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!  

Orthopedic bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CM63, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. CM63


    Feb 9, 2013
    Walnut Creek, Ca
    Any suggestions for prolonging my bass-playing life? Getting old, 51 is not that old, but I have bad tendon issues in my left arm and elbow, and pain developing in the tendons of my thumbs, signs of carpel Tunnel...you name it!
    Currently I practice with a Fender Jazz (which I love but is heavy) but play out with an Ibanez SR500 (love that thin neck!)which I can fly on after playing the Jazz, both with Black nylon flats.
    I think this recipe will get a few more years, but I want to die with my bass in hand! Any thoughts?
  2. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.


    They make ergonomic basses with a twisted neck, and they're supposed to help greatly with wrist issues. In addition, you may want to look at shorter scale basses.
    DreamError likes this.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The JB is a cumbersome instrument and it gets even worse if it'll all ash.
    The Ibanez SR is a good choice, they are light and small.
    Another great choice is the Cort Curbow. Greg Curbow put a lot of thinking in ergonomics.
    A bit different, a Danelectro is probably the lightest instrument you can find and they are cheap.

    If you are rich and get lucky, you could find a Steve Klein Bass, made around comfort for the player. They sound great, too.

    Then there are other out of the box designs like the Barker vertical bass or the Torzal with its twisted neck.
  4. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    Birdsong in TX makes smallish basses. Check them out.

    They're a sister company of the new SD Curlee.
  5. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Ibanez Mikro is like a short-scale SR. Very light and very inexpensive.
    Might want to upgrade the electronics.
  6. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    Thin neck, fretless, low action, tapes.
    This is the only way I can still play.
  7. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I have found Ibanez's EDA900/905 basses to be comfortable to hold, plus they're lightweight since the body is a made of plastic composite called Luthite. They have a unique look and sound that apparently didn't catch on since Ibanez discontinued them after a year or two of production.
  8. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I have been getting into lighter basses as my back is out of whack these days. Some of the lighter basses I currently use:

    Fender JP-90 (if you can find one) -super light, retains a lot of the Fender sound and feel, slim Jazz neck (while I don't have one yet, a Fender Jazz Aerodyne is also a good Fender option)
    Cort Curbow - I have a fretless Nice and light, slim neck, small body. Easy to manage and play.
    Danelectro Danoblaster Rumor bass- a lighter P bass clone
    Ibanez EDA900- is an acquired taste, either you'll like it or hate it due to the body shape. It is comfortable though, also light and has that slim Ibanez neck.
    Rogue VB100 "Beatle bass"- very light, short scale, slim neck but not quite as versatile as other basses.
  9. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    If you look in your pharmacy, you can find a special carpal tunnel brace. At the advice of my orthopedist, I've been wearing that every night to sleep for several years now. It has helped considerably.

  10. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    A couple of things that may help - First ultra thin necks ala Ibanez and even a jazz, I find to be more strain on your hands than a little chuckier neck - provided you have good technique. That would include thumb being in the middle of the back of the neck and keeping a "C" shape with your index and thumb and playing with your finger tips. Of course I can not look at your technique and critique what you are doing from a post but believe me, good technique will take all the strain out of playing. Take a few lessons with a knowledgeable pro, he will be able to see technique issue and help you straighten them out.

    The second thing is get light bass, 7-8 pounds is pretty easy to find. Generally, I find alder bodies to be lighter but you have to be careful not introduce a new problem - neck dive. A light bass is a blessing on an aging back.. like mine.

    Third, low action and light strings - in order to play that config and make it sound great, you need a light touch. Light touch = easy on your hands and joints. You will need a powerful amp to get a full and aggressive sound with a light setup but I find that yields a "studio player sound" when you play that way. It really lets you hear the character of the instrument.

    Finally, see and Orthopedic Hand Specialist and make sure you are not doing permanent damage. He may prescribe physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs which work miracles.
  11. "Any suggestions for prolonging my bass-playing life? Getting old, 51 is not that old, but I have bad tendon issues in my left arm and elbow, and pain developing in the tendons of my thumbs, signs of carpel Tunnel...you name it!"

    I have written this before, but no one ever seems to take it seriously, or to even respond.

    Craig Swan who used to pitch for the NY Mets is a rolfer, and he and another rolfer named Richard Rossiter have developed several techniques which they call the "Rossiter" techniques which DIRECTLY address both tendonitis and carpel tunnel. They studied repetitive stress injuries in many walks of life - for a number of years - and developed their own techniques to provide relief.

    They have saved dozens of people from having surgery. This is no joke. My band is in the unenviable position of having to cram for tours and we end up rehearsing 10-12 hours a day for several days in a row drilling tunes. I ALWAYS develop tendonitis in my left elbow near the end of these marathon sessions and Craig completely cures it in one session. Yes, COMPLETELY cures it. And it can be so painful I can hardly move my elbow.

    They are located in Greenwich CT. Even if it is a flight and a hotel, this is your life people, not a dress rehearsal. I am amazed at the number of people who shrug off these type of treatments and go under the knife. Never wise, in my opinion. You would be wise to exhaust all options first especially this one.

    His site is here:


    And you can contact him here:


    If you are curious, at least drop him an email, tell him your symptoms - and inquire directly with him about the technique and what he can do for you. He is a great guy with an incredible sense of humor.

    I am NOT saying that any rolfer in your area could provide this service, maybe it is possible - but Craig dedicated a good portion of his life developing this Rossiter technique with Richard Rossiter and it works.

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  12. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
  13. You can try Ubass !
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    To deal with tendonitis ... Arnica
  15. Dogghouse


    Jan 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara
    Bass Guy @ Seymour Duncan
    As an old man, I have had Carpal Tunnel over the years. In my experience, it can come and go. So keep playing. One day you'll wake up and it'll be great. Also the problem comes from repeated habits so change up your positions to gain relief. Change straps, change strap lengths, change left thumb placement on neck. Sometimes these changes also result in new musical ideas.
  16. CM63


    Feb 9, 2013
    Walnut Creek, Ca
    Thanks for this! Something to take seriously.
  17. Dingwall fanned-fret basses reduce the amount of twisting and stretching required on the fretting hand, and the "short-scale" models are only 32" on the treble side. That or something even shorter and lighter, like a Birdsong, would help.

    Dingwall's latest models also have a clever innovation in the form of a recessed rear strap button that moves the bass to the right to shorten the reach to the nut, and improve balance. I assume that other manufacturers can't jump on his idea, but you could have a tech do it as a mod.

    But from the sound of your post, you've already done a fair amount of damage. I don't think anything less than a comprehensive approach is going to get you the longevity you're looking for as a player:
    - Take a long look at other activities that may be causing damage aside from playing.
    - Lighter bass with good hanging and seated balance, ergonomically correct neck profile, shorter scale, low action, light-gauge strings.
    - More supportive strap, or playing seated to reduce stress on back, neck and arms.
    - Turf other overweight equipment aside from your bass.
    - Don't be afraid to ask for help. Carts are good. Friends who move your gear are better.
    - Advice from a sports medicine expert regarding braces, exercises, etc.
    - Lessons from a knowledgeable teacher, to help you lighten your touch, work on any ergonomic issues with hand position, posture, etc.

    I feel for you. I don't have any RSI issues with my hands or arms, but I have had to abandon my heavier basses, cabs and amps in order to accomodate chronic back and neck trouble.

    The good news, is that with the right help, you can probably minimize or even reverse some of your issues. I turn 60 in the fall, I'm gigging regularly, and after about 40 years of suffering, I am finally pain-free again.

    On top of that, my new cabs, amps and basses sound better than anything I had in the past, and I can cover moderately loud rock gigs with a one-trip carry. This is a great time in history to be an electric bassist...
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  18. CM63


    Feb 9, 2013
    Walnut Creek, Ca
    All great suggestions! How about my your right hand thumb, I have started resting it on the e string or on the neck at the 21st fret, instead of on the pickups, which seems to help, and... Yes! I know it really has me questioning my plucking hand technique. I leave eschew (isn't that a great word?) slapping, for finger style.
  19. Are your wrists cranked?

    An open wrist and a relaxed, rounded hand position are helpful on either side.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.