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Stiff fingers - how to relax?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by scrub, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. scrub


    Feb 24, 2016
    Not necessarily a technique question, but this seemed the most relevant sub-forum.

    I joined my first band in like 5 years about a month ago. This is a start-up and we're all unfamiliar with each other. When we begin playing, I find the fingers on my right (i.e., plucking) hand very stiff; I don't have the fluidity, agility, or speed that I'm used to when I'm at home by myself. As a result, I flub a lot of lines I would otherwise nail. How can I get over this? TIA.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It sounds like you are trying to pull a drummer around. I tend to play harder when there are tempo issues. It's almost as if my fingers are saying "Due. Get over here with me!" to the drummer. Also, I tend to play harder when volume is an issue.

    So, make sure you either have enough rig to keep up or try to get rehearsal volumes to a reasonable level. After that, really try to lock in with the drummer visually. Then perhaps you guys can stop dragging each other around musically.

    Once you guys have been together longer, everything about all of you should relax a little bit anyway.
    Honch and Technicality like this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    And hey! Welcome to TalkBass!!!
    scrub likes this.
  4. Make sure you can clearly hear yourself. It took me years to break down and get in ears but when I did I found that I would play a lot harder thinking that it would boost the volume for some reason causing the same problem. In ears or a good monitor mix can make a world of difference.
    Also, make sure your drummer isn't rushing, big problem with most musicians and almost every drummer I've played with.
  5. when you practice at home, do you play entire songs with a backing track or metronome? or you just play what comes to your mind without focusing in anything?

    Maybe you cant play those lines with the effectiveness you want in a band context because you never practiced simulating a band context with a backing track, drum machine or metronome...
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Try using a warm up, try some stretches, make sure you are well hydrated and have some good carb based food to fuel your muscle use.
    Bannana's are a good fuel source, as are pasta based foods.
    Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeine based drinks.
    Better practice routines that work all your fingers are good, rather than just practice what you play...it all helps you deal with playing over all, not just playing songs.
    By the very definition of Repetitive Strain Injury is doing the same motion over and over, so vary your motions such as practice, warm ups/downs and stretches.
  7. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006

    Take a mirror, and a good look at your shoulders if you subconciously tension up. I know that I did myself. You're too tensed up just for playing for your fellow friends/musican in the band. If you totally let go, and allow for flubbance (?!) and not be worked up about it, it will SLOWLY come. The main thing is that you're all unfamiliar with each other and wants to start with showing off to each other. Chances are that when you guys plays it, you're rushing it and tries to play at a different faster speed, than you practice at home when your adrenaline is not flowing (cause of the sheer volume from the band, expectaction, and excitement from just playing anything). I've noticed this too, when in certain bands, the rehearsal is tense for absolutely no reason. Ghost, paranoic images, and excuses turned up in my head "I have too high action" "I have to change strings, I can't nail this on them" "must practice at home first", it starts to happen. When I came home again, I could nail things like it was nobodys business. I am still wary about the shoulder things, and I tap our keyboard players shoulders each time, I see him tense his shoulders at countdown and go "Arhermmm....shoulders" and everyone giggle a bit. One thing was the colder-in-the-room than normal. If it's just 4-5 degrees colder than you're used to, it's enough to cramp up any finger and hand.

    Shoulders should be down. Always. Do not tension up at countdown. Ask other members to watch you if you do that.
  8. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    This tells me one thing only: You're playing much harder when in the band than at home. All the stuff above about nutrition and body care are all good things but your problem won't go away until you learn to play as lightly as you do when at home. This is not easy. You get with the band and start making all of that energetic sound and get excited and play harder. That's a challenging habit to become aware of and change. Turn up your amp and see how little physical energy you can put into the string. I've been playing 40 years and still occasionally find myself overdoing it. Luckily I can now quickly remedy the situation.
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Keep your ears on the music and your mind away from your fingers. How often to you think of your tongue when you talk? Stay on task.
  10. Mechayoshi


    Dec 7, 2015
    Playing along with a song at home and then in a live band can be two different things. Especially if it isn't being played exactly as your used to. Like someone else mentioned, you're probably getting lost with the beat and/or can't hear yourself well.

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