Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Feeling inadequate cause my fingers won't stretch


Connie Z

Recommended Posts

My band and I are working on an upbeat version of Jingle Bells for upcoming holiday gigs. It is more technically demanding than any other song I've done so far, because it's got this weird rhythm thing happening, it's very fast, and the riff spans three strings. (I play a 4 string electric.)

 

My fingers are short and I haven't been playing that long, and I have almost no stretchiness in my hands. I am also anemic, which causes me to not have enough oxygen in my muscles, which causes rather intense pain when I use them too much. (the anemia is getting better, because I take iron, but it's not gone yet.)

 

What I find is that rather than being able to stretch my pinkie to the right string, I always bounce around and use other fingers for the job. I hate that, but I am having a hard time not doing it.

 

I am glad that I will be working on this song all the way through the holiday season, so hopefully I will get better.

 

My question is this...

 

Is it really possible to make my hands MUCH more flexible, or "some people have it and some people don't?" You know... like some people are double-jointed, some people can bend and touch their toes, while others can never do it.

 

I see some people playing with their hands very flat on the strings, while others bounce around like me.

 

So... is there hope, or am I beating a dead horse?

 

Thanks in advance... Connie Z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 39
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Hey man don't worry about it... I couldn't play crap when I started, now I can do most anything... it just takes time. And my hand still hurts when I play some stuff fast and or for a long time

 

This might help... alot of people play with a 1,2,4 technique which means you should (according to this method) only use the index, middle, and pinkie finger together with a "pivoting thumb"

 

Bass is difficult to play like a guitar (one finger per fret) esp down below the 5th fret.

 

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't sweat the stretching. As a matter of fact just don't do it. Bad for the tendons unless you're really in a bind. Well, then it's still bad, but do it to save the line.

 

Firm believer in possition playing. Spent much time whith the acoustic and it's amazing what can be done with just a major second under your hands.

 

SHIFT SHIFT SHIFT.

 

Don't care what anyone says, it's entirely possible to get a seamless legato effect this way.

 

A little practice and you'll be blowing up and down the neck and you won't blow out "The Machine".

 

Points to ponder.

 

D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You could always cut the little pieces of skin between your fingers, that way you'd have extended stretchiness between fingers. You just won't be able to use them since that's an integral part of the whole muscle-tendon thing that your hand does. You simply could not play at all, so don't do this. Just a warning.

 

Other than that, you've just got to practice, Practice, PRACTICE. The three P's of everything. Just practice your tentacles, er, fingers off, and you'll get it down in no time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by patrick_dont_fret:

Other than that, you've just got to practice, Practice, PRACTICE. The three P's of everything. Just practice your tentacles, er, fingers off, and you'll get it down in no time.

Hi Patrick_Dont_Fret!

 

So then you TRULY believe that EVERYONE is able to stretch their fingers? That is what I am after. I don't want to constantly feel like I am just not cutting it, if I can never really achieve the goal.

 

Have you actually witnessed it happen, that everyone who tried was able to do it?

 

Thanks again for the input! ... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the just over four years I've been playing I sure have seen a lot of complaints about hand and wrist pain. Had a bout of it myself before I wised up and took Carol Kaye's advice, which has been summarized above: play less with finger three, use the thumb as a pivot and shift positions more, etc. Big spreads are not needed to be fast and fluid.

 

But they do come in handy if one wishes to "suffer for their art" ; }

.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, maybe not everyone. Some people are just cursed, and I'm sure your anemia doesn't help. I have small hands as well, not being able to stretch from fret 1 to fret 4 without some soreness afterwards, I have trouble doing some stuff. I make up with slides and harmonics and the such.

 

I've come a long way in three years, and everyone I know that's heard me play knows this for fact. If you really push it, you can stretch those tendons some, but don't ever do it, you'll end up hating yourself in the longrun.

 

I go backpacking a lot, that's my other love (other than my girlfriend, let's think of my bass as a mistress that my girlfriend is cool with). If I go out and warm up before I hit the trail, with some easy hiking or the such, I won't hurt myself nearly as bad.

 

If I hit the trail with a solid 1000ft altitude per mile grade, I'm gonna do some serious screwing around with my tendons, as well as over working my muscles.

 

If you hit the high trail without warming up, you'll really hurt yourself. Try warming up, with some easy stuff, and then hit the books with your Christmas song (forgot which one). And practice, but not to the point of complete exhaustion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People who don't move thier hands very much are "position" playing... People who bounce around alot are just excited not to be playing "Brown Eyed Girl" for the 1,000,000th time... ;) It is possible to make your hands work more effeciently through string exercises, practicing scales and "hazard" stretches. A great video from a really great bassist with really small hands, is anything by Steve Bailey. He plays a mean 6 string fretless, and has hands the size of chic-peas... :D

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Connie Z,

You will be able to do it. I had trouble using my pinky when I started playing too. I, like you, did not want to feel like I wasnt cutting it by playing with improper technique. I practiced fingering exercises on a daily basis for a few weeks and became quite skilled at using my pinky as well as any other finger. Some peope think that there is not a wrong or right technique, but rather you should use whatever works for you. While I tend to agree with this to a certain extent, I do believe that some techniques are more efficent than others and therefore are worth mastering and will make you a better player. USing all of your fingers efficiently is one of those techniques. Keep at it and you will be able to do it in no time. A good exercise is to play scales with all of you fingers slowly and accurately, picking up speed only after you are accurate. Do this in the first position for a good stretch. Also, doing some cross string plucking with your index to ring finger and middle to pinky is great for this. BE ready for some sore fingers at first, but stick with it. Yuor fingers will become more limber and stronger in time like any muscle. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think fretless five has been a real good master. When I was playing my fretted six more I was playing all these different chord shapes, many of them four-finger, and really working the stretches and contortions because of it. Playing the same things on fretless is not as practical because you have to pin each finger exactly. And that require even worse stretches.

 

So at some point I decided the hell with that, shaved down the voicings, and focused more on other elements. That really saved some wear and tear. Since I do tend to move around some on the board I'm still gettting plenty of exercise. More, in fact, since I'm pacing myself at the start, and able to run long distances day after day with no down time due to injury.

.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is possible to "train" your hand to make some stretches, but, is it really necessary? Is the note that impossible to reach with a whole hand shift? Have you tried moving your pivot point (thumb) closer in to help accomodate the stretch? Use whatever works. No one is going to look down on you because you can't make a 10-fret-stretch. Besides, non-players see the movement as you being really good, players see it as effectively using what you started the game with. Look at it like this--Barry Bonds can hit the ball like nobody's business, but, you put him in as a pitcher and he's nothing. You work with what you've got to be the best YOU can.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am feeling MUCH better!!! I no longer feel like a failure, and I am even feeling hopeful!

 

My bass lesson is this Thursday, and I will ask my teacher to show me this "thumb pivoting" technique. Changing position sounds like it is just up my alley. And, I know that I will get a little farther reach naturally as I continue to play, so with both things happening, I think I will be able to play my riffs!

 

Thanks to EVERYONE! You are all wonderful.

 

... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like many people have said before, use three fingers:

one, two, and four. Never stretch your hands past a three fret stretch. Move your hand around a lot.

 

I can stretch 4 frets easily and sometimes 5 frets, but I play mostly in three frets with lots of shifts. It's easier.

 

Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power plays most notes with only two fingers...he's using the other two for muting. And he's a legendary bassist that few people can imitate.

 

Personally, I think (but would never tell my students) that you could probably play everything with one finger.

 

One of these days I'll get a one string bass and see. :D

 

Meanwhile, Carol Kaye did ok, Steve Bailey does ok. I watched him play with perfect intonation on a six string fretless and then I asked him to hold out his hand so we could compare finger length. His fingers are considerably shorter than mine, but I can't do what he does.

 

Remember if it hurts, it's probably not a good idea. But being uncomfortable or unfamiliar is not the same as hurting. I have plenty of students who say "I can't do that" when I ask them to use their fourth fingers. Of course my answer is, "if you could do that the first time you tried, you wouldn't be here taking lessons"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hear, hear Jeremy. The first thing my current teacher did on our first lesson was ask me to try the 1-2-4 fingering, instead of straining my left hand for a stretch that I honestly can't make. I may have to pay attention to my shifting, but that's what upright players have to do all the time (speaking from experience here too). I feel that once I adapted to the 1-2-4 fingering & started playing positionally, the tension in my left arm disappeared, my playing became more natural & relaxed, and I immediately began to improve. Don't worry about making that 4 fret stretch, it's not needed. And when a guy like Jeremy suggests something, it merits consideration.

Regards,

~Griff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with most of the others who point out that stretching isn't necessary and that shifting your hand really can suffice. Practicing 2-octave scales that move diagonally across the fingerboard helped me improve my ability to shift positions and know where the notes were.

 

The only time when I can't seem to compensate for shorter "reach" is in trying to play some false harmonics, where I'd fret the note with my index finger and want to play a harmonic on the same string with my 4th finger a few frets higher up. Is this an issue? No, because I only experiment with false harmonics in the comfort of my own home -- never pop 'em out at rehearsals or gigs.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Use two hands to do artificial harmonics.

 

You have to learn how touch the harmonic node with your right thumb while plucking the note with your first finger.

 

You can play entire solos like this. The right hand just follows the left hand, twelve frets higher. Doug Wimbish (of Tackhead, Living Colour, etc.) is fantastic doing this.

 

This way there are no stretches.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some thread or another I talked about that method of doing false harmonics a month or so ago. I think I also mentioned using a node other than the octave (follow in fifths etc) to place the plucking thumb and finger at, and being able to "mix" the harmonic in varying amounts with the fundamental according to touch.

 

Also mentioned what I call pinched harmonics (might have used ZZ Top guitar as an example), using either a pick and the thumb nail, or by using the false harmonic method above - only being indiscriminate about the placement of the plucking hand. How naughty.

.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's all this talk about 124 tentacleing? Is that the new THANG, or something? I've always, since I picked up the bass, played 123, with a little 4 starting to show up every now and again. Is this more economical, to use tentacles 1, 2, and 4, instead of 1, 2, and 3?

 

If this is so, then should I alter my tentacleing, or just keep with what works for me?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's interesting to watch bassists from both schools - 1,2,4 and 1,2,3,4. I'd seen examples of amazing chops from both camps.

 

For me, it's always been a song by song or passage by passage decision. I find that playing in a 1,2,3,4 position, I can avoid the string noise associated with shifts, sometimes a problem when recording with roundwounds. For those of you in the 1,2,4 camp, how do you minimize string noise when you shift?

 

It's kind of perverse, but I really enjoy playing lines on a single string when possible. I feel very connected to the bass because I have to work hard for every note. Confidence in shifting really opens up the possibilities of the neck.

 

The electric bass seems to fall somewhere between upright bass and the cello in terms of neck size. Upright bassists generally play 1,2,4 while cellists (whose instrument is tuned in fifths) use 1,2,3,4 fingerings like a violinist.

 

So much to ponder...

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always played with all 4 fingering fingers, just 'cuz they were all there. I use the thumb sometimes, for really stupid stretches (thumb at fret 12, pinky at fret 20-22), and the third finger is way useful for chords. This said, I have been playing for over 15 years, and I still have to stretch and practice to accomplish this. It won't happen overnight, and it may not even be "necessary" to be a "great" player. But if it's something you want to acheive, then it is, as stated before me, all about the practice.

Good luck.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dan,

 

I figure it's like any other physical thing. The runners with shorter legs can stretch their stride only so much before they create problems for themselves. So they move their legs faster instead.

 

On the other hand {!}, I've seen some ham-handed players complain of pain. At some point it makes sense to be very aware of what the body is trying to tell us, not shouting over it with a "no pain no gain slogan.

 

I just got to the point where I could play everything with more economical stretches and less finger flaunting (big dramatic raising and lowering onto the 'board), and so I'd actually have trouble going back to the finger-per-fret approach down near the nut again, even though that's what I started with and got pretty fast with. I still use my third finger when it's the best easiest way to get from place to place but it is no longer the intrinsic basis for all I play.

 

I can actually play lines better with small pivots (not the same as position changes, kids), and the change in feel also has opened up new avenues for my note choices, phrasing, and the shapes of my lines.

.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started playing a little over a year ago and had some pretty excessive pain in my fretting hand at first but over time, as i became more comfortable with the bass, it went away.

Of course i think my main problem was putting the kung fu grip on the neck, it doesnt have to be smashed into smithernes to be fretted properly.

And being a ex G@$%@ar player i use all the fingers i can muster, even the teeth everyonce in a while.

 

----------

findley(-------the cardigans sabbath bloody sabbath is freakin fantastic. :thu:

Double what we got o mr. roboto

 

Double

Double

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to make sure that everyone who has contributed is appreciated, so thank you again!

 

I met with my bass teacher yesterday, and he showed me that I am tensing up my hand way too much, and that I am pressing the strings way to hard. He showed me that when I relax my hands and fingers, that I can actually get a little more stretch out of them (but not much).

 

He agreed that if the 124 method works, then I should use it, but encouraged me to keep trying the 1234 before I give up.

 

I feel much better, and am excited about my Jingle Bells riff now.

 

Thanks again!!! ... Connie Z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by greenboy:

At some point it makes sense to be very aware of what the body is trying to tell us, not shouting over it with a "no pain no gain slogan.

You mean to tell me that the U.S.M.C. lied to me when they said "Pain is weakness leaving the body."? And this whole time I just thought I was getting stronger! ;):D

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't think of the 1234 and the 124 as opposing techniques... even carol kaye said the 1234 is useful when playing higher up the neck and when playing faster and/or soloing.

 

Its best to learn everything you can (fingerstyle vs. pick, 1234 vs. 124 etc. and use each to there best.

 

I dunno

My .02

 

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...