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Raising forearm off the bass?

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by Tupac, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    I recently learned that raising your forearm off the bass is very comfortable and gives you more strength to pluck with, since the tendons aren't being restricted. But the problem is, it's very hard to use moveable anchor with it. That's because difficult to control your hand with enough precision to move it between strings quickly, and I find that if I have my thumb on the A string, it's angled upwards, and doesn't mute the E string. How do you deal with these problems?
  2. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008
    I use both techniques.

    Practice. After a while you won't even notice that you're switching.
  3. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    hi tupac-

    the way i deal with this is by simply changing the angle of my elbow... let me elaborate. many years ago, i was resting my forearm on the bass on the bass regularly, but with enough weight to where i was restricting blood flow to my hands, etc... combined with the height i had the bass set at hanging from the strap, it was also causing a sharp wrist angle which caused pain in the wrist over time. i realized that i could alleviate the sharp wrist angle and constriction with one simple step: pointing my elbow more to the side instead of directly behind me. try it, and you'll see what i'm talking about... put your plucking hand in its regular position 'resting' on the bass. make sure that your shoulder is relaxed and that you are not introducing any other tension. now simply take your plucking hand side elbow and point it slightly outward. you'll see that it takes pressure off of the bass from the forearm, but leaving the same exact plucking position for your hand. i hope this makes sense. it took me a couple of days to get used to the new elbow position, but it was so subtle that it made it easy to transition. hope that helps-
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Sorry to be so late to this old thread, but I just stumbled across it and thought you might it amusing how I discovered this "trick" more or less by accident. A few years ago I purchased a Jack Casady semi-hollowbody bass, which has a very thick (front to back) body and body edges that are not at all rounded. I loved the sound of the bass, but it was very uncomfortable to play for any period of time because the upper/front edge of the body dug painfully into the underside of my forearm. Out of necessity I began to experiment with raising my forearm off the bass and extending my elbow. At first I was glad just to have stopped the pain, but then I quickly discovered that my right hand was more relaxed, and my plucking technique was greatly improved, with a straight rather than bent wrist. It was only later that I learned that many instructors recommend this arm and wrist positioning for those reasons, and ever since I've tried to make sure to do this when playing any of my basses. So, that initial discomfort turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
  5. I too had hand pain and numbness from resting on the edge of the bass. So while looking at others play I noticed this is how Timothy B. Schmidt of the Eagles plays . Never rests his arm on the bass and kind of pulls away on the strings as he plays. I tried it and sure enough pain and numbness diminished drastically.
  6. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    Thanks for the feedback, Lobster & Erik! Always fascinating to hear about others' experiences with this stuff.
  7. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I just went with a classical guitar position when sitting which help a lot for that kind of position and using floating thumb easily.

    when standing up, having the bass pointing up instead of being horizontal help a lot both hand. If you look at Bunny Brunel or Alain Caron you will get where I'm going.
  8. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I'm finding myself floating my elbow to the side more these days. It's a useful axis to have my elbow in, as a side benefit. ;)
  9. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    yes, i do this as well. very effective.