tips on improving stamina, dexterity etc.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by sloppysubs, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    hey all,
    when i tap for lengthend periods of time, i find my hands and fingers getting fatigued. is there any way to "build muscle"? id like to have a little more endurance and stamina in my playing. also any finger stretching exercises so as to loosen the stress and tension on the muscles? thanks.

    and no this isnt some sort of gay thing. ;)
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    My suggestion... relax.
  3. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    by relax, what do you mean play slower or just maybe start slow and work up the speed? any more info id appreciate.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I mean don't tense up when you play. Breath. Play with a lighter* touch. Let the amp do some of the work. Try to anticipate where you want to go.

    All of this makes it easier to relax.

    Playing slower isn't necessary. In fact for me a big part of being able to play faster for long periods of time without fatigue is directly because of what I just listed. Sometimes I still can't believe how I have the feeling that I'm just getting warmed up at the end of a gig. No fatigue.

    I know it may sound all Zen and/or new age but guess what? It works.

    I've never done any finger exercises other than actual playing.

    Hope that helps.

    *light doesn't mean you shouldn't play with a firm, deliberate feel. I'll explain further if it'll help.
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Wax on, wax off"?


    I do dexterity exercises...usually during the NFL/NHL games on TV. True, it's not 'proper' & maybe even somewhat mindless; I just figure I'm gonna be spending those x hours watching the games anyway, so-
    I might as well have the bass in-hand.
    I do believe all these hours have benefited me in a 'raw' technical sense. This isn't about playing 'real' music.

    Growing up, I never worried about technique(had none/little)...I worked on tone & taste(more of a Chuck Rainey/Will Lee man vs. Stanley/Jaco man).
    Having enough technique, though, has allowed me to play stuff today that I shoulda been playing back in the '70s/'80s.
  6. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    thanks guys good info. ill practice some of that and hopefully it will help me out. thanks again
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Brad gave some excellent advice.

    Another thing, most people tend to hold their breath while playing, especially a melodic run etc., this will increase tension in your whole body, try to continue breathing in a relaxed, regular way, this will also loosen up your playing.
  8. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    so i suppose basically i should just breath take my time and kind of "feel" it out? sounds good to me. thanks a ton guys.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    No problem. Good luck.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Something to practice/ponder-
    "Breathe like a horn player" while playing your lines. An 'advantage' of a string player over a horn/wind player is we don't have to breathe.
    Then this an 'advantage'?
    Anyway, this may open up your phrasing a bit.

    Personally, FME, it is confidence which allows one to relax. How one gains that degree of confidence is the journey.
  11. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Brad - you are a very wise man, my friend. Great advice! I am at my absolute WORST when I am tense. I find that I am at my most tense (grammar?) when I'm playing with a band for the first time. The fingers don't move as quickly nor as smoothly. It usually takes me a little while to get rid of the tension when just starting to play with people.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Thanks, I appreciate that.

    And I agree with JimK, confidence is important... and it's not the confidence that you can blow everyone away with your virtuosity but rather the confidence that you can do what you do. I guess I'd call that a realistic confidence.

    I found out a long time ago that really knowing that I can do what I do took all the pressure off performing (and I'm no Jaco;)). I'm a firm believer that most mistakes are caused by thinking or even worse, fearing that you'll make a mistake. So I honestly don't sweat it, I go out and do the best I can. I've made my share of goofs over the years and so far, no one has died. Knowing that takes the pressure off too:D
  13. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    well its reassuring knowing that mistakes dont kill people. :D but great advice everyone. ill practice breathing and such and try to relax more often.

    im still having a problem stretching. i suppose mayeb before i play i shoudl stretch my fingers. but again thanks for the advice.
  14. PartlyDave


    Dec 28, 2003
    Salem, OR
    In addition to relaxing and playing with a lighter touch, you might consider trying this:

    Work out your fingers. Do this just like you were working out with weights: start a practice session by first getting warmed up (very important) - slow scales. Then focus on an area of the neck where you tend to get fatigued, say, the 3rd fret G maj scale area on the E string. Once warmed up, start working out by repeating various scales and excercises that focus on particular fingers you want to strengthen, such as your pinky. Just make up exercises - do repeatedly whatever gets you fatigued. Examples: move up and down across the four strings in the 3rd fret area with your first and forth fingers, or do sequences using your third and forth fingers, etc. The point is to fatigue fingers, and these muscles will build up and become much more secure and sure the same as if working out any other muscle of your body.
  15. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    ive started doing that.l i think maybe around a week or so ago. and that definately has helped in extreame ways. thanks.
  16. I'm with Brad too. Relaxation is the key. I will also impart something that helped me. about 10-15 years ago, I built a small 5 string practice tool to help develop my right hand technique, and assist with my conversion from 4 string to 5 string.
    It was simply a clip on block of wood 3" x 4" with old, used cut-off strings mounted in some fabricated metal pieces that suspended strings, and some clips that allowed me to tighten them.
    I would clip it on to my belt or the seatbelt (while driving) and would work right hand rudiments (string jumping, fast 16ths, broken 1/16ths, etc.) while driving to work, to gigs, or anytime I had nothing better to do, yet could not practice with a real bass.
    It really was helpful in refining my right hand fingerstyle technique. My design was kind of screwed though, because the strings would loosen and re-tightening them was a pain, so I let it live out the rest of it's days next to an old DOD distortion pedal in my closet. But I feel that it was a very helpful tool at that stage, and my relaxed movement improvements were kind of speeded up by using it.
    I think theres a guy on the net making something like it called a Prax-ax (or something like that).
    I may actually re-visit that myself. Always room for improvement in technique refinement.
  17. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    good thread guys. lots of good stuff here.

    I wanna add that the repetition of movements that wears you out is good but remember PAIN IS BAD!!!!! make sure you're using good technique and ergonomic movement.

    Also, relax your jaw. Most people tense up first in the jaw. Have you ever seen a beginer with "guitarist toung"? Their playing really tense and they're concentrating so hard that their toung and mouth are just going crazy. Try playing with your jaw slack and hanging open. You'll be amazed how much letting you jaw loose will loosen up the rest of your body.

    I learned that from my double bass instructor. A must because that instrument takes your whole body to play. Also warm up your whole body not just your hands. Its all connected. Talk to some Double Bass guys. There's a lot of injury associated with DB playing so there's a lot of DBer's who with input on warming up and streching.

    I found that when i play cold gigs, and cant fully warm up my whole body, it takes me about four songs of jumping around before my hands wont go numb. I play in a punk rock band and there's a lot of action on stage. So you have to have your whole body ready to go so your hands follow along. Your core keeps your extremities warm not the other way around.
  18. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    This is a problem I encounter quite often. I will notice a lot of tension in my jaw when I'm playing, which in turn makes my whole body feel tense. It affects my playing and disallows me to play with emotion for one thing. I do play with my mouth open slightly and it does help. Before I play, while I'm doing my warmups, I move my mouth around (I know...I bet it looks funny :D), just to loosen up a bit.

    Also before I begin to play, I do some breathing exercises and visualization and shake my hands out (especially if it's cold).
  19. Ego


    Jan 10, 2004
    i get the jaw thing too, but the rest always feels pretty loose

    all this is great advice, but if you actually want to build muscle, put between the strings and the fretboard to raise the action (i use a sock folded in half, or you can by a fancy Buddha Rope from bill dickens). do fret excercises with the raised action and it'll give you a nice workout.
  20. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    If you've been playing bass for more than about a year, you've got all the strength you'll ever need. Flexibilty, stamina and the ability to relax while playing is all you need, not "weight lifting" gimmicks like that.