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Trigger Finger Less Problematic With Bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DanielLJ, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. DanielLJ


    Feb 23, 2013
    Hi everyone,

    I've been playing regular electric guitar for a short time, however I notice that my middle finger of my fretting hand locks up and doctor said it's trigger finger. Someone mentioned that playing bass may be a better fit for it. I know bass players often use the underside of their fingers for fretting instead of the tips of their fingers. Is bass a better fit for people with trigger finger? I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome - Type III Hypermobility Type and this trigger finger issue is one that can't be surgically corrected due to the type of connective tissue disorder I have.

    So my question is, does playing bass make it easier on the fingers for playing faster or just playing bass in general when someone has trigger finger?

    I do have an interest in learning bass, by the way, so that's why I'm here as well. :)

  2. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    I personally fret with the spot between the pad of my finger and the tip, but indeed bass may be easier for you to work around a borderline-unusable middle finger. You may have to develop a nimbler index or ring finger (or just use both in lieu of the middle finger) to compensate, but the nature of the way the bass is played still leaves that avenue open for you, unlike guitar where you'd be euchred out of a lot of chords. Four fingers makes playing easier and more fluid, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility with only 3.
  3. Ed Hornung

    Ed Hornung Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2009
    Eagle, ID
    I just had the easy surgery and it was fixed.... Bass caused mine, and it didn't go away on it's own.
    Good luck :)
  4. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Django Reinhardt only had 3 fingers on his left hand and was one of the most progressive guitarists of his time. Tony Iommi is one of the most influential guitarists of all time and has no fingertips whatsoever.

    If you wanna learn bass, go for it, but either way don't give up on your dreams.
  5. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    It may be easier to work around your middle finger on bass since you'll rarely be playing chords.
  6. DanielLJ


    Feb 23, 2013
    Thanks guys! I appreciate the responses and information.

    I found that video on YouTube showing what happens with my middle finger. It does that exact same thing as that guys middle finger in the the tendon slips off the knuckle and my finger locks up. Was told this is due to my connective tissue disorder because I lack collagen in my body and everything is loose. I have a slipping tendon in my hip as well that's painful, so it's a body-wide condition, unfortunately.
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The simple answer is no, playing bass will not help.
    With your condition and its complications, putting the joints under more pressure or strain is not the way forward.

    For example do you have any physio-therapy that involves manipulation using your own muscle tensions?
    It is rare, very rare for this to be the cases a patient normally has the physio do the movement, the physio can feel the type of movement and the quality of it.

    My advice is to go back to your specialist, (this is not the sort of thing a GP or family practitioner can deal with) and take their advice and recommendations on the matter as they know your case history.....sorry if this is not what you want to hear.
  8. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    I don't think the OP was asking whether playing bass would help. Rather, I think he was asking whether bass might be a better fit for him and his condition. I suppose you're right in saying that putting his joints under more stress will not, overall, be helpful, but I do consider it to be the OPs decision if he wants make that compromise in order to keep playing music.
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The answer is still no, with trigger finger on its own, with no complications, the main course of action is rest....movement is one of the main factors aggravating the problem.

    And I agree it is the OPs decision, but let him base it on the facts, and the facts of his case and the severity of his condition and where it is at as far as development.
    Trigger Finger is a complication in this case, so the condition has changed, it may even be that it it now needs to be re-classified in light of this development.

    I am offering too many "buts and maybe's" because this is not a clear cut cases, so the treating specialist has the final say.
    But (another but) no joint that is un-stable, as in this case, gets put under added strain or pressure as a way of healing it, usually the opposite....rest and and restriction by means of immobalization through the use of splints is usually used if needed.
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Middle finger sticking out? You are fit to play punk.
  11. 2400


    Sep 4, 2009
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I'm having my trigger finger treated soon. Doctor confirmed my suspicion that it was getting worse, and could lead to more permanent and painful 'locks'.
  12. rubbadubdub


    May 8, 2012
    I have no experience of this so I would say go with what a qualified medical expert advises. I did break my middke finger and was playing bass after a few days until it made a horrible cracking sound. My doctor said that pkaying bass was a good way to get it working again if treated with respect and not me over doing it.
    Your case may be totally different though and maybe you could make it worse?
    Perhaps you could play bass with a pick? Maybe try the Jameson 'hook' style or even the old thumb technique.
  13. DanielLJ


    Feb 23, 2013
    LOL I love punk and that's actually what I mostly play on my guitar. :bassist:

    My doctor doesn't care for me playing the guitar he said. There isn't much they can do for the finger he said, however. With EDS, the surgical procedures don't do much good supposedly. I have to live with what I have.

    My doctor doesn't know much about guitar vs bass and which would be easier on the hands, however. That's why I'm coming here to ask the pros here. I don't want to give up music. It's a stress reliever and is one of the most beautiful things in life that it's too good to give up. We live once, so might as well enjoy it to the best of our abilities.

    So, not much difference between playability you think between the two guitars? I could always get both guitars and play both. I just don't have the money for both right now. I need a new electric guitar, but was thinking about making the switch to bass because I've always wanted to learn bass and someone mentioned it could be easier on my hands over time. Final opinions? Again, I appreciate everyone's input. Someone above mentioned I'd rarely be playing chords with bass, which caught my attention, as well, since that will likely be helpful. I'm thinking bass might be worth a try. The worst that could happen is that I go back to guitar. I'm just thinking off the top of my head here...

    Thanks again guys.
  14. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    And this is the important thing. So let's figure it out...

    It is probably fairly accurate to say you can be a competent bass player without needing to be as nimble in the fingers as you would to be a competent guitarist. Guitars have shorter scales, narrower string spacing, and you play more chords - it's generally a more fiddly instrument in its traditional role. Bass can be fiddly, too, but you can be a good bass player without that.

    That in mind, a bass with an easy neck, low action, and low tension strings, could be very possibly much easier on the fingers than an electric guitar.
  15. DanielLJ


    Feb 23, 2013
    Thanks! My doctor also mentioned getting a special type of glove that is supposed to stabilize joints. It may be a matter of playing bass, using the glove, and limiting how many times a week that I play. I do have arthritis and I'm only in my mid-20s. The pain really flares up in my hands after I play guitar, however the string are much more narrower spaced and the fingers have less room and that puts more straining on my joints and causes pain. Ehlers-Danlos sucks having, but I've gotta live with my conditions and need to find a happy medium I think.

    Link to gloves that I bought and waiting to get in mail still: https://www.therapygloves.com/store/product.php?productid=2
  16. bassdog


    May 23, 2005
    Atlanta, Ga
    I had it in my fretting hand pinky. Definately caused by some of the practicing I had been doing. Took a bit longer than a year but after two cort injections and some topical stuff, it finally resolved itself. Good luck.

  17. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Try a shortscale bass with low tension strings. Good setup also helps.
  18. Boompow


    Feb 15, 2013
    Get a bass with good action and just shred so fast that you don't need that middle finger, use your pinky more, slide your first finger over a fret, use your third to walk. You don't have to play 5 finger chords and if you just wanna play punk you really only need 1 finger.

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