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Slapping is killing my hand

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by Space Pickle, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. I wonder if anybody has advice for playing slap...lately I'm experiencing a lot of pain in my right hand. I can't really practice or do gigs on DB. I used to feel slapping in my bicep (the good tired muscle feeling) but these days it feels like the entire weight of the string is being pulled by the inside part of my palm, between the thumb and pointer finger.

    Everything else is fine. Arco, jazz pizz, bass guitar & regular guitar (with and without pick) are all no problem. I'm playing Evah Pirazzi slap strings which seem pretty low tension to me. It's getting really frustrating, I've been slapping for about 8 months and have been making great progress. It's not like I'm overdoing the practice either.

    Also forgot to add I'm only 34.
  2. I find it's harder to slap with low action. It requires an odd twisting of the hand to get properly under the string, so as counterintuitive as it may seem, maybe raise the action a mm or two...
    Hoyt likes this.
  3. Hoyt


    Jun 29, 2006
    Saint Charles, IL.
    I know I’m late to the party, but putting a pillow under my armpit while practicing really forced me to play from the wrist and reduced a lot of the trouble and pain I had been having.

    As with everything else setup is probably key. I know people who can slap with super low action, but I’ve never been able to do that myself. I need at least a little room for the pads of my fingers to get behind the strings a bit.
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  4. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I have somewhat of a light touch for slaping, and I intentionally fingerboard-tap with fingertips in a semi-cupped forehand motion instead of doing a flat-hand slap-a-beat a lot of the time... This hand posture is more natural for my hand. For slap endurance I try to keep my (somewhat arthritic) elbows and shoulders as uninvolved as possible with the slapping motion and try to keep the main movement happening with my wrist, plus I try to keep all the joint positions as relaxed and natural as possible. And I switch off between straight-pizz (agressive, two-finger with my thumb on the bass fingerboard edge) and slap/pizz very often in an effort to exercise different muscles and joiints.

    I just played mixed pizz/slap in an acoustic roots-music jam for a few hours last night with about 7 guitars, a fiddle, a mandolin and a few banjo players. I found that I was playing louder than usual in order to drive the tempo and rhythm better with this large group. This group last night was clearly trying to moderate volume so vocalists could be heard, but with that many people it's nearly impossible to avoid having a jam turn into some form of a musical-melee. So it becomes more important for the bass to be heard. I had my amp along but decided not to use it last night in an effort to encourage people to moderate their volume better and it seemed to help. But in thinking about it this morning, not amping was a borderline decision.

    I have some very slight right forearm and right shoulder-blade muscle sensitivity this morning but nothing significant. This is typical for the kind of multi-hour jams I've been involved with over the last few months. A 50 to 60 minute gig with playing of this intensity typically results in no latent pain.

    Nearly all the time when I'm sore from playing, it's because I've been playing harder/louder than necessary. While I always prefer playing acoustically, if it gets to that point lately I simply amplify, or try to amplify more effectively. Part of this is setup, yes, but in my experience so far, once your bass acoustics and your amplification are dialed in through setup, you shouldn't have to play extremely hard or extremely loud -- that's what amplification is for.

    ... And among acoustic groups like this jam last night, I let it be known that I won't hesitate to amplify if it's needed in order to be heard. That does tend to encourage everyone to moderate their volume.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Keith Rawlings and Hoyt like this.
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