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The Bass Is Weighing Me Down

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by stephanie, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Ok, this is mostly a question of 'Is there a way I can position my bass better?' or 'Is there something I can do to alleviate this problem?':

    I usually practice my bass sitting down. It is just much more comfortable. Lately I've been trying to practice standing up, though, because I know you should alternate and of course I guess you need to be able to stand up and play if you're going to want to play gigs, etc.

    So, anyway, I'm trying to practice standing up more...but it has been causing a great deal of pain. First, I feel my bass is weighing me down. I'm playing with the Squier Affinity P-Bass which is only 8lbs. I also own that cheap Rogue you see in the Musician's Friend catalog that is very very light...but the playability is no good at all and I barely even use it. I play with the bass near my chest because I have short arms and I have easier access to the fingerboard. As for straps, I have the Neotech Super Bass Strap (you know, the kind with the padding) because regular straps dig into my shoulder. So when I'm standing up playing I feel tremendous pressure on my upper body and at times, I can't breathe too well :eek: And the pain shoots down my back. :(

    Now I am not one to be able to stand up for very long in the first place. I have no feeling in my upper right leg and also I have disalligned hips which cause back and shoulder pain. The way I have my bass positioned is comfortable for awhile but then...pffffftt...

    Not trying to whine here, LOL, but I was just wondering if there was anything that can be done about this other than only ever being able to play sitting down. And I also don't want to be only able to play basses that are light and comfortable but have no playability whatsoever.

    Thanks for any tips, :)
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    A wider strap helps more than padding, since it distributes the weight over a larger area. You can also try to place it a little differently on the shoulder, a little to the left or right can make some difference in comfort.

    I once saw a strap that put the weight on BOTH shoulders, that would help a lot.

    Maybe you can try to put the strap over your right shoulder sometimes, Albert Collins-style. I sometimes do that for fun, and it feels amazingly comfortable.

    But check out those Slider straps, it might be the solution you're looking for.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
  4. I used to be the same way with standing up and playing. It just isn't comfortable at all when you've spent all of your time practicing sitting down. I just made myself stand to play, though, because it's neccesary. Have you tried just standing up until it gets a bit uncomfortable, and then sitting down and resting? That's what I did. Slowly, things built up, and it became natural feeling, and easily bearable...

    Hope it helps...goodluck.

  5. P.S. Play around with new straps, as mentioned above, and try different was of wearing it on you. Just experiment, and find something that works for you...

  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, this might sound like an odd solution, but I've found that upper-body workouts helped a lot for me, especially since I'm not a very big guy. I exercise with dumbbells (no, not drummers or singers... :rolleyes: ), and I find that right after a light workout, the bass feels less heavy; after a longer period of consistent exercise, the bass won't weigh you down nearly as much.

    Still, be careful - if you overdo a workout, it's going to hurt a lot more.
  7. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thank you for the replies and also thanks for those links. :)

    Just to let you know that Neotech strap is almost 3 1/2 inches wide. I think I've also been setting the strap too close to my neck and not balancing it right on my shoulder.

    Yep. That's what I do.

    Well, I'm not allowed to work with weights, though I do have a set of very light ones. I have exercises that my doctor gave me once...but...heh...oops...I've been slack on 'em. :D My teacher said the same exact thing that I need to build up my upper-body strength. I have muscles in my arms but every where else needs some working on.

    Thanks again, guys :)
  8. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Try to work your upper back. Also, you might try lengthening your strap a bit - that way, the weight of the bass is pulling downward more than forward, which may be responsible for some discomfort. It may take a while to get used to it, but I'd say it's worth it to be comfortable when you play. :cool:
  9. craigers2


    Sep 26, 2001
    you might want to try to play on a stool for a while. that way you can let the full weight of the bass hang on you, but you won't have to stand up.
  10. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hehe. Last time I tried to sit on a stool I fell off it. :D :eek:

    Anyway, could this also have something to do with it: if I'm standing and playing I'm sort of holding the bass at an angle, not totally upright, but definately not straight on its side. I only do this so my left hand can hold onto the fingerboard...again...I have very short arms. LOL. Maybe that is giving it uneven weight distribution?

    Thanks again for the tips :)
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't think this should be a problem - I have seen advice that the neck should be at a 45 degree angle - half way between straight on its side and upright.

    I think you have to have a strap that can be adjusted and then try the strap at all possible lengths and find the most comfortable one.

    I have had back problems in the past - sciatica and "slipped discs". When this was at its worst, then there was no way I could manage the weight of my bass without considerable discomfort.

    I found that the higher the bass was, the least discomfort I felt and I would find myself shortening the strap as far as I could. I also found that most straps slipped about and dug into my back - the only one I could find that was comfortable when I had a bad back was the "Comfort Strapp" and I have bought several of these - they make them in varying lengths but they are very adjustable as well - you might want to go for a short one and try to make it as short as you can!

    The other thing I have noticed with "small" bassists ( I don't fit into this category!) is that the body of the bass ends up being way to their right - if they are right-handed - that is, the body of the bass is tucked under their right arm and the end of the neck is below their head.

    All of this is much easier to check when you are talking to somebody face-to-face and difficult to explain in words - maybe something to take up with a teacher?
  12. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How long can you stand without the bass strapped on? If you need to sit down after 15 minutes, it's unrealistic to expect to get past that with a chunk of wood strapped round your neck.

    Following the same logic, how about putting on an album and playing airbass along to it while standing up? Yeah, it will look silly but it's a good excuse to listen to the music without worrying about hitting wrong notes while at the same time establishing how long you can keep standing, moving around a bit and 'playing' with a 'weightless' bass.

    If that causes problems, you're not going to be able to perform like Eddie Van Halen, but there are still plenty of gigs which let you sit down (easier or harder to find, depending on your favoured styles of music).

    If the above exercises cause no problem, how long can you stand up wearing your bass but NOT playing? Probably less time than without the bass strapped on, but the point to note is whether it is also less time than standing up and playing. If so, try adjusting factors such as the angle of the bass, strap length, etc.

    If you approach this semi-scientifically (with rough timings, and not following one excercise after the next without a rest period) you should build up a better picture of your capabilities without spending any money on new equipment.

    Once you've worked out your personal parameters you can then work out what you can do within them and come up with some strategies :)eek: with the help of appropriate professionals!) about how to extend the boundaries.

    :)rolleyes: new to Talkbass but hoping to be helpful)
  13. I was gonna sugest gettin a bar stool that is about waist high. That way you can sit on it, or lean against it when you're standing. But if you fell off the last one...

    I have also seen straps that go over both shoulders. I saw one in the musicians friends catalog a couple months ago.

    Quick search, and here ya go. strap and for only $19.99 it's not too expensive.
  14. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Wulf, welcome to Talkbass! And I'll put what you said into consideration. Thanks. I'd say I probably do have to sit back down after standing with the bass for 15 minutes. :(

    I'm not taking all this as a hindrance, there's always options for everything out there. I'm just trying to find them. You all have given me great ideas. :)

    ChaosGwar, I was actually considering buyin one of those straps...just hoping it doesn't feel tight around ya as it looks. I bet it's comfortable on the shoulders, tho.

    Thanks again,
  15. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Hey Stephanie,
    I dunno if youve ever heard of the Alexandra technique? I think it basically (heh) involves exercises which improve your posture, which in turn helps strengthen your back, a friend of mine has a really really bad back and he swears by it.

    heres an interesting link I found


    hope this helps :)
  16. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thank you Murf. :)
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