Simple Bass Line...?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kasuals, Aug 4, 2001.

  1. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA

    I swear... bah... anyways... ok. Here is the deal. My lead guitarist has given up some of his little solo parts so that I have some lead solos for my bass lines. They aren't long, and basically they were just walks that he had thrown in to break away from the rhythm guitarist. Now, I've only been playing bass for about 8 months, and I'm not sure how complicated this is. It's probably not very complicated for someone who's been going to lessons for 8 months, but I haven't met another bassist (aside from shows I played, but they are too busy to talk to) to compare notes with.

    I was just curious from your perspective on how difficult this should be for me to do. I'm having some issues with it (mainly my thumb begins to cramp up and hurt pretty badly after practicing it for about 5-10 minutes). Any input on how to make this easier on myself (hand position, etc) would really help out. Here is the tab for a sample walk I do in one of the songs:


    I don't have a problem walking down, but up I seem to have some trouble. Especially with the cramping. Seems like my fingers sometimes make the string ring when I pull them off as well.

    Any info would be so helpful... I'm kind of having to take suggestions from my bandmates (who don't play bass) and kind of wing this whole bass playing thing ;) I understand the techniques, it's just never having seen anyone do it properly is hard...
  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook Sheet Music Manager
    Relax your grip on the neck of the bass.
  3. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks. That really helped. It's sometimes hard to relax your hand when you are frustrated ;)

    I practiced that riff and walking up the bass in general for about 3 hours yesterday and a couple this morning... I think I just needed to sit down and actually put effort into it
  4. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Don't get carried away with the practice thing, man. I mean, practice for as long as you can, but if your hands really start to hurt, take a break and relax. Also, try doing some little hand exercises and stretches before starting to play. Maybe invest in one of them there GripMaster dealies to use when you're not around your bass. You should be able to find it at any music store or by looking at
  5. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, I saw one of those at guitar center the other day. I'm going to have to pick one up.

    When I practice, I don't practice for a solid 3 hours or anything, it's more like 15 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Alot of the aching seems to have to do with learning new stuff. The stuff I know I don't seem to tense up on, and I can play for as long as I want. When learning new stuff though, I have to put some thought into it, and my fingers tend to tense up a bit. I've been stretching the last few days, which seems to help alot, but I think that GripMaster will be a good investment.

    I do appreciate all the help all of you have given me with my posts. I really appreciate it. It's nice to get some real world responses instead of the cold one-sided opinion of a book.
  6. cafepurgatory

    cafepurgatory Guest

    May 20, 2001
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    If you're hands are tensing up when you try to learn something new, make a conscious effort to stop that. In my experience, it has a lot to do with your perspective when you approach a new piece of music. I used to get intimidated by new material because I doubted my ability to play it, and I always had similar problems. Now though, I just look at it as a new way to have fun playing. I can learn to play anything, the only question is how long it will take, and how many cool techniques I'll get to learn in the process. Never have any problems with getting too tense now. Shoot, given time, I could even learn to play JT's Lordonly song (check the mp3 link in his signature) well enough to put him to shame. ;):eek:
  7. you're not hooking your thumb over the neck, are you? the thumb should stay in the middle of the back of the neck all the time.
  8. Oddman545

    Oddman545 Guest

    Jul 12, 2001
    Huntsville, Alabama
    You could play where the first notes 5th fret on E string you could play that as an open A so you don't have to move your hands as much. I don't know that's the only thing I could think of. :D
  9. AndrewT

    AndrewT Guest

    Jun 16, 2001
    Sugar Land, TX
    For the love of god, don't tense up while you play. If you're gripping the neck too tightly, it will make your hand hurt, like you said. But, if you continue to do this, you'll get seriously hurt. I was always telling my friend to not grip the neck so tightly while playing violin, and she never listened to me. She was one of the ones that would practice a lot, too, and even though her hand hurt she still practiced a lot. Last year, she developed carpal tunnell syndrome and had to wear a brace around her left wrist, and couldn't play the violin for 6 months. Just letting you know, I don't want the same thing to happen to anyone else. Good luck on your playing, though. :)
  10. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah... see... that's another problem. I already have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel due to my father throwing me on a computer when I was a wee lad. (Prolly why I hate them now...) I curse that Commodore 64 to this day ;)

    I'm not sure, but if any of you guys have or know anyone who does have carpal tunnel and still plays... see if you can find out some tips for me. Right now it's not an issue, aside from the grip, which I just now have been able to fix.
  11. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    You're quite young to have carpal tunnel syndrome (or repetitive strain injury as it is now commonly called). You must use the computer to type a lot or something. Do you have a family history? Who diagnosed you with it?

    Sometimes a wrist brace helps. Make sure you sleep with you hand slightly elevated. Don't play for long periods. Severe carpal tunnel syndrome can cause atrophy of your hand muscles, and other problems. You may need surgery to relieve the pressure in the carpal tunnel.

    You don't get carpal tunnel syndrome from blunt trauma unless you had a fracture or dislocation or something like that.

    Some links:

    American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Info
  12. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    Those gripmaster machines are really terrible!!! You need to play softer and pump up the amp. Lower the string high if you need to or take it to a luthier. Put it in a confortable position, and play as soft as you can. You will play faster and longer.

    Check out any bass player you admire and you will notice. Shake their hand and see if the have iron grip hands. Shake their percusionist hand and compare(beware conga players love to give warm "slaps on your back" type grettings)
  13. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    how you strap your bass makes a big difference on how your hands "fall" on the bass.

    I been told to play with my wrist straight with my arm.
    this may ask for a higher positioning of the bass and sticking your right arm a bit on the upper wing of the bass above the bridge in order to not pluck with an angled wrist (when standing in front
    of a mirror you will see how unnatural it looks playing like that).

    btw, someone on the forum once said that sleeping with your hands under the pillow may increase the chance of CTS, can anyone confirm if thats a medical fact?
  14. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I was diagnosed by a physical therapist out here in Seattle. She pointed out that since I had been a computer junky for so many years years (I became *engrossed* in them at a young age... but I'm still just a wee 22 y/o lad) and since CT wasn't even linked to keyboarding at a young age and no precautions had been setup I had fallen victim.

    She said it was mainly due to the lack of a wrist rest (which at the time wasn't an issue) and long nights of repetitive action. With the fatigue of long nights, and the lack of breaks I took it set in around 17 years old.

    I raised my bass a little higher. I'd compare it to about where the bassist from RATM plays it. I'm feeling a bit more comfortable there. And I also turned my bass up and played softer, that helps ALOT.

    I don't think I need a brace yet, if I'm careful about correcting any bad positioning and taking care of improper technique. I haven't had too much pain, except for this morning, but I think I had my wrist bent while I slept. ;)
  15. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    glad to hear your hand is better now, I really think you should take a few lessons with a teacher.
    the teacher I had has been through CTS and he has been into hand fractures and he advised me how not to hold the bass.
  16. PeninaD

    PeninaD Guest

    May 26, 2001
    Not true at all about blunt trauma. A- I am a Paramedic. B- I had my first bout of Carpal Tunnel from a basketball accident at the age of 10. No break, no sprain/strain. The second bout (same hand) was from a patient attacking me when I was 24...again, no sprain/strain, just out of work 2 months, and a residual 7% grip strength reduction (14 years late, it's not much better).

    On the brace, that is good advice, but it must be the correct brace. There are more than one type of tendonitis, and each needs a different brace. Other things to try, are icing for about 15 minutes 2-3 times a day, and if you are not allergic or have any other medical reasons not to, try taking an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. The ones on the market in the US currently are Motrin, Orudis, Alleve. The trick is that you are not taking it for the pain reduction, but the inflammation reduction, and thus you need to keep taking it. But you should never stay on these pills without a good orthopod/hand doctor checking you out. And physical therapy by someone who is very familiar with musician's injuries might be helpful.

    Good luck!
  17. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Hi PeninaD,

    CTS is NOT tendinitis.

    CTS is compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel at the wrist joint usually caused by swelling of the synovium - you may have associated tendinitis, but tendinitis is not CTS.

    You can get swelling in the carpal tunnel from blunt trauma but this should not be chronic and should go away. It sounds that your hand still has residual weakness - which fingers? which muscle groups are affected? If the distribution is in the median nerve, then the cause may have been CTS, but if so, surgery should have been performed to relieve the pressure off the median nerve.

    Of course I was not there to examine you when you had CTS at age 10 (CTS is uncommon in the paediatric age group). When the patient assaulted you at age 24, I suppose he may have hit your wrist, causing some swelling in the carpal tunnel. If this was the case, and you still have weakness, then the pressure in there must have been prolonged and have caused some permanent nerve damage, which was unfortunate.

    Anyway, enough said. You are in the end correct. :)
  18. COZ

    COZ Guest

    the only thing i can suggest, is play the riff or whatever your playing slowly until your fingers get used to the pattern. That's what i had to do for one of the songs that we play in my band. it was a real fast tune for me, a little harder and faster than i'm used to, and my hand would always cramp! so i just played it over and over and over and......well you get the point! just remember to stay loose!
  19. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    The world needs more guitarists like this!