Age-related Performance Accommodation

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by mdlewis, Oct 26, 2021.

  1. mdlewis


    Jan 1, 2005
    Boston Metro
    This thread might not be of interest to everyone.

    I enrolled in Medicare this year and was reflecting on how I was so completely unprepared for the effects of aging on my ability to perform. Given some recent threads, I thought it might be interesting to older players who are still performing to share some of their tricks in a single thread. Here are some areas that might be of interest that have been mentioned previously -
    1. weight of instruments
    2. instrument configurations - shorties, string types etc.
    3. weight of amplifiers
    4. physical accommodations
    5. physical maintenance
    I'll start by a personal entry on #4. I've always been in good health, exercised regularly, and been strong enough for my slight frame, but I was unprepared for joint deterioration. I now have to be very careful lifting heavy objects, because I can lift far more than my knees can withstand. This means that as much as I would enjoy owning big iron, it's out of the question. I couldn't move it without personal damage. Joint deterioration is something you hear old folks talk about but you just ignore until you start to feel the effects yourself. Luckily, amplifier technology has come to the rescue in the past decade - we are fortunate enough to have at our disposal, the lightest, loudest, and best sounding amplifiers and speakers, ever.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  2. bwildt


    Mar 21, 2017
    Wichita, Kansas
    I sit on gigs. It's not my favorite thing to do, but it's that or not play. My back has been bad since a herniated disk at age 35. I'm 69 now. For about the past 10 years, standing in one spot with a bass hanging on me for a 45 min set would result in such a stiff back and legs, that I could hardly step off the stage. 5 years ago, I had a knee replacement. The results were good, but at that point I decided that I had enough of toughing it out and started bringing a stool with me.
  3. Not sure what your definition of "older" player is but I'm nearing 57 so I'll chime in.

    I've been playing SS's since late 90's so that's not a new consideration, and I've always wanted light weight ones too. And your comments on PA gear are spot on, I can fit the same amount of PA power in my Ford Edge that used to require a trailer to haul around.

    As for age related changes. I've put a little more emphasis on not skipping regular exercise. And I've recently went to wider/padded straps to accommodate cervical spine surgery's after effects. I also changed out the rather chunky neck on my Musicmaster for a Bronco one, much slimmer and more comfortable. And I need to wear a brace type thing on my left/fretting hand for the added support.

    It's hard to get old but I'm thankful I can still do gigs at all. It's a life experience that not everyone ever gets to enjoy so I'll do it as long as possible.
  4. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I'm almost 60 and to be honest I haven't noticed much about the actual playing of instruments. And I play upright, baritone sax, and bass sax so not all the instruments are small and light.

    What I have noticed is that I am unwilling to carry stuff - everything goes on dollies these days.

    I have also noticed the meat on my hands is more prone to getting bruised if I do something the wrong way.

    I'm not much into "the hang" anymore, nor into the whole "sit around and talk it to death" model of making decisions. No time for that noise any more.
  5. jeffb28451


    Aug 6, 2006
    Leland NC
    65. My favorite 5er weights over 11 lbs. I play it rarely, even though it’s a superb and beautiful instrument.
    My Sadowsky is a bit dark, but it’s light, so it gets a lot of time.

    3 rigs (I hate that word) but the two lighter ones get the time. My fEaRless is 115 and okoume, so only about 40 lbs, BUT it’s awkward, so rarely dragged out in public.

    My best gear rarely gets played, due to weight. Lighter, class d stuff rules, but not because of sound, in my case.

    I’m walking, riding bikes and lost 70 lbs this year, just so I can stand when I play, at least most of the time. Guitarist is overweight and in bad health…don’t want both of us sitting down!

    “Too old to rock and roll, too young to die”. Well, not quite either one yet, but it’s a good bit more work and compromise than before.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    65, I only play upright, the GK cabinet is 12 pounds, the Walter Woods is 7 pounds, the Little Mark250 is a little over 5 pounds. Haven't really weighed the bass, but the only time I have to pick it up is when I put it in the back of the car, it has a wheel if I need to travel any distance (up until Nov 2018 I lived in NYC). It's harder to sustain uptempo, but other than that I haven't really noticed anything different about playing. Playing and then driving 2 and a half hours back home, that's another thing....
  7. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Floaters make it more difficult to see, and a dark stage doesn't help matters. Hearing isn't what it used to be, either. After retirement, we started RV travel full-time, and when we're in our home town, we spend lots of time with the kids and grandkids; when someone asked whether I'd be available to play while in town, I wanted to jump at the chance, but realized that we don't stay up that late anymore. My idea of a gig is accompanying my 11-year-old grandson while he plays guitar; these days, that's the audience I crave the most. ;)
  8. mdlewis


    Jan 1, 2005
    Boston Metro
    Here’s another one that I never expected - in the past five years, the last joints on my little fingers (both of them) have thickened up. I find that I need to file these joints with a nail file every week or the skin will crack and bleed over my bass when I play AND take a long time to heal.

    I’m still reconciling that I need to do this, but it least it works.
    the harp unstrung likes this.
  9. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    I’m jumping on the Medicare train, but I’ve done all I can for years in preventative mode; never smoked(tobacco, but if I would get back into the medicinal, I’d go edibles), stopped eating meat and fast food in general over 30 years ago, cut way down on sugar(and you have to be conscious of the stealth sugar/high fructose corn syrup snuck into processed foods, so, lots of label reading), drink as much water as possible, avoided liquid in aluminum cans, stopped drinking beer(still love my Seagram’s), cut way down on cheese and anything fried, stepped up the vegetable intake, and have remained insanely active as possible without being a gym rat or over-extending myself. Mow the damn yard, clean out the garage, walk through the neighborhood, roadie for my wife’s band, move my own gear…while I certainly have class D and neo cabs for apropos situations, I prefer to use my Sunn Model T and 2x15, have road cases and ramps, no problem, use gravity to my advantage. Who needs a Peloton, when I can do actual tasks(also, I hate earbuds, don’t want anything in my monitors except vocals, and rarely do gigs with a PA with subs). I fly quite a bit, so hustling through airports will keep me in my toes. I worked on my feet, moving around, for years, so that has helped. Any physical ailments(besides the inevitable high blood pressure)have been around for a long time…neuropathy, crushed disc from lifting a crate of LP’s and twisting, tinnitus, so I’ve coped for decades. Sedentary living is slow death. It’s never too late to change.
  10. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I build my own basses, but the last couple of years have transitioned to playing all 5'ers. I build my own instruments, so I have control of everything. My heaviest bass is 7.94 pounds, my lightest 7.28 (though I have one under construction that will probably be a bit lighter than that). Although I could play a heavier bass, I have had back surgery (after which the doctor told me I couldn't lift more than 8 pounds for a few weeks (I grinned, as it wouldn't affect me practicing), and I figure that the lighter my basses are, the longer I can play without having to redo the herd, or take up a UBass.

    I have a few exercises I do every morning to keep things moving - so far, so good.
    design likes this.
  11. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    74 and gigging alot. Soft mat to stand on, wide straps, basses 8lb or under, light weight Mesa amps and cabs.
    Some day I'll sit, some day I'll quit. Hopefully, both way off in the future.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've played music for 57 years when my parents started me on accordion when I was 9 years old. I added piano, guitar and bass along the way. I was most interested in bass so that's where I landed.

    I've made quite a few accomodations for my aging self. First thing was to ditch heavy amps and cabinets and go with digital amps for their light weight and a pair of Ampeg SVT210AV cabinets for their portability and lighter weight. I also have a lightweight neo 1x15 I can add if necessary.

    I've always had a short scale in the stable but more recently I started using lighter basses.

    About 15 years ago I started using a stool and adapted some of my basses to be used with a Steingberger bass stane and played them as EUBs. I eventually settled an a Hofner Ignition Club bass played horizontally and I often sat since I played with an singer/acoustic guitarist in a duo and he preferred us to sit.

    I've always enjoyed playing but just when I was having the most fun I've ever had in my life playing...

    On the evening of July 3, 2018, while driving home with my wife I was stopped a light about a block from our house when my right arm started feeling odd and hard to move. The feeling went away but returned twice within the next half hour. I told my wife to take me to the emergency room thinking it may be a cardiac issue. In the emergency room they took me immediately and did a CAT scan of my head and decided to keep me overnight for observation. Things were going fine with no issues until 4am on July 4 when I had a minor stroke while the nurse was taking my vitals.

    That stroke effected my right side and I had a show to play in 5 days. I found could still move and walk but I did everything funny. Good luck was I could still move my right index and middle finger in a bass playing like fashion (first thing I checked) so I felt I could play. I was released from the hospital in 3 days after lots of testing. As soon as I got home I sat down to play.

    While my right hand could move those two fingers in a bass playing like fashion my brain couldn't coordinate them with my left hand nearly as well as they used to so it took a lot of work and changing of parts I play to make the show but I made it and deemed my playing acceptable.

    Playing causes me pain, heaviness discomfort, fatigue, numbness, tingling and other assorted weirdness. Since the stroke I've been trying to settle on a bass that is the most comfortable for me since I not must play while seated. Eventhough seatede light weight is mandatory since too much weight resting on my leg gets painful quickly. Unfortunately the effect on my riight arm prevents me from playing the EUB.

    I've even tried building a simple hollowbody to go with an SX shortscale neck I modified about 8 years ago. That took a long time but it has some promise.

    With all that why not just quit. I'm almost 70 and retired from my day job for 10 years but I didn't quit playing because I love to play. It's what I am and I feel giving up while I can still play to any extent is giving up on myself. I feel grateful that it wasn't worse and blessed that I can still play at all.

    There's more but typing causes pain so I'm going to stop now.
  13. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I no longer jump off drum risers any higher than 24". And I've stopped having anything alcoholic on a gig. Oh, and I got rid of my big Avatar cabinets and went with a 30 lb. lightweight that actually has a bigger sound than the old stuff. That was a big quality-of-life improvement. So far, I'm soldiering on. I know, though, that what will eventually get me out of live gigs is all the things that go along with gigging: I typically drive an hour-plus to get to the gig, usually get there an hour and a half before we hit, to help set up. At the other end, another hour to load out. Then the drive back home. This is how a four-hour gig becomes an eight-hour day. I don't work to a clock anymore, so I can sleep late the next day, but I can feel the wear and tear starting to accumulate.

    The only thing I've gone backwards on is going back to a 34" scale. I was in my local shop and there was a Lakland USA jazz. It, um, "spoke" to me. Had to sell a bunch of stuff, but whatever.:D
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  14. @mongo2, good luck to you! You have the right attitude - never give up on the things that we love. Target incrementally step by step. Being creative as your are, there’s always a way!
    SoCal80s likes this.
  15. Tom Kinter

    Tom Kinter Supporting Member

    From my own experience, I would add nutrition to your list. I'm almost 72. Around 2012, I started having joint issues and stiffness that was impeding my playing with both hands not to mention hips and knees. I had other issues (weighed 230 lbs.) as well and then (almost exactly 9 years ago), in desperation, I went totally gluten-free. Joints and finger/ hand stiffness immediately got better. The bonus was that I also lost all my bad food cravings (rather I found that what made sense to eat was totally satisfying), ergo the next year I was able to get off dairy and lose 60 lbs. I remember thinking of it terms of how many basses I was walking around carrying all the time (6). the next couple of years I got my daily sugar intake down to around 15gms. I also limit things like tomatoes and other nightshades which are inflammatory. Little meat, and then only organic (no round-up in the feed). all water goes through a zerowater device. the only supplements I take are really potent turmeric, DHA, collagen, Vitamin D, etc. Anyway, I'm pain-free now, play at least 90 min a day (always standing up), I'm faster than I ever was, and thankfully still improving.
  16. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Good thread, thx OP for starting the topic. I'm 66, mostly playing upright in a NewGrass band with much younger guys (1/2 my age). Not alot of new info to add - but transitioned to a band that doesn't play late night gigs. Most of ours are 7-10. I exercise regularly with alot of emphasis on upper body due to the demands of upright vs electric bass. I do find that regular practice(I shoot for an hour a day, usually 6 days/wk)helps alot with gig stamina.
  17. mdlewis


    Jan 1, 2005
    Boston Metro
    Excellent point. IMO, nutrition is even more important as one ages.

    I used to think that any physical trouble would be solved by more physical activity. As for joints, my joint damage is due to years of abuse as a long distance runner. I eventually had to stop running completely after falling down a mountain trail while hiking.

    Good nutrition, exercise, and going light on the alcohol certainly makes things less painful, but I still need to be careful about how much I carry, especially down steps. No jumping off the drum risers anymore either, but that's not appropriate for what I'm playing these days anyway.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  18. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002

    At 53, and not enjoying the late night driving of sometimes an hour or more thats required for gigs, I've started to decline many of them. While I do enjoy playing, the driving, lack of rehearsals for most of them, and standing in one place for an hour due to a crowded stage and the sometimes copious amounts of down time involved in them isn't fun for me so if asked to play a gig I will decline by saying Im booked for something else.

    Fortunately there are one or two groups of people I know that are not driven by the need to gig, and enjoy playing for the sake of playing, and we get together on average once a month at a house or studio to run through tunes.
    Admiral Akbar likes this.
  19. I’m age 68 and will be turning 69 here shortly. So far I’m fortunate not have an issue with one through four. I’m still managing to haul up to 150lbs of old school gear to gigs if I have to, and my fingers are not arthritic. As you might guess, no NEOs or class D amps. Basses are are a standard PB, and I have a Warwick Corvette that is certainly no light weight. Neither are a problem for me to play for hours. Physically I have a blown rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I’m also minus an ACL in my right knee, but neither are painful as I’ve learned to deal with them, including playing non-contact sports.

    As for # 5, I keep my height and weight proportional, eat right, and most importantly, I know when to say when. And that is probably the hardest part, remembering you’re not 25 anymore.
    mdlewis and Bunk McNulty like this.
  20. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    I retired in August of 2020 and will be 67 in January. I have Diabetes and all the bad stuff that goes with it. Upon retirement we moved out of the city to the White Mountains of Arizona. Previously I had a pretty busy band life up until around 2015 at which time my band went on hiatus. We were all getting really burned out with all of the related crap that goes into gigging. Since I was the guy who played bass, ran the pa and lights as well as dealing with bar owners, managers, musicians and such...I really needed a break. So we from every week end to occasional gigs and side projects up until my retirement and move in 2020.

    With in a few months of retiring I joined a very busy band only to find out that I wasn't the person I used to be. Due to my five years of playing very little and of course aging I was having a real hard time with my hands, knees and memory. I am gigging now more than ever, probably twice what my previous bands were used to. Oh Boy. But now I don't have the strength or stamina I used to. So I sold most of my big heavy stuff with the exception of my Eden set up. I went to a 40 lb Fender Rumble combo then light weight 210 and 115 extension speakers in an attempt to lighten the load while still getting a great sound. Well the load is light but the sound just isn't there. But I'm getting used it.

    Physically I am arthritic in my ankles and fingers so we'll see how long this will all last. I can no longer play 6 string or mandolin because my fingers hurt too much, but I can still play bass well enough to stay in a band.
    I've tried the compression gloves to some relief then started experimenting with CBD products. I've been taking CBD capsules for just under 30 days. Although I was disappointed at first I think it may be making a difference. I've read that it takes two weeks to notice any improvement. I am going on four weeks and my fingers are actually better. There is a noticeable improvement!

    Memory wise I have a 10" tablet mounted to my mic stand that I just could not live with out. Although I wonder if it's just becoming a crutch? Up here gigs are far apart so I bring coffee for the hour drives home.

    That's about it. Sorry for the long rambles...
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