Weak hands and-or bad strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Peter Fezza, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Peter Fezza

    Peter Fezza Guest

    Aug 25, 2016
    Queensland, Australia
    Hey folks, i've been playing about with my new (used) bass, got my hal leonard bass book, and i cant do anything! How do you guys play these things! Seriously, I thought my clutch hand would have a bit of strength, but im having a mighty hard time making a note! The tension of the strings and the thickness seem to be much higher than the basses i plucked at various stores. They are round wound, but chunky.

    And this bass felt fine until i tuned it. So i have 2 questions to you helpful people:
    How do you know when strings have had it (they cleaned up ok, not too grimy, and look shiny) although dont seem to keep tune?
    And second question, are there fine gauge light tension strings available so i can and least get started?!
  2. AndreasR

    AndreasR Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    Are you sure it's not a matter of set up? How are the action and relief?
    Gearhead17 likes this.
  3. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    could be that lighter strings can help, could be you're trying to do too much too soon, rather than gradually building up the muscles used to play. could be, as AndreasR says, it could be a set-up issue. high action = harder to play instrument. too much neck relief can make it harder to play on some parts of the neck than others.

    i use extra light strings. i have weak hands and wrists, and after playing guitar and bass for decades, my hands failed to get that much stronger.

    btw, i just got a set of strings for my husband, who put it on the ibanez SR500 and after a few minutes, told me "wow, for the first time i can play barre chords on the bass!" my husband, btw, has played guitar for over 35 years, so sometimes lower tension strings can help.
    jfh2112 likes this.
  4. Peter Fezza

    Peter Fezza Guest

    Aug 25, 2016
    Queensland, Australia
    Thanks, you are giving me hope. Here are two picks. One shows the strings close up, and the other the neck profile for the action. I think its high? The neck itself has a very slight relef, almost flat. 20161120_201011_resized.jpg 20161120_200908_resized.jpg
  5. AndreasR

    AndreasR Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    Good God, that action takes off like a moon mission. There's the problem.

    Also, how is the nut height?
    Remyd, Bettyboo, Leiria and 14 others like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah it needs a good setup. I play fairly hard so my action is higher than some. But even my jaw dropped when I saw that pic. It will take someone trained in such things. First off, it may need a neck shim. Second, even if it doesn't , in my opinion, it will take more than one attempt to get this one set up. They will have to make adjustments, allow those adjustments to "settle it", and repeat until it stops settling.

    Hang in there! The good news is that all your problems don't come from uncoordinated weak hotdogs hanging from your hands!

    Welcome to TalkBass!
  7. Peter Fezza

    Peter Fezza Guest

    Aug 25, 2016
    Queensland, Australia
    Takes off like a moon mission! Jaw dropping! I see! Looking at the bass its hard to say if its been played much. Its spotless. Trouble is I did not buy from owner (pawn shop) so i just dont know.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Don't let us freak you out though. Most likely it can be tamed. Then you'll be off to the races and complaining more about blisters than hand strength. :cool:
    Will_White and pudgychef like this.
  9. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Action is sky high. That's easy 2 see from the second pic. Get that fixed and you should be in good shape. - get a new set of stings that might be more comfortable for you to play and you will be aces.
  10. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    That action is unbelievably high. Find someone to do a good setup. May only need a truss adjustment.
    Gearhead17 likes this.
  11. Peter Fezza

    Peter Fezza Guest

    Aug 25, 2016
    Queensland, Australia
    I think you are all right, setup plus strings. It really is super hard to use, especially to me.:bassist:
  12. That's an unplayable bass. Jamerson would have had a hard time with it. Get some 45-95's and a proper set up. Problem solved. Hope this helps.
  13. AndreasR

    AndreasR Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    It's nothing that can't be fixed, but it really needs fixing.
    pudgychef likes this.
  14. This might be a bit easier for you to play. FJML846HV64ALA2.MEDIUM.jpg
  15. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Silver lining: After trying to play that thing with crazy high action, after you get a nice setup, and if you put new strings on it (ask here, you'll get all kinds of suggestions, so I'll just go first and say Sunbeams :woot:), you'll find it a pleasure to play and your learning curve will be much steeper.
  16. Stewie

    Stewie Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I bought a 99 MIM P Bass form GC. It looked a lot like that. It must have been so miserable to play that it sat in a closet all it's life and made it cheap to buy :)

    An hour and a half to file the nut down, tighten the truss rod a half turn and set the intonation and it is sooooo sweet.

    Rather than be disappointed with the set up, be glad it is like that. Means it's got no wear. You got a brand new bass. Good on you!
    JohnPaulSmith and Peter Fezza like this.
  17. If you get sick of working with the method book alternate with jamming along to your favorites. You need to keep it as fun as possible. Losing enthusiasm when starting out is your enemy.

    Musical instruments do tend to physically hurt at first until you get conditioned for playing. Enthusiasm for the music will get you through that. It gets better the more you play. :)
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
    Peter Fezza likes this.
  18. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    You know, as a first step you could just get a fitting hex key and bring down the saddles at the bridge. Just try to evenly bring them down until they start buzzing too much when you play. It is not that hard and it is not as if you'd mess up your setup here. Then later have someone set the bass up properly with some new strings.
    MVE and Peter Fezza like this.

  19. This video is the first in a series regarding how to set up a bass to proper playing specs. Regardless if you do your own work or not, this will help take the mystery out of doing a setup for a bass. Personally, I'd learn how to do this for yourself and save a bunch of money in the long run.

    It's not very hard to do and easily done, sans the nut filing, which will take a little more skill to learn. As the others here have said, the string action is well over the recommended height, and the neck might need a shim to re position the neck angle if it can't be tamed by either setting the truss rod or string action. Good luck, and regardless of what you plan to do, take a minute and watch as many of these videos as possible if you don't understand the mechanics behind how all of the adjustments tie together.
    BaileyMan and mc900ftj like this.
  20. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    Teach yourself setups, string intonation, pickup height adjustments. Its not as tough as it seems.
    Michael Tobias walks you through it.

    Many vids on YouTube to cover the subject. This is the 12th fret action on my 6 string. I consider this high. :).

    Good starting point for a basic setup, here's how I do it:

    Retune the string "close" to pitch between each change and keep the other strings at close to proper pitch through out.

    Lower the string saddles till the string touches the last fret on the neck.

    Next, raise the string in tiny incements till when playing between the 12th and 20th note does not choke out (the buzzing against the frets shortens the sustain)
    Do this with all the strings.
    The lower strings (lager) need to be a bit higher off the fretboard than the higher (smaller) strings do.

    Once you have completed this, check the pickup height, too far away is better than too close at this stage.

    Next, again making sure that the strings are at proper pitch, Hold the bass in playing position. Use a capo or a finger to fret the string at the first fret, and use your thumb at the 16-20th fret (pick one) to fret the string and use your eyes by tapping the string with your index finger pointing towards the nut. Michael lays it Out in the vid too.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016