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My two picking fingers hurt. Advice on callus upkeep please!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jiegel, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. Jiegel


    Nov 29, 2006
    New York, NY
    Hi this is my first post here, I guess I haven't been playing bass that long...

    I would classify the calluses on the two picking/strumming fingers that i use (i don't know the correct bassist terminology, please enlighten me!), as VERY GOOD. However, no matter how yellow and crusty my fingertips get, it seems they can never stand up to an hour plus of consecutive playing.

    This frightens me, going into a month where I have 3 shows in a 7 day period coming up.

    **Any tips, advice, remedies that I can try to enhance my ability to play hard for long periods of time are welcome and much appreciated!!!**

    Could I put rosin (as in a violin) over the area where i pick? Would getting new strings (eg. Elixirs that have the stuff between the ridges) help? Please help me!

    Thank you much!

  2. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Hello Jeremy, and welcome to TalkBass. This topic has been discussed many time here on TB and you probably could have found your answer by using the "search" function. Also, please fill out you profile when you get a chance. You'll find that TBers are more likely to help you out if they know a little about you.

    That said, the best way to build up calluses is to play regularly and play for long periods of time. It sounds like you don't have the kind of time it will take. To make it through those gig you've got try this:

    1. Play with a softer touch. Turn you amp up louder, and don't dig in so hard. This will cause less irritation to you finger tips and allow you to play longer.

    2. Use some nose/ear grease. Sounds gross, but a lot of players do it (myself included). Wipe your finger tips on your nose or behind your ears where your skin gets oily. This oil will lubricate your fingertips and reduce the irritation.

    3. Use a pick. If you feel like your fingers are going to blister, switch to a pick. It is not the same, but if it can get you through a gig without killing your fingers it might be a good option.

    Hope that helps. This problem will get better the longer you play. I do regular 3-4 hour gigs without any issues, but that was not always the case. Good luck.
  3. Jiegel


    Nov 29, 2006
    New York, NY
    Yeah, sorry. I looked on the first page but got impatient I guess.

    Thanks for the response, I'll try those things.

    Have you heard of using rosin before? Do you think it's a bad idea?

    Thanks, Jeremy
  4. badstonebass


    Jun 7, 2006
    This is going to sound weird. One time I cut my fingertips and had to gig. I super glued the cuts and applied band aids to the fingertips. To my suprise I LIKED the feel of the band aids. It also cuts out any fnger irritation from friction.

    Using FABRIC band aids:

    Take one and put it on with the guaze at the fingertip and the actual tape running with the finger. Then take a second one and wrap around your first band aid with the guaze at the PAD of the finger.

    I have found that the feel I get is about the same....BUT make sure and use the fabric band aids. The plastic ones do not feel natural and the wear out fast.
  5. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Nope. Rosin is sticky. I would think that sticky fingers would make things worse? It would probably not be good for your strings either.

    I've never done the band-aid trick, but that sounds like it might get you through the gigs.
  6. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    Some people also seem to sometimes have a problem with some types of strings. I know that my dad uses some special gold-covered strings for some reason. :x
  7. Jiegel


    Nov 29, 2006
    New York, NY
    Hey Zac,

    Thanks for the advice man, I appreciate it. Also I see you're in Medford, so I thought I'd let you know that if you don't have plans this saturday, my band is playing at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square (where the House of Blues used to be).

    It don't cost nothin!

    www.myspace.com/deadspin for more info.

    Thanks again!
  8. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Thanks for the invite. But hey, I'm a musician too. That means I'll be working Satuday night as well. I'm doing a private gig at Vinalia in Downtown Crossing 9-12, so I won't be able to make it. Keep me posted on future gigs though. You guys sounds great on your Myspace page. I'd love to catch a gig.
  9. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    Just as an alternative to Zac's suggestion you may want to pick up some Blistex Herbal lip balm in the classic chapstick form. I used to do the nose/earwax thing but lost too many women over it. So I switched to putting a little of the stick style lip stuff on the side of my nose and would reach up periodically to grease the old fingers. I actually prefer it now as the artificial stuff seems to last longer, is a bit slicker so it works great and the nice little herbal scent helps keep me in my happy place.

    The only other suggestion I have is to occasionally soak your playing fingers in moderately hot water and either Epsom salts or plain old table salt (an ample concentration of salt in the water is recommended). Soak for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and dry. Don't play until your fingers have returned to their natural hardness. The soak aids in hardening the callouses. Not scientifically supported but rather an old wives tale. I always thought it helped in the early days but cannot guarantee it will have value to you.

    It will get better over time and with lots and lots of practice. I sure remember those days of pain and pleasure when I was first building my callouses some 38 years ago. Keep at it and you will beat the little suckers into submission eventually.
  10. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    i wouldnt recommend using ermm body fluid as lubricants, plus i heard that they make ur strings die faster....

    where are you plucking anyways? plucking near the bridge is much harder on your fingers than plucking near the neck. why dont u experiment with it...

    the type of strings you're using could also be a factor. low tension strings are generally easier to pluck. i just put on a set of sunbeams and they feel very smooth, maybe u should try some of those
  11. MammaryVest


    Oct 18, 2006
    Stoneham, MA
    Chew on them *****, chew them all day long. Seriosuly, if you want calluses, chew your finger tips.
  12. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    I am a firm believer in Krazy Glue. It's non-toxic/non-irritating, seeps in all the cracks of the broken skin and dries in under 30 seconds. Just keep a small bottle of it in your gig bag ready to go just in case and you'll be fine (might want to get the feel of it pre-gig so you don't glue yourself to the bass though).

    I believe Flea does something similar when he busts open his thumb from slapping.
  13. Yikes! Anyway I used to use Nu-Skin on my blisters. I think it's alot like putting super glue on them. You can get it at most drug stores.
  14. Volk


    Dec 18, 2005
    South Jersey
    I'm another krazy glue fan, always seems to get the job done, and has a million other uses too. Always keep a bottle of krazy glue around and a roll of duct tape.
  15. Twiggy Jr.

    Twiggy Jr.

    Nov 17, 2005
    you could rub some dirt on it, drink a beer, grow a pair and continue to play thru the pain like a man should
  16. I use super-glue for all cuts/blisters
  17. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    You can also carry these:

    I used them in the 60's when I started playing if blisters came up or finger(s) got wrecked. Back then it was a tree-trunk necked P-bass clone and a Gregory tube amp with a whopping 60 watts and nylon tapewounds.....hadda play REAL hard just to try to keep up with any drummer.

    Now it's the avatar and 1400 watts into 2 ACME B2's....
  18. jsbass


    Sep 3, 2006
    Ahh the issues I don't have to worry about as a pick player... (except on my fretting hand, of course).
  19. K2000


    Nov 16, 2005
    Switch to flatwound strings. They're smooth so there's less friction. They sound different than roundwounds though... less punchy, more like a whomp sound.

    Also. get some emory boards at your local pharmacy/drugstore. Those are for filing your fingernails. Use the less-rough side to sand down your fingertips (dont overdo it though). Get them nice and smooth with the emory board. Then wipe off the dust... then wipe your fingers on your nose to oil them up. The whole point is to reduce friction. You can do this on your fretting hand too.

    My main suggestion is to switch to flats, though, especially if this is a longterm problem you're having.
  20. synack


    Nov 25, 2006
    Hello, new here also. Can't give you much tips on the finger tips as I've only been playing for a short period of time.

    Just wanted to say your band sounds great. :bassist:

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