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Suffering from RSI..... What bass should I use?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LKK, Jun 1, 2003.

  1. LKK


    Sep 4, 2002
    I'm suffering from RSI in both hands. This is mainly due to lack of proper coaching on posture and hand positions when I first started on bass a few years ago.... learning by ear, from books etc, I never had a formal lesson.

    I'm now getting proper guidance and am trying to correct my mistakes and hope to avoid early retirement from playing.

    To minimise RSI, I'm making a few changes:
    - A good strap and proper position
    - warming up
    - change to light guage strings
    - go for a low setup
    - stop slapping
    - Increase gain on amp head & play with lighter touch
    - stop using fretless bass (I find it stressful)
    - stop using 5-strings bass

    I'm thinking of getting a new bass that will help minimise the stress injuries. It should be a 4-strings with very good playability. The most important factors are ergonomic and comfort. My budget is $1000-1500.

    What would you recommend? Help me with my search for a new tool.

  2. Do you play game consoles and/or have heavy computer keyboard/mouse use?

    I found mouse use and bad computer posture can really stress ones wrists, so that by the time you get to an instrument, theres a problem.

    I have an issue with a wrist, and got it checked out by a surgeon. Luckily it wasn't carpal but a type of cyst due to previous damage and wouldn;t degenerate.

    I have a suspicion that brand/model of bass will be of little importance curing the problem, but I am not an expert at all and ymmv.

    I don;t know if others agree, but keeping ones plucking hand wrist straight seems to help reduce stress for me, and hold the bass so the neck is at a 45 degree angle (more like a double bass) - most of the movement is then coming from the forearms.

    ..anyway, didn't really answer your question but just giving my 2 cents.

  3. Donkeybass


    May 13, 2003
    Odessa, TX
    In this situation, I would think the obvious answer would be a Fender Jazz, or a good Jazz style. the neck is super slim at the nut, and the radius is greater than you would think. My Jazz is probably the only bass that I can play for hours and hours without regretting it the next day!!
    I was fortunate enough to have several bass players in my family who all gave me great tips when I was starting out. It was free lessons, and i didn't have to learn too many things the hard way!

  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I'd consider getting a bass with a shorter scale-like 33" or 32" to reduce left-hand stretching and strain. Most luthiers will build a bass in a smaller scale; I believe a lot of Rob Allens come in a shorter scale.
  5. LKK


    Sep 4, 2002
    "Do you play game consoles and/or have heavy computer keyboard/mouse use? "
    I don't play computer game but I do use mouse heavily at work & at home. I have reduced mouse usage.

    The Jazz type bass is probably my best choice. The challenge is to find one of good playability and light weight.

    Thanks for the reply.
  6. 6 string demon

    6 string demon

    Mar 23, 2003
    i saw a new strap system that involved a pice of string that ran across the back of the bod and the rear strap button ran on this string. they said it improved balance and brought 1st position closer. i can remebr what it was called or where i saw it. theres definitly a website for it, but hopefully this will jog somebody elses memory. this may be of interest to you so you are strechting less? sorry for being vague.
  7. 6 string demon

    6 string demon

    Mar 23, 2003
  8. wouldn't an assymetrical neck help? I only hear positive things about it
  9. I have just sold a 32" Aria that was giving me these sort of problems. The neck was 'digging' in to my hand along the top joint between the fingers and palm as the neck was thin and the edge of the fretbord had a small radius. It felt like I'd bruised the joints after playing for 2-3 hrs. And this was a 32" so that's not going to fix your problems by the sound of it - and I've noticed no big difference going from 32 to 34. I have just changed to a Jazz as suggested above and so far ( well for the 48 hours since buying it) I've played a lot and no problems.

    I recently met a beautiful Japanese, Alexander Technique expert - there seems to be a lot in this for us all to learn about relaxation and avoiding stress related injury - although she was so nice I could feel stress and relaxation heading the wrong way....here's a website dealing with it ... www.alexandertechnique.com

    I got really worried when my hand started to hurt so much. But you have to take these things seriously.
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Sounds like the problem was with the bass and not the scale; you can get a bass with the same everything as a Jazz, just with a shorter scale.
  11. Yep Brian you're right - the bass seemed to hurt me not the scale - but at the same time I was pretty hacked off at not being able to get the sounds I wanted - and there's few 32" scale strings to be had. So...it had to go...the bruised hand was the last straw and the change was executed 24hrs later.
  12. Czar


    May 6, 2003
    New Jersey
    If you can, try a Reverend bass. They are lightweight and have great necks. They are very much in the jazz bass vain.
  13. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    I have Carpal Tunnel in my fretting hand. It sucks. I find the most important factors for me are proper strap height, how exactly the bass balances, and neck shape. Scale really doesn't bother me at all. It's more about what position my wrist is in while playing. If it's bent nearly perpindicular to my forearm, it kills me to play. Wearing your bass high instead of fashionably and senselessly low, places your wrist in a more natural and user friendly position, IOW, aligned with your arm.

    I've also had to alter my technique and approach quite a bit by riding my thumb up on the neck when I can get away with it to relieve my wrist from as much bending as possible, (not "proper" but it has to be done) and also by laying off any unnecessary runs, licks or tricks and just concentrate on playing the song. All of these factors have helped me out a lot but more than anything, wearing my bass high has made the greatest difference.

    Also, your conditions are different than mine but I still play 5's exclusively. If I absolutely had to go back to 4's I would but I really don't see that happening since I've made the above changes.
  14. I've been very pleased with my Tobias 4-string Classic. It's light, the neck is asymmetrical, and it's 34" scale with a good variety of sounds from the twin Barties. You don't have to blow a fortune to get a pre-Gibson one, but I would suggest that you try to get a USA model and check it out fully beforehand (if possible). Be warned that the neck is quite thin through however, and that means that it's not everyone's cup o' tea.
  15. I had horrible carpal tunnel issues that forced me to stop playing drums (my main instrument) for a year when I was 21 (I'm 33 now). I went to a very good orthopedist who prescribed physical therapy. I did the PT religiously for about a year, and then learned how to play drums without tensing up all of my hand and wrist muscles; an elderly drummer figured that out for me. Voila! No more trouble.

    My fretting hand was the main offender, but staying relaxed has worked for bass-playing too.

    So my advice:

    1. See an MD.
    2. Talk to an old guy!
  16. meltsakana


    Sep 3, 2002
    I have been dealing with Tendonitis in my neck and arms for about 16 months, now. All the steps you have listed sound like they will make things easier for you, which is good. In terms of what bass you should use, I don't believe it matters that much. You should be able to resolve tension in your body in whatever bass you are playing. But, certain factors will make it easier to play. Make sure to get something lightweight! Also, it will help if your bass balances easily on a strap, in the position you want to put it in.

    Of physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic, I have found the Alexander Technique to be the most helpful.
  17. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    just a thought; warrior basses have thin necks, have great sound, can set the action low with out getting fret buzz and can be played with a light touch. my thought on the 5 vrs 4 string is i would still go with the 5. you can play a fretted e insted of open, and play in a higher position on the neck without holding you arm out as far. ive seen warriors for arround $1500.00 but you have to look for them. good luck.
  18. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    A few thoughts:

    -if you stick with a 5-string, you can always play it as if it were a 4, from the 5th fret on up only. This gets your hand closer to your body.

    -you might want to try a Dingwall, with Novax fanned frets. The fanning allows your hand to tilt away from the body, making hand more in line with the forearm, so the wrist is less sharply bent.

    -you could try a Torzal bass with a twisted neck, which reduces the wrist bend angle in a different direction.
  19. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    This is very good advise (both 1 & 2). Early intervention by a good hand orthopedist can help quickly. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to clear up your problem.

    Make sure you're taking some lessons by a well quilified musician who teaches you how to hold your instrument, how it should be set up, and how to play it.

    Good luck!
  20. Ibanez EDA900. That is all....

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