Fretting Hand Sometimes going numb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Dave44, Feb 21, 2003.

  1. After playing for a few hours my hand goes numb for a little while, is it because of my advancing age or just tryin' to hard? Or mabey my technique has to be reviewed. I play with the bass strapped up high and I use mostly fingers for picking. This never happened before. I play a Jazz Bass and play all styles.
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Numbness is a cardinal sign of RSI (repetitive stress injury). I personally would see a doctor if it persists.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I used to have that a lot when I still played classical violin.

    Probable cause is tension in your left shoulder, maybe caused by a heavy bass/narrow strap. Do some stretching for your left shoulder/neck.
    It's not your hands, IME, provided you keep your wrists fairly straight and use a light touch.

    But make sure you see a doctor/chiropractor, just in case.
  4. If your strap is high, that may affect your plucking hand, not your fretting hand. So it's likely not that.

    So how old are we talking? How long have you been playing? (I'm 31 and may not be able to discuss age effects with you depending on how old you are) But, I doubt age has much to do with it; it's likely some small things you don't even notice. How many hours of playing are we talking about, before you get the numbness?

    It sounds like too much tension to me, personally. A while back when I started ( i quess back in late 90's), I used to tense up alot and got a little numbness too. If that's the case, don't hold your breath for tough passages (you'd be surprised how many people do that), and learn to reeeeelaaaax! You'll play much better when your loose. BTW, maybe do some warmups and stretches for your arms, hands and fingers before intense playing (if you don't already), it can't hurt to get your circulation flowing well.

    Do you find that you fret the strings with much more tension than neccesary? (i like to re-evaluate myself every so often, too. I've caught so many bad habits over the years.)
  5. I'm 47 and have been playin' for near on 30 years give or take a few. This usually happens after a few hours of rehearsal. It could very well be the tension thing that you mentioned, I tend to tense up a little when I play but that's mostly when were live. After 30 years I still get pretty excited when I play. Like you said breath while playing and relax and I'm sure that will help. It's sometimes hard to think of these things while Rock and or Rolling around the stage.
  6. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I'm as old as you and have had some similar problems, though not recently. I started with violin in elementary school so I guess I have about 45 years of it.

    Unfortunately, as you and I are both learning as you head thru your forties, those aches and pains
    start coming.

    I suggest a little finger and hand strength work.
    Do this with a physical therapists supervision.
    Numbness is abnormal.

    Do you wear a tight watch band when you play?
    That can impede circulation. When you have a rest
    passage, try to move your arm. Return circulation from your hand has to go uphill back thru your
    arm, and the veins are passive, they use valves
    to prevent blood from returning down to the hand, moving helps speed the process returning circulation to the heart.

    Also, is your axe real heavy or out of balance?
    Strap changes to one with a pad to spread the pressure on your shoulder, and even modifying the location of the strap button for better balance
    might help. Also try a high stool to sit on occasionally, resting the bass on your lap.

    Only the hands are numb! Lucky you, my brain is suffering this already!

    Bang on brother, my last note will be the day of my last breath.