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The last word on Blisters?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by hdiddy, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Was talking about playing the doghouse at a party a while back and there happened to be a dermatologist who was listening. I asked him what's the proper way to care for a blister since he's a pro.

    Bottom line: Do not pop it! The blister is filled with a serum that the body naturally creates which speeds up healing. The fluid will get reabsorbed as part of the healing process.

    Got two blisters last night due to someone elses bass and lack of practice lately. Already a day later and it's almost flat again.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  2. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Usually when I pop it it heals faster than when I don't. But next time I try not to pop it.
  3. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Ask two physicians and you will get two answers.
  4. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I also found not popping the way to go. The problem is my OCD mind can't help but pop it after a couple days. But the times i did not pop, i did find the whole thing kind of absorbs back into the finger in a way. I think if you pop it too soon it becomes an open wound of sorts.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I never pop, but I do tend to file calluses down when they reach the "too much friction" point so that blisters won't form in the first place. I also think that blister formation and healing may be pretty different for dry skinned and oily skinned people. As an Irish alligator, calluses form like hard leather and then harden into awkward and potentially painful protrusions if I don't file them into a smoother shape. But some students I work with always seem to have moisture on their hands and fingerboards, and I would think that calluses/blisters would be a different animal for them. I always tell these students that they should probably wipe down their strings after they play to extend string life, but that on the plus side their hands won't likely crack and bleed every... single... winter... like mine. It's all a trade off in the end.
  6. My problem isn't so much standard blisters, but almost like burns. They're dark red, like blood blisters, and form on top of the callouses.


    Yes, I realize these are a little "inboard" from where they should be, but this photo is from a year ago, and my technique has improved. I still get similar to these if I play a long gig with fast numbers. No matter how much I practice and develop callouses, this happens. So I end up taping my fingers a lot. I may switch to a different string; currently using Spiro reds.
  7. JohnDavisNYC


    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    Have you looked into an allergy to chrome? Spiros are chrome wrapped. I have a nickel allergy, and it took a while to figure it out.... I was getting blisters from playing my electric bass with..... nickel wrapped strings! Switching to steel or chrome wrapped strings made the blisters stop.

    Jmilitsc likes this.
  8. Worth a thought, though I've been playing bass guitar for 40 years and never had a problem. Also have a Harley with a fair amount of chrome, and no rash from that! :)
  9. cpaterso

    cpaterso Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2007

    Chris - Slightly off topic - but ..... dry, cracked, splitting, bleeding finger tips, especially in winter! Yep. Seems to be age related - I never had the problem until I hit about 55 or so. The ends of my fingers would "spontaneously" split - I wouldn't even be near a bass! I have piles of various creams all over the house - i find those developed for heels (or for diabetics' feet) to be the best. I keep my hands creamed up all the time. I also always wear gloves when doing dishes. ALWAYS! Even one short session without gloves can wreck all my preventative creaming. Increasing house humidity might help - but I suspect not.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  10. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    Drink plenty of water?
  11. Brad_Pearson


    Jun 5, 2015
    Best thing Ive found for preventing blisters all together (after about 6 years of getting them anytime I took more than 5ish days off) is that GHS fast fret stuff. I just slather it all over the strings and fb only where the right hand touches. I have clamy hands (yet the backs of my hands crack and bleed as soon as things get even slightly dry) and since I found this stuff Ive had no blisters. Keeps my fingers from sticking to the strings which is what I think causes them in the first place. I can play electric with stainless rounds for endless hours with no blisters at all. But I used to blister as soon as I touched flats of any kind.

    When I did get them though I would just avoid popping at all costs. If I had a gig I would bring an electric and jsut use the less blistered finger or a pick. All my schooling was classical so it didn't interfere with school too much. But on gigs they used to be a total pain!