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Getting your fingers stuck in the strings

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by JimmyM, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    At last night's show, I had to start a song by myself and got my fingers stuck in the strings. Not to worry...happens to every bassist now and then. Fortunately, my years of being a semi-professional musician has allowed me to acquire a little wisdom along the way, and while there's no escape from the audience knowing that you just laid a giant egg, I've learned two coping strategies for flubbing up your big moment and making it look perfectly natural:

    1. Brush away the imaginary object on the strings that caused you to get stuck.

    2. Jiggle the cord so they think it was a short.

    VERY IMPORTANT: Never do both. That stretches the boundaries of believability too far. Either you had an imaginary object on your strings or you had a short. Can't ever be both.

    Remember, it's not how well you play, but how well you cover up how bad you play.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    i can be heard on a few recordings brushing away some imaginary objects! actually, all of them. :laugh:
    G-Z, McG and JimmyM like this.
  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
  4. I 'may' have done this once. Or twice.
    WI Short Scaler, McG and JimmyM like this.
  5. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Feigning hand cramps works well too. ;)
    Nashrakh and JimmyM like this.
  6. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Very classy. I'm going to put this in the act.

    At the end of almost every performance I look at Arnie and say, "Well, looks like we fooled'em again!" :p

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  7. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    I once forgot to come in on time for my little bass fill, I guess I sort of spaced it and the drummer kept playing alone and was giving me that look, you know the one, "hey numb nuts, you forgetting something?" when I finally woke up I just sort of came in in the middle of the riff , later a friend made mention of it, said he thought something must have shorted out at that point, I just looked quizacle and said "really? ...Hmph" :D:bassist:

    Whats the old saying? if you cant dazzle them with brilliance.........
  8. I usually just point at the drummer....
    JimmyM and McG like this.
  9. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Your solution is brilliant but...

    Fingers stuck in the strings?

    How does that even happen and what do you mean by that?
    Mr_Moo and JimmyM like this.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, so the song is "Unchain My Heart," Joe Cocker version. There's a piano/vocal intro, then the bass kicks in by itself with slapped 8th notes on the A, which I do by picking hard with my fingers because I think it sounds better. But I ended up putting one finger behind the other inadvertently and jammed myself up in the strings. At least that's what I think happened. But it happened so fast that I still don't know exactly what I did wrong. All I know is I got one note out and nothing else. And in that situation, I chose to brush away the imaginary object.
    pablomago, McG, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  11. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    Oh, I see. That still sounds odd to me. I often use my thumb like a pick and put a lot of force into just grazing the string, exactly in order to eliminate issues like this but also have really present attack. I guess if I was tired or absent minded my fingers might get stuck that way.

    However, what does happen to me, is that if I badly position my hand/arm leverage, I end up hitting strings much stronger on downstrokes, which makes the sound pump, as upstrokes are very weak. So while my fingers don't get "stuck" in the strings, I certainly get into situations where my output is not what I desire. I guess I could try removing the imaginary object the next time, while re-positioning my arm so that I can "pick" with my thumb properly :D
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, well there you go. It was the second show that day, I had to report at noon and the shows were 4 and 7, I had a double the day before that made my workday a 16 hour day, I spent about a total of 8 hours sleeping all weekend, so I'm going to plead tired :D
    InternetAlias likes this.
  13. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Good trick Jimmy. Every once in a while after a flubber I’ll take both hands off the bass, grab the body with both hands, lift it up toward my chest and “shake the bad notes out of it”. Sort of a hybrid of faking a technical problem and a mental reset.

    Also, sometimes if I miss a note by a half-step and have to slide into the correct note I’ll repeat the error...not so much to make it sound like I meant to do it but more so to acknowledge to my other band mates that I wasn’t thinking I snuck one past them.

    Another good trick I used to do: when there’s another bassist in the house scrutinizing my playing I’ll pretend to make a minor tuning adjustment mid-song without missing a note...tricking them into thinking my ears are just “that good”.
  14. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    I can't even decide whether this sounds precious or kinda petty.

    But I guess it's both :D Really made me chuckle! I am sure a lot of us do things like this under scrutiny without even taking note of it, though.
    lowphatbass and JimmyM like this.
  15. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Fingers stuck in strings? This is why I always put these in my gig bag. upload_2018-11-21_16-37-45.
  16. I usually just smile bigger and dance harder, but I may have to give this pantomime excuse-making a try.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
    JimmyM likes this.
  17. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    The old "jiggle the cord so they think it's a short" trick. get-smart-max-and-99.
    Second time I fell for it this week.
  18. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    As a youngster I was always impressed by a player’s ability to tune in the heat of battle, even on guitar or sax. I guess somehow this trick made it’s way into my bag....you play enough gigs and you never know what can happen. Admittedly, I don’t remember that last time I’ve done it, although I do find myself tuning “for real” on the fly every so often.
    I do gotta say.... the bypass/mute tuning these days between every song, even multiple times through a song for guitarists...It can be a bit robotic and less personal than the old school way of just keeping your instrument in tune. I know I’m probably thankful for modern tuners but I feel old and grumpy.
    InternetAlias and Mr_Moo like this.
  19. A bandmate who doesn't really play banjo was playing banjo on a song, and started in the wrong key. Transposing on the fly wasn't really an option, so we stopped after 2-3 bars so he could "check his tuning" before we started again like nothing ever happened. Nobody mentioned it to us afterwards, so I guess it worked :smug:
    InternetAlias, JimmyM and Mr_Moo like this.
  20. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Have a cartoon-y reaction as if the strings just tried to eat your fingers. "Phew! That was a close one."
    JimmyM likes this.

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