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Aching Triplets

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by stephanie, Feb 11, 2002.


  1. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hello,

    I have been practicing playing 3rds up the neck (2 octave scales) in triplets all week and it has been causing me some pain in my left hand.

    My lesson was to play them using the metronome, starting out at 60bpm and then go up to 90bpm, playing regular 3rds (CE, DF, EG, etc.) and then going CDE, DEF, EFG, etc. Playing it in regular 3rds no problem at all, but I started to find the other way becoming painful when I started playing it faster. I couldn't get up to 90bpm. Around 70bpm I was starting to feel the pain! I know it takes time to build up speed, but I don't think it shoud be painful. Maybe the positioning of my left hand is incorrect? It does go off as I get further up the neck. Also, I find that as I play faster my fingers kinda lag, so to speak, as if they can't keep up with the speed. Especially coming back down the neck. They don't wanna move!

    Is this just a matter of I need more muscle strength or is there possibly something wrong with my hand position? (My hand, as far as I know, is correctly positioned, at least starting out.)

    Be well,
    Stephanie
     
  2. ashton

    ashton

    Jan 4, 2001
    Australia
    hi
    keep practicing and build the muscles strong. it will take a while but youll show signs of strengthening quickly.
    later
    Lukas
     
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Pain is the body's way of telling you you're overdoing it. Back off a little - don't stop, but take it easy and go a little slower. Otherwise you could hurt yourself. I did something very similar to myself back at music school and wound up with tendonitis, and couldn't play for a week.
     
  4. bizzaro

    bizzaro

    Aug 21, 2000
    Vermont
    I would agree with Pacman. There is a difference between building and injury. I would bet this is your first intensive attempt at dedicated practice? Stretch your hands before you start and give them a little massage. When you feel them tense up again....Stretch and massage. Try and stay as relaxed as possible when you play; and when it gets painfull, give it a rest.:)
     
  5. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I agree with bizarro - a good warmup before you play can work wonders. I don't want to start another Grip Master argument, but I have found it to be a decent warmup tool (before you grab your bass, of course).

    The bottom line is if it hurts, don't do it if you can avoid it. I once pinched a nerve in my hand when I ignored the warning signs, as it were. At least, that's what I think it was...

    A doctor once told me that another way to decrease the strain on your hands is to increase overall upper-body strength. I'm guessing that this helps you to balance the bass better... Has anyone else ever heard this?
     
  6. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Try not to squeeze as hard with your left hand i.e. reduce the tension in your left hand and that may make things easier, sort of goes along with others have said about taking it easy.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Where is the pain in your left hand? Certain kinds of "pain" come from muscles (which is perfectly normal), others come from joints (which is bad), and still others come from tendons (which is worse). If the pain is in the space between your thumb and index finger, it's probably muscular and nothing to worry about. If it's in the back of your left hand (opposite side as the palm), that's a little more problematic, but in my experience it's usually just what I call "growing pain" - your hand is adjusting to moving and stretching in ways that it hasn't done before. If the pain is in your wrist or forearm - especially on the underside of either - STOP what you're doing and wait until you can get some help figuring out what you're doing wrong. The passage of the flexor tendons along the underside of the wrist is the most common area for tendon injuries and CTS among musicians, and you should be VERY careful about avoiding this.

    One thing that typically causes this type of pain is playing with your left wrist bent at an excessive angle while fretting. If you keep your thumb on the back of the neck in "hitchhiking" (thumbs up) position when you practice scales, it is often a simple matter of finding the right angle for the thumb to support each finger...typically, my thumb remains more or less pointing upward when I'm playing with my 1st or 2nd fingers, and starts to point towards the headstock when I play with 3 or 4. This kind of rotation of the thumb helps to keep the wrist at a relatively straight angle while playing and relieves all kinds of pressure from the wrists and tendons.

    What is the "wingspan" (distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky when you stretch) of your left hand? (Mine is about 9 3/4") I've noticed that students with smaller hands have to learn better pivoting technique because they have less margin for error than someone with larger hands, but once they get the pivot thing down, they can play just as well.

    Good luck.
     
  8. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    I haven't been playing as much as I used to, and when I try to play at the speed's I used to, for a long period of time, my wrists and fingers start to go numb, or ache.

    The best thing to do is just slow down and build your way up. I'm just trying to get back to my old speed again. :)
     
  9. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Numbness can be a sign that you've got too much tension in places you might not otherwise expect it - like your shoulder, biceps, forearm. Make sure to put a little attention in these areas from time to time to make sure you're not holding unnecessary tension there.
     
  10. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thank you all for your replies. They were all helpful in figuring out what could be wrong. I also had a bass lesson today and explained about the pain to my teacher. The pain is mostly in the back of my hand, close to my wrist. And when I try to play fast, my fingers feel like lead. My teacher said it's most likely my need to build muscle strength and to take it slow. He mentioned some kind of acid (lactic?). I think I read something about that on the forums, I'll have to do a search. Anyway, he said to shake my hand to loosen up a bit.

    Well, I measured, and my "wingspan" is about 6 inches. I have very small hands. LOL

    Thanks again everyone. I'm taking it slow right now. :)

    Be well,
    Stephanie
     
  11. ashton

    ashton

    Jan 4, 2001
    Australia
    hi
    lactic acid, its whats leftover after you burn energy, it makes your muscles feel like lead. drink lots of water and eat lotsa carbohydrates when practicing bass, well...not really but there is a few ways of stopping it. well i lie, you cant stop lactic acid from building up but if you stop and stretch your hands ALOT it will stop them from hurting afterwards and build a resistance against it so it wont hurt as much the next time.
    later
    Lukas
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Back atcha. And stay that way. :cool:
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    There was an article in bass Player magazine some time ago about "warming up" and preparing your self for the physical/mental challenge of playing bass. Amongst other things they mentioned about keeping yourself well-hydrated and avoiding things like coffee and alcohol which contribute to dehydration and about drinking plenty of water.

    When I go for my 2-hour Jazz classes, I always try to take a bottle of water, as I invariably feel dehydrated after playing and concentrating for an hour.

    I think you probably have to take into account all of the things that people have said though. I know that if I play repetitive things for long periods in the same position I do get aches in my left wrist. What helps me is varying the positions and is one of the main reasons why I will always play a 5-string now - so you can vary where you play low F, for example. - at 6th fret on B rather than always at 1st fret on E.