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Calluses...how bad do they get with bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Abemas, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Abemas


    Dec 15, 2005
    I've been considering picking up the electric bass for some time now but the only thing holding me back is the development of calluses from playing. I know they are necessary to some extent but since I am a chiropractor its important that my hands remain somewhat soft to the touch. I went to a local guitar store today and I was told that its probably not a good idea to even bother learning because I will be constantly fighting back and forth between wanting tough fingers and soft fingers and that I'm either going to have to pick a different profession (yeah right) or fine something else to play. Can any of you veteran bassists confirm or deny my fears?

  2. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    I used to have huge rough calluses but they aren't really necessary to play at all. My calluses now aren't too tough, in fact they're barely there. It depends on how hard you attack and freth the string. You could also use flatwounds, which are smooth to the touch unlike normal roundwound strings.
  3. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    A lot of it depends on your skin. I used to look like a leper for the first couple of year or so but after a while you just develop thicker pad like skin, much the same as on your feet.
    Some strings eat your fingers, more than others. Flat wounds are heaven on the fingers but will give you a less bright more thuddy sound (not necessarily a bad thing).
  4. I've been playing for a little bit less than 2 years and i have almost no calousses on my hands. I think it's more about the amount of strength you put in your plucking than only playing bass.
  5. You can still have calluses and crack backs. ;) Just get a pummice stone and keep them neat and clean on a daily basis!!

    Jay (Lover Of A Horendous L4/L5 12mm mess!!)
  6. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    The best suggestions are here Abemas...good strings, baby your hands & I can add...buy the bass that fits you and find a good teacher. Go the extra step and pay him/buy lunch to shop with you to find the right bass for you.

    Play the bass Abemas.
  7. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    you can also play with a Pick
  8. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    yeah +1

    and stay away from slap...ive got cuts on my fingers from that. I don't really calluss all that much, but I honestly wouldn't worry about losing the sensitivity in your hands
  9. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    The guys that started out on bass may have a different story, but I started on guitar, my fingers pealed at first, but after the layers of skin built up you can't visably tell they are there. When I started bass, they got a little thick for a while, but now you can't see the difference from my left hand to my right,even though the skin is much thicker on my left.
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nut up and play some bass, Doc! It's not like you lose all feeling in your fingers!
    Sorry, I get carried away sometimes. But if it gets to be an issue, you can always stop and your calluses go away within a week or two. Now the blisters, on the other hand...

    LOL...nah, they go away after a couple days. Just plan a 3-day weekend to get yourself broken in so it doesn't interfere with work. Or gradually build calluses by not playing to the point of blistering but enough to make the skin start building the calluses.
  11. jojo99


    Oct 18, 2005
    Pretty good advice on here so far...I've been playing for twenty years off and on...I actually experience more pain playing guitar...those unwound strings really dig in and cause more problems than thicker bass strings. I would strongly recommend stringing your bass with flatwounds..D'addario Chromes are a very bright-sounding flat and are sooo much easier on your fingers than a roundwound string. I'm sure someone will tell you flatwounds suck, ya gotta have rounds for rock-n-roll, but ignore them....they're probably someone who's never really used flats...they are also much easier on your frets. It seems odd someone in a music shop would advise you to not play bass and buy something from them...I'm guessing they are pretty ignorant/inexperienced to tell you that! I've never had peeling skin or blisters on my fretting hand, and only on a specific spot on my plucking thumb because I play thumb-style quite a bit. Overall the skin on your fingertips will get thicker, but you can use lotion to soften them up. You may lose a slight amount of sensitivity in your fingertips, but your callouses won't get to the extent where a patient will feel uncomfortable with your hands on their skin, unless you are planning to play thrash metal for hours on end...but it sounds like you have a day job, LOL. I would strongly recommend getting a good instructor to help you develop proper technique right from the get-go, that will help you avoid a lot of the beginner mistakes in proper handling of the strings..a big mistake beginners do is to use way too much hand pressure to fret the strings. A professional set-up on your bass will allow you to have low action, and that will mean less pressure is needed to fret the notes properly. Failing getting a good instructor, Carol Kaye can give you some good advice on proper technique...carolkaye.com. It's taken me years to finally realize it only requires a very light touch to play the bass, because I was too obstinate to take lessons. If you start out right, you needn't worry about bass playing compromising your ability to touch people...they'll never know you play bass on the side. If you worked on cars for a hobby, your hands would be much worse than playing bass...most "guy" hobbies involve compromising your hands to some degree, but I wouldn't say bass playing is ranked at the top of hand-damage...just be relaxed when you play....you already know all about tension, being a chiropractor. The musical and creative payoff will be worth any minor change in the quality of the skin on your fingertips.