Stickiness on fingers and the instrument (NOT SWEAT) at festival type gigs

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by eoinwalsh, Sep 5, 2017.

Do you experience this issue?

This poll will close on Sep 5, 2027 at 10:38 AM.
  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
  2. No

    3 vote(s)
  1. eoinwalsh


    Jun 10, 2011

    First of all I want to make absolutely clear that this issue hasn't got anything to do with sweat. I do not get sweaty hands or fingers. I've shaken people's sweaty hands before so I know what that feels like and what I experience on gigs is not like that. It is not so much a feeling of having wet moisture on the fingers but more like a stubborn, friction-causing stickiness.

    I could be wrong about this but my instinct tells me that the cause of this problem has something to do with the type of air in the room and particularly when different kinds of air mix together. If the room is warm and the temperature is not fluctuating I probably won't have any issues. Here are some conditions which have caused me to experience this problem :

    • Festival gigs in big tents where the temperature on stage is relatively warm but the air outside the tent is cold.
    • Indoor gigs on cold days where I have to start playing soon after arriving at the venue - my fingers will have been cold from being outside on the way to the venue and the change in temperature when I get inside causes the stickiness to start.
    • Gigs that involve dry ice/smoke machines and lighting. This may not be a cause of the problem but I have noticed that whenever I experience the problem these elements seem to often be involved on the gig.

    Note - If I play an outdoor gig on a cold day, usually my fingers will get very cold and very dry, the skin will become very smooth and I will lose feeling in the fingers but I will not get the stickiness. However, if I played the same gig on the same day in a festival tent where the bulk of air inside the tent is a different temperature/humidity to the cold air creeping in from outside the tent and where there is a large audience all breathing out warm air I'm pretty sure the stickiness would occur. So that's why I'm convinced that temperature and humidity have a lot to do with this.

    The moisture causes friction between the fingers and the strings so that getting the plucking fingers to actually move through the strings swiftly is very difficult.

    Also, I often find that this same stickiness occurs on the instrument itself during these gigs.

    Usually I will be fine at the start of the gig but within 10 or 20 minutes the problem will start to occur. And within 5 minutes of the end of the gig the fingers will be dry and unsticky again.

    Does anyone have any ideas about how to avoid this?

  2. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    For me, this is all related to humidity. Although i sweat quite a bit too. The moisture causes hang up when plucking and usually leads to a blister eventually.

    You may need to lube up in these situations to counteract this. Fast Fret is one product, or some sort of mineral oil. I'm not sure how else to counteract this.
  3. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I remember someone recommending "nose grease". You know, lubricating your fingers with oil on your nose. I thought it sounded pretty gross, but you never know.

    I'd be interested in any solutions too, since I've got the same problem sometimes. Never observed any temp or humidity changes, so I'm not sure what's the cause in my case.
    EddieV and jchrisk1 like this.
  4. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    I used to play in this downtown bar/restaurant and had this problem almost every time (once a week gig). I think it was combination of cigarete smoke and humidity that was generated by the audience.
  5. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Seems like it's always humidity related to me. Nose grease is gross, but it works well. Fast fret always wore off too "fast" for me.
  6. Played with a lead electric guitar player that carried a small can of silicone spray in his guitar case. You can get small size cans from music stores, or Walmart has regular size spray cans for about the same price as the small size the music stores carry.

    He would spray his fretboard before a gig and then wipe the fretboard down with a rag. Back when I was playing rhythm guitar I did spray up sometime, does help with sliding, etc. Never have used silicone on the bass.

    Cost less than $10 to see if this might help.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  7. ..........or stay away from the kettle corn.
  8. I carry a small spray can of wd40 and a rag in my case just for this purpose. I spray a little on my fingers and wipe off all the road/load in goo on my hands. Might sound weird but works for me.

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