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Resting your arm on the bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by KeithBMI, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. Is it a bad habit to rest your right arm on the bass? Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. I've tried to stop becuase the sweat "melts" away the finish.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It's better if you can avoid it. If you can raise your elbow so that your arm doesn't really rest on the side of the bass, but just lays a bit on the top of it, then that's a pretty good alternative. If your arm is resting on the side of the bass, chances are it's adding more of an angle to your plucking hand, which can reduce strength and blood flow.

    It's a hard habit to break though.
  3. jrduer


    Jun 27, 2005
    Georgetown, TX
    I wear a wide sweat band on my right arm, and it keeps me from sweating on the bass.

    I've never really paid any attention to how much my arm rests on the bass, but now that's probably all I'll think about at my next gig! Thanks a bunch! :)

  4. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    My arm rests on the arm rest.........

    I can't see how you can avoid resting your arm on the bass unless you wear your bass very low.

  5. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    You raise your elbow. Keeping your arm angled so your hand is perpendicular to the strings helps as well.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I like good technique as much as anyone, but I don't get where it's bad technique to rest your arm. Most basses have a cutout just for this purpose.
  7. +1

    My last teacher was a proponent of resting your arm (forearm meat) on the cut-out part of the bass, and he definately wasn't some cookie-cutter/mainly teacher guitar lessons, bassist.

    I mean, if it really IS cutting off blood flow, then, well duh, don't rest your arm; but in all my experience, whether my arm was raised or not never changed my bloodflow--and resting my arm siempre icreased my accuracy, speed, and overall control.
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    My bass already weighs too much :( I would think resting your arm on the body would make it worse.
  9. Maybe the misconception that I got at first was the difference between the "top" and "side" of the bass. When I say it is good to rest your arm on the bass, I meant the "face" of the bass, not the skinny, depth part.
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    My arm has never been able to go in that cutout- maybe it's just the basses I've owned or the way my body is shaped, but the cutouts are always way too high up the bass body to be of any use.

    The bad technique part is mostly for the guys who rest their arm right on the lower curve of the bass below the cutout- resting your forearm on the side of it means you pretty much have to play with your wrist completely bent and you'll have an upward curve cutting into your wrist and forearm which has a downward curve, which is when the blood flow and tendon movement is restricted. I've found resting the bottom of my forearm on the face of the bass helps relieve pressure without bending my wrist.
  11. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    If you check out the paint wear on many basses(especially old Fenders) you'll see many a bald spot from resting the forearm. It's not only comfortable but it can also help counter neck dive. It often does create a sharp break in the wrist joint which can put added strain on tendons and is said to increase the chances of developing tendonitis/carpal tunnel syndrome. The demands and styles of bass playing varies from situation to situation and for many a sharp wrist angle really doesn't pose a threat or cause problems. I think the way we are built is an equally important factor, some of us are just more durable than others.
    I naturally fall into this position but being aware of it I vary my wrist angle by kicking my elbow out away from my body like B. R. Tyler suggested, but I always end up going back and forth throught the gig. I always urge young bassists to at least be aware of this issue because I feel that having the elbow out with a strait wrist is a "safer" technique.
    I consider it ideal to have your bass in or as close to perfect playing position when it is at rest and not being touched by either hand.
    After sitting and playing for an extended period of time I do feel extra fatigue in my wrist due to curvature, but I do not suffer in terms of dexterity or speed.
  12. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I would have to lift my elbow to the height of my shoulder to acomplish that....Perhaps I wear my bass too high.
  13. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I always rest my forearm on the side of my bass. Fortunately I don't sweat that much, but I'm always rubbing my forearm against my shirt if I start feeling it sticky against my bass. This is the main reason why I'd never get an Steinberger-type bass. Contrary to most opinions I've seen here, I really like that looks, but lacking a forearm rest is a great disadvantage IMO.

    And I wear my bass high. Here's a pic:


    Actually, in this picture it looks slightly lower than I normally wear it because the strap hole had widened a lot. I remember in that gig my bass almost fell because the strap was really loose in the pin.
  14. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    If your elbow goes straight back, then I suppose you would. Mine angles out to the side, so I don't have to raise it very far. Here's two pics of how my arm normally looks when playing. Ignore the small Homer that appears to be dangling from my elbow.
    In this one I'm resting the bottom of my forearm on the front of my bass like I mentioned:
  15. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    I've never really thought about it... but I do rest my arm on my bass... not heavily, just slightly... I don't have any problems with my picking hand, apart from I'm a little too slow for some 16 beat songs at the mo, but tbh, it's my fretting hand that's the problem there!
  16. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    My ASAT doesn't have a forearm cutout. The ridge of the body meets my wrist. Sometime is set my arm down on it, but then I strike the string in a downward motion that sometimes causes fret buzz. It changes many times during a song depending on what I'm playing. It's one of those natural things I don't try to change.

    Bad Habit? Only if it restricts your playing or hurts your wrist.
  17. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I rest my forearm on the fattest part of my pedulla's body, sharply angle my wrist and play over the bridge pickup. It hurts sometimes, I would say if your starting to get your technique together, try to avoid doing this.
  18. 90k


    May 3, 2005
    In my experience, when in sitting position, resting my arm is mostly a matter of helping to balance the bass. 99 percent of basses have this ergonomic problem. (neck dive).
    MY professional career started in 1972 at the tender age of 20. It really hasn't posed much of a physical problem.
  19. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    I've been observing myself playing, and come to the conclusion that I don't actually rest my arm on my bass while playing - my thumb stays on the pickup and my arm hovers.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    So why do you keep doing it?

    A guy goes to the doctor. He bends his wrist sharply and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do that."

    Doc replies, "Don't do that."