I’ve been practicing very regularly for about 5 months and it seems my fingers’ skin is still not adapted. I can hardly play 30mn-1h per day before it starts hurting and blisters forming. Slides are particularly problematic.
I don’t remember having this problem when playing guitar many years ago.
I’m 38, I know old men don’t recover as quickly but come on…
Could this be a problem of strings, setup or something?
My bass is an Ibanez Mikro with roundwounds that came with it.
Could be setup. Action too high might make for too much required pressure.
FWIW I only ever play rounds and have never had blisters.
Try different rounds? I’d be a little afraid of what flats would do for the tone on an ultrashorty like that. If you could even find flats for a 28" scale.
I agree with howard, sounds like you are applying too much pressure. It was quite a revelation to me when I did my first setup and realized that pressing the strings doesn’t have to feel like hard labour. I’d try that first and then experiment a bit with how much pressure you actually need.
I put flats on my Mikro when I had it. I think I used the ones that are made for Hofners?
yeah I also think it could be a setup/action issue. maybe a lighter string gauge could be considered.
It could be a string issue. The one time I played steel round wounds, I found out why people call them cheese graters.
Yeah go with nickel rounds, steel is hardcore.
I use the Sandberg stainless steel rounds and they don’t feel that hardcore to me
It varies by brand. I had Bass Centre stainless rounds that were great too. But some of the stock ones I have tried were awful. Warwick Red Stainless come to mind.
I agree with others regarding the action being too high and your having to apply too much pressure. Also, I would give flat wounds a try, as round wounds are very rough on the skin. I personally avoid rounds like the plague, and actually prefer the tone of flats or tape wounds anyway.
I’ve just come to that realisation this week. I am amazed at just how lightly I need to press to get the required note.
If you play golf, it’s exaggerated same principle. It’s like holding a live bird in your hand you want to be firm enough to keep the bird in your hand but not too tight that it will suffocate the bird. You only need to apply enough pressure to play a note without fret buzz no more necessary. If you have a grip of death you can’t properly develop speed.
It also helps if you fret the note right before the fret and not in the middle between 2 frets. This will come in super handy when you start playing fretless as the correct intonation is at the line not between the line.
If your fingertips are unusually tender, may be it’s time to switch to flats or nylon wrapped strings or applying Nuskin before playing. Good luck and keep at it.
@raphael , I agree with the setup approach first, and then perhaps lighter gauge strings. When I started B2B, I bought an Ibanez with super-heavy SS rounds and very high action. Before I learned better I was 3 months in. I then set up with new medium gauge SS rounds and a lower action. The difference is amazing, not only did my playing improve, but my fingers thank me each time I play… this from someone who has used hand tools every day professionally and/or as a hobbyist for the last 35 years (and has calluses to prove it).
Definitely, look at the setup and string gauge before you do anything else.
I would try lower gauge strings and maybe switch to nickels or other non-default. Out of the box strings seems quite rough a lot of times. Also, if you could film a few runs across the fretboard and post it here, maybe you have some kind of idiosyncratic technique flaw that could be easily identified from a video.
Just try new strings would be my advice. For some reason my first Fender bass had rounds which absolutely destroyed the skins on my fingers. Swapped it out with a set of LaBella/D’Addario strings and now everything is fine. It was kinda strange why those strings were so uncomfortable and I did lower the action a bit on that bass too.
Well I did not expect so many thoughtful replies. Thanks everyone! What an awesome forum.
I lowered the action a bit (~1mm), could not go very far as strings were starting to buzz when playing the higher notes.
I will now change the strings. Any brand/model recommendation (I’m playing mainly pop rock soul and disco)? There are so many rabbit holes to explore, strings aren’t one I have gone into yet!
For the old school pop, rock, soul sound, go with Fender flatwounds. I did and they sound wonderful and are so easy to play.
I’ve just fitted a set of Fender medium gauge flats and they are very nice and light to play.
When I put on my Fender flats, my ears perked up and my fingers thanked me. Wonderful strings.
In general, the order of adjusting the setup on your bass is:
- Neck relief (truss rod adjustment)
- String height
2b) String height vs. fretboard radius
There are several threads on B2B that show you how and numerous YT videos linked. Your neck relief may be too small or even backbowed. heck out the forum threads and vids, and then have a look at your bass.