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Posted by Paige on January 03, 19100 at 15:34:45:
In Reply to: Left hand stuff posted by xarberry on December 28, 1999 at 15:34:48:
: The stuff you mentioned about relaxing is great too. It seems like a lot of people, even ones who realize their tension, don't relax enough when they play. Good posture is underrated, and often overlooked when people are trying to figure out why their hands/shoulders/etc are bothering them. There's a book by Madeline Bruser that talks about some of that kind of stuff called The Art of Practicing. Check it out ~ artofpracticing.com.
In addition to the 1-2-4 spoken of here, I also have tried something that is really paying dividends. I have a Carvin LB76 6 string fretted bass. Not a really wide neck, but obviously wider than any 4 or 5 string I have owned or presently own. Until I played this thing, I shied away from 6 strings, because of my personal history of left hand problems... I didn't want to wrestle with an even wider neck. But..... the action on this Carvin 6 string is very low, which forces my right hand (plucking/picking hand) to play with a much lighter touch in order to pull the sweet tones out of this baby that it is capable of (and boy o boy, is it capable of tone! Stock Carvin Pickups replaced with EMG's). This bass can play Jazz or Rock or whatever I want - but I have to play lightly - the tones are there... all the edge I need for Rock, all the smooth buttery rich warm tones for my Jazz gigs etc. But if I attack too hard with my right hand all I get is a clanky ugly sound.... yuk. The low action, coupled with a truly sweet thin (front to back) neck design that is relatively flat on the backside also allows my left hand to relax as I play, because it takes less effort to play. The flat back of this neck also allows me to really take advantage of the pivoting thumb that Carol preaches. Because of the lower action, I don't have to clutch the neck so much, but insteads I can now rest my thumb lightly in the middle of the neck, easing the efort needed to shift my thumb up or down or back and forth.
I guess my point in all this is that my struggle to bring all of what Carol (and others) said to bear on my playing was hampered somewhat by the way I have always had my basses set up... using a moderately high action. You may want to explore some of this as part of your own solution. It was a real eye-opener for me.
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