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Finger injury, 4-5-6 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hyperba55, Apr 15, 2009.


  1. At the risk of re-hashing old threads, I didn't see anything quite like this so I thought I'd ask.

    I have been a 6 and 4 string player for the past dozen years or so. I just never liked 5 string basses.

    About a year and a half ago, I severely dislocated my index finger on my left (fretting) hand. I went through a lot of therapy and excersize, but the finger has just never returned to normal - it's a little stiffer and it wears out easily. It's been about the same for the past 6 months, and the doc doesn't think that it will get much better, if at all.

    What happens now is that if I try to play a 6 string for any long period of time (over 2 hours) my finger gets sore and weak - I lost the stamina in my fretting hand. Four stringers I am fine - I've done 5 hours gigs with no issue, but the extra 6 string width seems to cause the issue. I still play the sixers, but one of my new gigs really needs the low B, and it's typically a 4 hour gig.

    So my question - has anyone had any experience with this? I am thinking about picking up a 5 string, but wondered if anyone had any experience with something like this.

    To top it all off, I hate narrow width 6 strings - I really like 18-19 mm string spacing. Going to a narrow 6 wouldn't be an option, but I am wondering how much of a difference going to a wide 5-er would be.

    Thoughts, opinions, experience?

    Thanks
     
  2. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Have you considered a 4 string BEAD? Sure, you lose the G string, but the money's down low, right? Just a thought, since logically, a 5 would fit square between the other 2.
     
  3. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    New York
    when you say it requires the low B does it really require notes lower than a D? i was in a similar situation with the Vic Wooten you just got from me. I was about to put a drop D tuner on it and then the 3-way deal came around and now I have the 5 string so no need.
     
  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    IMHO, hand health is more important than 5 semitones. Why not play a 4-string? Victor Wooten does it with no apologies, as do many other great pros.
     
  5. Maybe a double neck bass would be the cure? One neck B-E-A-D and the other A-D-G-C or whatever.
     
  6. Cure the finger....break the back.
     
  7. I really didn't want to revive the whole 4 vs 5 vs 6 string thing ... I am fine on 4's, in fact 4 out of the last 5 basses that I bought are 4 string basses. I love my four strings, and will keep playing them and will probably end up getting more :)

    It's just that for this gig, I need the low B's and C's (singer has us doing songs in lower keys), as well as the higher strings (it's pop/dance/disco with lots of disco octave work). I have Hipshots on some of my basses, and what I have been doing is playing 2 sets on the 6 and 1 set on a four (the last set only does drop-D) and it works, but I'm not overly fond of switching basses mid-gig.

    I was just curious if anyone else had been through this ...

    Of course, part of me just thinks this is justifying gas for a new 5 String :)
     
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Option #1. See if there is anyone near you that you can borrow a wide 5 from. Use it for one practice or gig and see if it works (maybe you could temporarily swap one of your really nice collection).

    Option #2. I have to explain that this is going to seem harsh but I promise I don't mean it that way. Firgure out a way to make it work. I have seen videos of guys playing guitar with their FEET, one handed guitarists/bassists, tons of blind musicians, etc. If you can "rework" your fret hand then do it. Compensate somehow by using the other fingers more. Django Reinhardt played a good prtion of his career using TWO FINGERS (ironic given my handle) on his left hand (if I remember correctly). Just something to think about.

    P.S. If this advice works for you, please just send me your '72 J and we'll call it even. ;-)
     
  9. Hey, the swap out is a good idea, I don't know why I didn't even think of that ... I have a bass playing buddy that has a five string Lakland that he doesn't play, I'll see if I can borrow it for a week or two.

    Now about that 72 Jazz ...
     
  10. I hate to give you the answer you despise the most, but I play about every string spacing out there from 17-20mm. I have 2 fretless 6ers, one 17mm and one 19mm. I have no difficulty playing either, but I've noticed that the 17mm guy is really easy on the hands, especially since it has insanely low action, too.
     
  11. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Rehabing the finger is a good option. Joint dislocations mean stretched ligaments. Research Prolotherapy as well as http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/sports/17blood.html?_r=1
    Healing the injured ligaments will help restore proper finger function.
    PM me if you specific websites or rehab info
     
  12. DanRJBrasil

    DanRJBrasil

    Jun 10, 2007
    bead or a 5'er with 17mm, or even a 33" or32 " scale
     
  13. D'oh, as a CB player, I shoulda thought of that. With a typical j-spaced nut, I'd think a 32" or 33" scale 6er could still have 19mm spacing and be comfortable. It takes a skilled guy like Cliff to pull it off in 32", but I think he'd be up for the task.
     

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