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Blisters: To Pop or Not to Pop?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by MikeBarber, Feb 4, 2005.


  1. No! Absolutly not! Never ever!

    34 vote(s)
    44.7%
  2. Yes! Pop those suckers! Be rid of them, I say!

    30 vote(s)
    39.5%
  3. Yes, but only if there's no blood in them!

    12 vote(s)
    15.8%
  1. This may not be the correct forum for this, but I got blister on my fingers last night whilst jamming on a double bass, ergo I posted here. ;)


    I thought I had built up my calouses nice and hard, but there they are! Two huge blister on my right hand (index and middle, naturally). I havn't had blisters for near a year now! But, I was drinking hard and playing harder (40 oz of Guinnes and not being able to hear yourself due to being sandwhiched between drums and piano isn't the best setup I guess :rollno: )... so there they are...


    I just don't know what to do with them. In the past, I would leave them be. Let them heal naturally ("they're nature's perfect bandage" as my doc would say). But I have a gig coming up and have to rehearse...

    How do you deal with these kinds of situations? Are you a popper?
     
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If you insist on playing before they heal, you should probably drain them as suggested, with a small piercing. Otherwise, the playing will rip them open anyway, make a mess and probably sever the skin in such a way that you no longer can use the protection of it.

    I did a dinner theater a couple of years ago and had no choice but to play with severe blisters. It sucks. Bad.

    Make every effort to prevent tearing the skin off. Pulling strings with that pink under skin exposed gets touchy pretty quickly. If you do loose it, a good soaking in salt water (yes it will burn a bit) will accelerate the skin toughening up.

    Don't use neosporin or other topical in an effort to speed the healing. In any other circumstance, neosporin works wonders, but in your case, it will keep the skin soft which will only add to the discomfort. Once you have a few days to take a break from playing, it might be a good idea.

    If you run out of pain tolerance, a single layer of that elastic medical tape provides some relief, is durable enough to last a least one set and is flesh tone, so it isn't completely noticeable. It does compromise the feel, but I found it preferable to wincing on every down beat.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I say tape 'em. If you pop blisters, you're likely to lose the entire callous eventually. If you can catch 'em before they reach that critical stage, IME the best thing to do is to sand (file) them down before they have a chance to really become blisters. I carry a couple of sanding blocks to every gig, and if you sand 'em in time, the whole blister thing can be avoided entirely. If not, I've had luck with cloth tape or cloth band-aids, which give them a chance to heal while not sounding too awfully bad. The plastic tape sounds terrible to my ears.

    Slightly off topic, about a year or so ago I got to play a two-night hit with Sonny Fortune at the end of a really busy week. I was already raw when it started, and since he tended to call a 15-minute modal number at 240+ about every other tune, the fingers quickly worsened. Thank god I had the tape in my bag..it went on at the beginning of the second set of the first night, and stayed until the end of the second night. By then, I had tape on both fingers of my RH and the thumb joint (which actually started to bleed at the end of the first night) - I figure I probably looked kinda like THE MUMMY, but I made it through the gig.
     
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I think we are thinking of the same thing. It's flesh colored, kind of stretchy and tears from the role fairly easily. They make the bandaids from a little thinner variety of the same stuff?

    I've never tried plastic medical tape. Even if it did sound right, I'd be a little selfconscious of it because of the white color. Plus it tends to loosen up quickly with sweat, whereas the cloth stuff holds on.

    Startled drummer: "Chris, you're bleeding!"

    Durrl (with his best Jessie Ventura impersonation) : "Ain't got time to bleed."


    Maybe you could coin a new phrase:

    If you ain't bleedin', it ain't jazz."
     
  5. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Regular Contributor to Bass Player Magazine
    Maybe you should wrap your whole head, in addition to the fingers...just to get the full mummy effect.

    But seriously, here's my technique: when you think you might get a blister (the annoying, "this really hurts, but I'll just play through the pain" feeling) use talcum powder (that's baby powder for you, Chris). Spread the talcum powder over your right-hand fingers and you'll move like greased lightning on the strings. If the finger(s) really develop a blister, then I would pop it, according to the proven scientific method described above, then put alcohol or disinfectant on it (just to prove that you're a real bass player), then use the tape. You can check out some of the medical tapes for bandages....some of them are super strong, and they come in different widths. You'll have to cut them off after the gig (the tape, not the fingers). And you'll probably have more blister underneath the bandage. Repeat the pop / disinfectant routine. After about a week, you'll have a hard white callous. After two more weeks, that will start to rip/peel off. Use a finger nail clipper to cut off the loose parts so the dead skin/callous doesn't just rip off in a passionate musical moment and ruin your career for another night.

    Good luck
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That's the stuff I keep now, although at the time what I had wasn't flesh-colored, but white. However, given how pale old DURRL stays most of the time, it probably WAS sort of flesh colored after all. :D

    I don't really sleep in a coffin, but people who don't know me well tend to keep a lot of garlic, crosses, and wooden stakes around until we've had a chance to break the ice and they notice my canines are of regular length...
     
  7. Apply Super Glue liberally before any long jams to avoid this situation. Apply it during blister formation or even after a blow out. Just don't pick your nose or fiddle with your zipper until you know the gue is dry. This really works, and contrary to popular belief it will not lower your IQ or cause you to laugh out of context.
     
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    For some reason, applying superglue to an open flesh wound seems counterintuitive.
     
  9. There are surgical and veterinary applications for superglue! I don't know however, if there is some special glue that's been approved for such applications...
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I wouldn't use superglue on the playing part of the fingertip, nosepicking habits notwithstanding - the hard finish of the glue would sound awfully "clicky" on the string. But there is a product called "skin shield" which is like a liquid bandage for cuts, and it works wonders if you're one of those lucky folks whose fingertips get those nasty splits at the end of the nailbed in wintertime. Those things can be painful as all get out, and this stuff closes 'em right up like magic. I don't think it's actually superglue, but rather some kind of nail polish kinda stuff that's safe for use on open cuts. Yes, it DOES sting a little, but it's worth it.
     
  11. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    i don't claim that this is true, but here's my short story about crazy glue
    this is second hand from my wife


    some guy had a dog; the dog came home with a huge cut on his head; the guy cleaned the cut and stuck the wound together with some crazy glue; the wound healed and the dog was fine

    the guy told her that crazy glue was developed in the vietnam war to seal wounds in combat

    true or not, i thought it was a somewhat interesting story


    i'm also wondering what others do--if anything--to care for their calluses

    i have noticed that my calluses have become a lot tougher since i stopped using any kind of hand lotion about a year ago

    i have also noticed that i have only gotten blisters when using metal strings
     
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Super glue works great for this application, I've used it that way lots of times. Much superior to tape, IMHO. I don't consider a drained blister to be an open flesh wound -- if I don't see blood in the fluid (that's happened only once) I say it's only irritated skin and I don't fuss much.

    Unless you're a newbie, we're probably talking pizz finger blister. If you lay the glue on thick you do hear a bit of clicking at first but I find that effect goes away quickly, leaving behind a tough skin-like coating. After about your average length set of tunes I'm ready to touch up the glue a little.

    I find that pizzing on a drained blister toughens up the blistered area real fast. That's not a permanent effect, though; after a week or so the old outside skin just comes off and the new stuff is pre-toughened somewhat from the preceding week of playing. In that state before shedding the blisterskin my finger gets clickey-hard even without the superglue.

    A fascinating topic. I'm doing some focused right hand work these days and a side effect is a fresh area of my second finger is getting consistent work it's not used to. I'm pushing practice and playing juuuust enough to keep a blister from blooming.
     
  13. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Has anyone tried that new liquid skin/bandage stuff for this application? Might be a good one, but I dunno, I've only heard about the stuff. Semi-aside, about 12 years ago when I only played slab, I accidentally cut my right index finger, about one centimeter towards the tip from the the outermost joint. In other words, very close to where you play and right where you bend. 6 stitches, and unfortunatley I had 4 gigs that week. I played through it with tenative consent from the doctor, first few songs it 'felt funny' then it would go numb. I guess the idea is let the show go on if at all possible.
     
  14. A nice thing about living where I live, Denver, is that it's SO dry here blisters dry up and start the callous formation pretty speedy.
    I've always been one of those players who really try to keep my callouses real smooth and nicely formed by sanding and/or filing off any malformed spots that might get caught on a string and pull the entire Mother off.
    One of the worst things that I fear is getting a blood blister under a callous. Then you gotta do some serious carving.
    This is not an instrument for Whimps. :rollno:
     
  15. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I've been there. I must confess I didn't know what to do in that situation so I didn't do anything. It was a smallish blister under some really heavy callous and it hung around for a couple weeks if I recall. That one actually hurt a little bit.

    I must say, though, that if I get a blister these days it means that I must have done some heavy playing after taking some time off, a vacation or something like that. Otherwise I don't get 'em.
     
  16. It's weird for me to have these blisters (indeed, they are on my pizz hand)... I think what it was is the fact that I was playing someone else's bass.

    It was at our monthly Jazz Jam (at a local coffee house that let's us host an open mic-ish Jazz Jam every first thursday of the month) and I was using my Guild BG (I'm hesitant to bring my DB to these things). There was another bassist that came and he brought a DB and was cool with my playing it. The action was higher than mine and there was a good layer of rosin caked on the strings... which I think would do it!
     
  17. I hate when that happens!! Order a shot of vodka and clean the strings!
     
  18. Really? Vodka will clean rosin off the strings?
     
  19. Alcohol will.....but if your bass has a French polish on it, it'll take it right off.
     
  20. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    If it doesn't, knock back four quick shots of it. You soon won't care about no stinking rosin.