Conditioning Hands

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tWiStY, Nov 26, 2000.

  1. tWiStY


    Nov 26, 2000
    I'm a beginner bassist, and i've been playing the hell out of my bass since i got it two days ago, practice practice practice right? But my fingers are totally sore, is there any suggestions in ways that i can condition them, or make it a lil less painful when i play...because i've seemed to have developed a huge blister on my thumb...i like using my fingers and dont' want to use a pick...I know it will get better in time, but just looking for something to do in the meantime...I've heard things such as superglue or clear fingernail polish work...just looking for suggestions

    Thanx a lot
  2. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    :) :) Slow up a little, Twisty. Give your hands a little time to toughen up. I strongly recommend that you not try the super glue etc. things. A blister can get infected and that would really crimp your development. That's something that should be reserved for desperate times like the show must go on thing.

    I probably can't tell you anything that will help you right now but I can give you some good general advice. Stay healthy. Don't ruin your hearing with loud music. Ear plugs are a super investment. Don't ruin your hands from bad technique. C.P.S. is a very real risk for bass players. Try to find a teacher and take some lessons. A proper start will make your whole career easier.

    I can't emphasize strongly enough to listen to a lot of the kind of music you decide to play. Untill you can hear it in your head you can't play it.

    Have fun.

  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Someone told me once that in case of a real emergency, such as a gig or recording session, when blisters just begin to rear their ugly heads, to put duct tape on the sore fingers to prevent further problems. Warning: I have NOT tried this advice, but it might help.

    However, let me say that practicing to the point of big blisters may not and probably will not speed up your learning. While your fingers are blistered there is other practice you can do that will rest your fingers. Read a chapter or even a page of theory. Try reading musical notation out loud. Try transcribing a musical riff. Look at some musical notation and try to sing it. Then gently play it (to not inflame those blisters) and see how closely you could sing it to how it actually sounds.

    Listen to your favorite music with eyes closed and figure out how it is arranged. When do certain instruments play or lay out? How long is the solo? What does the bass do when the singer sings? Does the bass play ahead, behind, or exactly on the drum beat?

    Such exercises save your fingers, but they still teach you much that you need to know about playing. Also these same things can be done on a bus, subway, train or airplane or while waiting in line. Fact is you can keep on learning even with no bass in your hands.

    Here's a cool exercise that doesn't use a bass or fingers. Listen to sounds in your ambulence siren, for example. See if you can identify the interval between the highest and lowest pitch of the siren.
    Or listen the a train go by. Can you tap the beat of its wheels? Exercises like that keep you alert all the time, actively participating in music, even when your fingers cannot "do the walking."

    Jason Oldsted
  4. tWiStY


    Nov 26, 2000
    Great practical ideas,I'll try and restrain myself from playing so much and work on other musical aspects. I guess the excitement of learning something new has taken over...Any suggestions on a healthy amount of time to spend practicing (on the bass itself) a day so i don't damage my hands too much, but still am able to get them used to playing?
    Thank you for the advice Pkr2 and Jason
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I do agree with the advice given above, but I have heard double bass teachers suggest things for "toughening up" your fingers. The one I remember is to dip your fingers in white spirit and soak them for a few minutes. White spirit is like the stuff you use for thinning paint/cleaning brushes, but purer.

    I'm not sure this is necessary for electric bass and I think it's better to practice playing with as light a touch as possible - this will help you play faster and will mean less wear and tear on your hands.(You can always turn up the volume on your amp!) Like Mike Dimin - I've never got callouses or blisters in over 20 years of playing.
  6. calm like a bomb

    calm like a bomb

    May 24, 2000
    I've been playing since Febuary now and i practise about 3 hours a day on average. At first i used to get white blisters on the middle finger of my left hand (the only finger i used to use for the fret board) and my index finger (only finger i used when playing). I've never attended a single lesson from a teacher, which i may do sometime to learn how to play and sing. Well like i was saying when i started playing i only used one finger of each hand, and my fingers used to get pretty painful. I didn't really let this stop my playing, but it was still painful. I use 3 fingers on the fret board and 2 fingers to play now and i hardly get any kind of pain on my fingers. I think it's all the sliding around on the fret board that gives you the blisters. Eventually your technique will improve and your fingers will toughen up. When i feel the tips of my fingers on my left hand compared to the fingers on my right i can notice a significant difference in how i can feel it, and also how the tips of my fingers on my left hand feel, which is more thick and harder than on the right. Well don't over do the practicing either, but just try to tolerate the pain for now. May some of the suggestions above may come in use but i have never tried any of them. Enjoy your playing though :)

  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Try "New Skin." You'll find it with the Band-Aids in the drug or grocery store. Lots of bassists use it. DO NOT use "Tuff Skin" available in sporting goods stores. Wide receivers and running backs use that so their hands stick to the football.
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Twisty, I forgot. I went to the dermatologist about my chapped and split fingertips and, honest to gosh, she told me to put Super Glue on the cracks! I was shocked, but she told me that Super Glue is actually almost identical to the compound used now in hospitals called Liquid Sutures. She promised me that Super Glue is not toxic and said she uses it herself.

    I haven't tried her remedy because the idea scares me a little, (OK, a lot) but Dr. Patterson promised me it was OK. If you do try Super Glue, be very careful not to touch anything, your bass, your face, your clothing, etc. until the glue has dried.

    Oh, the other thing. You mentioned you played so much because of your enthusiasm to learn. I think that is a wonderful thing. I hope you never lose that enthusiasm. As far as how much to practice, I say practice as much you are able and willing. More power to you, Twisty.

    Jason Oldsted