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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mahumadi, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    I am trying to find a way to relax my plucking hand, more so than my fretting hand, but that as well.

    I am beginning to feel "something" in my, seems like my knuckles on my index, middle, pointer (3 finger). My pinky sticks out straight when my ring is plucking and its beginning to tighten up/feel weird. My fretting hand just hurts from death grip.

    Granted I recently began playing about 3-5x as much as I had in the past year or so, I feel like I should be able to relax more although I am naturally a tense person. Any way to cure the deathgrip, when youre digging in? Are there any tips or pointers on ways to help relax your fretting hand?
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Relaxation starts with breathe control, you have to control your breathing. That means deep lateral breathing to empty the lungs of air so increase the capacity for fresh air. In most people we do not exhale all the air in our lungs, so there always a certain amount used or second hand air in there air, so when we breathe in e do not get the full benefit of fresh air because it gets diluted. Muscle love fresh air it is where the get there best energy from, so learn to breathe better will playing.

    Warm up you hands with some rubbing and stretching that starts in the hands and move up the forearm this is where the big muscles that control you fingers are..in your forearms not your hands.

    Good simple stretch after you have a good deep breathe is to spread you fingers as far and as wide as you can and then hold that stretch till you fully exhales all the air in you lungs then relax the hands. Give the rub and a gentle shake if you want.

    Drink lots of water, keeping hydrated will help learn to take more breaks and eat good food like rice, pasta, fruit, oat bars etc., in small amounts. Not to much or the blood supply will go to aid digestion and that robs you hands of of a good supply for red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body.

    On the subject of practice, practice more often in shorter time scales not longer ones you will get the benefit of you practice better.:)
    If you need any more info drop me a PM.
  3. You have to think about it, notice it, and force yourself to relax. Slow down if you have to when you practice. Keep at it, pay attention, eventually it becomes a habit. Make sure you have enough volume, you tend to pluck harder to hear yourself if you're too low.

    Typically I still tend towards the deathgrip on solos or difficult passages as I get excited, so to some extent its probably instinctual to do so. But if you work at it, you can at least minimize it.

    Bottom line, it is your brain telling your fingers to go for the deathgrip, its up to you to consciously override that command.

  4. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    Look at a bunch of pictures of Victor Wooton and Anthony Jackson and compare them to what you see when you watch yourself in a mirror. Figuring out the most mechanically efficient way of playing goes a long way to being able to relax....you won't be fighting the instrument.
    Do yoga every day....seriously.
  5. Gaetano Paul

    Gaetano Paul

    Nov 25, 2009
    Sarasota, FL
    Prayer works good too. Getting centered and such.
  6. Do some stretches before practice to get the blood in your hands flowing, these work great

    Keep a relaxed breath. Make sure that you're not using more strength than you need to with both hands. Bass setup plays a role in this too, make sure your action isn't too high.

    Try getting used to the amount pressure you need to sound a note with the left hand. Press down a note, and slowly relieve the pressure until you hear the note begin to buzz. Than make yourself conscious of the most minimal amount of pressure you can use without the note buzzing.

    Also make sure your wrist is relatively straight. If your wrist is bent you'll need more effort, which will make it harder to relax. The amount of effort needed to fret a note is very small.
  7. queevil


    Aug 6, 2009
    This is somewhat minor compared to the things mentioned and you may already know it. When you fret a note where do you place your finger at? I learned a while back that when you fret a note if you place your finger as close to the fretwire as possible it reduces the amount of pressure that you need to apply for the note to ring clearly. Try placing your finger right next to the fret and use just enough pressure to make the note ring out clearly. Then, keeping the same amount of pressure move your finger somewhere in between and pluck the note using the same pressure. Most likely it won't ring out clearly. It will buzz. I was never taught this until I had been playing for a while. As I said it's minor compared to the other variables that have been mentioned but everything you can do to refine your technique refine your technique will help with the death grip on the neck.
  8. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    My old DB teacher had me read Zen in the Art of Archery by Herrigel to get perspective on relaxing while playing.
  9. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    How did that work?
  10. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    The book "The Inner Game of Music" helped me immensely. Like the original poster, I am a naturally tense person. This book helped me identify what caused my tension and allowed me to relax by not giving myself so much mental feedback when I played. It's the best text I have used for this.

    Playing with more headroom (volume) can help also, whereby you don't need to exert so much force on the string to reach optimal tone.
  11. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    from an earlier post:

    Many beginners have no clue how little pressure is actually required to fret.

    Gary Willis also wrote about it his 101 bass tips book.

    The exercise is simple:

    1.) fret a note, and start plucking ( fret cleanly: on top/just behind the fret)
    2.) as you pluck, slowly decrease your left hand pressure
    3.) eventually you will ease up too far and the string will buzz/rattle against the fret
    4.) as you pluck, slowly increase the pressure until the note rings cleanly again. This is "the minimum pressure required to fret a note"
    5.) repeat 2-4 over and over again, paying close attention to how your hand feels at the moment you start/stop buzzing.

    The point is to familiarize your brain and left hand muscles with that magic pressure point so that you know how much to relax, when you notice your death grip kicking in.

    As mentioned elsewhere, this is an awareness that you must develop as much it is a muscle skill. You must spend some playing time consciously thinking about easing up , and eventually is becomes more of a natural sensitivity than a a conscious effort.

    The right hand similarly requires you to develop awareness, to get int the habit of checking how hard you are plucking in mid performance.
    Gary's book also presents some thoughtful reasons to turn your bass up and luck lightly with the Right hand.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    relaxation is tough for me because i'm usually a little on edge. i still tense up too quickly if i play something difficult for any length of time. a decent amount of daily exercise will help a lot with it. also, a 5-10 minute warmup is essential. just play lightly for a few minutes and don't do anything hard off the bat. and check into relaxation techniques on the web. they can also help a lot.
  13. off


    Apr 27, 2010
    two awesome tips from my old bass teacher:

    1... keep pinky and ring fingers closed and lightly touching the palm of your hand. you can try practicing with a pen cap wedged in there so that you'll know if you revert to an open handed plucking technique.

    2... warm up first! you know how bad your lungs would be heaving if you sprinted 50 yards without warming up too!

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