Athletes need to warm up before they play their sports. It’s a fact of life. Another fact is that musicians often overlook the fact that, in a sense, they are athletes themselves.
Bass guitars require pressing thick, heavy strings with tensions exceeding sixteen pounds of force down onto a piece of wood using only your fingers, countless amounts of times for hours each day.
If you don’t think this requires some athletic ability from your digits, I’d have to say you are wrong.
Warming up is just as crucial as practicing. In fact, it is actually more important as it helps prevent bass playing related injuries that can cause you to ‘sit on the bench’ and watch your friends play without you.
The first exercise is a palm rub. Grip you right hand with your left hand. Face your right hand’s palm towards the ceiling. Now take your left thumb and firmly massage your palm. Follow the length of your digits. Do this for about thirty seconds. You should feel warmth spreading through your palm; this is good.
Move on to your fingers. Massage the pads of each finger following its length, and do one finger at a time. Once each finger feels warm and ready, switch hands and start with a palm rub on your left hand using your right hand.
Next up, extend your right arm out before you in a straight line. Allow your hand to dangle downwards. Take your left hand and gently pull your right hand towards your forearm. Do not tug, your wrist isn’t meant to touch your forearm, or even move very much with this movement. You should feel a gentle stretch in the top of your forearm. Hold for fifteen seconds and then repeat. When finished, switch arms.
Our next warm up exercise is a stretch. Take your left arm and point it towards the ceiling. Allow your arm to bend, and touch the back of your neck with your hand. With your right hand, cradle your left arm’s elbow. Gently pull your left arm to the right until you feel a light stretch. Hold for thirty seconds, and then switch arms.
The second stretch is for your shoulder, which often gets very tight, as bassists tend where their instruments low, which causes them to hunch over and tense their muscles. Take your left arm and reach across your chest to your right.
Take your right hand and cup your left arm just behind the elbow. Pull your left arm gently to your right. Once you feel a light stretch, hold for thirty seconds, and then switch arms.
Our final warm up exercise involves the bass. Starting on the first fret of your E string, play frets one through four. For the first fret use your forefinger. For the second fret, use your middle finger. For the third fret use your ring finger, and finally, for the four fret use your pinky.
Once you are finished, move to the next string. Once you have play this chromatic pattern on all strings, begin on the second fret now, and repeat. Play this pattern on all strings until you reach the twelfth fret. This exercise is also great for increasing finger strength and independency for newer players who are struggling to with sore fingers.
Now that you are properly warmed up, go practice!
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