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cerebral palsy/frethand tension

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by patshortscale, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. patshortscale


    Jan 3, 2014
    Hello to all. I am a brand new member to this site, hopefully technique is the right place to post this. I have a mild form of Cerebral palsy, and because of this I have a severe amount of tension in my fretting hand. to compensate for this tension when I started playing around 10 years ago, I started using shortscale basses.
    question 1:although I realize that A)Talkbass members are not medical professionals, and B) that some might consider shortscale bass a hindrance long term. I find it easier to fret notes as my frethand "piles on" my question is for fatigue/pain related to tension reasons (after 1-2 songs) will it be more beneficial to play a standard 34 scale bass long term due to the length/fact that a longer scale will force stretching albiet much shorter playing time than a 30" scale bass? I am looking for outside opinions on this.
    question 2: is there any techniques others have found helpful to reduce tension in the fretting hand? if thoughts and opinions could be shared that would mean a lot to me. (if it makes a difference I am a young male in my early 20's who is somewhat diminutive in size at 5'7 130 lbs) Thanks for reading!

    P.S to the mods if this needs moving to a different thread I apologize. Happy bass playing!
  2. Play what is most comfortable for you. Have you tried cannabis or cannabis extracts/edibles for symptom relief?
    Wookieeboy and maxl like this.
  3. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I would tend to think that a short-scale bass is a good thing in your situation. You should be able to play with less tension in your fretting hand and less stretching. As far as relieving tension, I would recommend playing for short periods of time (20-30 minutes), then stopping and restarting after a break. You might be able to build up to longer periods of time by gradually increasing your playing time a little bit at a time. Hope that makes sense.
  4. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    Have you experimented with string type/gauges? It may seem intuitive to have light gauge strings to make it easier on your hand but you may also find that heavier strings give you something to "push" against and may end up helping. I have no idea what the results might be but experimenting may help!
  5. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    I recently switched to ribbon-wond strings in standard gauge, and found the string tension much less. This made my bass easier to play, with less pain and fatigue in my left hand, which is recovering from surgery. Changed my life; might help you, too.
  6. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    I don't think a 34" scale will be more suitable than a short scale really. It's hard to offer advice without understanding the nature of this 'tension' in your hand though, sorry.

    Is it easier to play notes that are closer to your body or notes that are out towards the nut? Have you tried different neck profiles to see if some shapes feel more comfortable than others? You might find that a fatter neck fits your hand better and causes less fatigue, for example.
  7. patshortscale


    Jan 3, 2014
    @ schlyder YES!! :) @ pfox14 thank you ill keep that in mind! @russpurdy yes I like to have reduced tension sets of strings after trying different types @vmabus could you comment on this thread or PM me your favourite ribbon wound string brand/set? Thanks! @ kevteop TBH its easiest to play inbetween the 5th to 12th fret range. I tend to like tapered jazz necks best to explain the tension it is constant but not prone to any particular area for example I can't do the vulcan salute from star trek. My fingers cannot separate in that way I can barely separate fingers individually either they move in pairs. Thank you for your response :)
  8. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    If you haven't already, a really low setup will make it easier to fret notes. At the same time, learn to play softer with the right hand, which will also help with the string height and I personally think that it will contribute to generally more relaxed playing habits from which your fretting hand will also benefit. I think from what you describe you don't play one finger per fret, else I would have recommended switching to double bass fingering which reduces the need to stretch over large areas.

    In any case, I wish you good luck; may you find the solution you seek.
  9. patshortscale


    Jan 3, 2014
    I can play 1 finger per fret with the shortscale, with a 34" it isnt impossible but it isnt very functional for me in generally the 1st position-3rd position on a 34" basically think of it this way...I can play one finger per fret(and try to while playing) but I suffer from fatigue much faster doing that on a 34"
  10. LowDownChick


    Dec 31, 2013
    Massage a small amount of jojoba or apricot kernel oil with a drop each of lavender and lemongrass therapeutic grade essential oils into hands. Let sink in for a good 5 to 10 minutes them rinse with warm water and dry. Also you can make a tea with ginger powder one teaspoon and honey 2 tablespoons mix into a paste. Add boiling water and a squeeze of lemon and drink for circulation. Great for vocalists before a performance too. Good luck :)
  11. LowDownChick


    Dec 31, 2013
    If you need more info lemme know. I'm an herbalist and if that didn't help I'll think of something else. The ribbon wound strings sounds good also.
  12. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    When living with a disability it becomes important to adapt and overcome. I have a progressive form of M.S. I have lost the ability to play gigs (can't focus when fatigued) so I have given up playing in bars and now concentrate on church music. My advice is to play whatever you can to keep you in the game. Music is great therapy.
  13. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Ok I just read about cerebral palsy and it will be a challenge for sure but I think it will be benefical to you to play music.

    If shorter scale help you with your coordination then go with it. You may need to gradually extend the time you play. Like start with 30 minutes then a break maybe in a few months you'll be able to play for an hour etc.

    practice slowy and increase speed as needed. I'm pretty sure that if you can control your hand at slow speed you can control it at faster tempo since you'll know exacly what to play in what order.
  14. patshortscale


    Jan 3, 2014
    Yes please, thank you
  15. patshortscale


    Jan 3, 2014
    I will note that there are multiple forms. Although I have been diagnosed with spastic diplegia which mainly affects the legs and some what in the arms, think a more accurate diagnosis would be spastic hemiplegia affecting the left side because when I get spasms its left side only and right side is virtually unaffected which doesn't really line up with spastic diplegia. As for practice that sounds like solid advice for any musician! Thankyou for your input
  16. Casting Thunder

    Casting Thunder

    Oct 7, 2012
    I have CP, and the only way I was able to start out playing was by playing a southpaw. My left hand has always been stiff, and there was just no way I was going to be able to fret with it. After about eight months I flipped over my bass for kicks and discovered plucking really loosened up my left hand. I got a short scale righty only to discover that it doesn't work for me, since I naturally want to have my elbow near my core.

    This is just my experience, feel free to pm me if you like.
  17. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    A standard five string bass will be easier to fret than a standard short scale bass because the string tension for you to play F, Bb, Eb, and Ab with be at the 6th fret on a five string and not next to the nut at the 1st fret as they would be on a standard four string.
    This means the string is away from the bearing point of the nut so easier to push down because it offers less resistance.
    It brings all the notes in effect five frets closer to you, a standard short scale may only bring it about 2 frets. So everything you can do on a short scale, such as angle of the neck, will always be easier on a five string.
    The only issue you will have to consider is weight as un-fortunately because of your palsy, playability is always going to be an issue whatever model you choose.

    I would offer exercises and a few reinforcement techniques you can use, but i would have thought your PT would be addressing these issues. If you have no PT, then finding a good one will help you very much in managing your physical needs.
    Good luck and feel free to get in touch if you want more info or have any questions on what i have posted. I will try my best to answer them if I can. :)
  18. LowDownChick


    Dec 31, 2013
    Looks like you've got some awesome answers here ! Give the massage treatment a chance as well as the ginger tea before playing...see if it helps. I'm sorry your going through this , be strong and keep playing. I have pain and tension in my fingers and the treatment and tea really help me. Lavender is a natural relaxant and lemongrass is too and both help with pain. PM me and let me know if it helps. Give it a chance ! :)
  19. LowDownChick


    Dec 31, 2013
    Remember the three Gs...Ginger for circulation, Ginseng for neurotransmitter activation and brain cell regeneration and Ginko Biloba for muscle strength.
  20. LowDownChick


    Dec 31, 2013
    Ginko Biloba also helps with mind/hand coordination