1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Fretting Finger Pain

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Billoney, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    I've got a problem. My fretting fingers are nice and calloused. When I press down on notes i feel pain under my callouses. Is this common? I'll welcome any advice. I've never seen this problem addressed. This pain is not debilitating and has not gotten worse.

    Thanks everyone for your responses.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Perhaps you should consult a physician.
    Hi-End Basses likes this.
  3. JeroB666


    Dec 22, 2012
    Are you fairly new to playing?
  4. Unless it's a serious problem, I'd say it's just part of being a working musician.
    The first 5 mins of playing, my fingertips always hurt but it slowly goes away by the time I'm into the second song.
    If you think about it from a non-musical perspective, what's good about the feeling from pressing down a thick metal string against a solid object for hours on end.
  5. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    I've been playing for years and I've had this problem for a long time.
  6. As long as you have been playing I would think you would already given the following some thought, however, is it time for some string changes? I would recommend some flatwound and see if that helps? I love the sound of flats with foam rubber at the bridge. Low action would also help.

    Check with the tech at your local music store.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Sounds like you are playing with too much force and tension in your hands. Playing bass should never be painful, and there is certainly no need for thick callouses! The amount of force it takes to type on a computer keyboard is really all the finger strength you need to play amplified electric bass guitar.

    Playing with too much force is usually caused by some combination of the following factors:

    1. The player's technique and posture, for example maybe the fingers are spread too far apart, the thumb is not in an ergonomic position, or the player is using "Kung Fu death grip."

    2. The physical setup of the bass. Truss rod, nut slots, and string selection are some of the factors that can make the "action" feel easy or difficult to play.

    3. The amp is not loud enough. Turn it up, let the amp do the hard work, not your fingers!

    4. A misguided notion that one needs to "dig in," show signs of physical exertion, and push the body to exhaustion to have an authentic rock and roll stage presence. My advice is relax your hands, turn up the amp, and if you want to look rock and roll, buy a cool hat or something. ;)
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  8. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    Mine start out ok but starts hurting after awhile. The pain is greater on my index finger. It's the one with the most callous.
  9. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    I've got low action. I've tried flats--round wounds are more comfortable.
    geddeeee and Nickweissmusic like this.
  10. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Not sure I agree with that, playing mostly stainless rounds I get plenty of calluses on both hands. Well, they're partly from playing acoustic guitar too, but still, need a different kind of tough for bass than for skinny strings anyway.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I've been playing 30 years, and my fingertips are soft, smooth, and supple. I sometimes get blisters from upright bass if I haven't practiced in a while, but I see that as a sign I have damaged my body with a bad practice routine, not as a badge of honor. Never from electric bass, though.

    Callouses = too much fretting force, in my opinion/experience.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
    P-oddz, smeet and gregouille23 like this.
  12. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Yeah. I'm with most. I have no callouses. I don't get pain from playing bass or guitar.

    In order to understand what is going on you unfortunately need more information. Pain in your finger tips could be related to callouses and breaks in your skin, nerve problems, bone problems, or a variety of tumors that occur in finger tips. Many of these things can relate to other medical problems like nicotine use, diabetes, and thyroid problems. An x-ray may be warranted to work up your pain. While in all likelihood it is related to your poor skin quality which might respond to better care, serious problems could be at fault without excluding them with a complete medical history and physical examination. In short, if you are having pain, which you should not, seek expert evaluation. I'm surprised someone hasn't suggested that maybe you are dehydrated already.
  13. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    I'm no doctor, but the pain feels like the area covered by callous is tender and perhaps never healed completely. The heaviest calluses have got permanent string dent. Not so with the lighter callouses.
  14. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Two Things :

    1) I would check with a physologist. Not so long ago I had pain in some fingers and in the forearm ... I thought it was the early stage of tendonitist ... so one day I did see a physologist and he told me that what I had is a pinch nerve in the neck. So I do stretch exercices and everything is fine now

    2) You may have a f***ing heavy hand which mean you press way too hard on those damn strings. The tip of my fingers are a little rough and they feel like they are thicker but nothing else and I'm perfectly fine to play. I've saw some people with the skin turned into somekind of pastic and it kinda breaks ... I don't understand how they got like that.
  15. YMMV. I never got even close to getting callouses from playing bass, not even with steel rounds. Playing electric guitar on the other hand...
  16. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Yeah. I have suspicion that you would have essentially ulcerations on your finger tips because the callouses are not normal skin. However, there is no way to tell for certain over a forum like this. I think you probably need to file down your callouses and avoid the activities causing them to happen. Giant callouses are not normal and can be prone to break down. However, for all I know from your description you could have a skin cancer
  17. Ummm, wow.
    Callouses are pretty normal and if you hammer on them they hurt. So if your action is high, you are hard playing on a hand or playing super long sets they hurt afterward. I would think there is a legitimate problem if they ripped off or the pain never stopped.
  18. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Do you play with finger tips like a guitar? For me, playing guitar requires a lot more pressure on the strings than with bass. With guitar I use medium on electric and acoustic. With guitar, I play fingertips for precision, and it takes less meat to hold down the note, but more pressure to do it. With bass, using the fat part of the finger (behind the nail) covers a lot more string and requires less pressure but more meat.

    Although there are styles of bass when playing it like a lead guitar requires a lot of fingertip. And if you've been doing it for years, without any serious problems, why fix something that's not broke. However, if you're playing with finger tips on regular bass lines, you may want to look into using the fat meat of your fingers, and play with less pressure.
  19. You are probably pushing too hard and tensing up your hand. An old trick from Golf and Tennis is to find the entire range of your grip and then loosen up as much as possible.

    First find 10/10. Fret and push as hard as you can. Remember that feeling.

    Then find 1/10. Fret as lightly as possible.

    Then find the right level of strength needed to play the note without pain. It should be lighter than you thought. Probably 2 or 3 out of 10.
    Mushroo likes this.
  20. bluefizz

    bluefizz Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2008
    Los Angeles
    MTD, Bartolini Electronics, La Bella Strings
    I would probably see a doctor about it.
    Ive been playing electric bass for 15+ years and double bass for 10+ and never got any callouses or blisters from playing.

    I do have relatively low action and my double bass strings are Evahs which are easy on the hands.

    If anything, either you might be fretting with to much pressure, or your action is to high and your working to hard to compensate. My MTD 635 has the lowest action from all my basses, and it takes no effort to play. Its almost the same pressure needed to lightly use a computer keyboard.

    Also, if your ever feeling pain from playing, you need to stop and take a break. If its something else (which kinda sounds like thats the issue) figure out whats causing the pain and how to fix it before you play again.

Share This Page