1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

left hand cramping during octaves

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TYRbass, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. TYRbass


    Feb 18, 2005
    i play in a dancey new wave-ish type band, and we have a song where its mostly stacatto octaves through the whole 3 minutes, D flat, to F to E(7th fret A string 9th fret on G) to Aflat with a walking line of octaves from B to C back to D flat, and no matter how much i seem to stretch beforehand, my left hand cramps up at about the last chorus, does anyone have any techniques they can share as to finger placement on the frets or neck? ANYTHING!
  2. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Keep playing it over and over until your hand can take it. Or your technique may be causing cramping... try to lighten up your touch.

  3. Lorenzini


    Dec 31, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I'm disagreeing totally, on playing it over and over again. You should never force through something like that.

    However check your technique, maybe just use index-pinky instead of index-ring fingers. That is assuming you're not already doing it.
  4. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    How else do you build endurance in anything? I'm not saying push it beyond what you can take, but just go until it hurts, stop, do it all over again and you'll notice you'll be able to play it easier. Unless, as I said before, your technique is wrong.

  5. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    IMO!!!!!!!!No I don't teach!!!!!!!!!!
    You left(fretting) hand/fingers should naturally rest in a position of octaves, i.e. index finger on low F(E string 1st fret), pinky finger mid F(on D string 3rd fret). This takes a bit of "spread" and alot of practice. If you are already very comfortable in this position than it is stamina you need to build. If this position is not 100% comfortable then practice your technique so that is is(make sure your thumb is behind your middle finger!)
  6. Yes you should build stamina, yes you need to practise.

    One thing you (and every bassist IMHO) should be doing is this:

    make sure your thumb on your fretting hand remains anchored to the middle of the back of the neck. I see so many fretting hand thumbs popping up over the neck and almost resting on the lowest string on the fretboard. This bad habit takes away mobility and stretch from your fretting fingers. Learn to stretch your fretting fingers instead of moving your disciplined hand position.

    I should do a poll - how many players sit their fretting hand thumb over the neck instead of at dead centre??? :scowl:
  7. My thumbs in the middle of the back of the neck (for your survey)

    Pick up double bass and a teacher and the octave stretch for the bass guitar will eventually become a relaxation excercise.

    In all seriousness though, to try and clarify what's been said, no one thinks you should play it over and over again if you begin to feel pain. Soft muscle tissue can take months to heal, yea, not good. I think you should just get a fellow bassist who doesn't struggle with the stretch to try and show you what he does, and maybe point out things that he or she sees you doing.
  8. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I think the "staccato octaves" bit is the key here, because it means you also have to mute the strings with your fretting hand to keep the notes from ringing, which makes things doubly demanding for it. I used to have the same problem when doing staccato octaves (and they say my technique is okay), so my guess is all you need is more stamina.
  9. I think bass neck shape and the height you wear the bass comes into it too- whichever's comfortable for you.

    I was always impresed how Simon Gallup could play "the walk" and "let's go to bed" (both octave lines) back to back in the Cure's live shows, while wearing the bass low, without seeming to cramp up.
    the guy in The Bravery likes octave lines too, and wears his Rick low.
  10. Octave lines are demanding, and they need good form.

    I would never teach poor form for octave work. Its got to be a very disciplined first and third fingers on the fretboard, and a strong 1,2 on the strings.

    IMHO - good form is next to godliness on the bass
  11. and mock turtle,
    excellent example - Simon Gallup is a highly under rated player,
  12. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I agree with Ray, definitely practice it over and over and over again. That's the only way you can get stronger.
  13. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I've always been a fan of Gallup's playing too, it always bugged me when people described him as a Peter Hook rip-off. He definitely has his own style, a great ability to groove, cool tone and note choice and cool use of effects. And a good taste in basses, too! :D
  14. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Mine doesn't stay dead centre, but it doesn't pop over the top either... this is especially true on my 7 string bass when reaching to the lower strings.

  15. munificent


    Mar 15, 2005
    I also have a lot of trouble with octaves, despite loving them (I'm a product of new wave and house).

    I'd appreciate some feedback on how people play them. I don't use a pick, so I have difficulty both with the fretting hand (keeping up that two string two fret stretch, and muting) and with the fingering hand. For me, plucking back and forth skipping over a string is really hard.

    How do you (all) play Ye Olde Octave Bounce?
  16. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Personally, I like fretting the root with my middle finger and the octave with my pinky, feels very comfortable to me. If I feel my fretting hand becomes tired (which sometimes happens in the lower register), I fret the root note with my index finger. I don't change my plucking hand technique at all, I pluck octaves just like any other runs and intervals. I tried using my thumb for the root note before, but I didn't like the difference in sound between the root note and the octave. All you need is a bit of stamina and speed (hmm, that rhymed.) I usually use my fretting hand to mute the "skipped" string.
  17. I fret the root with index, octave with pinky.

    plucking, usually root with index, octave with middle and/or ring,

    for busier lines index+middle on both, or index+middle+ring on both, using floating thumb to keep unplayed strings quiet.

    or use a pick, which I find trickier than fingerstyle at speed.
  18. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    You aren't by chance wearing you bass around your knees...are you?

    Because if you are, getting your left elbow at a 90 degree angle and straightening your wrist out will go a long way toward solving that.
  19. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Like others, I actually alternate between using my pinky and my ring finger for octave shapes. If one gets tight, I switch and use the other for a few bars. Ill sometimes just go back and forth as is comfortable.
  20. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I'm struggling with this too.

    So far I'm trying

    - keeping the top of the neck closer to me (e.g. using an upper horn extender)
    - thumb on the bottom of the neck, underneath the fingering pattern (not necessarily right in the centre)
    - moving the fingers more than the minimum to prevent the hand getting 'locked'
    - using ring and pinky together on the string I'm playing the octave to relieve pressure (the pinky is still the one 'in position')

    which all feels good, in most positions... but I still struggle with this, which is played at the first to fifth frets:
    New Order Blue Monday - YouTube