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Fingers and Forearms locking up at fast tempos

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by AndyMania, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Question for fellow bassists out there,

    I have been playing bass for over a year now and practicing very often. I noticed that as I start to play at faster tempos that my (fretting hand)pinky and ring finger tend to lock up especially when doing isolation exercises. I can feel my forearm tendons start to tighten up as well. I thought that over a year's worth of constant practice my fingers and forearms would be in good shape. Any insight on this? I was looking at Hadrien Feraud play (yes i know hes been playing for a while) and wondered how can he play at such tempos for such a long period of time and how can he get his pinky and ring finger to move so independently knowing that those fingers share tendons. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Firstly, are you doing gentle stretches to warm up before you play ? This should be followed by slow scale etc exercises on the bass. Is your fretting hand relaxed ? Are you gripping the neck too hard ?

    Apart from the above, other things to consider is building up speed gradually, also keeping yourself well hydrated is important.

    I'm sure Hadrien Feraud has being playing a little longer than you. ;) Ease up, slow down, and give your hands/fingers time to develop the skill and stamina to do what you ask of them. A year is not long.

    No harm in also checking out this link on L/H technique :

  3. weijos


    Apr 24, 2008
    Twin Cities, MN
    I had a similiar problem with playing and other activities. It is some muscle issue I can't remeber what it is called but you can do all the warming up you want and drink gallons of water and it will still happen. After a lot of research I found that I was deficient in magnesium. I now take a magnesium pill every day and eat lots of leafy greens(high in magnesium) and I dont have the issue anymore. Not sure if this is your problem but sounded like an issue I used to have.
  4. AsianVoodoo


    Jul 23, 2007
    Slow it down and make sure you aren't wasting any energy taking your fingers off the fretboard. When your using your index finger (for fast scale runs and metal licks) it helps to train your fingers just to hover over the string with just enough space that the string can sound. One finger per fret. Keep doing speed exercises. There are plenty of threads on that if you search. One thing that helped me is to keep playing through the burn and your endurance will increase.
  5. LDonnie


    Aug 3, 2008
    Make sure your arms and hands are as relaxed as possible. You might even try a lighter touch. Try practicing in grades. Example: try playing an up tempo song that requires some endurance and practice till you are comfortable. Then take it a step higher. Then again. Repeat etc.
  6. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
    These things take time. I feel there are two sides to dexterity/stamina in playing an instrument: one is your actual degree of fitness, the other is more of a long term thing. Just be patient with speed, it will simply come to you over the years. Don't play faster than you actually can. All the immediate fitness and practice can only get you to a certain point - the rest will just come and advance with time.
  7. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    I've been hitting the 4 finger thing for over a year now and I still wouldn't gig it at the moment ime.

    I've found that because the anchor is missing (pickup, string etc) your arm, wrist and shoulder movements have to work in small increments to adjust for string spacing, this takes some getting used to, it involves a new set of muscles than previous standard 2/3 finger anchored technique required, I'm finding a year is not quite enough to develope the tendon change yet.

    I think it's one of those that if you overpractise, it'll twinge, it involves the whole arm a lot more in quite a new way imo, my 2.
  8. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I have to remind myself to turn my amp up a bit and play *lighter* or I get cramps too... But sometimes, I just really want to *dig in* -- I have to restrain myself!
  9. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    +1 Letting the amp do the work lightens the load, but sometimes you gotta just wrench them strings off the board (for a bit) :)
  10. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    thanks guys for all the feedback. Never did think about having a Magnesium deficiency. Interesting. I will have to ease up. The youtube video was very helpful. My thumb is definitely behind my middle finger which makes everything twisted and my touch is rather hard.
  11. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    itll come in time..

    strongly reccomend pracicing slow and not stressing "how fast i can shred." not yet. clean and precise played slow will eventually turn into clean and precise played fast, and will not feel like a big deal.
  12. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Relax man. Speed comes from letting your muscles do the work, not making them work.
  13. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    wise words Basschuck
  14. masterFlash


    Jul 6, 2009
    Magnesium idea sounds interesting.
    I've experienced the same thing, the left arm locking up. In fact this last weekend one song into our set and my forearm was as tight as a 2x4. I had to simplify all my parts because i couldn't move the left hand fingers, kinda like playing with a hoof. The drummer suggested it was dehydration. I know its not nerves, I've been playing for 20yrs, and I know its not lack of stretching, I warmed up in the green room before the set. I've always thought it was from too low stage volume that made me compensate by playing harder.

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