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Just got asked to play a 2 hour setlist in 2 weeks! need help building finger stamina quick!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ron Johnson, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson

    Nov 19, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    The guitarist from my new fusion group just asked me to play a benefit show on the 19th that has a two hour setlist full of Iron Maiden and Ozzy Covers. I'm not that experienced, but I just started learning the songs and they are definitely within my skill range. My concern is that the setlist is almost two hours long and I'm not sure if my plucking fingers can make it that long without being shredded to the bone. The setlist for my old metal band was only about 45 minutes, and that was just pushing how far my fingers could go. My new fusion band just began and we have not done any shows yet. I thought this Ozzy/Iron maiden cover show would be a great opportunity for me to improve my stamina, so does anybody have a good system where I could make my plucking fingertips as hard as rocks within two weeks? I've made a thread about this issue a while ago when I was in my last band and first started gigging, but I'm having the same issues. My fingers will blister, harden for a day, and then the calluses would scrape off and I'd be back to soft fingers. I used to apply a few layers of liquid bandage to my fingertips and they would last about 15 minutes through a gig, but that stuff takes a while to dry and it's not like I can re-apply it several times during the setlist. Any tips on how I could properly callus my fingers within two weeks? Thanks.
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  2. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I would also like to hear some good responses on this, commenting for updates
  3. The Chuck

    The Chuck

    Dec 11, 2013
    Wilmington, NC
    I do 4 bars of simple triplets followed by 4 bars of 16ths. Nothing fancy note-wise, just alternate between triplets and 16s over and over again.

    You'll be sore for a few days but in no time you will build stamina an calluses.
  4. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    How long have you been playing? If more than a few months, you should have built up callus by now.
    JMacBass65 and /\/\3phist0 like this.
  5. Play for an hour solid, morning and night for two days. Skip a day and then expand to two hours morning and night. You have plenty of time, and a day between occasionally for rest, seems to work for me. Pretty soon you can count on your callouses and your stamina.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I would think just playing the songs enough times to memorize them oughta do it. You have a lot of music to learn in a couple weeks.
  7. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    2 hour metal show? Use a pick
    Scottkarch likes this.
  8. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson

    Nov 19, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    I've tried similar things before. When I first joined the metal band, I would grab a bass any time I sat down at a computer or to eat (about 1-2 hours a day) and pluck constant 16th notes the entire time. No calluses ever formed; I only got blisters during practice or gigs and then they would shred and leave raw flesh behind for a week or two.
  9. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    OP, I've been playing for 10 years now, and have very soft skin so I can't really grow calluses. Here's some advice: learn to play some with a pick pronto. Just in case, if your fingers blow out big time, you have it. Also vary your technique! I sometimes play close to the neck, other times more to the bridge, and with different parts of the finger. This way I don't have to play in a way that hurts. Play some everyday, through an amp along to a record. Like 45 minutes. It will help keep you in shape. I apply skin moisturizer daily and often multiple times a day. When a finger cracks, I apply petroleum jelly, and wrap it a band aid for the next day, though I give it time to breathe too.

    I find nickel plated round wounds offer a nice balance of softness, low tension, but not so smooth as flats, which burn right through my hands.
  10. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    First observation you are playing too hard!
    I barely have calluses myself.
    Get lighter guage nickel strings.
    Learn to use a pick!!!!!
    Many metal players use one, I used to when I was playing speed metal.

    Steve Harris plucks VERY lightly.
    NG51 likes this.
  11. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    I have very light callus' on index finger and side of thumb only. Agree with lighter touch. Flats hurt me worse than rounds for some reason if I get to that point .
  12. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    Just play light and have fun. Practice the tunes a ton and you'll be fine. I love one off gigs!
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I've been playing for six years and spent the last couple of those gigging 3-4 hour nights 4-6 times a month. I have virtually no calluses to speak of and spindly spidery hands, no particularly strong grip. I have never had "finger stamina" or shredded fingertips ever be an issue at a gig. Maybe other people have had it be an issue, but from my experience, I'd say don't worry about it, just play. You'll be fine.
  14. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson

    Nov 19, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    I appreciate everybody's comments, but I respectfully decline the use of a pick. I don't want this to become another "pick vs fingers" thread, so I'll just leave it at that and not argue.
    rufus.K likes this.
  15. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Lighter touch. Callouses not necessary.
    pacojas and hrodbert696 like this.
  16. albertus


    Jan 26, 2016
    you say you have a set list. due to the little time you have, focus on that. start playing the gig (I mean home or wherever you practice), and by playing the gig I mean to play the songs you have to play one after another, not worrying about mistakes or repeating a song (that you have to do when learning the song). imitate the gig step by step (getting the actual order of the songs won't hurt) and stop when you start to feel tired (or pain, please stop at the minimum sign of pain). take a long rest and then try again. it's a two hour setlist, so maybe you can try once in the morning and twice in the afternoon
    be honest with you and stop when needed, don't force anything. stamina will come quick
    T-Funk and Mushroo like this.
  17. It's my fretting hand that takes the beating after long gigs, and I have no real cure for this beyond playing more each day so your hands get used to the stress. My callouses are not what I would call callouses, the skin is still soft they are just used to the abuse. Never have gone for super glue, etc.

    Like a lot of the older guys Sir Paul and I sound the strings with our thumb, like you would if you used a pick, and do not seem to have a problem on long sessions. It's my fretting hand that takes the abuse. video sir paul teaching bass - Bing video

    One hint if it is your fretting hand that gets sore. Your open E, A, D & G string unfretted can take a load off by using them to pound out tonic roots to the beat and give your fretting hand a rest for a song or two that may be in the keys of E, A, D & G. Bucket of ice water and a towel may help.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  18. I will echo the point about using a light touch, especially on the Maiden tunes. A big part of the Steve Harris sound is turning up loud and playing extremely lightly; Harris himself basically just uses a "tickling" motion and barely touches the strings with his fingertips. As for the Ozzy tunes, if you find yourself hurting during the actual gig you can use a pick because most of Ozzy's songs were played with a pick by Bob Daisley ;)

    I think the light touch will help a lot with the stamina. No sense putting more energy into the string attack if it's not necessary, which it really isn't for a Maiden song. If you find yourself digging in with a lot of energy and getting tired during the gig, just back off with the heavy touch for the rest of the song and carry on. Doing exercises with triplets and 16th like said above will definitely help too. Personally I won't be able to say how much they will be able to help you in two weeks because building stamina was a long journey for me considering I'm left handed but can only play right-handed, meaning my plucking hand is my non-dominant hand. It took a long time for me to build my stamina but I can tell you that a light touch helps a lot.

    Best of luck - you're playing a gig that I would LOVE to play. Have fun!
  19. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    If you don't want to use a pick (I don't love to, myself, but keep them around just in case), then you can also use Geddy's back-and-forth fingertip motion: So for a bar of 16ths, for instance, you can hit the string once as you extend the finger, and then a second time as you curl it back toward the palm. Repeating this motion will yield your 16ths but with the same amount of finger motion as 8th notes normally would. Probably a bad explanation, but it helps me out from time to time. Also, I do a lot of hammeron and pulloff motions when I can, giving my plucking hand tiny rests here and there.
  20. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    I'm not a pick player either, but I had LA Woman added to a set recently, and although I can play it with my fingers, I prefer it with a pick

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