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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mich1s, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. mich1s


    May 4, 2004
    ok - this could make some people laugh, and i'm hoping it will...'cause then it'll mean it's nothing serious.

    anyway - here's the prob. my technique goes WAY up and DOWN, now i'm kinda used to this - and usually when i leave it a few days when i'm playing bad - i'm back on it again. but i'm tellin u - this time is weird - i can NOT hit notes any more. i'm playing like a damn beginner and it's really stressing me out.... i'm not virtuoso but it's been about 3 years now and i'm much better than i've been playing today and the past week.

    please, does ANYONE else suffer this. i just at least gotta know i'm not some useless bass screwup!! lol

    finally, any advice would be SOOO appreciated on how to bring urself out of this spastic hand syndrome that just happens

    good vibes,

  2. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    So are you saying if you take a few days or weeks off it's like you forget how to play? Your technique goes way up or down? How is that possible? Maybe if I don't play a few days I'm not as quick or nimble or fluid but after a time or two my speed and dexterity comes right back. How often do you play? How long do you go without playing? Did you ever at one time know how to play? Again I am not trying to be sarcastic just trying to get a grasp on what you are telling us.... :meh:
  3. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Pardon me but,I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I'm assuming when you write up and down that you mean better and worse. I could be wrong but I'm assuming that your talking about your left hand.
    The absolute key to being a competent bassist (IMHO) is consistency. Even those of us who don't addhere to the "engine room" way of thinking will find it hard to deny that, more often than not the overall feel of your bands music will be a result of what the bass player is doing.
    I didn't click on your name to check out your experience... ..so forgive me if I'm being patronising- but I'd really recommend at least a handful of lessons to get your technique in line. If your either of your hands are sloppy it will hurt your ability to express yourself with your instrument- unless your on fire that particular day.

    I started going through the humbling experience of having to relearn my right hand action about six months ago. For about 4 of the last five months I was hating everything- I'm only now starting to begin to appreciate the difference- ie attacking the strings with increased consistency and fluidity.
  4. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    If i read this right you are having a problem playing several consecutive days?

    If that is the case you may be chopping yourself out, I had to play a bass line for the musical Mame incredibly fast (just to later find out they rechoreographed the dance so it had to be played slower) and after practicing it for several days and finally being able to get it at the speed I was going for I couldnt play anymore. I picked up a bass and just couldn't play anything, it felt dead to me. So I put both my basses in their cases and put them up, didnt touch them for about a week, I felt great when I picked them up again, I could still play the part as fast as I needed and still felt creative and able.
  5. mich1s


    May 4, 2004
    josh, it pretty much feels like what you're saying. basically - my coordination sometimes is just GONE. most of the time - yeah i'm on, some days i'm really on fire and just can't hit wrong notes. then there are those days where i just can't hit one right note and i'm bumming all over the fretboard. it's just really weird. i guess if i think about it - yeah it is after some nonstop playing, that chopping urself out thing makes sense. it's just that i've had a few days off and usually that rights itself but i'm still playing crap tonight. was just curious if other people get this and how they deal with it - but sounds like a similar thing.

    appreciate the replies though, and wasn't taken patronizingly :)


  6. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I read this to mean that you aren't able to maintain a consistent level of playing over a few days. Without knowing more about your experience/playing history, I can only guess.
    But in general, I have to disagree w/ Josh. If you are having trouble w/ consistently being able to play at the same level or proficiency, the VERY LAST thing you should do is continue to put your axe away for a few days until you recover.

    The hand-spasms you're experiencing are, I suspect, a sign that you lack sufficient finger and/or forearm strength to fret and/or pick consistently, such that your playing muscles reach exhaustion. Like when your legs shake after a good, long run. Not that I ever run, unless chased.... ;)

    Anywho, there's only one way to eliminate that issue: practice every day, gradually building that strength. If you are an established player (not in the professional sense, but in the physical sense), and you've had like a week of band practice every night, you're a little sick of the bass etc, then you can put it down and recharge your batteries over a couple-few days. But if you are just learning, or have little cumulative experience (no matter how "long" you've played bass), you can't afford that action. Muscle memory and strength takes persistent effort to build up -- you can't be on and off or you'll sit at the same skill level for the duration.

    You have to be consistent, but not to the point of overworking your hands. Like every day for an hour or two -- or some comparable practice routine.

    On the other hand, it may be that your technique itself is contributing to the problem, overly straining those muscles.... Bad technique may lead ultimately to injury (i.e. CTS, tendonitis), so if you have doubts follow dirtgroove's advice and grab a lesson or two to set you on the right path.

    Again, as above, not wanting to be patronizing. Good luck!
  7. mich1s


    May 4, 2004
    hey supermonkey, and everyone else who posted..thanks again. now here's the interesting thing.. to recap - i've been playing like a moron, even simple scales i've been messing up, for about a week. anyway - so i'm just playing as usual yesterday, doing practice and stuff...and literally - just like that - almost like a machine that's been turned back on, my hands are working again. i swear to god i haven't been smoking anything.... lol it's like the fingers can see again, the coordination is all back and things are hunky dory. it's very weird, and i've no idea why this should happen.

    i hear different views that it's underplaying, overplaying, who really knows. anyway, panic over haha

    all the best,

  8. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    Just to let you know, I based my conclusion on this statement: "and usually when i leave it a few days when i'm playing bad - i'm back on it again." I agree with everything said here also, but you have to keep in mind while practice every day is good you have to know your limits, and everyones limits are differant. My practice routine is as follows:

    1.) Warm-up: Scales 2 major 2 minor 2 octaves.
    2.) Review: Do the excercise I did the previous day, if I still have trouble practice it more, if I don't move on.
    3.) Practice new excercise until my chops start to burn (I tend to feel it first in the muscle between my thumb and index finger.)
    4.) Cool Down/Ear Train: Turn on the radio or a CD and play along. I like to do the radio so I can do one song off of every clear station, this helps me learn the feel of songs in differant genres.

    This can easily take up to 2 hours, or even longer, but this is what works for me.

    My main suggestion is, if you don't already have one, develop a practice routine that works for you, if you are going to practice hard give your hands a break and do a cool down, don't just put the bass away and stop.
  9. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Good advice, good advice.

    I try not to play much past the point of muscle/tendon pain, but I've never had much of that while playing. Exertion, and plenty of freakin' blisters, though..... :D
  10. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH

    It sounds like you're a knowledgeable musician who's giving some good advice. I wonder, though, about your statements regarding strength.

    It's my belief that if the bass is set up well, playing should require relatively little physical strength.

    It seems that greater coordination, rather than greater strength, is needed to improve consistency.
  11. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I think we're probably not too far from being of one mind on this. Maybe my use of the word "strength" is being misconstrued?
    Perhaps a better term is "stamina". I think there is a certain baseline level of hand/forearm stamina required to play consistently. And I believe that stamina/strength/muscle memory is built up in conjunction with coordination, such that they're inseparable.

    So I think we're talking about 2 sides of the same coin, so to speak.

    I think your setup concept is right on. But (and I can only speak from my own experience) it took me years of playing and learning about guitars/basses in general, plus lots of checking out other people's axes, to find out I could do things like lower my action, change my string gauges, etc in order to make the bass work for me, rather than vice versa.
  12. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    Maybe your hands are just cold. It happens to me sometimes. Just run them under some warm water.