Friday, March 29, 2013

The Nitti Gritti On Technique And The Amp to Support It.

Many years ago Adam Nitti saved me from destroying my hands.  He can probably help you too.  The story and catalyst to the road to recovery goes something like this...

One night while playing a club with a loud band, a naive and un-gear-ducated bassist was playing with a 100 watt amp.....
The End

Enough said...right?

100 watts was not nearly enough to push the young bassists lowest sounds to the ears, hearts, and loins of the intoxicated dancers.  He didn't know this.  He pushed his hands to their limits, fingering the strings like life and groove depended on it...until..his fingers didn't work any more.  There was no pluck left in a right plucking hand.  RH Finger 1 and RH Finger 2 cried out in a bad Scottish accent "we....just..don't..have ..the power..."

Useless fingers .. songs remaining in the set ... crushed groove...crushed soul... finished.

I ...err... I mean.. the young naive bassist...squeaked out what he could with RH Finger 3 and RH Finger 4.  Pain.  Something popped.  Something stopped.  Then the next day... it was reevaluation time.  What was I doing wrong?  What could I change?

I didn't have an electric bass teacher (mistake #1) so I didn't have anyone immediate to turn to. I was also embarrassed that I was playing professionally and obviously was doing something horribly wrong. I went to the Internet and searched 'proper bass technique'.

I found Adam.  More specifically I found this link

And it was the road to recovery... from these lessons I discovered how to properly use my RH and my LH and one of the biggest revelations was ....the Moveable Anchor.  I always thought you HAD to keep your thumb on the pickup.  Well....this changed everything.

In the end I realized that the night I blew my hand out it was obviously two fold:

  1. My electric technique was seriously lacking and causing me problems. 
  2. I had an amp that wasn't cut out for the job so no matter my technique I probably would have blown my hand out anyway.   
I fixed my technique - and eventually got a real amp.  My hands and groove lived happily ever after. 


  1. We spoke of this when you bought your 6er. When I got my 5 and played out the first time the sympathetic notes were the only sympathetic things on the band stand. On a four you can get away with more stationary approach. I started using pickup covers because I was digging in my anchor so hard one night down in Montague that I loosened up the top screw on my p bass pick up & it wouldn't adjust back down into the body. Blew out my hand that night would you believe.

    1. Oh I'd believe it. It's amazing what we do in sacrifice towards the almighty groove.

      Live and learn