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Better health and bass playing - changes?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Polk Salad, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. Polk Salad

    Polk Salad Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2007
    Ok, this is a serous question - what have any of you done with your lifestyle that has made you a "healthier" player?

    This doesn't necessarily mean something like "I bought a wider strap" although it could.

    Have you made changes in your overall fitness that also helped your playing?

    Added or eliminated certain foods or other dietary changes (vitamino or health supplements)?

    Better mental health?

    Technique changes?

    Gear changes?

    I personally struggle with carpal tunnel so I'm always interested in hearing what others have done to "feel better" when they play.
  2. A friend suggested not eating 3 hours before a gig, and that has been good advice.
    Polk Salad and lz4005 like this.
  3. I'm 82 years old - some of the changes I've had to make.

    • I keep a tall stool on the stage and back up to it to take a load off several times during a set.
    • My pick - if I use one for this song - is the thumb pick that wraps around your thumb. I have trouble holding a plectrum for any length of time.
    • I enlarge my sheet music to 11 X 17 inch so I can read the lyrics. I, as a mater of course, recite the lyrics to keep up with where everyone is in the song. I've just recently started transposing my sheet music over into OpenSong software because it prints out a very easy to read sheet of music.
    • My hearing is not what it used to be so I do have to make do and use headphones, some of the time, to pick up the vocals.
    • Yes I two have CT and wear the CT brace each night. This does seem to help.
    • I'm diabetic and have to watch my sugar levels. I keep some sugar packs in my gig bag in case my levels go low. I play Praise at two churches and there is usually some donut holes out somewhere. :cool:
    Yes, getting old, we do have to make allowances.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
    Goatrope, MYLOWFREQ and Polk Salad like this.
  4. Genomatic


    Apr 16, 2015
    Hydrate,hydrate hydrate!
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    My left hand stopped hurting after I learned to file down my nut slots so the string height at the first fret is the same as it is at the second when you're already fretting at the first.
    Polk Salad likes this.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I have learned to breathe deeply and be aware of my whole body while playing (especially while gigging). This helps me to remain relaxed, thus minimising the aches and pains that can result from being tensed up.
    tonym, Polk Salad and saltydude like this.
  7. I struggle constantly to use only enough hand strenght to do the job, no more, no less. I've been conscious of this for years and still occasionally find myself using more hand strenght than is necessary. I'm improving, my hands are not in as much pain as they used to be and playing two or three nights in a row is easier than it has been previously.

    I'm also backing off a little on the complexity of my bass lines, which benefits both the song and my hands.
    tonym, pcake, fearceol and 1 other person like this.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    This sort of echos the mindfulness approach I adapted eventually (when I was gigging).
    Once I learned to execute the material competently, It was no longer necessary to worry about what notes when / which finger where etc.
    I made an effort to mentally detach from that level of concentration, and focus on things like my physical relaxation, listening, dynamics, and projecting something to the audience.

    Once you memorize the song, there is a whole new level of musicality to explore.
    Polk Salad and fearceol like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    Going to gym helped me tremendously. I have to start doing that again.
    Polk Salad likes this.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    speaking of the gym:
    my new day gig gives me gym access , and every day I hit the treadmill with a printout of Cliff Engle's awesome rhythm exercises
    my pace makes a fine metronome and I'm getting noticeably more fluent after a few weeks. Plus it removes all monotony from the treadmill.
    I kill a half hour jogging without even noticing.

    I highly recommend it to other aging, flabby bassists who want to work on their rhythm.
    Polk Salad likes this.
  11. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess I'm Your New Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    Stretch and stay hydrated. You think you're drinking enough water? You aren't. Drink more.
    Polk Salad likes this.
  12. slapagroov


    Apr 24, 2007
    Fort Myers, FL
    Definitely stretch before. I'm 41. I play in a blues band and am the MD for my church band. Sometimes I rehearse from 4-5:30 and do a 30 min service 6:00 on Saturday. Then I go to a gig after that can be 3-4 hours depending on the place/band. My chiropractor stressed stretching. I also take the bass off when I can. If the vocalist talks for a little bit, I take the bass off. I was starting to have some back pain and sciatica but this is helping. Also, acupuncture is awesome if it comes to it!
    Polk Salad likes this.
  13. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I do "The New York City Ballet Workout". It is essentially modified versions of exercises dancers do to maintaining balance, coordination, and flexibility. The upside is that there are no weights so you can do it pretty much anywhere.

    Rev J
    Polk Salad likes this.
  14. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i, too, struggle to remember not to use more strength than i need to... when i really get into playing, i tend to overdo, and that leads to wrist and hand pain. when i don't overdo, i play with no wrist of hand issues.
    Polk Salad likes this.
  15. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Stretch before playing and after ( not hand stretching, the whole body espeically the neck, the back and arms )
    Mental health is very important but music can be a big help to this
    Watching your overall posture as while it doesn't seem like you are wrong, you can pintch one nerve that could lead to some pain in the arms. ( For a while I thought I had CT but turn out it was nerve in my neck because I was too much in the same position )
    Bring the bass higher a little bit and so move that thumb on the back of the neck which open the hands a lot

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