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Will switching to SS reduce tension on Thumb and Wrist?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Zapple, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. Zapple


    Jan 26, 2017
    5th Dimension
    I began playing in January with a full scale bass. For the first 4 months I was playing/practicing at least 4-5 times a week, 1-2hrs/day. Last 2-3 months only 1-2 times and sometimes going a week or two without playing. My playing/practicing is using the SBL Academy Beginner Course, so mostly of learning my major scale shapes and arpeggios. Three riffs and songs Im trying to learn: Silly Love Songs, Good Times, & This Place Hotel. Also using Studybass too. I've been utilizing the simple techniques and exercises to stretch and to try to solve my flying fingers. (Playing from the 8th-12th fret...using 4 finger technique to cover four frets, practicing here versus the first four frets).

    I understand I need to build up muscle memory. My stretch and spread will hopefully increase and develop over time. But at my age, 52, there is only so far they will go. I am experiencing more tendon pain than previously, now that I am trying to focus on proper technique. Wondering how much impact the decreased practice time has on this. Ive tried all sorts of positioning and ergonomics with no major improvements.

    I have a SR 300 I will look to trade or sell. If successful I will go for a Squier Jag SS and see if it makes a difference. If anyone out there has any recommendations or has experienced something similar, please let me know your experience and if changing to a Short Scale bass helped.
  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Yes. Nothing but shorties for me after 45+ years playing. CTS much better. Squier Jag is a good choice-put some flats on it, forget the bridge pickup exists, and enjoy.
  3. Zapple


    Jan 26, 2017
    5th Dimension
    "CTS"? Fellow NY'er!
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    No need to switch equipment to solve a technique issue. I bet if you found a nice ergonomic hand technique and adopted a "shift, don't stretch" mantra, your hand pain would disappear. If your fingers are trying to "fly away" that means there is tension in your hand. Relax the tension, and you'll regain control of your fingers. If there is a note that's uncomfortable to reach, don't stretch to reach it; stay relaxed and shift your whole hand.

    If you want to to experiment with short scale, you can easily do that without buying a new bass. Tune your open strings down to EbAbDbGb and put a capo on the 1st fret. You're playing 32" scale. Drop your open strings an additional half step to DGCF and put the capo at the 2nd fret. Now you're playing 30" scale!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    Jazz Ad, fearceol and Zapple like this.
  5. Zapple


    Jan 26, 2017
    5th Dimension
    Nice Idea!
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    OP should also make sure his bass is set up properly, including nut slot depth.
    Lots of beginners are hamstrung by badly adjusted instruments.
    Mushroo likes this.
  7. Yep..Seems like on longscales it's that extra bit of real estate down by the headstock that's most annoying to play.
    By the time you get up to middle frets and above it shouldn't make much difference playwise.

    You said you played an Ibby SR300. I had one of those. Yes, they are 'fast' necks...but the thin-ness can induce a sort of 'forced' playing style.

    While thin necks have their good points sometimes, they definitely aren't for everybody. You might find a slightly wider neck/nut helps.

    There are techniques of playing that cut down on spanning and stretching. Also the way your thumb is positioned while you play and whether you "vicegrip" the neck or just use the thumb for moveable floating support.

    Check your wrist angle while playing...the less bend the better.

    Doesn't hurt to try out a shorty though. But technique, fingering and everything else is just as important on those for healthy playing.
  8. If it hurts don't do it. There is no pain in bass. If you keep playing in pain carpal tunnel is just around the corner. With out seeing what you are doing I am guessing......

    To much wrist angle is my first assumption. The guitar guys fret with the tip of their finger - so all notes ring true when strummed. We do not strum, but, play each note of the chord one note at a time. This lets us get away with fretting with the pad of our finger not the tip. Using the pad the wrist angle is helped and the rest of the finger ends up deadening the unused strings below the targeted string which helps with fret buzz. Kinda kills two birds with one stone.

    If wrist angle is the problem keeping your thumb on the back side of the neck and playing with the pad of your finger should fix the problem.

    Good luck.
    Zapple and enricogaletta like this.
  9. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    You really don't need to stretch out your fingers to fret. You really don't need to anchor your thumb when playing in the box. You could try to move your fretting hand more, and spread your fingers less. This will take a lot of stress off your thumb, and fingers. Then you can relax and play with more speed and accuracy, without stressing your hand and your mind.
    Mushroo likes this.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    Check out the video link, it may help you realise how you are using your hand, i usually find bad technique is to blame for your symptoms, changing strings does not cure the problem, it just alleviates it it until you reproduce the same issues with your new strings, or bass if you happen to change....not all the time, but most of the time.

    Zapple likes this.
  11. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Definitely agree with Malcom, to me it seems wrong wrist angle the cause of your pain and probably, consequent wrong right hand-crossing technique approach.
    Usually you should check in this order the following steps:

    - don't change the bass, except if you don't like it, these problems are not caused from the type of bass, never, the only thing a bass can cause is a shoulder pain if your instrument is too heavy, like a ken smith 6 strings or a a cheap axe with super heavy wood :D
    - check your wrist angle with a teacher, if possible a good one ;) that will figure your personal approach without compel you with his own way, every one has a different body, different arms and hands..
    - develop some crossing exercises that will help your right hand technique..
    - check your strings action, if you force yourself playing with an high one, this can cause more stress to your hand if you don't have a good technique or simply you're not used to play that way.

    If you need more help feel free to contact me.
    Ciao. Enrico
    Zapple likes this.
  12. Zapple


    Jan 26, 2017
    5th Dimension
    Gracias Enrico!
    enricogaletta likes this.

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