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weak fingers, oh my!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jimbo, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    hey everyone

    well i did a couple of searches and i couldn't find what i was looking for exactly...

    here's my situation, i'm currently away at college. i do have my bass with me but with all the work i have to do i don't get nearly as much time to practice as i would like or used to get at home. then when i do pick up the bass to play a gig or whenever i can feel a dramatic loss in my speed, stamina, and dexterity.

    a guitar friend of mine told me about the gripmaster gagets and i was considering buying them but a fellow bassist who works at local music store strongly advised me against them because they are ineffective and don't give you the full range of motions.

    so my question is, does anyone have any exercises, gadgets or anything else that they find effective to help when i can't play my bass (ex: while reading or studying)? one thing i am doing is a whole lot more dexterity exercises when i do get to practice with my bass. thanks.

  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Riding a bass is like playing a bike, once you learn you never fall off.


    Seriously though, those gripmasters are bad-news, stay away from them like the plague(though millions that died from the plague had no choice to stay away from it, so that's a bad comparison)

    But, they won't help you at all, sure they might increase the muscles in your fingers...a little bit...but for bass playing you don't need strong fingers, you need dexterous fingers. sure, to a degree you need a little bit of strength to get the note down, but even little girls can play bass(and well) it really doesn't take that much.

    I went for nearly 2 months once without touching a bass, when I came back to it, granted things were a little weird for like...5 minutes, it all came back to me like I had never left, any shakiness I had was quickly dusted off and by the next day I was as good as I'd ever been.
  3. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    bump... :rolleyes:

    btw thanks WR, i know to stay away from those gripmasters...like the plague.

    perhaps weak fingers was an incorrect way to phrase it. i guess stamina is the real issue and problem i'm having. i jammed at an open mic the other night with some guys i know and after a few tunes i could feel my fingers starting to give out...never had that problem before i came to college!

  4. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    My bass teacher taught me a great way for finger dexterity/stamina. Do this on any string-

    ---2---4---3---5---2---4---3---5 over and over again. Start slow, and work your way up in speed. Do this for about 2-3 minutes (at least 1x/per day) without stopping. After about a week or two, you'll never have any problems with stamina again. You can groove to it, make up different fingerings, but keep it under the 7th fret.

    Scott D.
  5. Caeros


    Jul 24, 2002
    Branford, CT
    Actually there's a great book for this called "Bass Fitness" by Josquin Des Pres that has a lot of chromatic exercises like that that have helped improve my finger dexterity by using them as warmups and stuff. Sure, they require use of your bass, but if you get about 15 minutes a day or so go over the exercises. Also, you could tap on the surface of a desk or table with your left hand doing scale/chromatic patterns. This doesn't sound like much but it keeps the hand doing those familiar patterns.
  6. Use a meaty rubber band, stretch it out with ur fingers every which way until u feel the burn. I moved up in the world from tapping to fiddling with simple but highly amusing objects. Good for stress and study, you can exercise your left hand while you write, or exercise your right hand while you nurse a cold and refreshing beer with your left hand. The fingering hand doesnt need the stretching ability the fret hand does, so the rubber band wont be that useful, but since ive been workin' ma hands out with a fat rubber band, my left hand has been way more able.

    Damn those suckers when they fling off into an abyss of living room decor.

    And dammit, grip masters can help, not all bass playing requires insanely strong fingers, but if you play hard, like balzary (every note is like its his last), then the stronger your fingers the better.
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Actually, you have all the finger strength you need by the age of three. (According to Gary Willis).

    Before going into gimmicky exercises and devices, make sure your bass is properly set up. Making your instrument as playable as possible will help you in the long run.

    If your practices are few and far between, make sure they're effective. Have a specific goal in mind and follow it through. Set a specific day and time to do it and stick to that schedule. Consistency is key.

    If you absolutely need to use a device, get one of those stress relief balls made for squeezing. Being in college, it'll do more than just tire your fingers. :smug:
  8. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    thanks for the suggestions guys

    i think i might try that rubber band idea out, Plazbnickle

    and blackbird, i know what you mean by scheduling effective practices. i've found holes in my weekly class schedule where i can take an hour or so to pick up the bass and run through my list of exercises and such. and that stress ball might come in pretty handy around here :D

  9. What you need yes, but not whats best for certain types of playing. Im not sure who Garry Willis is, but it would help with my playing if my fingers were stronger, like Around the World, I could never play it well, I was fast enough and agile enough but it never sounded good, my teacher suggested I play it harder, but I wasnt able to. Then I started to do push ups on my fingers (bad idea cause you can do damage, i fractured my pinky, thank God it wasnt it used much), grip masters, etc... now when I play those funky verses, , it sounds much better cause ive got the strength to play it like flea, im talking about walking not the fret hand.
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Gary Willis plays bass for Tribal Tech. As much a monster in his own right as Flea. More so, even. He plays a fretless 5 and does not slap.



    I'm glad you're satisfied with your level of playing, but it sounds like you could use a setup too.

    Oh, and fill your profile!

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