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heavier strings = no fingertips?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mpdd, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    when i used to play when i was younger i played the faster songs with a pick and the more slow acid groove type songs with my fingers, the last 30 months i've been playing finger style only, because i like the tone and i'm using 105 gauge strings now instead of 100s with my g&l sb-2 and l2k, when one is in the start of middle age do your fingertips suddenly get less tolerant of repeated friction, should i consider the thinner strings, or should i practice with a pick and just play the shows fingerstyle, or should i just accept i get these weird painful burn type situation on my middle finger
  2. johng999


    Jul 14, 2008
    I'm 56 and have been playing fingerstyle since around 1973, so I don't think it is something you have to stop doing with age. I use 105/50's routinely as I like the way they sound. I would suggest it is more in your technique. How hard do you hit the strings? Do you practice a softer, more controlled technique with your right hand?
  3. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    it seems to happen at the practice space and shows, i'm probably just getting into the music and playing way too hard, we aren't playing or practicing in the most pro type situations it may be a volume compensation thing or nerves
  4. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Maybe you need to build up more calluses? I'll bet there's plenty of fingerstylers older than you who dig in harder. Maybe it's because their bodies grew use to doing it for years while you doubled on pick.
  5. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    thing is i get the callouses then they kind of fill with fluid and disintegrate, sorry for the disgusting discreption
  6. Because I don't play anywhere near as much as I used to I find my callouses aren't as solid as they were. To compensate my amp volume has been raised and now I'm playing with a lighter touch. Took a little while to get used to it but definitely a lot easier on the fingers.
  7. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Just keep on playing finger style. The blisters under the callouses will go away, or keep cycling through.

    Getting the right tone isn't always about hitting the string too hard.
  8. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    thanks guys, going to go walk the dogs now and do a set up on the l2k and i will try playing more softly later
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Not sure what the issue is, if callouses, sore spots, aches etc.
    But as a rule no, not really. I used heavy flats 130-110-90-70 and have changed to 120-100-80-60 recently, but that was for the sake of my guitar neck more than any physical thing.

    These days modern string cores take the tension and let the winding deal with the feel and tone so to speak.
    So a modern 'heavy' string is a lot less dependent on the whole string to create the tension, often associated with a high action, to give it the clearance from bridge to nut over the fretboard. Today's modern cores can support, lets call it a fatter string winding, with much less tension and a lower action than strings of yesteryear.
    That said, I still use many different string types and gauges, but it is the thinner gauges that I sometimes get caught up on. The string has got under what little fingernail I have on occasion and have me sort of cut.
    I can only assume that the fatter flat wound string cannot get under the nail so easy. It is mainly when pulling funk lines or bends, on the fretting hand it feels like the string 'rolls' when I bend it up or down, so it rolls off the finger tip and under the nail. This is in part to the low tension of the string ( Funk Masters ) and the set up of the bass to have the strings 'loose'. Sometimes on the pucking hand when coming into a snap I get the same thing, but that I would expect as my finger is trying to go through the strings to 'catch the snap ' and it is just me being a bit aggressive on it.

    One more thing it may not be you. I have had brand new strings, in days gone by, that were just faulty, the finish was not good, maybe a bit harsh because they were not polished of correct, so they hurt your fingers. Even sometimes a core where the string is not fixed correct and it rolls freely about whe you play it. Sometimes we take for granted that a new set of strings can have faults. We get used to them being perfect that we assume it must be us.
  10. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    I gig nearly every weekend,rehearse once a week,and practice daily. I shed fingertips like I'm going to win a prize. I know I should turn up more and use a softer touch,but I tend to dig in more and more throughout the night as the sets become more aggressive. I see it happening,but I can't help it. I've been trying to go louder/softer all year(last year's NYE resolution),but it just results in me quickly turning down mid-song so I don't overpower everyone else.

    I've found flatwounds to greatly lessen finger-wear,but I don't find them versatile enough. I've been playing GHS Pressurewounds for about six months and find them pretty comfortable to play,and although I prefer some of the tones only rounds can provide,nobody else has noticed the change.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Interestingly, I don't actually have callouses on my plucking fingers. But, I use a little fingernail and a fairly light touch, although not the very lightest. Maybe there is a modicum of callous there that's just not noticeable. Perhaps you are plucking way too hard.
  12. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I don't actually have callouses on my plucking fingers

    Jason Newsted did had them but even that didn't protect his fingers from bursting open.. That's why he's a pick player exclusively...

    Anyway, back on topic : I think that it's more the typ of strings, rather then the thickness of strings that can damage your fingertops. I've heard some story's from bass players that switched from nickel plated to stainless steel strings and then had their fingertops burst open.
  13. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    been bursting with the hi beams and xl 70s, maybe i see coated ones in the future
  14. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Could work :)
  15. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i hope so
  16. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    Heavier strings = heavier calluses
    Just like playing with a pick takes a bit of time to build up the muscles in your hand, calluses take time to build as well.
  17. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I actually like the heavier strings. They seem easier on the finger tips to me for some reason..... more surface area? I rarely pick up a six string guitar these days (used to play a LOT), but when I do, those skinny little suckers will tear up my finger tips fast, whereas I can play bass for hours and hours, w/no problem!? For me, the fretting hand seems to get the most wear and tear.....maybe a technique thing? Flats help a lot too (probably with BOTH hands).
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Can't you be allergic to certain metals? I think that's possible.
  19. I used to get those a lot. Playing with a lighter touch and building callouses is what worked for me.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Stop whining...

    Siriusly, plenty of old guys (like me) play this thing which has MUCH higher tension and gauge than anything you're looking at. One of the reasons you're getting fluid under the callous is that what you've formed isn't that deep, so that you get the harder skin on top moving over softer skin below and forming a blister. Ain't no way through it but through it....