Bad Habits For Bass: Tension in the plucking hand.

Posted by | Posted in Guitar Lessons | Posted on 29-11-2010-05-2008


Here’s a quick lesson that discusses some of the physical aspects of plucking on the bass guitar. It emphasises the need for a relaxed, fluid approach to help avoid strain, cramp or injury.

Comments posted (25)

holy shiz it’s the Driveshaft bassist from Lost!!

It’s very good of you to be helping out beginner bass players. I am in the intermediate stages of playing and what I do is hand and finger stretches everyday. They only take a couple minutes but they will definitely help a player’s progress. I don’t know if Dave has any hand stretching videos but this one will help if he does not watch?v=UVd9XemSAOA.

good tip. i’ve recently started doing this myself, as I had muscle problems begin to develop after playing. you’re right on about the bad tension from that crappy hand position.

please show them how to ( THUMP) not slap but THUMPING&PLUCKING

i didnt even notice i did that til i lookd down, woah

This is a great series of videos! A lot of the things you’ve covered took me a good few years to realize, so it’s good that you’re giving people a headstart =) I’m sure I’ll learn something new myself if i watch enough

Great lesson! I think probably the best advice you can give to any bass player (even experienced players) is: “Don’t push it”, just try to relax. Along that line of thought; may I suggest (I hope not to sound arrogant with this) another lesson about excessive use of strength in bass playing? I’ve seen lots of players who are taught to play really hard, both with their plucking and fretting hand, and they end up getting hurt, or having an uneven sound (attack, volume,etc). Thanks for the lessons!

Dave, it looks like you try to copy the Carl Marx hairstyle, right?

Dave, it looks like you try to copy the Carl Marx hairstyle, right?

@davemarks Sure, I have no medical basis. But from my own experience in bass playing, it is not wrong to play with a bent wrist. If you choose to wear a bass higher, then so be it, and play with a bent wrist, if you’re a metal player, then wear it lower. For some, it may be more comfortable with a bent wrist, and it may suit a certain style of music better. There is no wrong way of playing, just the best way that suits you.

@taufoofar You have no medical basis to build this on. You are simply looking at your favourite players and assuming that the way they play is the best option.
The number of high profile players who needed operations because of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and repetative strain injuries is scary. They just don’t mention it in the magazines…..

@Antiks72 Everything with music is practice, just keep at it, you’ll get it. Its worth the effort.

Alternating the two fingers is tough for me. If I’m not moving my fingers with my left hand, it’s not that bad, but the minute I’m doing a scale I start making mistakes.

@Simfiny im in the same dilemma. im doing three-finger techniques and im trying to figure out what to do with my pinky so it stops cramping up.
I think that following dave’s advice and just keeping the pinky under and going slow will work. I have been keeping my pinky under and been slowly doing three-fingered drags over the strings. My pinky wants to creep up but I just go slow at first and develop the habit. Dave’s advice, I believe, is good.

This is what’s happening to me D: Hand strains, it’s getting harder to play. I’m in panic mode and trying to find a way to fix my hands. Any advice/point me to a good video/article? Thanks.

@giantsharks that isn’t the spiderman hand grip thing

Would you still recommend you’re tecnique if you were using three fingers to pluck? The ring finger naturally wants to curl in when you curl your pinky, but if you’re using your ring finger too then you wouldn’t that to happen.

i use a pleck as i couldnt play otherwise, i just couldnt get into it. i know peter baltes uses a pleck but im not sure of the best techniques for using it to make it feel more effortless i must admit

Useful advice is useful ^_^

ive always played like this with my third and fourth fingers curled in, however i also use my third finger to pluck a lot as well, mainly when im playing faster.

i wonder will this damage the hand or the muscles?

Solid advice, thanks!

man this is the best advice i’ve had in years! i remember my first gig where my fingers felt paralized, and i didn’t understand it. thanks for this understanding!
i subscribed immediately :)

you explain realy imortent things very very well. thank you a lot for your videos and may the groove always be with you! ;-)

have you got any streachin sugestionss??

Hey there! First of all, thanks for these videos. I think they are really helpfull for beginners, like me. I do have one question though. As opposed to practicing to keep my pinky and ring finger in check, and away from my strings, i decided to incorporate them into the muting of strings i don’t use. Pinky for the E string, ringfinger for the D string. Would you consider this bad technique? I haven’t had any problems yet, but it’s better to be safe then sorry i guess :)

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