1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Still getting blisters...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jjl5590, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. jjl5590

    jjl5590 Banned

    Mar 28, 2008
    London, UK
    Hey guys,

    I'm a semi-professional bassist, been playing for around 5 years or so. I play very aggressively using exclusively my fingers. The problem is, after every rehersal I walk away with a nice big blister forming on my middle finger on my plucking hand. I would have thought that after 5 years this would stop, but it hasn't. It's becoming a problem in gigs and I'm having to coat my finger with superglue during the breaks.

    Does anyone have any suggestions to stop getting blisters?

  2. Do you play with rounds? Before I put flats on I used rounds and after practicing for a while my fingers would hurt. I'd been playing guitar for 6 years and couldn't remember the last time my fingers hurt after playing. After I got some flats the pain from playing went away.

    So try some flats I guess?
  3. dutchwife


    Aug 6, 2007
    Osaka, Japan
    Ever tried rubbing alcohol? Norman Watt-Roy showed me that particular trick years ago and I believe that he's still using it these days. Now there's a guy who digs in pretty hard....
  4. Do you let the callus build up?
  5. g&lplayer


    Feb 24, 2010
    Hey so I had the same problem for a really long time. There are actually a couple of solutions depending on your setup and playing style. Please don't get angry at me for the following though. I'm not judging you, i just had this problem for a good 5-6 years and I am going to give you a few of the reasons I had blisters.

    SO, the list of reasons why I got blisters in the past:

    1. First of all, where EXACTLY are the blisters? Is it on the very tip of your finger (like if you hold your hand vertically is it on the top)? Because is it isn't there then it may be your plucking technique that needs work. Another problem i've had is sorta plucking with more the side of my finger, which resulted in blisters that were kinda off-center if that makes any sense.... Wasn't neccesarily the SIDE of my finger (it would be hard to play with the side of your finger anyways) but it was close to looking like I had a blister on teh side. Ive been playing for about 15-20 years and I now have HUGE callaces built up there. I found at the beginning i got blisters after plucking with the fleshy part of my finger, not the tip.

    2. If the blisters ARE in the right place (i.e. your technique is perfect) perhaps teh MOST COMMON REASON for either my students or friends that play bass getting blisters after playing is actually very simple. YOU MIGHT JUST BE PLUCKING TOO HARD. I know that plucking softly and hard give you a very different tone and stylistically i use both all the time. BUT, try just turning the volume up and not plucking as hard!! I think you will find that the difference in teh tone obtained via plucking at 70% of your total strength and 100% of your total strength is minimal at best. In addition, i've found that with a bit of eq tweaking, and by playing near the bridge (or whichever position you need to be; again i dont know exactly the sound you are going for), I can get a sound that is pretty darn close to the blister-forming, digging in sound that you are probably going for.
  6. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2008
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    You could try playing with a lighter touch. Bring up the volume on the amp and let it do the work.
  8. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I've been playing for 14 years and still get them. This is the only solution that works for me long term:

    I play flats now, and blisters are a thing of the past. If you're playing rounds for long periods, use superglue on the ends of your fingers.
  9. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member


    In the days of trying to pit my 150 Watt bass combo against a Marshall and Hiwatt half stack I used to finish gigs with blood all over my bass from digging in so hard and ripping huge blisters.

    Nowadays I play with much more volume available from my rig and sometimes find that I only have to play with the lightest touch (admittedly, these days I only compete with a Fender Twin and a Keyboard and we've all got much more controlled over turning down than in our wild and wooly youth). I've got nicely thickened calousses but never get blisters any more

    EDIT: Oh, yeah. I've used rounds exclusively for over 30 years
  10. trainwrecker

    trainwrecker Guest

    Feb 15, 2010
    Either stop digging in so hard, or keep the calluses building up; in time you will have manly bass hands and fingertips that can withstand much abuse! Took about 6 or 7 years and countless hours of playing/practicing for me to get there.
  11. jjl5590

    jjl5590 Banned

    Mar 28, 2008
    London, UK
    Cheers for the replies guys,

    I've attached a few pictures to show exactly where the blister occurs. It's near the tip of my right middle finger, where I hit the string.




    I usually play with rounds as they give me the best sound.

    Never tried rubbing alcohol - will look into it.

    I try and let the calluses build up, but I have weekly band practices and after each one I get a blister at the end. The pictures of the blister in the pics is about 4 days after band practice, it's gone down a bit but it was bigger. It usually goes by the next practice, but then it's back again at the end :meh:

    As for playing with a lighter touch, I have a 900W setup so volume is not an issue. My particular playing style is very aggressive, and to get the sound I like, I tend to hit the strings very hard so that they hit the pickups (kinda).
  12. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    With that amount of volume at your disposal you can well afford to play with a lighter touch, and still get the sound you want. Maybe you should try it at your next practice session.
  13. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    I've been playing bass since around 1978 and have never gotten blisters from playing. And I'm not a super light touch player. If anything I've learned to lighten up my playing in the past 10 years.

    I've never personally understood the whole 'blisters and hard callouses' issue, but I'm damn glad I've never gotten them.

  14. perfektspace6


    May 9, 2006
    I only got a blister once and it was when I first started playing.

    If you are playing regularly and the callus isn't building I am baffled. Do you use a lot of lotion to "moisturize" and does this "moisturization" require your plucking hand:scowl:


    You suffer from having soft and wussy fingers. There is nothing you can do.
  15. After a few decades, my fingers are horribly grotesque. Plucking hand looks like I have plastic caps, fingering hand has permanent grooves. It is interesting you are still getting blisters, those suckers should be hard as rocks by now. So, I guess I am saying that what you are seeing is pretty normal if you use Rounds, as I do. The curious bit is why, after so much playing, you are still blistering.

    Gord oh put up some pics of superglue, which I have used in a pinch. If I had a show and my fingers were too sore to play, I would simply coat over the blister. Pretty much leaving me with what i have now... ugly, plastic tipped fingers. You may lose a bit of flesh, even a bit of your finger, but it "should" grow back, heh. I see you already do that, so at least you have a tool to use.

    I personally would not take my advice, as I am a bit of an extremist. However, I would play through the pain on a daily basis and get those fingertips calloused up. Just remem ber to bring a cloth to wipe the blood off your strings...
  16. BD Bass

    BD Bass

    Jul 20, 2009
    Ouch................twice :D

    Sorry the see that...I live in the California Desert, cracks are more of an issue with me

    Good Luck :bassist:
  17. You Say:

    .... I try and let the calluses build up, but I have weekly band practices and after each one I get a blister at the end. The pictures of the blister in the pics is about 4 days after band practice, it's gone down a bit but it was bigger. It usually goes by the next practice, but then it's back again at the end. .....

    There's your problem, you aren't letting your hands heal !!. You really need to stop playing with your fingers until the blisters have completely healed up.

    Once your fingers are OK, then play every day - STOPPING before it starts to get sore - until the calluses build up, which they will over a couple of weeks or so.

    If you must play with sore fingers/blisters, then use a plectrum instead and, when your blisters have gone, be prepared to use one when you feel the "tingle" in your fingertips.

    I started Playing Bass when I was 14 and I've had Blisters on my picking hand twice. Once during the first week after I actually started playing and once when I was 18 and ended up thumping a Double Bass at a folk gig whilst getting extremely drunk!!.

    I then went on to play professionally 5,6,7 nights a week and never had any problems because I'd back off when the soreness began. These days I do the odd gig now and then and I practise a little, so I have no calluses at all anymore!!. I came home from the gig last Saturday with sore fingers but I made a point of using a pick when I felt the need and the soreness was gone on Monday.
  18. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    If you give those things a week or two to turn from blister to calus, you'll be in good shape.

    I still get them from time to time depending on the situation. Humid rooms + sticky strings will usually leave me with a nice blister at the end of a gig.

    Another old school trick is to rub your finger tips on your face. The oil in your skin makes perfect string lube - especially on flats. Sounds crazy - but it works. Just pretend you have an itch on your forehead and no one will be wise to it. I do it all the time....I also have oily skin.
  19. JohnDavisNYC


    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    do you practice everyday? or do you only spend serious time on the instrument on practice day or gig days?

    if i am in the studio producing or engineering a lot, i'll go for a while without getting to shed too much, and sometimes that'll result in a small blister when i play a 3 hour gig with nerve...

    i've always felt that not getting blisters comes down to maintaining your technique and playing a consistent amount every day, so that you aren't freaking out your fingertips one day a week.

  20. 60's Bluesman

    60's Bluesman

    Feb 7, 2010
    well ive had a simlar problem but wht bowling, my ring finger would get this huge blood blister and it hurt like hell to throw the ball. i came up with a system to deal with blisters that has worked well for me
    1. when a blister starts leave it alone for a while cuz sometimes they go away
    2. if they dont go away and the continue to get bigger and more painful take a pin and pop them or let them pop on their own(that hurts more ive found)
    3. when they are opened up take iodine and put on to the blister, this dries them out but stings like no other
    4. after the iodine dries get a product called "Bobby's New Skin" )its made for bowlers but it works for bassist too) you can find it at a sporting goods store in the bowling section.
    5. apply the new skin, put the little fabic like squares over the wound and put the liquid on over it evenly making sure theres no air in it. it smells bad as the liquid is a mixture of ether and alcohol and can sting pertty good too

    if you apply it right it should stay on there for a couple days even through taking showers or playing bass. there will still be some pain when you play and you may have to play less til it heals up (in like a week)thenyou get a nice calus going and the blisters wont happen anymore, as long as theres a callus there wont be any blisters

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.