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Fingers Don't Work?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Motorhead Mark, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. I was playing a show, and for the life of me, my fingers (picking primarily) would not work for me. Slow, sluggish, doubling up, speed was off, timing etc etc. Keeping an eye on the setlist, I saw we had a busy bass song coming up, and we had to pass on it. This happens to me every once in awhile. Sometimes the fingers will let me play Jaco, sometimes I can't even play -insert easiest bass players lines here- ie U2's 'With or Without You'. Before most gigs, I will warm the fingers up with some stretching and scales to get a feel for how my hands are doing. Usually they are good, but the odd time...

    Does this happen to others? What do you do in these situations? Play through? Ease up on the playing, aiming for more root note basics or what? Advice?
  2. Does this also happen to you when you practice?
    If not, you may very well have a nervousity issue. Then again you are most likely to know that yourself. Nerves, and adrenaline can be controlled with a few tricks. Usually, just focusing on breating will help a lot.

    If you never get nervous, I dunno what it could be. Sounds odd.
  3. It could be nerves, it could also be your playing to hard. I'd say work on lightening up with your right hand, that will reduce fatigue as well as lower your risk of injury.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I know precisely what you're talking about - and must admit I still have a slight fear of it. I just landed a pretty demanding gig, rehearsing tomorrow with the guys, and just what you're talking about has been on my mind. "What if it happens at the gig we're doing???"

    My thoughts on this. Like Mike said, I think it partly has to do with playing too hard. Also has to do with the acoustics in the room. Sometimes the bass just doesn't resonate, feel, or sound quite the way it should, and in my case I try to compensate (unconsiously till now) by digging in more. Nerves also may play a part in it. My plan for the upcoming gig is to A. Make absolutely sure I'm warmed up bigtime. I'm going to warm up during the day - and before the set. B. Make sure my bass and amp are tweaked so I can play softly and still cut through. I like my new Bongo so much cuz there's so much control over the mids that I can coax a lot of sound out of it with little finger work.

    One other thing I just started doing was stringing my other basses with heavier strings, raising the action, and practicing on them as opposed to my bongo in the house. Kinda like warming up with a couple of donuts on the bat. It works.

    my $.03.
  5. I agree with Joe's point, but would like to add. Don't practice too much before a gig, you'll just get tired. I've had that happen to me on 4 hour straight ahead jazz gigs and half way through set 3 my hands just seem very tired and uptempo tunes are really tough. Then I think "wow, I really shouldn't have practiced so much today." Basically learn to undersatnd your body's way of working and use it to maximize your playing.
  6. I found not drinking before shows really helped me in this situation. I'm not saying you do, I'm just saying that if you do alcohol seems to make things a bit worse - I don't get this problem nearly as often anymore.
  7. This happens to me when I'm playing in cold rooms, but also when the strings are real greasy. Then I sometimes hit the wrong string, because my fingers just slips.
  8. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I can sympathise. I have good days and bad days. There are all kinds of factors that impact our dexterity and agility. One of the worst influences on my bad days is lunking PA gear. I get stuck with all of the heavy pieces and my hands just feel abused after manhandling all of that stuff into the venue.
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    The very worst thing for me is alcohol. I simply cannot drink before a gig or even a practice. Alcohol slows me down, my fingers feel like lead, my knuckles won't bend, I tire easily playing difficult or complex passages. ALcohol is an absolute NO for me in a gig.

    It is usually the fretting hand that experience the worst effects from a drink and I do mean drink...not drinks. I never could handle much liquor.
  10. I have done shows with enough beer in me to flood the bar, and the fingers were fine. Or at least I think they were, I was probably to drunk to remember. I have cut down drastically on the beer (both pre & post) but the odd time the fingers, they go on a wildcat strike...I think Lasse K hit the feeling that I have, when your fingers are cold, and they won't move. Some part of it is nerves...some shows I tend to be more anxious than others. Damn Canadian climate...I need a cooley for my beer to keep my fingers warm.