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Forearm fatigue when playing fast bass?


Archie79
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Not sure if this is the right section to put this in but I thought it would be okay since it does happen while playing Rocksmith.

 

I mainly play Classic Rock, Rock, Hard Rock and some metal. I have recently switched to completely playing with a short scale Bass which has helped with my playing considerably as I was finding it a bit of a stretch and sometimes painful with a lot of paying at the high end of the neck. But something I can't fix is on the rare occasion when I play something fast (Guns 'N Roses, Slash, Metallica etc) I get forearm pain in my fretting arm. I think it is more fatigue rather than something more serious but was looking for others experience? To best describe it is rather than pain it is as if my arm starts to feel numb which eventually goes into my hand and if it is a long song it can lead to me struggling to grip anything. But after the song if I rest for 5 minutes i'm fine to play again and if it's a slower song I experience no problems whatsoever. Since I don't play fast on a regular basis I am just wondering if it is because my muscles aren't used to it and are just fatigued? Any Input welcome?

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I am no expert ( I lead all my posts with that disclaimer  :) ) I play bass too and play a couple times a week for a few hours each session. I do get this as well. Sometimes to the point I have to just quit the song. I have always just assumed it was fatigue from not being "in shape" with my arm/hand. Seems like the more i play...as in more often during the week, I dont feel it as much. IF i go say 3 or 4 days without playing then it happens quicker and seems to be more painful. Just my 2 cents. Certainly not a doctor. 

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Thanks for sharing your experience. Kind of ties in with what I have been going through. My problem is I hate to quit lol so I just keep playing until I physically can't move my hand anymore. I suppose it's a bit like someone who runs 2 miles/day then decides to do 4 miles you are going to find it tough and you will be sore for a couple of days haha. I have kind of went off the boil a bit so to speak. Used to spend all my spare time playing but the last few months i haven't been playing the same and even thing's I used to find simple we're becoming a challenge again but being off work over the holiday period I have been playing more again and I can notice the difference in my playing again. It's true what they say......practice, practice, practice. I have just ordered a hand strengthener to see if this helps as it gets good reviews. I have to laugh because I know a lot of people that play guitar who try and wind me up and say bass players are just people who can't play "REAL" guitar. I am also lucky to have a friend who plays both who happily says that playing Bass is not "EASY" to play like people think and is more difficult in certain aspects and since playing Bass he found overall he has better rhythm/timing and also better technique as he finds you need to rely on better hand technique and better playing position/posture when playing bass.

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I think you are exactly right. Just have to get back into playing and get into 'condition'. I am an amateur for sure. I have no intention of ever playing in a band etc so I just play for fun. Instead of listening to music, i now just play it. I toyed with guitar. But i just found some of the chords too complex and I am lazy. But the more I play bass, i agree with your friend. It has challenges. I have been thinking about getting a short scale bass as i have fairly small hands and find that I dont use my pinky like I should because i cant stretch like you described. Is the short scale that much of a difference? Does it look like you are playing a childs bass?  :)

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I would highly recommend a short scale bass. It certainly doesn't look child like lol. People don't seem to realize that a full scale bass is approx 9" longer than a regular guitar and that is a lot of extra distance to cover. A short scale bass (30 3/4") is still 5" longer than a normal guitar but they are so much easier to play that a full scale bass. They are a lot faster and easier to move your hands about on. I have a Hagstrom HB-4 short scale bass and a Schecter Stiletto Custom IV full scale which I have just put up for sale as I have just bought a new short scale bass which should arrive at the end of the month. I bought my new one from a guy who has started his own business who specifically deals in short scale bass guitars. He sells hand made custom design short scale bass guitars which cost approx £2000 GB and he also has started selling mass produced custom design ones for £340-£560 which is the one I have went for as they get an excellent review. He said he decided to start his business due to a lot of bass players having to play more complex songs and switching to a short scale because they are easier and faster to play but players are complaining that there isn't a great deal of professional quality short scale basses out there to choose from.

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Thanks for the info. I think I may get serious about getting one. Prob should go up to the music store and see if they have any i can try out. I am a little shy about doing that because I totally rely on RS to play.  :D I have been playing about a year or so and cant play anything but a scale without the game.  :(

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I haven't noticed much in the way of forearm pain, but the area of my palm, right around the thumb, gets to killing sometimes.  Being a beginner who has smallish hands, I suspect I'm gripping the neck too tightly and putting too much pressure on whatever string I'm playing.  Just stretching back and forth between the first and third frets is a real bitch for me, even when trying to use my pinky to do it.  I think it's that exact scenario that leads to most of my pain.  I have a feeling that I may also have my action set way too high, but I just get a lot of rattle if I lower the strings much.  Not sure if it's something I'm doing, or if my Ibanez GSR190 is an even bigger piece o' shit than I thought. 

 

I've considered looking into a short-scale bass, but I find myself being ashamed of the idea.  I guess I kinda see it as being akin to learning to drive in a car with a manual transmission.  If you can drive stick, you can drive anything.  Also, I've heard that short-scale basses just don't sound nearly as good, for some reason.   

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To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

 

 

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As someone that plays alot of metal it just takes time to build the endurance in your arm. You wouldn't be able to run a marathon your first day running. Make sure you are using proper technique though and not one that will damage any nerves in your arm.

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I normally get the fatigue when playing fast between 1 and 3 and 3 and 5 frets just because I have to really try and stretch my fingers. The force that is applied to the string with your finger I find can make a big difference. Since I have been making a point of only using the minimum required pressure I find I have less tension which enables me to play faster, move about easier and less fatigue. A short scale bass does sound slightly different due to the tension on each string being different from a full scale. They tend to sound a bit brighter. One way to get round this is to use a set of strings the next gauge up. But most people don't tend to mind the difference in tone and for some a brighter tone is maybe a good thing. Apart from the tonal difference there is no other real draw backs if you want to call it that. There are definitely more advantages than disadvantages from playing a short scale.

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I play bass and my wife and I were recently at a music store and she picked up an ibanez mikro short scale bass and started fooling around with it. She loved at. I bought it for her for christmas and she is now playing it all the time.  I have played it a bit and it is very nice.  I am thinking about selling my full scale and getting a short scale also.  I don't play in a band so I am just doing it for fun

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I get that but I get it in my other hand where you have to pluck the string super-fast to keep up. I love rock and metal songs but I'm pretty new and struggle to keep up with them. Most of them, I find, are minimal fret movement but jackhammer plucking of the string. My forearm gets fatigued really fast doing that. Sometimes I'll try to pluck with the index finger and switch to my middle finger when that finger gets exhausted. But that often throws off my concentration and I end up missing notes and then struggle to catch up again. Do bass players do that? Switch fingers they pluck with? I don't know any of the basics about technique and such. I just love playing along to songs I like and that's all I do. Often when it calls for hitting lower strings I use my middle finger since it reaches farther. 

I started playing 6 weeks ago and bought a used Ibanez Mikro from Guitar Center. After a few weeks I returned it and went with a full size Dean Demonator because it looks like a rock and metal bass. Plus I have long arms and fairly large hands. One thing that bothered me about the Mikro is a lot of rock songs are tuned in Drop D. And when you do that on a smaller bass the E string gets very floppy and my inexperienced hand was finding it hard to pin it down on the fret when I was moving fast in a song. Plus you get less room for error with the smaller fret width. 

I do pretty good on songs that mostly hangout on the top two strings and between the 1 and 9 frets. Fortunately a lot of rock songs do this. If I have to jump down to the bottom two strings fast I usually get lost. And my ring finger and pinky finger are still pretty uncoordinated. But I've come a long way there, they were useless at first. I do know I've found something I love though. I've always loved music and it is a huge thrill to me to be able to play along to songs I've loved for decades. 

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I've been playing bass for a number of years and I have a very strong grip and muscles in my fretting hand which I would not have otherwise developed I don't think.  So with that in mind I think you need to build up your grip strength.  I remember when I started out I felt fatigued and sore after playing for a while.  I remember I couldn't fret with my little finger for ages due to not having the strength to do so but that eventually came as well with persistence.  I'm pretty sure I remember buying a rubber ball to squeeze in my downtime to build up those muscles.

 

Anyway I think it's just natural; using those muscles that you haven't worked out before.  The only way you're going to get more 'fit' is to keep 'working out'  :D

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I've been playing bass for a number of years and I have a very strong grip and muscles in my fretting hand which I would not have otherwise developed I don't think.  So with that in mind I think you need to build up your grip strength.  I remember when I started out I felt fatigued and sore after playing for a while.  I remember I couldn't fret with my little finger for ages due to not having the strength to do so but that eventually came as well with persistence.  I'm pretty sure I remember buying a rubber ball to squeeze in my downtime to build up those muscles.

 

Anyway I think it's just natural; using those muscles that you haven't worked out before.  The only way you're going to get more 'fit' is to keep 'working out'   :D

 

I'm glad you brought this up.  I've been going a while and, though I have been steadily improving, I've become somewhat concerned because I still haven't managed to work in any real 'pinky' action on the fret board.  I guess that's one of the disadvantages of jumping right into learning songs and neglecting the technique.

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I've been playing bass for a number of years and I have a very strong grip and muscles in my fretting hand which I would not have otherwise developed I don't think.  So with that in mind I think you need to build up your grip strength.  I remember when I started out I felt fatigued and sore after playing for a while.  I remember I couldn't fret with my little finger for ages due to not having the strength to do so but that eventually came as well with persistence.  I'm pretty sure I remember buying a rubber ball to squeeze in my downtime to build up those muscles.

 

Anyway I think it's just natural; using those muscles that you haven't worked out before.  The only way you're going to get more 'fit' is to keep 'working out'   :D

 

I'm glad you brought this up.  I've been going a while and, though I have been steadily improving, I've become somewhat concerned because I still haven't managed to work in any real 'pinky' action on the fret board.  I guess that's one of the disadvantages of jumping right into learning songs and neglecting the technique.

 

 

You have to be conscious of it and really work at it, especially when you jump 3 or 4 frets like in a walking blues bass line, which judging by your signature it seems that you like to play  :)  There's no secret I'm afraid other than practice.

 

I used to only fret with three fingers and slide my ring finger up and down the fret board instead of stretching with my pinky but you lose control of where you're at unless you constantly look at the frets.  The other thing I did was when I initially tried to fret with my pinky, I found that I was reinforcing it with my ring finger because, like I said, it wasn't strong enough.  It just comes with practice and it pays off in the long run as your fretting hand doesn't have to move so much.

 

Take a look at this guy playing some 12 bar blues riffs.  Check out the pinky.

 

https://youtu.be/XgJS82kOvl8?t=1m

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