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Hand-cramping songs

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by scottfeldstein, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    15 years ago I used to play a version of Twist and Shout that had me shaking my hand out at the end from fatigue. Now that I'm back into music I've managed to avoid such hand-crampers...until now.

    I just got sent scratch tracks for a cover of Massive Attack's Safe From Harm.

    Maybe for guys who play a lot more than me this is no big deal. Right away I'm trying to play it for a few measures and comp it for the rest of the track and send that to headquarters. But even if I'm successful, what'll I do when we have to play it live?

    Who feels my pain? :crying:
  2. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I used to play Billy Cobham's "Stratus" (the tune sampled for "Safe From Harm") with one of my bands and it could be a cramper for sure (the trick was to play some minor variations here and there during the long vamp sections). I play a lot of Jewish weddings and there's one song we do (a club version of a traditional song) that's all "disco" octaves. It's fast and we sometimes play it for seven minutes or so. By the third minute my left hand is screaming at me to do something other than play octaves!
  3. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Billy Jean does it for me
  4. +1
  5. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I never had a problem with Bille Jean. I actually find it to be a very easy song to play. The only song I had the problem with is Black Magic Woman. I had a guitar player who used to love to extend the solo for several minutes longer than Santana does it. My hand was killing me by the end of the song.
  6. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Hmm - I never have an issue with "Billie Jean". What fingering/position are you guys using?
  7. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Heh. And the whole time shooting eye-daggers across the stage at him. BEEN THERE. :D
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Granted, some songs can be tricky and complex to play, but IMO, cramps should not be a problem, if you are playing on a regular basis.

    IMO, it is not the songs themselves that are causing the cramps. My guess (and that's all it is) is that you dont warm up before playing. Do you jump head long into these type of songs from the get go, or do you play easier ones as a warm up ? Staying well hydrated and eating well can also help in avoiding cramps. Fatigue is different and is best overcome by increasing the playing time gradually.

    If you dont already do so, search You Tube for "Hand Stretches for Guitarists." Before a practice session or gig, spend about five minutes doing these, then a couple of more minutes playing some slow chromatic scales on the bass. One more gentle stretch of the hands, and you are ready to play.

    Hopefully you will notice an improvement. :)
  9. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011
    "What is Hip" by Tower of Power. Talk about a right hand workout! Rocco is the man!

    Also, I've not played it live, but "Teen Town" by Jaco is a serious lesson in dexterity.
  10. Just got up, had a cup of coffee and played along to the version in your link (remined me of how great this song is).
    Without any warm-ups whatsoever I played the whole song - no problem.

    Now, I'm not saying this to show you I'm superhuman (I'm not), but rather to say with enough practice it's no big deal.
    IMO best thing is to work very slowly (!!!) at first, roughly half the speed or even slower, then gradually speed-up. Constant practice works best for me; roughly 20-30 minutes every day.
    Might wanna check Rocco's bass video on YT, could be of some help, he's probably the master of hand cramping lines. :)
  11. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Maybe there's hope! :)
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Historically most of my hand cramps have come from improper technique.
  13. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Clarification: I'm not talking about actual cramps, just fatigue.
  14. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    The Hyperspace section of Rush's permanent waves. It's my left hand cramping up due to some moderately wide positioning with relentless eighth note patterns. Every time when I get to the drum solo at the end, I just shake my hand out and I'm ready to roll for the rest of the song. Everything afterwards is fine, but my hand always aches by the end of that section.
  15. Johnny Roots

    Johnny Roots Banned

    Sep 25, 2012
    King Curtis and the Kingpins - Memphis Soul Stew live is my triathlon lol
  16. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Fingering hand cramping/fatigue can result from playing a repeated pattern in the same position. See if there are different positions/fingerings to play a repeated line. Even a slight position change can help with muscle recovery.
  17. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Hm. That's an interesting idea. Maybe I'll see if I can figure a way for that to help with my song above. Thanks!
  18. 254 stringer

    254 stringer

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    Never gonna stop by Rob Zombie and from my guitar days Pets by Porno for Pyros
  19. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Billie Jean isn't a problem, as long as you are playing high up on the E and A strings. If not, prepare for the pain!

    The guitar solo section of Dazed and Confused by Zeppelin can be a bit troublesome. So is the solo section of My Lovely Man by RHCP, including the part after the 16th run. For some reason the low slides are just as painful as the 16th notes.
  20. Try Finite by Origin.