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Old 10-08-2013, 12:57 AM   #1
J0nathanSIN
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New to bass, need some help.

So, first off, I'll say hello, glad to be here. I'm new to the forums, but no stranger to music or instruments. Name's Jonathan.

So, I'll keep it short as possible, I've been in a band for a long time now. Our bass player quit. Now, I'm 2 things, a singer, and a guitarist, I had only dabbled on bass before. But now, I'm picking up the slack, and picking up the bass for my band, in addition to singing.

Now, here's my issue. I have pretty bad neck, shoulder, and left arm issues. Basically, they are rather weak due to nerve damage. While it's not reversible, strength building exercises would definitely help. So, this bass I'm playing, is for me, a 135 pound guy, pretty heavy. And it hurts all of the previously listed body parts. Anyone else have any experience with this? Any tips on exercises or techniques I could try out to improve the strength in my neck, shoulder, and arm?
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:19 AM   #2
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Well first I'd ask what bass you're playing. If at all possible you might want to look into changing it out/upgrading to something lighter, the Ibanez SR series in particular is a great line and is known for being particularly lightweight and easy to shoulder (there are lots of other good choices but that would be a whole different threads-worth of stuff).

Second, if you're not using a wide strap, investing in one would be a good idea. Those thin little guitar straps (particularly the cheap nylon/whatever ones) will dig into and pain even healthy shoulders. A wide strap is a must to help spread the load and there are even straps designed with bass in mind that are 4"+ wide. Leather is good for grip, or if you need more padding there are those padded neoprene ones.

Proper posture and playing position will help too. Needless to say if you're hunched over with your bass swinging down by your knees, its not going to go over well for your body. More specific to your left arm/hand, you should have your bass at a height and position where you can properly position your thumb on the back of the neck while keeping your wrists as straight as possible. A lot of strain gets put on your hands, arms, and wrists if you're bending your wrists at extreme angles, or if you're holding up your bass because your strap isn't doing its job.
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:52 AM   #3
Phil Starr
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I hope that isn't a Thunderbird in your avatar! They'll play havoc with your aches and pains. I've just sold mine, lovely to play and lovely sound but a bass shouldn't hurt because it won't hang properly. Good advice above by the way especially about playing position.

Shame you live in the States. If you were in the UK I'd say go and see an orthopaedic surgeon, if you have a trapped nerve they can usually fix it.

Practically I'd say don't go for any bass specific exercise but look to do general upper body and core strengthening exercises. Look for stuff that is fun to do (so you keep it up) and which is low impact. Don't start lifting heavy weights, do warm up and down after exercising and look for lots of repetition and building up rather than explosive exercise. I like the gym which enables me to isolate which muscles I am working on and control the exercise level. I started going to recover from knee surgery and if you keep it up it works. Dance might help too especially with flexibility and core strength.

One proviso, if the problem is a nerve trapped as it goes through the shoulder joint then tightening up the muscles can make it worse, then you really need medical intervention.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:39 PM   #4
J0nathanSIN
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It is a Thunderbird Iv, and that's what I'm playing. The way it hangs is actually one of the reasons I bought it though. Usually I'd hate how top heavy it is, but when I'm singing, sometimes the instrument will be behind me. It's okay for it to tip down at that point.

The other reason I bought it, is because I got it for a steal. 100 bucks. Can't beat that.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J0nathanSIN
It is a Thunderbird Iv, and that's what I'm playing. The way it hangs is actually one of the reasons I bought it though. Usually I'd hate how top heavy it is, but when I'm singing, sometimes the instrument will be behind me. It's okay for it to tip down at that point.

The other reason I bought it, is because I got it for a steal. 100 bucks. Can't beat that.

That all being said, T birds are notorious for being on the chunkier side, having especially poor strap button placement, and most of all: nosedive. There seriously isn't a bass out there (in the lower price ranges at least) that could be worse for someone with back/neck/shoulder/left arm/etc. problems. The design flaws are just going to be fighting against you.

Though it is the most expensive option, I really think you would benefit loads from a lighter-weight, properly balanced bass. You can get Ibanez SR's dirt cheap used (even higher end ones). I could recommend more things if you had a defined budget to work with but the short of it is that something lighter, smaller bodied, and/or better balanced will make a world of difference, particularly if you're going to be standing with it through a long gig.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:43 AM   #6
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Epi/Gibson basses are notoriously heavy. Your typical Tbird weighs around 12lbs and the weight distribution is uneven as stated.

I'm about your weight and because of my work, have shoulder and back issues. While physical therapy and the related exercises help, its an issue that you are going to have to deal with over a lifetime. Getting a wide strap is going to help along with doing core building exercises , but having a bass that heavy and with a neck dive is always going to counterbalance what positive efforts you do. A hundred dollar bass is only a "steal" if it doesn't cost you back pain later on that costs many hundreds in medical intervention.

I love my Accubass (13lbs) but pretty much gave up on gigging with it and bought a Jaguar instead. Its made a world of difference. Get a lighter bass.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:34 PM   #7
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Given the severity of your injuries, I'd go for the lightest, best-sounding and best-playing bass you can find. Now; if you can find one, your best bet is the Yamaha RBX4A2 (4-string) or the RBX5A2 (5-string) basses. These are first-rate players, and they have plenty of fine tones on tap. Best of all, they are genuine featherweights: the bodies are made of some collection of woods that weighs next to nothing. They aren't as easy to find anymore (I believe they have been discontinued), but a lot of places either still have them or can get them. One thing, though: that featherweight body means they don't hold up to major abuse well, so take reasonable care of it.

Oh, and they were never more than about US$500.00 new, so you can probably pick one up used for $300.00 or less.
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