Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Bad, bad fingers after gigs

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by rockstarbassist, Apr 4, 2005.


  1. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Hey all-

    I was just curious as to if anyone has this problem too (which I'm sure someone does).

    Right now, I gig only once a month, or every 2-3 weekends and always come home with very unhappy fingers on my right hand.

    We usually play about 3-hour gigs per night, and since we all kind of live out of town from one another, we spend as much time (usually 4-6 hours) possible BEFORE that first gig on Friday night practicing as in a live setting.

    Well, by the time we get done practicing I usually have small blisters on my index and middle finger, but nothing too bad.

    However, by the end of the first show on the first night, one blister has broken, and the other is near exploding with a blister developing on my ring finger (as I use that sometimes live). I do play with a pick on about 10 of our 33 songs, and that helps out a little bit.

    I play a fretless 4 with flatwounds, and a fretted 4 with DR-LoRiders (.45-.100).

    Is there just no substitute for playing THAT long? And I mean I probably practice at least an hour every other day, so it's not like I never touch strings in between shows, but can you just not duplicate a live-playing situation like that? Last time I was up there, I had no feeling left (and was on the skin under the blister that was under the first blisters), and I had to keep drinking to make that pain go away.

    So- anyone have any solutions besides some mild numbing agents? :)
     
  2. Rat

    Rat

    Mar 15, 2005
    Boston Sewers
    belive it or not I had tried super glue on my finger tips and it held up well...we usually play 3- 50 min sets or 4- 45 min..

    and it was by accident that I found out that it worked...i wouldn't do it to an open cut
     
  3. captainbeardo

    captainbeardo

    Mar 11, 2005
    Superglue has been used to do sutureless wound closing. I wouldn't put it on everyday, but it probably wouldn't hurt once and a while. I used super glue when I was first starting out because my right hand would develop blisters while my left hand was still fresh.
     
  4. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    An important reason for practicing is to to prepare for performance. If your performances consist of 7 hours of playing(4hour rehearsal/soundcheck+3 hour gig) then you need to practice in a way that prepares you for this. Maybe practicing 2 hours a day, or 3 hours a day will make the difference in the callus development. Blisters are no good, neither is drinking while performing(IMO). Another thing to keep in mind is we often play more aggro live on stage than chilling in the living room practicing. Something happens when your standing in front of that big ol' cab, it's the David Banner thing!!You may need to practice harder, and try to hold back during your extended soundcheck, save some skin!
    Not many players have the stamina to thump for 7 hours, period. I suspect your solution is to trim down the pre-gig rehearsal/soundcheck time with a few more practices between gigs. GOOD LUCK!
     
  5. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Maybe lighten up your touch when plucking.

    I pluck my eb with only the i and m and I don't even have callouses built up after 2 years of near-constant playing.

    If you're breaking down the skin on your finger tips, maybe you're plucking too hard.
     
  6. atldeadhead

    atldeadhead

    Jun 17, 2002
    Georgia
    You might also try using a lighter touch on your right hand. I know back in the day I use to over compensate with my right hand trying to get more volume out of my rig. I to use to get some awful blisters. Try the lighter touch and turn your amp up some. It may help.
     
  7. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Thanks guys.

    The problem is, not only do I pluck, but I also hit the strings with those fingers as well. So I'm ripping off one part of my skin by gripping the string and then pulling it, to play normal, but then on a lot of stuff that needs a little bit more "oomph" I hit it with the tips of my fingers, like Ryan Martinie and John Entwistle. So no finger is left unscathed. ;)

    But I guess I could try practicing more say standing up, and playing with more gig-worthy intensity.

    And as far as volume goes, I'm already too loud. :) It's just the technique I've developed over the years, and not b/c I can't hear myself.

    I think I've decided that I'm going to try and play more with a pick during practice, especially if it's a song I already know and we're just rehearsing it. Usually if it's a song we're learning or writing I'll bust out the fingers and some thumbin'. I also have learned to develop a 16th-note slap technique on some stuff when my fingers just won't go. :)

    Thanks for all the input and more is appreciated! :bassist:
     
  8. CQBASS

    CQBASS

    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    Let your amp do the work. The reason you don't get blisters while practicing is your playing alot lighter, more relaxed. This is the way you should be able to play while performing as well. Your whole body will thank you in the end. You can still put out as much energy while keeping your arms and hands relaxed, believe me. Plus, you will be able to play faster and longer. Alot of people have a tendency to change the way they breathe, too. Try to be conscious of this. Regular deep relaxed breathing will keep your body relaxed, which will keep you playing better and healthier. All of this adds up to a lighter touch and better playing.
     
  9. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Raise the volume on the amp so you can take some load off of your fingers. I recently got a blister on my right middle finger because I didn't put the volume high enough before a solid 15 minutes of jamming with a loud drummer. I had to pluck really hard to keep a good volume to be heard. It was so fun that I didn't want to stop to raise the volume on the amp so I continued. I got a huge blister. It's going away now.
     
  10. MichaelScott

    MichaelScott

    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    Sounds like you have a technique problem. Have you looked into getting a teacher? Seems to me (since I do it) that if you practice a couple of hours every few days you should be able to sit through 3 hours of playing.
     
  11. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF

    3 hours of playing is no problem. It's the 4-6 hours of practice BEFORE the 3+ hour shows and soundcheck, and then usually practice again the next day for a couple of hours, then soundcheck and a 3+ hour show that give me problems.

    I'm looking at getting some jazz instruction when I move sometime this summer. If anyone knows of some good jazz (mostly a beginner with sight-reading and jazz comp) instructors in the D/FW area, lemme know. I'll look 'em up.
     
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    MichaelScott may be correct, you may have some technical issues to iron out. There were a few previous posts urging you to play with a lighter touch, that may be smart if you need to conserve skin during a rehearsal before a gig, and maybe you'll like the sound, but IMO there is nothing wrong with playing hard, as long as your not doing anything technically unsound. "Turning the volume up on your amp" cannot compensate for intensity and attack. Your "sound" as a bassist is not just your equipment, and not just what you play on it, it's HOW you play it.
     
  13. MichaelScott

    MichaelScott

    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA

    That is pretty rough man. But like I said earlier- could be your technique. How does your drummer handle playing for 6+ hours? Must kill him. Seems you guys should be able to spread some practice time through the week to eliminate that.

    When I first started playing I had massive blisters on my left hand whenever I would play for more then 3 hours. After a couple of months of private lessons (and playing every day for an hour) I don't really have a problem playing 6+ hour sets.

    Crank up your amp, play with a lighter touch, use the right technique, build yourself up to the level you want to play.
     
  14. I got the same thing. Why you ask? Because I didn't practice enough between practices/gigs. Take a couple/few weeks off, your fingers, and your body won't be very happy. I have since learned to pick up the bass for a hour or so everyday, or as much as possible. And now...no more painful fingers!
     
  15. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF


    Yeah, it's kind of hell for our drummer. This is kind of something that won't be much of a problem anymore as I won't be doing those crazy out of town gigs anymore. My singer is moving down here, and we've already found a new guitarist "locally", so we should have a lot more practice and jam time.
    What sucks is, I'm moving another 2 hours north! But it's still nothing like driving to Lubbock, so it's not all bad.

    On a side note- concerning all this, is it better to go ahead and let my fingers heal first, or just keep at it while they're still kinda raw to build up that extra toughness?
     
  16. CQBASS

    CQBASS

    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    You can also try lighter strings, then you won't have to dig in as hard to get the same sound. Lighter strings + slightly different EQ to compensate for lighter strings + not having to dig in as hard for the same tone = happier fingers. :)
     
  17. HunsBassist

    HunsBassist

    Oct 3, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    Practice every day for a couple hours. If you're already doing that, practice more. Build up the blisters into callouses. It might take a while but if you keep up a consistent practicing schedule, you'll have callouses that won't pop instead of those annoying pre-gig blisters and you'll have stronger fingers. Your fingers will feel like hell until probably the next morning or maybe longer, there's no getting around that after playing that long. But you shouldn't have as much of a problem with blisters. If new blisters show up, identify when you're playing with that part of your finger and focus on that until it callouses. This worked for me. Sorry if it doesn't work for you. Just talking from experience
     
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I've been fighting with this for years. My fingers don't blister, they just split right open. I also suffered from hand cramping in both hands...

    I'm also in a band that plays 3+ hours on a given night.

    Until recently, that is....

    I solved the problem by trying a few things.

    First, I practice now 1.5 to 3 hours a night. I feel guilty now if I miss a day, and if things are really crazy I make sure I put aside half an hour or 45 minutes just to make aquaintence with my bass.

    Along with practicing, I now use a Pandora and no amp at home. This has allowed me to practice at a good 'hearing' volume and work constantly on not hitting too hard. I can also practice well into the late night hours without the police showing up! This really does translate into playing with an amp onstage. As does putting a CD through the Pandora so I can get used to my 'new' tone settings and playing style in a faux band setting.

    I also have re-EQ'd my live set up. Lots more mids, a touch more highs and a bit less lows...now I can hear myself better and I don't hit harder to make up for my lack of 'cut' with a full band around me.

    Last night we practiced for 3.5 hours and I came out feeling as fresh and non-fatigued as when I started.
     
  19. Dude, play with a pick. Problem solved. :D
     
  20. HunsBassist

    HunsBassist

    Oct 3, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    It's not that simple, a lot of people think that's a cop out (not me, I think playing with a pick provides a nice percussive sound that lays down a solid rhythm and broadens the horizens of your playing). I like playing pick and fingerstyle, but a lot of times people are particular. They do provide different sounds and feels. There are some things that just don't sound right with a pick. And there are some things that don't sound right fingerstyle.