Tendinitis and the choice of the strings (DB forum thread)

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by blueshin83, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. blueshin83

    blueshin83 Guest

    Jan 11, 2012
    Hi there!
    I have a tendinitis to the 5th finger of the left hand, and for returning to play i think that a soft set of string could help me, despite the loss of sound...

    Do you think the same way? can you suggest me a set of string (for the bow!) that can help me not to strive?

  2. Either lower to medium tension gut or Innovation 140B, SuperSensitive Sensicore or Velvet Compas 180 SUIT for the strings. I recommend the larger diameter strings, since I think you won't like a thin G with more pressure on a smaller finger area. Otherwise you can try SuperSensitive Supreme or Pinnacle.
    If you play normal 4 string EADG you can use Solo strings tuned down to orchestral pitch which in general have less tension, some of them a bit too less.
    In theory you can also downtune ADG-highC to EADG, but this will be much too less tension to bow. The string will sink down under the bow and you will grab more than one string with it. And only for every second or third set a high C is available at all.

    If it is only the little finger of your left hand and you play normal Simandl 3-finger technique:
    Try to play the notes with your ring finger instead, like 4-finger technique (each finger a halftone step) without using the 4th finger. You need to stretch the hand a bit more or pivot the hand up and down a bit keeping the thump in position. Needs some practice until your intonation comes back, but you can avoid using the little finger at all and still use all the position changes you know from Simandl technique. Lower tension strings help too, the 140B are nice for this kind of playing. Maybe a smaller scale bass helps too if this is an option.
  3. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009

    Make sure first of all the bass is properly set up for your playing style and personal ergonomics. A good setup will do more for tendonitis than anything else will.

    Let's see, at 50 years old, I have a left elbow with arthritis coming back after bike wrecks as a boy; a dislocated left thumb that wants to "pop out" at the most inconvenient times; a short cracked pinky that is curved in so that I have to have a 40.5 inch scale in order to reach half-position octaves; and so on. I currently have Bel Cantos with a Spiro 3885.5W E string; in any definition a true "medium" tension set of strings. But the bass is set up with the proper nut slotting, proper fingerboard camber, proper bridge arc, proper afterlength to the tailpiece, and 4-5 through 7-8 mm string heights. So even with my left arm and hand situations, since I have a good setup and I work on proper technique, I can play three-hour gigs with only moderate fatigue.

    From experience, the first weeks after tendonitis sets in are the worst. The best thing to do is rest, then play lightly until the tendons can heal and the inflammation subside. Contact your primary health care professional for proper management of pain and inflammation, and avoid overextending the tendons until they do heal. Some years ago I had tendonitis set into my left elbow from swinging a golf club incorrectly, from favoring the prior injuries. I didn't lay off. By the end of the season I couldn't play golf anymore, and had to let it completely go for several years, then come back with graphite shafts with a higher torque rating to take the pressure off the elbow.

    BTW -- Bel Cantos are about the easiest string to bow there are. See the Bel Cantos megathread.
  4. blueshin83

    blueshin83 Guest

    Jan 11, 2012
    oh, i forgot to specify i'm from Italy, and here we use the 1-3-4 fingering (billè), that leave alone the thinner finger.. but i can't turn to Simandl fingering right now, at few months to my degree!

    about my instrument i can say it is well setted, i lowered very much the action.
    i will pay more attention to the way i press the string, maybe i used to press the finger in a "flat" shape instead curving it like a little arch...

    after all these things i will help the situation with the choice of the string... many of the names you kindly gave me, i don't even know... i was thinking about three choices that i can easily buy here:
    - thomastik spirocore light (but they are good mainly for pizzicato, while i have to digest Koussevitzky!!!)
    - d'addario orchestra light
    - corelli orchestra light
    anyone have tryed 'em?
    otherwise i don't want to use gut strings...

    thanks for your patient and attention. i write from italy, lovely try to find the words in english and lovely there are people all around the world that try to help me... life is really something amazing!
  5. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    You might be surprised by Spirocores. I play mostly orchestral, and almost all bowed, and I have spirocore lower strings which I really enjoy. From what I understand, for a long time the Berlin Philharmonic used Spirocore solo strings tuned down to orchestral pitch. The Corellis may also be a good option, but I have no personal experience with them.

    While i would suggest that in the long run you look into different fingering options if you think that your style is the cause, until your degree is finished you might want to try this: whenever you are playing in a passage where you don't have to keep the whole tone span between 1 and 4, keep your hand relaxed (especially when using your 4th finger.

    for example, if you play a c major scale (III)3-(II)0-1-3-(I)0-1-3-4, don't hold a whole tone in between your 1 and 4 fingers unless you need to, and when you land on the C on the G string, condense your hand so that you are not holding the semitone between 3 and 4. By doing this you will not be stretching the tendons unless you need to, and you will be using the rest of your had to support your 4th finger.

    Best of luck with your degree! I am also working on finishing my degree. Also, make sure you talk to a doctor about your hand and get as much help as possible.

    Cheers from Canada,

  6. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Corellis! (380F or 370TX F)Also Jargar lite or medium.

  7. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Homer Mensch was using Spirocore Solo tuned down to orchestra pitch when I studied under him. On some basses it works very well for bowing. Haven't tried the Ernie Balls:rollno:
  8. You should ask your helath care professioal first. If he thinks it needs time to heal you might want to ask if your exam can be made a bit later because of this.
    I understand that you won't change your technique shortly before the exam, but a lower tension string with a different sound and touch than expected might be a problem too. If you are not used to bow Spirocore Weich or downtuned Solos you may need time to accomodate your playing and maybe don't sound as good as with your strings you normally play (which gets important in an audition situation).

    So take iiipopes advice seriously. Get your health back as soon as possible (even if it means no playing) and don't play to much without resting regularly afterwards. Then you can keep your strings. It is not a good idea to change things just before an exam.

    BTW, you should also have told us which string you play now, so have an idea what is too much tension fo you.
  9. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Tendonitis refers to inflammation of the tendon, if you have had the pain for some time there could be other issue going on. The fingers are subject to a lot of stress and it is not uncommon to sprain the ligaments that hold the bones together - this is what happens when the finger joints "collapse" when you press on the string. If your finger joints bend backward (hyperextend) or if you have difficulty keeping your finger joints well aligned the pain could be coming from the ligament/joint complex and not tendon inflammation. Watch your fingers while you play or have your teacher watch you play looking for poor joint alignment. If the pain is form poor joint control exercising the fingers is a good strategy.
  10. blueshin83

    blueshin83 Guest

    Jan 11, 2012
    Actually i use Pirastro Flat-chrome.
    All the three models that i previously listed (Spirocore, D'addario, Corelli) have a thin and brilliant tone, and i'm afraid thay ain't good for my instrument (it's rich in high harmonics but the sound has a lack of body and deepness in the lower register).
    Today my teacher suggested me the possibility to use Pirastro Flexocore (that have a darker tone) but with the hazard of using the Solo set of strings, down-tuned to the normal orchestra tuning...
  11. heavyfunkmachin


    Jan 21, 2005

    To the OP:
    I suffered tendinitis in my left pinky and after going anal about my bass, setup, strings and what not I realised it was my technique.

    it was "good" technique but when I played difficult parts or got nervous or whatever I tensed and end up injuring myself with tendinitis.

    Turns out it seems that in most cases tendinitis is caused by using at the same time oposite muscles/tendons (ex: the one that gets the pinky straight and the one that flexes is) so this ends up getting the finger rigid and causing a big strain.

    What I'm trying to say is that, aside from getting the strings you end getting, watch out for your fingers... what do they do, specially "on their own"... when you're centering your attention in something else (difficult timing, singing... whatever).
    It's easy to control them when looking at them, but have them building up tension if you "distract"... just my 2 cents.
  12. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I've had a lot of problems with both hands over the years.
    Lighter strings and low string height will help but technique and adjusting your playing style to your condition is much more important. In fact even with real low action and very light strings it's likely that one will still have problems with inadequate technique.
    You have to be very careful with no over playing. i felt that with lighter strings sometimes I tended to dig in more trying to get more sound. Also as things get heated up I forget to keep playing lightly. It's also important to keep track where you keep your thumb and experiment with that a little. Anyway, the check list includes end pin height, bass orientation and angle, etc. As a result, for the last few years i've been able to use EPs regular gauge with pretty healthy action. And I am able to play a lot of gigs acoustically. My hands still hurt from time to time, but at this point I am able to negotiate with the instrument.
    good luck.
  13. MIKMAN


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    As a 53 years old boy i suffer from degenerative arthritis in my fingers, so i faced the problem and i tried many solutions. The best solution is the proper playing technique in accordance with the thorough set up of your instrument. This means that you have to apply the minimum force needed in order to produce the desired sound. An experienced luthier can evaluate your set up and modify any parameter that causes an additional effort to you.
    As for strings, well, the Evah Pirazzi Weich is probably an all around string, giving a booming pizziccato and a decent arco sound. Obviously it depends on each double bass but most of the DB players tend to agree.
    Best regards from Greece
  14. blueshin83

    blueshin83 Guest

    Jan 11, 2012
    the spirit of Django Reinhardt is taking possess of me!! :O
    to avoid the use of 5th finger i'll develop the technique of using the thumb also in the neck!
    I can comfortly put it on the C (first string), and use chromatic and semi-chromatic positions (do you know the Petracchi's Higher Technique book?)
    God bless me! :)