Warm Up Tips?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassfrenzie, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. bassfrenzie


    May 26, 2008

    Anybody ever have their left arm seize up & turn to stone after a song or two?

    I have - not fun. I'm pretty sure it's because of not warming up before hand.

    Any warm up tips?
  2. joelc1319


    Sep 12, 2007
    I'm not sure I have anything in mind, but I can say this...

    You either need to build more stamina (by practicing for longer hours), or you're pressing on the strings wayyyy too hard.

    Either way, my right hand will seize up after playing fast sixteenth notes for too long, but I'm overcoming it by doing it more often and for longer time spans. It's all about stamina. BUT, be sure you are only pressing on the strings hard enough to get the notes to sound cleanly. It's the same as when a drummer hits a snare drum from 3 inches above the drum head and 3 feet above the drum head. They can get the same sound, but the 3 feet away technique will fatigue the drummer far faster, their accuracy will be depleted, etc. Also, let the amp do the talking, not you (turn the amp up). It's an electric bass after all, you shouldn't have to strain to be heard. That will allow your touch to be softer and more precise, and in turn you'll loosen up your left hand enough to avoid any fatigue or "seizing up" problems.

    Sorry folks, I'm an economy of motion type of player through and through.
  3. bassfrenzie


    May 26, 2008
    Thanks Joel, but I know it's not a stamina thing...I think more nerves...It usually happens during an important show.

    Friggin' weird.
  4. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    If it's nerves, it will only go away with time and experience.

    Are you well warmed up before you go on stage? You have to stretch just like the athletes do... it makes all the difference.
  5. joelc1319


    Sep 12, 2007
    Yea I'd say nerves play a huge part. Also, nerves can make you tense up overall regardless. Just relax and do your thing, you obviously know how to play, so just play like you would normally and don't worry about the crowd.

    However, don't take that too far. My self-proclaimed death of a performer is when he or she is not nervous at all when they first get on the stage. If there's absolutely no anxiety in the beginning whatsoever they have outstayed their welcome.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    If you think it might be nervous tension try breathing evenly and deeply just before and during playing.
  7. joelc1319


    Sep 12, 2007
    +1 to both other posters. Stretching a little and getting your body warm is key.
  8. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008

    In order of preference:

    -I always suggest ballads to play along to, if possible. It warms up your fingers, wrists, arms, etc... and is sometimes more musically engaging than "finger warm up exercizes."

    -Get your gear and all set up well-before you have to perform so you can do some warm up exercizes off stage.

    -If you can help it, try not to play the most finger-busting song right out of the starting gate of the show.

    -If all those things don't help, maybe check out technique- how you hold the neck, where the neck is in relation to elbows, shoulders, etc...

    Exercises: If you think of a one finger per-fret thing, and four fretting fingers- do some permutations of fingerings anyplace on the neck. Notes are irrelevant, the motions are not:
    start slowly... ...and stay there, build to mid-tempo but never as fast and as hard as you think you can play it- It's a warmup, not a sprint!

    Good luck with it.
  9. bassfrenzie


    May 26, 2008
    Thanks guys.

    'preciate it.
  10. Spoek


    Feb 11, 2007
    Yeah I get that some times, during one song in particular.
    It hasn't happened for a while which makes me think its a nerves thing-had more gigs recently and I feel less nervous.

    I've found runing up and down some scales helped, and playing certain songs that I know I might cramp in, before hand.
    My mate reckons its alcohol related, we both have a 'one pint only' rule for gigging. He reckons the alchohol cramps you up! Er its a relaxant I'm pretty sure thats BS!
  11. joelc1319


    Sep 12, 2007
    +1. It helps me out a little :)

    However, if I go over the top a little, the playing suffers. It's not so much the technique and chops that suffer, but my communication and tightness with the rest of the band.
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I like to do a little light warmup both to loosen my hands up and to run over any difficult parts.

    However, I suspect the key is to RELAX while playing and use minimal finger pressure. I'm primarily a fingerstyle player, and during sequences where we play 2-3 fast numbers in a row with a stream of sixteenth notes, my right hand sometimes starts to lock up. The key to working through it is to RELAX as much as possible while playing. Less tension in the muscles and hand allows you more dexterity.

    Kinda like the Zen of Bass Playing. Relax you hands, Grasshoppa.
  13. Martin Bormann

    Martin Bormann

    Sep 20, 2007
    As far as boozing goes, I lose control when drinking so I avoid alcohol before any and all performances.

    To keep up stamina, I try to show up rested and ready to play. Eat a good meal with tons of carbs and protein.

    A good warm-up should help with stamina problems too. Get your fingers nice and loose too.
  14. IvanBassist


    Jun 8, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Dingwall & Aguilar Artist
    i do some cromatic stuff, start REALLY slow and speed it up, it helps a lot :)
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Jeff Berlin has the best warm-up advice I've ever heard...just play lightly for a few minutes. And don't over-extend yoursef during the warmup period. But I think your problem is more about relaxation. It's only natural to want to play hard and grip the neck tighter during a gig. But you can't, or you won't last. I'm the last person to tell you what to do to relax, because I'm almost never completely relaxed at any time, except in my hands, and that only came with experience.