I have been playing bass guitar again after a long hiatus for a few months now. However, I'm noticing that my hands often 'flub' notes even things that I played before successfully. I'm also noticing that I can't always remember parts, even if learned by ear. It's like I can't focus long enough.

I also have a family history of arthritis and with the cold coming up I was wondering if perhaps that was the issue or do you think its something else? Its getting extremely frustrating.

I am going to be checking in with my family doctor very soon for an official diagnosis as to whether it's arthritis or tendonitis in my hand. If it does turn out to be arthritis do you suppose switching to a short scale bass would help?

  • Do you feel like it should only take a few months to get back up to your previous skill level? It seems reasonable that it might take longer than that. Oct 18, 2015 at 16:57
  • You know, I suppose you're right but I've been having pain in my knuckles and thumbs as well as in my wrists. I'm fairly sure it's not carpal tunnel syndrome because I don't get any numbness or tingling. Things tend to get worse when it's cold and damp out but then again it also might just be tendonitis in my thumbs. Part of my job is doing heavy lifting on at least a semi-regular basis.
    – tapir435
    Oct 18, 2015 at 17:16
  • Sensitivity to cold and damp does seem to correlate with arthritis, I have observed. At any rate, with or without arthritis, I have always been very uncomfortable playing cello with cold hands. When I'm going to play in a cold environment, it helps me to warm my hands thoroughly before playing, and in extreme cases, I wear extremely thin fingerless gloves while playing! Oct 22, 2015 at 6:03

2 Answers 2


Your doctor is going to say a range of things from arthritics to harmless

Exercises to deal with this: Set metronome really slow (40 bpM) and play major scales (or any scale arpeggio whatever) through the entire range of your neck for about 5 minutes before each practice session. Always remember to relax as much as possible when playing.

It's not because you're broken, it's because you're rusty.

I get hand and arm pain when I switch strings or work on new techniques, or if i take a break for a day or 2. I'm a younger guy, but i know that some older cats have had a LOT of success with lighter gauge strings.


A short scale bass won't make much difference. With bass playing, there's more tendency to move the whole hand slightly along the neck, to reach the next note/s. So using individual fingers doesn't have to be seen so much as a problem as on guitar, with smaller fret gaps, Obviously, go up to play at the dusty end, and that statement isn't so relevant.

Warming up is important, especially when one's joints are starting to show signs of rigor mortis (!), and playing in a warm room will also help. The lack of memory may well be overcome when it gets used to you playing again. I hope so!

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