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Shoulder bothers me while playing with a stool

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by rob_the_bassist, May 5, 2006.

  1. Hey, I've been playing upright bass since 3rd grade standing up, but when i'm approaching new pieces, my teacher suggested to play with a stool. So i got a bar stool and i adjusted the height of my bass..but now that i'm playing on a stool my right deltoid in my bow arm realy is soar after and while playing. playing with a stool is so much easier personally, and i plan on continue..but what am i doing wrong that makes my shoulder hurt?
  2. bpclark


    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    You may not be doing anything wrong. But since you are now sitting, you are using your muscles differently. When standing, your arm hangs more and now that you're sitting, the angle of the bass has changed and you are probably holding your arm out front more than you had in the past. I am going through the same kind of thing at the moment.

    My suggestions are...

    Play on the stool for shorter periods of time until you adjust physically to the sitting position.

    Try to sit in a position that allows your arm position to more closely resemble the way it was when you were standing.

    Avoid holding the arm up as much as possible. Let as much arm weight go onto the strings as possible.

    Find some exercises to strengthen the shoulder/affected muscles( I've got some I am trying right now, but I'm not going to recommend them until I know that they are helping). Hint: Check out some web sites that deal with sports medicine and search on deltoid pain.

    If it really hurts, stop playing and give it a rest. You don't want to cause an injury that requires a trip to the doctor.
  3. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    try concentrating on keeping the elbow of the bow arm 'low',a nd loose. With time, the shoulder should follow automaticly.
  4. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    took the words right out of my mouth.
  5. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Try standing.
  6. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    I think it's important to correct this problem A.S.A.P. If you want to be an orchestral bassist you will most likely not be standing during rehersals and concerts. Try out different heights on your endpin and more comfortable stools.
  7. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    There is nothing sacrosanct about playing seated. Argument to the contrary is about as sensible as arguing the superiority of French bow to German, or vice versa. Most of the bassists that I have observed playing from a stool misuse their spines, regardless of their level of competence as bassists. If the back, neck and head relationship is awry, no amount of advice about use of other components - arm, elbow, etc. - is going to make the problem abate.
    If natselection has been playing standing without a problem since he was 8 years old, and upon changing to playing seated he has pain, reverting to standing seems like a good idea.
    I bring a stool to rehearsals for when the conductor wants to talk.
  8. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005

    As I said before, go to a musicians injury clinic, a sports medicine doctor, anyone who has some sort of knowledge (more than us, and hopefully with a degree in the matter.) Playing comfortable is extremely important, you don't want your career to end early whether you sit or stand on your head.
  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    How 'bout an Alexander Teacher?

    And why does he have to sit down?

    I'm guessing that you are sitting funny and may need assistance sitting better.

    Or perhaps the old joke "hey doc it hurts when I do this". Doc: "Then stop doing it".
  10. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    He doesn't have to do anything, he chose to sit so he's asking our help how to relieve certain pain that comes along with sitting. I also noticed Uncletoad that you don't belong to any symphonies, perhaps when you have a 7/8 size bass that weighs as much as a person and you have 6 hour rehearsals daily you might appreciate the idea of sitting, it also has the nice advantage of not recieving vericose veins for standing for such long periods. I don't mean this in a rude tone at all, :)
  11. Machina


    Aug 1, 2005
    The body has to be loose and relaxed. The arms in my opinion need to be as close to the body, without being tense, so to get the bass as close to as possible.

    The height of the bass will be tricky, I personally have started using my eye should = B flat in half position, but that is just what feels good for me. You can try that, but I still would say mess around with the heigh and make sure the shoulders are not coming up
  12. Hmm.. I don't think it's height. I have my bass up so the F# on the E string is close to my eye, and sometimes even higher. I would love to keep it higher (I have this love of playing as close to the bridge as possible...), but first position work becomes really hard. Unless he is playing with his hand next to his ear...

    Methinks it posture.

    Unless I'm totally messed up, I switch sitting and standing between 3/4 bass and my 1/2 bass and I have yet to have problems.
  13. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    "Us" ?
  14. bassa

    bassa Guest

    Jun 16, 2005
    1st of all, sit or stand? varicose veins or hemmorhoids? it's hard out there for a bassist.

    OK - are you hunched over? when sitting you may hunch rather than lean forward from the hips to position your bow arm. make sure your right scapula (shoulder blade) is not "winged out." to make sure you aren't tensing up, hunch your shoulder toward you ear then drop it. this will remind you to keep you neck loose.

    or stand. use the stool for rests. any reason you switched.
  15. Make sure that your shoulders are parallel to your torso. Don't push out your shoulder.

    Try to use the muscles in your back to get the weight into the string. Not so much your arm. A good way to figure out which muscles these are is to hold your arm straight out to your side with your palm up. Pay attention to what muscles you are using to hold your arm up in this position. Then turn your hand so that the palm of your hand is down. You will probably want to use different muscles. With your palm up you should be able to feel your back muscles working and with you palm down you will probably feel muscles in your arm and along your side working. But try to use your back muscles for both.

    When you are bowing try to keep the inside of your elbow turned out. You will be able to distribute the weight into the bow easier. This is a little bit harder to explain without showing so if anyone wants me to elaborate just say the word.

    The height of your stool could also be causing problems. If you are really tall this might not be an issue. You do not want the stool to be too high. This mostly causes lower back problems but it wouldn't surprise me if it could affect what you do with your shoulders as well. Make sure your left foot isn't on the stool at too low of a height. If you have a bar stool that has rungs, don't use the lowest rung.
  16. it turns out that after a while of playing, the pain went away. i guess its just like joining a sports team, the first day is gonna ache and eventually it should get easier. bass seems very physically demanding anyway
  17. Heed the suggestions of Don Higdon and, did you ever look into the Rabbath stance?
  18. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    I play with both feet on the floor which, I know, is somewhat controversial. The benefit of this posture is that it evens out your hips and allows you to relax the tension out of your back. It requires that you sit on a lower stool (26-28") but it may be worth checking out.
  19. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    swim 3 to 4 times a week
  20. Ale


    Jul 5, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: IGiG Cases
    Playing on a stool playing is really nice , i do all of my gigs that may now days ..
    One that can be anoying is that you have to change your intonation if you mix standing and siting to much .. If you get use d to the stool , your intonation will be to ..
    Maybe you should get one of thoose stools made for bassplaying , they also have a back you can relie on ..

    just keep playing and you and your muscles will get use to the stool ..

    / Ale

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