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Back Problems... New Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by paddy_85, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Hello,

    I don't post here on these boards very often... more of a reader I suppose ha But I was wondering if anyone could help me out. I play bass everyday and gig pretty frequently, but over this past year I've begun to notice that my basses have been causing me some discomfort. My main bass is a 2004 Fender American Jazz Standard and every so often I'll take out the 2003 Stingray V... not light basses I know. But it's to the point now where I'm getting pain in my upper left back from playing for about an hour or less.

    Just today I was at a rehearsal for a jazz ensemble I play with at school and during the times I wasn't playing, I had to sit down because of the discomfort.

    I have recently just switched to a wider strap and that seems to work for rock gigs, but longer than an hour or so, the discomfort is still there. So I am wondering if I should look into getting another bass or some other alternative. The sad thing being that I love the sound of my Jazz... but is the sound worth the discomfort or possible injury?

    Any thoughts?

    PS - I don't know if this belongs in this forum, but it seemed somewhat fitting.
  2. HugoM


    Jul 3, 2008
    Miami, Florida
    I also have back problems so now when I shop for a bass, I bring a postal scale.

    If you are really in love with your current basses, consider replacing your tuners with HipShot Ultralites. But, they'll only save a few ounces...
  3. uptowndirt

    uptowndirt Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2008
    paddy how old are you? i started having back/shoulder problems when i was around 36...this is when i found the magic weight for me was 7-8 lbs......i can do 3 or 4 45min sets no problem.......good gear can help as you don't have to dig in as hard. if you can hold BACK. haha
  4. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    I have developed back problems as well that are exacerbated by playing for several hours. My upper left part of my back and shoulder hurt as well as my lower back.

    I've been wearing ComfortStrapps and they definitely help. But the fact that most of my basses are heavy did not!

    So, lately the weight of a bass has been not only an important but a determining factor. Consider a Jazz from another maker that's lighter. If you've got the bucks, Sadowsky NYC's make a point of being light.

    As for the MM, I feel your pain (so to speak) as I have a '92 SR5 that is my baby but is 10.5 pounds.
  5. cripula


    Dec 20, 2006
    No more heavy basses for me either. The heaviest I'll play is 9lbs, and I prefer only to use it in the studio (sitting down).

    I know the answer here on TB is often "get a Sadowsky", but his chambered NYC basses seem to be pretty consistently in the 7.5-8lb class, which is great. That's a night and day difference if you're currently playing a 9-10 (or worse!) pound anchor.

    "What's it weigh?" is becoming one of the most important questions I ask when checking out basses...
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Check out the following thread for more stap options: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90080

    I also might suggest accupuncture/massage. I did 11 months of it to relieve my back pain. Then I did about 6 months of chiropractic therapy to adjust what couldn't be fixed by the acc/massage. The deep massage will help relax your muscles that tense up during your gigs. Seeing a chiropractor may help in adjusting your spine and you may get relief immediately.
  7. One thing to check is to make sure that you're not playing in a posture that is causing or adding to your back problems.

    I have slight scoliosis, which doesn't really get in the way of things, but I've noticed that heavier basses can give me lower back aches. Since I'm not a very big guy in the first place, heavy basses easily weigh me down.

    My first basses were Peavey Cirrus and Millennium basses, which weren't very heavy. Upon getting my Rob Allen MB-2, I was blown away by the lack of weight. My Conklin 6 string looks like a very large beast, but is lighter than several Fenders, EBs, and Wicks that were just 4 strings. One EB I tried a few years back had to be 15-16lbs or so. Wow.

    When I think of light basses, Rob Allen, Sadowsky, Elrick, Cliff Bordwell, and several others come to mind. Light basses is their specialty, which is something worthy of cashing in on! A new bass is much cheaper than back surgery......man sometimes GAS talks too much......
  8. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Wide straps help a lot. Add some padding to it, and it's even better. I have been very pleased with the Comfort Strapp (wide and thick neoprene).

    Yamaha makes a J bass that is designed to be very light. The RBX4-A2 comes in at around 6-7 pounds.

  9. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Most all of us suffer from a bad back at one time or another. For some it is a chronic situation.

    You can find great sounding jazz bass that doesn't weight a ton. Alder is a light body wood, some ash is also fairly light. Light wood tends to be resonant so you can find a light one without sacrificing tone. Look around, play a bunch. You will find a winner.

    Strengthening your core will help your back, your abs and obliques support your lower back. The stronger those muscles are, the easier it is on your back.

    Good posture, yoga, stretching, hit the gym once in a while, sitting during long rehearsals may all help too.
  10. Gintaras


    Dec 11, 2004
    Kent Island, Md.
    My Chiropracter is also into Dynamic body balancing and Craniosacral massage. She immediately picked up on the damage that wearing a bass does and has helped me tremendously. My back was hurting a few months ago but now I have no problem playing my T-40. My breathing has improved and therefore my singing :hyper:
  11. To answer your question uptowndirt, I'm only 22 and I'm feelin' it already :meh: I do dig in a nice bit from time to time though... I love the aggressive sound of a Jazz every once in awhile ha

    I am strongly considering going to get a massage and see if I might be able to get some pointers from them too. A fellow bassist in town said he was having a similar problem and that he went to a massage therapist and gave him exercises to do before gigs that he said that they worked well.

    Thanks for the responses!
  12. balzac


    Aug 25, 2005
    Cairns, Queensland
    Good call on the yoga - the best way to avoid back pain is to strengthen the muscles that support your spine. Wider straps and lighter basses and the like can help relieve the symptoms, but they won't solve the problem. If you find a good yoga teacher and explain your problems, he or she will be able to show you specific stretches / postures to target exactly the right muscles.

    Yoga's excellent, because you get a great stretch and a good workout without doing anything foolishly energetic like jogging or lifting weights. And you can do it yourself, anywhere, without having to rely on a massage therapist, acupuncturist or chiropractor.

    And, at the risk of sounding sexist, it's never a bad idea to surround yourself with lycra-clad beauties :smug:
  13. reens


    Mar 16, 2005
    actually, I'm a p/t remedial massage therapist, I can weigh in here...

    I get the same problem. Soreness after an hour, needing a sit-down etc. Got the wide comfortt strap, check (big help!).

    Thing is, you really gotta do two things: watch posture, and watch your shoulder. Building core strength is good -- try standing and pushing the lower part of your back forwards a bit (towards yr front, use abs) and draw yr butt in a bit -- that way you straighten up the whole spine, or rather, keep the natural curve right. With your plucking arm side, I think bassists have a tendency to roll it forward as side effect. Being focused on the fingers/forearm action and precision timing ;-) means that shoulder adopts an unusual forward position for a long time which can rotate yr torso to one side. This makes yr rhomboids weak, and yr pecs tight. Keep yr shoulders wide & back and draw yr plucking elbow wide if possible... At least, I try and remember to do it, but when you're in the groove, you know, the body does other things...

    Also, play for maximum comfort. Them basses can be heavy logs but playing them shouldn't turn into a marines-grade endurance test.
  14. Thanks again for the responses. And I like the way you think balzac ha

    There is a lot of good ideas here... reens, do you have any picture of what a nice posture would be?
  15. Earthquake


    Dec 19, 2007
    I'm a chiropractor. If you have pain in your upper back from the weight of your bass, something is wrong. Just go to your local chiropractor and get the problem diagnosed and fixed and be done with it. Don't worry about the bass being too heavy or posture problems or having the wrong strap... Yoga and massage is good for your health but it won't fix an underlying problem. It's most likely in your spine. I see it all the time.
  16. Twiggy Jr.

    Twiggy Jr.

    Nov 17, 2005
    i had a metal rod put in my back
    and became wheelchair bound
    back problems vanished like exctasy around paris hilton
  17. A player I've jammed with a few times plays a big Tobias 5. She's not a big woman. She came up with a very clever solution. I'll take a pic next time I play with her. She took a cymbal stand and put a piece of 4" PVC tubing on it, making an adjustible rest for when she gets tired while standing with the big Toby. She just moves over and sets it on that stand while underway, no hassle. Brilliant!
  18. prokfrog


    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey

    I have rods in my back from a car accident. Six vertebrae are fused.

    If i don't stay stretched, I'm hurting.
  19. Willy2911


    Sep 11, 2008
    OC California
    I have streching exercises that I do as a warm up before I play, It helps alot - also weight training is important - but simple and not too heavy.
    Do not cool down too fast after you play - do some more exercises after to keep your back heated up and cool down slowly this will help with your back.
  20. (b)Assman


    Jun 22, 2008
    Champaign, IL
    My Schecter 004 is light as a feather. Lighter than all my guitars too :p

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