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What to do about blisters from playing bass and preventing them?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BrandenSteele, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. BrandenSteele


    Nov 25, 2012
    Hello! After a session of playing bass 30 minutes ago I got a blister on my index finger. What should I do? I don't want to have to take a break from bass playing :crying: Do I pop it before it gets too big or wait until it gets bigger to pop it?
  2. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys. Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Mobile, Alabama, USA
    Don't pop it, you'll just have very raw skin to deal with it. The fluid under the blister is what keeps infection out. If you puncture it you're more likely to get an infection. I suggest you just bandage it and work around it until it heals itself. The new skin will form pretty quickly under the blister if you leave it alone.

    Oh and the best way to prevent them is to just keep playing as much as possible and build up your calluses. You will still get blisters occasionally but they will become less frequent. You could also try flats or wraps.
  3. play more
  4. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Let the blister heal. A callous should then form. And then....
    "Achievement Unlocked. Bass Finger Callous."
  5. kjpollo


    Mar 17, 2008
    I'm a righty, fingerstyle player. If I get one on my right hand, I avoid playing for a day or 2. But if its on my fretting (left) hand, I'll still try to practice and see if I can play the songs without using the blistered finger. I look at it as a little bit of a challenge.
  6. 3mrhythm


    Oct 29, 2009
    Rochester, NH
    they hurt way more when popped too..

    take a break.. play tomorrow.. or start using fingers that you dont have blisters on.. cant hurt to build up dexterity in fingers you dont normally use :)
  7. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    It's your admission into bass playing manhood. Congratulations.
  8. sludgelord3000

    sludgelord3000 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    DON'T POP. Use your ring-man instead. By the time that finger blisters up, your index should be healed.

    The massive blister I had last week (from playing pizzicato upright) is now a massive callus. If I'd popped it, I'd have a red raw patch of baby skin there. No good for pluckin' strings with.
  9. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Or....'gasp'... use a pick until the finger heals.
  10. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    interesting. I have played bass for a good 30 years now, and pretty much play at least 2 hours a day 5-6 days a week, and ave never gotten a blister on either hand. I have really dry skin. I wonder if that helps, meaning less friction between the finger and string? I just don't ever remember a time of having the blisters, and then getting the callouses.

    I know that I don't play "light", but I also don't play real heavy in my right hand. I like to feel like my fingers are floating on the strings, not actually pulling them up to pluck. I wonder if this also helps avoid the callouses
  11. +1 to the "don't pop it" advice.
    And then at your next lesson get some advice from your teacher if there are ways you can improve your technique to prevent future blisters. Electric bass guitar requires very little physical effort/exertion to play; a few blisters early on while developing your calluses are to be expected, but after that it should taper off and by the time you are advanced beginner/early intermediate, you should be able to play pain-free for hours without damaging your body. :)
  12. :bassist:
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    For blisters on the right hand - use a pick until they heal.

    For blisters on the left hand - use a band-aid.
  14. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Sit it out until it's not painful to play, then get back on it. Be sure to practise regularly to avoid getting more blisters in future, and make sure you can hear yourself OK in rehearsals and on stage so you don't play too hard.
  15. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    64 Audio · DR Strings · Source Audio · Hipshot
    I've never once gotten a blister from playing and even when I was beating the tar out of my strings, I barely had calluses. Now, I play about as lightly as I can, and I don't have any problems. You might be playing too hard. See if you can play lighter. Look up Gary Willis on youtube. He explains it better than I ever could.
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Hmm anyone else here not developing calouses?

    My fingers are as smooth as silk. Do calouses come in other varieties than cloth ripping patches of thorny, like just thicker skin without any change in how the skin feels?

    I always found it kind of odd how guitar players moan about their fingers hurting after playing bass. I can play all day but I just need to look at a guitar and my finger tips start to cry.
  17. I never really developed them in 20+ years playing electric (except for a brief Flea-inspired period in high school when I was plucking WAY too hard), until I started playing upright last year.
  18. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I'm going to assume you're new to this, if you have a blister after 30 minutes. If so, you might want to start with flatwound strings. They are much easier on the fingers. After some time on those, you should have enough callus to move onto roundwounds without the blister problem.
    Other things to consider are setting you action lower, if possible. And playing with a lighter attack. Those two things can often go hand in hand.
  19. the wako kid

    the wako kid

    May 11, 2011
    +1 what's with that? I can play bass for 4 hours no problem but playing acoustic guitar for an hour shreds my fingertips up.

    the best way to avoid blisters is to play long enough to develop callouses. also, how is your bass set up? it might be that you have really high action and youre pushing harder than you need to.

    personally,I would just put on a bandaid and try not to think about it.

    edit:also,you might want to switch to flats or tapewounds if your roundwound strings cut up your fingers.also,some roundwounds are easier on the hands than others. rotosounds are so rough they might erase your fingerprints. my dean markley helix strings are so smooth theyre almost like flats.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member


    A well-rounded bassist should know fingerstyle, pickstyle, and slapstyle.

    I am not nearly as good at pick or slap as I am at fingerstyle, but I am trying to improve them.