Stage Anxiety, how do you deal with sweaty hands.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by DuckSoup, May 4, 2019.

  1. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    So I did it. I picked up the Bass just over a year ago, and I'm finally playing in front of an audience. So far I've been practicing with my local church and playing at a small worship service on Fridays with maybe 100+ people. That's been enough to trip my stage anxiety to the point that my hands get sweaty and clammy and I start to make mistakes. No big deal...I'm working through it the more I play.

    Well...The time has come that I may start playing at "Big Service" soon which is the main stage with thousands of people in attendance during the weekends.

    I'm mildly freaking out about it, and I want to play my best, but my biggest challenge is this sweaty clammy thing I get when I get stage anxiety. I can't slide up the fret-board, my hands get all sticky or something, it's just terrible to play against. I get so nervous that I tend to over think the music to the point that I forget what note is next, even though I've played the song a thousand times.

    I've heard people suggest washing your hands in hot water, or having a towel, but those things are all very temporary. Is there some kind of trick to dealing with anxiety or the sweaty clammy hand issue? Lotion? Magical Bass cream?
    Paradigm, Mr_Moo and TBird1958 like this.
  2. Last Rebel

    Last Rebel Lone Wolf - No Club Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2011
    Ontario Canada
    Congratulations . On your achievements so far

    There are string lubricants out there that you can put on your strings to help you slide ,any guitar shop should have this stuff
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  3. moogieotter

    moogieotter Custom Title

    Jun 16, 2009
    Duluth, GA
    Congrats on playing out! Overcoming the anxiety is part of the thrill and should happen naturally w more playing out. Until then, consider packing a flask.
    Bassdirty, Corbusier, ThePez and 3 others like this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Does this happen other times in your non-band life?
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  5. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups

    I've certainly been where you're at and have a lot more to be anxious about since I perform in drag, the real cure is to work on the music until you're completely comfortable with it. Work through the most difficult passages until they're flawless, the cure is confidence in yourself. I do try to wash my hands before the show! Good luck!
  6. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    ^^ I agree. The best (and really only way) to get over performance anxiety is preparation. The more prepared you are, the more confident you are, the less you think and worry about it. Next thing you know, it becomes much more fun than scary.
  7. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    If I do public speaking type stuff, yeah. But outside of that not really.
  8. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    It's natural, and normal, and you will be able to deal with it eventually.

    I used to get the cold/clammy hands , playing to a tape recorder in a basement with no one else in the house.

    What eventually worked for me was having been in a Church group, having to play fingerstyle guitar every week. It's just a repetition thing. You will still get a mild case of the crazies going onstage, but the hand problems will go away.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Honestly, I would simply expect it to gradually get better over time. After you've done it a few times and you don't catch on fire or anything, you get used to it and the adrenaline just channels into stage energy rather than nerves.

    I don't think there needs to be any more stress about playing in front of 1000 people vs. 100 people. A crowd is a crowd. Actually, I get a lot more self-conscious playing to very small numbers (like, a dozen) where I wind up wondering what each individual is thinking. A mass of people is just a mass of people, however big it is.
    Mr_Moo and lat like this.
  10. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    A lot of help here on the anxiety. But, in the long run, you have to learn to play with clammy hands.

    There will be times when it is hot and humid and your strings are just going to be sticky. This is something we all need to learn to deal with sooner or later.
    AGCurry, aborgman and JRA like this.
  11. JohnPaulSmith

    JohnPaulSmith Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Lancaster County, PA
    Cold hard fact. You are the only one paying that much attention to you. I doubt if anyone in the congregation will notice your mistakes.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  12. Keger Jupit

    Keger Jupit Inactive

    May 10, 2018
    The Great PNW!!
    I cut my teeth on our worship team, still play on it 30 years later. The best way to get over this is to remember that on this stage at least, it's not about you, it's about facilitating worship. I can't sing & play at the same time without some practice & prep, so I let my playing be my worship. Everyone in the congregation is concentrating on Someone Else, not you. ;)

    Having said that, I always wash my hands before I pick up any instrument. That seems to help as I also can get sweaty-palmed pretty fast. A towel is always a handy item, too.

    Above all else, try to just relax & have FUN with it. Knock 'em dead, you can do it!
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  13. When I first started playing shows I used to get super nervous. Even to the point where I puked before we went on because I was so nervous. The more you play the less of an issue it is.

    To add, the more prepared you are the more confident you’ll be which is definitely helpful
  14. fourstr00


    Mar 21, 2002
    Chicago Area
    Last thing I do before I get on stage is wash my hands in cold water. Cleans the crap off so your strings last longer, the soap dries your hands off, including sweat, and the ritual of it helps me focus and normalize going on stage.
    2cooltoolz, Element Zero and Mr_Moo like this.
  15. Daedraziel


    Aug 19, 2013
    Toms River NJ
    This is great advice. Also I've noticed that if the back of the bass neck has a shiny finish or is poly'd/lacquer'd/sealed heavily...your hands will always stick if there is even a little moisture. One of the first things I do on a finished neck like that is mask off the edge of the fretboard and scrub the back of the neck with a scotchbrite pad or light sandpaper (800grit) until the shine wears off a bit. Plenty of youtube videos about it if you were curious.
  16. Practice and repetition are key for stage fright. I've played bass in bands for 25 years and have long gotten over being nervous about my playing.

    But that being said, on 5/18 my son is getting married and they requested that I play acoustic guitar during the processional, when the bridal party and the happy couple walk up to the front. Alone, no singing, but just me and an acoustic. NOW I'M PRETTY NERVOUS ABOUT THAT let me tell you. I'm playing a fingerstyle version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Here Comes the Bride"....

    Not sure how I'm going to get over the nerves on the big day. I've been hammering through these over and over so they're as ingrained as possible. I'm honored to have been asked, but this is not just some camp fire strumming now!
    Marko 1 likes this.
  17. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    Very true... when there’s 1,000 or 10,000 people, it usually feels as if the crowd is almost entertaining themselves and the band can play just about anything and everyone has fun. But when there’s 10 people, and they’re all sitting there staring at you, that’s usually feels like more pressure and it’s harder to just relax and have a good time.
    Runnerman and hrodbert696 like this.
  18. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I really don't get too nervous. The trick is to 1) remember you're just the bass player and nobody cares what you do (unless it is blatantly awful) and 2) nobody wants to see you fail - they're all there to wish you the best performance you can give. Remember that the gig is the fun part of the cycle - all the practice and prep is the work - the actual gig is fun. And I actually think it's easier to perform to large crowds vs small ones - it's much less personal.
    WI Short Scaler likes this.
  19. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Keep a small towel on hand. If your bass neck has a gloss finish, no k it down with a scotchbrite pad. You won't believe the difference.
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    The only time I ever have nervousness is when the band isn't prepared.
    WI Short Scaler likes this.