinkin' cap on. And right, I don't want a bigger problem, so I'm being as smart and careful as possible.

    Great to hear that some get by with 123 all the time. So, I don't have to end my career yet, huh?
     
  12. Jazzkuma

    Jazzkuma Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Yeah I would still advice to take a break, get a sub for your band for a week or so, go to the beach, swim in the pool...etc. Its hard to determine exactly what the problem is without seeing it, not even a doctor could but you might just have to "reset" or "reboot" your hands.

    I understand sometimes you have to play every day of the week for 4+ hours a day, I had to do that for most of July this year and I did start to feel some fatigue in my arm. I took 1 full week off and now I'm fine.

    I treat bass playing the same way an athlete would treat the sport, a pitcher can't pitch every day or his arm will be done after the first week.
     
  13. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Nov 17, 2010
    Are you talking pain in the callous or pain in the secondary knuckle? Put other ways, external or internal; skin or joint? If you believe it's your callous, you can rip those off in any matter of ways. Nail clippers, files, teeth...but I doubt that the callous is your problem. It is possible that you have a blister underneath the callous and that may mean you have to remove it and rebuild it.
     
  14. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    The pain is like down under the callous just along an area that covers about 1/4"--right where the tendon joins the fingertip, actually about 3/8" below the very tip of my pinky, a little to the outside. No feeling of a blister underneath there.

    I did good tonight. At the Blues Shack. I stayed off it and actually played the hell outa that bass going 123. I can get by better than I thought when I try. It was a good opportunity to see if I could still get down on it without my pinky. Couldn't do a few of my favorite licks like I wanted them, but still got 'em done. Amazing how your mind can make amends like that while onstage. It was fun to see how I would play a lick when it came up. Most times I'd do fine, sometimes having to really try. Of course, some things will need some practice. Gotta be careful, though, so as not to strain anything else. I can see ways in which that could be done playing 123. I also need to think more efficiently so I will learn as much as I can for a new tune without having to play it too many times. Preferably by the third go at it, at least.

    I'm gettin'by, ya'll. I feel better having played tonight, and doing ok. I'll pamper this thing a bit. There are no marks or swellings, nothing to see about it. It just hurts to play with it. With any luck it will heal. I hope all of this talk about it helps someone else with the same misery.

    Hoping for the best for Saturday's gig.
     
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    As I have said before our hands can adapt and cope with playing instruments they were never designed to use them specifically.
    Bass puts a strain on the wrists and certain fingers with the over use and mis use of the hands and fingers. The extra work done in making all the fingers dexterous takes its toll.
    If over long periods of time then these injuries will become apparent and show themselves, so take notice of them.

    So if a persistent problem see a doctor and put in any changes from there.

    All players will show injury and the effects of playing the longer they play. The longer we live the longer we have to abuse our bodies, hips replacement is a common operation to replace the hip joint from just walking longer into life. By all means change what you do, but look at your practice routines, sometimes all that practice is not nessesary, and is just adding to the problem. If your career is about playing then cut practice down to being about warm ups and toning, and save your hands for playing.....not practicing. Nice to see you are adapting techniques to suit.
     
  16. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    ...and not only that, but I'm trying to make a point to adapt in a way that will not be a problem in itself, or creating another problem, that is. I gotta admit that, at the age of 62, when things like this happen it makes me realize just how many things we love in this life are not forever. Someday I WILL have to stop playing. Either that or die onstage. But, who knows? I guess the point is, my playing could very easily be taken away from me any day. Can anyone of you imagine not being able to play anymore? Especially if you have played for your livelihood? If, or when, it comes to me, I suppose I'll just be switching instruments. I can play guitar and keys, too. But, just imagine not being able to play at all anymore. Have mercy, music has been who I am since I sat on my mother's lap and banged on the piano at the age of three. Now, the thought of it fading away really scares the hell out of me. And, I really have a lot to lose since I have a lot going on. I guess that in our later years it behooves us to pay attention and be much more careful. When you're old and lose something you can't always get it back like when you were young.

    So, if my finger doesn't get well...then I'll go on like the old B-17 I saw on TV, flying on three engines instead of four. And try to keep smiling. At least I do have hobbies when the End comes. Four telescopes can keep me busy on Saturday nights. But, hey, that's not what's happening, so no worries. The worst for now is playing just 123. My pinky is still sore this morning. And it's raining. But, my new binoculars arrive in the mail today. There's still a lot of life to live!
     
  17. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Make that 1 2 3-1/2!! Ha!! It's better tonight. Much better. I even played a few notes with it to see how it is. It's not fully there, but it sure has changed a lot in the last two days (and I played the past two night, too---without using it, like I've been doing). I was gonna get some epsom salt, but I don't think it needs anything at all except time. Anyway, I can see now that it CAN get well, looks like. I'm not gonna hurry it, though. I can tap it on my kneecap and still feel a remnant of the sore spot down inside, but it really seems to be receding at a faster rate each day now, enough that I can notice it. I have a gig Saturday, but I'll be careful. Hell, I'm starting to get used to playing everything 123 now. Hope I don't start getting my fingering mixed up.

    Just wanted to stop in here to tell ya's. This lifts my spirits a lot. I need it after sitting through hurricane Isaac's rain for the past many days. (I also just bought some new binoculars, so, that adds to the fun).
     
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I spoke too soon. Five days later and it's sore again. I have a doc's appt. soon. I have not abused the finger, it just doesn't want to stop hurting. Sometimes it feels better, but still hasn't gone away. Dang, and just when I need to sound my best in a power trio.
     
  19. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Well...eight days later (or a month overall) here and the pain is GONE!! Ha!! I got tired of waiting so played on it a bit, not too much, but just to see how it would react now. It didn't mind, and didn't get worse, so after a gig and a couple of other events it has quit hurting. Yay!!! It felt like it wanted to be "worked out."

    But, had I not stopped using it for awhile I fear it may have devoloped into a serious affair. Again, I wanted to post how it turned out in case it could help someone else.

    Thanks for reading, ya'll.
     

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