Gloved Fretting Hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Wings, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Wings


    Feb 6, 2005
    Bellport, NY
    I know this was covered 5 or 6 years ago, but not in a positive, serious way that might help some of you so I’d like to share some recent experiences.

    I’ve been playing bass exclusively for 20+ years. I started playing guitar in 1957. I play Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, Traditional, and Classic Rock. I play in several local bands. Although I play a fretted J Bass, my style is very fluid and smooth as if I was playing a fretless bass. I slide all over the neck.

    In humid summers, I always run into the same issue, my finger tips won’t slide easily on the strings. I’ve tried lubing my finger tips and drying them with alcohol or powder. I use flat wounds and in the past two years I’ve switched to tape wounds which are a step in the right direction, but not a solution. Two months ago I found a solution, with benefits.

    After watching Scott play with a glove on his fretting hand I thought I’d give it a try, but not the kinds of gloves that have been tried in the past, instead, I did an Amazon search for “Thin Cotton Gloves” and came up with 50 cent white thin cotton gloves, about $8 for 16 gloves, no right or left, they work either way.

    The bottom line is that my fingers now glide over the strings as if they were on ball bearings! Plus, I don’t know why, but all the speed I thought I had lost and had written off to getting older is suddenly back. What a nice surprise.

    So if you have an open mind and want to give something a try that might surprise you, give a thin cotton glove a try. Yes, I’m not crazy about the look, but the benefits are too good to pass up. At this point in my life I’m far more concerned with how I sound.
  2. That may be one side-benefit of having osteo-arthritis in my hands. I play with a brace on my left hand which serves a few functions.
    1-keeps my wrist straighter
    2-lessens the pain in my left hand the morning after a 4 hr gig
    3-makes sliding around the neck easier
  3. Other than Scott Devine, you're not the first. The gloves he wears are like $16 each. Like you I bought some cheap cotton gloves off of Amazon. $10 for a dozen pair, or something like that. At first I was only thinking left hand. I found they didn't restrict my playing one bit and made it easy to get up and down the neck. What I do is turn the gloves inside-out, trim off the excess material around the seams, then turn them back the right way. It minimizes any loss of feel.

    ... But then I got the idea to try one on my right hand. The reason wasn't speed so much (though it is a benefit), but I tend to leave my nails just long enough to pick acoustic guitar. I like the percussive sound I get with them on bass- but not all the time. Sometimes I want a softer attack and don't want to use my thumb, so the glove comes in handy in that regard. I do have to dig in a bit more with them, but it's not like using bare fingers where I often get "stiction". I also like to use Finger-Ease down by the right hand area (I wipe it on, not spray it) so that I minimize the stiction making my plucks faster and more predictable. I cut the fingers off the thumb and pinky as the glove isn't really needed on those fingers and helps my hand vent a little better. I'd cut the ring finger area too, but I'm messing with three finger plucking, but not having a ton of success with it yet. I think it will have it's spots.

    As far as the left hand goes, I haven't abandoned the notion to cut the finger tips off and use the glove as a friction reducer for going up and down the neck. With the full glove there is almost zero friction, but my callouses are hard enough that they don't grip too badly any more... except NEW Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats (but that's a whole 'nother thing).

  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    If it works for you it works. I'm lucky in that hands stay very dry so friction isn't an issue. Playing with a lighter, more controlled touch factors into that.

    I recently strung a couple of basses with light gauge Dunlop flats and it's like playing in zero gravity.
  5. Wings


    Feb 6, 2005
    Bellport, NY
    I can see that there’s more to explore here. I’m going to try trimming away excess material and although I’m happy with an ungloved picking hand, I’ll give a glove there a try too. Thanks!