I have a disabled left hand.
My first finger is virtually useless, operating at about 10-15% and the rest of my hand operates at about 60-70%.
As far as stretching goes I’m good for about 2 frets.
My movement of my fingers speed wise is about 70% of a normal hand.
I’m feeling a bit disheartened at the moment because I doubt I’ll ever be any better than a poor bass player.
I’ve always wanted to play bass but resisted because of the hand, but my wife talked me into having a go.
She pointed out that for my entire 40 years since the accident, I’ve had to make allowances, so what is the difference now?
I’m 60yo and I’m now wondering if I’m really chasing rainbows thinking I’ll ever be able to play.
Any thoughts would be welcomed.
Welcome aboard, @rory . . .
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are a few posts about dealing with left hand issues.
Check out this thread for example: No Pinkie on left finger
@rory, I think your wife is right. You’re already used to dealing with it so I think you’ll do great. As you learn where the notes are on the fingerboard I think you’ll find yourself naturally sliding your left hand around the neck to reach the correct notes.
You’re right but I somehow doubt I’ll ever be able to do it fast enough.
I practice ever day sine lockdown but I’m just not improving.
It’s so frustrating because I always like to be good at what I do.
Not the best but good, and I doubt I’ll ever be that.
Thanks for the kind words
2 frets would get you through the blues box.
3 working fingers would cover 3 frets on a short-scale bass, no matter where you are on the neck.
Being good at what you do does not equate to speed; it equates to musicality. This morning, I improvised a slow line that was so spot-on it made me think “fornicate… I’m good.”
In fact, it made me feel happy. That’s what counts.
Wanna stretch? Soak your fretting hand in warm water before playing (a hint I got from an extraterrestrially good player, who would stretch insane chords that would injure any mere mortal).
Playing bass is not really a competitive endeavor like being in the NBA. It’s something most anyone can do for fun. I think you’ll see progress as you keep working on it, like we all do. Hopefully some of the bass playing is fun, so if you’re practicing something harder and you get frustrated, you can stop for a bit and go back to doing the fun stuff. And there are real songs that have pretty simple bass lines, so you don’t have to get very good before you can play real music. And I think doing something hard is really great for us, mind and body!
I agree with the other comments here. It’s about doing something you love and it’s not always about speed.
I love playing syncopated music like funk which is all about the timing. In fact, sometimes the emphasis is greatly enhanced by not playing.
I’ve found loads of tracks that sound complicated in a mix, but when you break it down, a lot of them are quite simple.
But I think the most important thing you wrote is -
“I’ve always wanted to play bass”
That’s it! That’s all you need. Start playing!
If you don’t, you’ll always wonder what would have happened.
Stick with it. My improvements are sometimes VERY slow. I got my first bass 24 years ago…
But, I really enjoy making music, and it makes me happy. I’ll never be a rockstar, yet there’s something really satisfying to me about laying down the low end. In some music it can be really cool to slow things down. Let whole notes ring. Maybe slide fretted notes for effect.
You can keep things really simple. Play root notes over chord changes. Do this and you’ve got A LOT of music to play! At some point, meeting an acoustic guitar player can really help. Let the guitar strum, and stay busy. You play the root… 1 note. It works in lots of genres.
Without the root, there is no fruit!
With two fully functional hands it is easy to feel this way, especially in the beginning because progress is so gradual you won’t notice. Eventually you will make enough progress it will hit you one day that something that used to give you trouble is now second nature. Again, it is just too gradual to be noticed day to day week to week.
Agree with all the encouraging posts completely.
Root note base lines, and when your hand gets stronger and you can stretch more ( believe me, it will do both) you can play box blues bars, and root 5th, root octive, and more, that’s just a start.
I broke 3 fingers on my left hand in a car Wrek in 1990 year almost took my life. My ring finger never healed right due to complications in the ICU. The pain Med they used on me (Demerol) makes me highly agitated and somewhat violent.
I ripped off 3 hard, plaster casts they put on my left hand, and ended up restrained to the bed with an ace bandGe and finger splints. I ended up being kicked out of the ER for being a hostile patient, I was 18 at the time.
I don’t remember any portion of being in the ICU to this day, except about 30 seconds when I was hitting my left hand , that was tied to the bed rail, against the bed rail to try and pop the clips off the ace bandage to get the thing off my wrist and hand.
Anyway, 4 days after getting helicopter flown to the hospital from the crash site, my parents finally convinced them to switch the Demerol for morphine, and I all of a sudden stopped all hostility, and sort of came to, asking what the hell happened.
I was in a bed with my led in traction, my right arm looked like pizza, and my chest and sides hurt like hell. I broke 5 ribs, explaining the chest and sides. I bruised my heart, almost puncturingit with a broken rib. I compound fractured my Femur,it popped thru my skin, I had fractured cheek and orbital eye area, with big guts on the side of my face (I am a true Scarface) and had curs all over my right arm.
My 3 fingers were low on the scale of things to fix, and me having ripped off so many casts and bandages, they didn’t ever pay attention to how my fingers healed.
They are not too bad, but the ring finger is kind of twisted and bends toward the middle finger making stretching to fret a bit challenging.
But, with continued play and practice, it is starting to get stronger, and has increased dexterity to bend a little more correctly and cam stretch further then I ever thought possible.
I have only been seriously playing since late Feb of this year, 2020. So, I think you will find, if you stick with it, that there is a lot more you can do with your hand then you ever thought possible.
Stick with it, I truly believe that you won’t regret it, ever.
Thank you to all of you for your positivity.
I’m not one to give up but at the same time I’m only human so frustration is natural I guess.
I’ll keep battling on and see how I go.
Thanks to all of again.
Awesome, please keep us up to date with your progress, and come to us for any help you need.
@rory your on it, I caught a falling router and removed the tips of my three fretting fingers. Go with the slow workout, then get onto the next lesson, leave out the medium and fast workouts. I get the proving yourself, I had an accident 25 years ago and I’m in a wheelchair. My wife also believes in me, so does yours. With Bass less is more. Dont try to be Victor Wooton, be chilled like Sting. You would be amazed how many great bass lines are played on one string. You will crack it, I’m new also, the Bass Buzz crew will get you through.
I love this message.
@rory The more time you spend on the forum, the more you will find there are a surprising number of people here trying to learn through all manner of disabilities and injuries.
You are not alone.
You are like Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. He has 2 or 3 fingers on his fretting hand that were cut off at the first nuckle as well. He wears prosthetic finger tips on those fingers to play with.
Do you do that also? Or did you learn to use what you have?
I think he wears the top because his accident was later in life, and he was a touring legendary guitarist already. I think learning with the finger tips was probably his better option.
Bottom line, he still RIPS, and you guys can too.
Welcome and good luck with your development on the bass, I read some of responses and everyone shares the same views.
Perseverance is the key, and the saying less is more rings so true.
Root third fifth, can’t go wrong👍
If you have one finger on your fretting hand, you can play bass. And even if you have no fingers, you still might be able to play bass
@rolltide is right Rory : wives are always right I would try to give up the idea of playing fast (maybe you could keep playing Charlie Mingus there over and over : goodbye porkie pie hat). Maybe this could help you lowering the a even that you once set too high, even though a high target seems commendable from your part. I am sure you didn’t miss Josh’s funk lesson, the one explaining “hot pants”. No racing fingers on this tune. What ? only two notes ? Yes indeed, but what two notes ! Keep rolling rolltide
@rory / and anyone else to be honest,
I’d like to show you a couple of pictures if I may that my late father wrote down and stuck by his piano.
He did this because he had suffered a massive stroke the year before he wrote it. Initially he was paralysed down his left side of his body. Couldn’t drive, couldn’t dress very well, couldn’t speak very well, and worst of all, he couldn’t play the piano anymore.
He had spent his entire life playing the piano, from a young age all the way through his life. And he is the main reason why I am even on any music site today - all my inspiration comes from him.
He had this message on his piano as well -
Anyway, he got so fed up with not being able to the play the piano anymore that he literally fought against it, and over time, (and it was a struggle, I’ll grant you), he got back on form. We didn’t think it could happen, and the doctors said no way, etc, but Dad didn’t really give a shit about that and just carried on.
I have my Dad’s piano now, and here is the message under the lid -
Every time I read it, I always tear up, and I’m glad I do, because it’s frankly, beautiful. The power of music eh!
It fair brought a tear to my eye. Some man, that’s true courage.
Thanks for the share, he lives on in your heart