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Listen to Carol... she makes a good point!

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Posted by Paige on December 28, 1999 at 09:19:58:

Carol Kaye makes a good point in her reply to the beginning bass player who wanted to know what to learn first (dated 12/24/99). About two years ago I was having incredibly debilitating left hand problems... taking 800 mg of Motrin every Sunday just to make it through playing two services. A friend suggested I Email Carol which I did. After a brief Email to her she quickly responded and gave me a very accurate diagnosis - I was using the same left hand technique in my bass playing as I was in my guitar playing... i.e. one finger, one fret all the way up and down the neck. The problem is that as basses have gotten bigger and longer and especially since they started adding strings, it becomes even more paramount that we pay attention to how we use our left hand. When I play my guitar, I leave my left hand as stationary as possible assigning a finger to a fret. But with my basses (an Alembic Epic 5 string and a Carvin LB76 6 string) the distance between frets is so much more than my guitar that as I attempted to do the "one finger, one fret" technique on my basses it started to tear my hand up. The sneaky thing was that it didn't happen overnight, as I have used this technique for years. And only two years ago did the damage become apparent. My tendons surrounding my ring finger and pinkie finger on my left hand became terribly inflamed...
Well I did what Carol suggested, I "married" my pinky and ring finger together and pivoted around my thumb more. Instead of stretching to reach a note with my pinky, I would instead reach for the note with my pinky and ring finger(together!) and pivot my thumb so I didn't have to streeeeetch for it. Thankfully over 6 to 9 months the pain and inflammation pretty much went away. But I still have to watch it because my hand will bother me if I slip back to playing the old way. I have since modified this a little... I still use the one finger one fret method in the upper range of my bass as the frets are much closer there. But towards the nut end of the bass where the frets are so wide I essentially use three fingers... Index, second finger and ring/pinky... and don't forget to pivot!
Thhanks Carol... it's been two years and I'm forging ahead!

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