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Iron fingers!!!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mankind, Jun 9, 2004.


  1. Mankind

    Mankind

    Oct 20, 2003
    England
    How can you get iron fingers so the dreaded blisters don't appear everytime you play for a long session/gig/jam/whatever?
    Myths of putting your fingers in strong alcohol harden them...true? Currently i'm habouring 2 juicy blisters - the bass bites back :(

    Thanks.
     
  2. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Should be over in Technique. I'll move it there.
     
  3. Eyescream

    Eyescream

    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    You could do some of the iron palm kung fu hand strengthening techniques. Start with a big bowl full of sand, and jam your hand (fingers outstretched) into it. both right and left hands, lots of times every day. When that doesn't hurt anymore, you can move up to peagravel. That's probably as far as you need to go to get, like, rock hard fingertips for playing bass.

    Or you could just pop the blisters and let the callous up like everybody else.

    Whatever you wanna do.
     
  4. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    I wouldn't pop them, just let them heal and they'll turn into callouses much faster. The only trick to forming harder callouses is to just keep playing as often as possible and let your fingers heal naturally. Don't pop them, don't pick at them, just let them heal.
     
  5. Eyescream

    Eyescream

    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    Okay. Don't pop them.

    I do, but normally I'm just picking at them and it happens. I can't leave well enough alone.
     
  6. fastplant

    fastplant

    Sep 26, 2002
    Connecticut
    Yeah, it's hard sometimes not to.
     
  7. vbass

    vbass

    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    I don't think there's much you can do besides just playing through the pain and eventually forming callouses. It just takes time.
     
  8. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    I remember when I was first starting out...trying to jam with a drummer with a piece of sh*t Crate combo amp. It just wasn't loud enough and I was banging on the strings...a big piece of skin came off of my middle finger...I quickly learned to play with my index and ring fingers...it eventually healed and I realized I now had a nifty little 3 finger technique going...
     
  9. There's no easy way. You'll get those "iron fingers" through years of playing. Period.
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've heard from a few pro Jazz DB teachers that soaking your fingers in white spirit works - no, that's not alcohol really, more the sort of stuff you would clean your paintbrushes with and not want to drink!! ;)

    I've never really doen this though and my preferred solution is to play with low action, light touch and let the amp do the work!!
     
  11. play play play and when you get blisters play even more ;)
    get into masochism, it may just help :hyper:
     
  12. Weird. I've only played bass for 2 years and I stopped getting blisters. I get those little tears on the tips of my fingers occasionally, but they don't hurt at all, even when I'm playing. I play bass many hours at a time, maybe that's why I don't get blisters anymore. In fact, thinking back, I only got blisters during the first 3-4 months of playing.
     
  13. Ive been playing for about 7-8 months and play A LOT and never got a single blister.
     
  14. secretdonkey

    secretdonkey

    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I occasionally get blisters when I have to play for a long time (4 set cover gig, for example) when I haven't played those kind of extended times in awhile. Back when I was on an extended hiatus from playing, I'd get occasional calls to go do a pickup blues gig. Blister time!!! Best solution is to play a lot, IME. Practice a lot before doing a long gig, etc.

    :)
     
  15. VampyreLTD

    VampyreLTD

    May 20, 2004
    ok basically you're not going to get blisters after the first couple of months of playing if you follow a simple rule: Never try to increase volume by plucking the string harder. if you simply turn up the gain on you're amp you will be able to play more dynamically. If you're amp won't give you any more gain deal with playing softly for a while. Once you're past the first 4-6 months you'll be fine and you can do whatever the heck you feel like doing. :bassist:
     
  16. Back when I was first learning bass, I beat up my fingers real bad. I knew nothing about set up so I set the saddles as high as they could go, IE the higher action imaginable. It was like playing a knife. By the time I ripped through 2 or 3 layers of skin, I realized there was a problem. What I found helped me was rubbing used tea bags on the hurt area. This helps them heal real fast, and seemed to harden them up too. It worked very well, except for the fact my finger prints didn't grow back for about 2 months.
     
  17. That's über-cool! That means you could have been a real furtive ninja! :ninja:
     
  18. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Option 1: Let a brown recluse spider bite you on your finger tips. Once the skin becomes nacrotic and becomes dead, it will become harder. You might also lose some feeling too, as well difficulty breathing and nausea.

    Option 2: Use a combination of Yoga and Tai Chi to concentrate your healing energy toward your fingertips. If you become proficient at this you can make your skin on your fingertips grow faster. A little extra starch and vitamin E in your diet will help too.

    Option 3: Use the latest biotechnology to merge the cells on your finger tips with the cells of a tortoise shell. Your fingers will look funny, but they will be as harder than your fingernails.

    Option 4: Use flat wound strings, they'll be a little easier on your fingers, especially if you slide alot. On the flip side, your tone will be quite different.

    Option 5: Just play regularly and let time do the work.
     
  19. #3 seems to be the only feasible option. You were joking on the others, right?
     
  20. SuperSluggard

    SuperSluggard

    Jan 2, 2004
    Hmm.. Which hand do you get these blisters on? I never get blisters on either hand even when playing for a while. :confused: