By the time you read this the winter NAMM show will be over, but I am on my way out tomorrow morning. Looking forward to a great show- last year people were pretty low key but this year there is a vibe happening- lots of cool events, new products, just about everybody seems to be going and it should be a great year for the bass in particular and music in general.
As it is the New Year, let’s set our sights on good habits, i.e. injury prevention. Here are some chestnuts that you no doubt have heard before, maybe from me, but which are worth their weight in gold, the gold you may have to lay on the practitioner who has to fix you up if you get into trouble from bad bass playing habits.
1. If you are new to the instrument or if you’re self taught and not sure about or comfortable with your technique, try taking some lessons with an instructor who can teach you proper technique and put you in the right direction. Better to learn good habits from the beginning than to have to go back and change them later. Or if it already is later, better now than never.
2. When practicing for extended periods of time, take breaks, avoid gripping too much, mix it up to minimize repetition, stretch and shake it out when necessary. This is just as important as burning through those scales.
3. Sometimes digging in too much can be a problem, unnecessarily straining intricate hand muscles and ruining your tone. An answer to this can be playing lightly and turning up the volume on the amp to compensate. Let the amp do the work. This will lessen strain on your hands and improve your economy of motion and dexterity. Lowering your action will also help in this fashion, relieving right hand plucking tension and left hand pressure from pressing high strings down to the fretboard over and over again. Lighter gauge strings can also help in this respect. Gary Willis has been preaching this philosophy for years, at least 21 years which is when he was one of my instructors at B.I.T., and he knows a thing or two, believe me.
4. Set up effects in the rack so that they can be reached easily without unnecessary bending, or use foot pedals.
These tips are not to try and make you change the way you play or change your technique in particular, but to modify and make you think about the way you play and see if there is a better, easier, more efficient way to go about it. Play smarter, not harder.
Feel free to contact me anytime…
All the best always,
Dr. Randy Kertz, D.C.
About Dr. Randall Kertz
Randall Kertz is a chiropractic physician, acupuncturist, educator, author, and bass player in private practice in suburban Chicago, IL.