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‘Nose grease’.

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This is slightly gross but I now realise why I see so many players rub their noses or lick their fingers before taking solos or playing challenging parts. One of my favourites, Jeff Andrews used to do this a lot. Had a gig last night after a really long and stressful work day, rush to the gig, turn up late so I have to plug in and play as soon as I’m through the door, no time to wash or warm up, venue is sweaty and my bass has brand new roundwound strings on it, and as soon as I hit the first note they feel like they’re made of sandpaper and they want to glue themselves to my fingers. I normally play with tapewounds which don’t have this problem, I was quite surprised by how weird it felt. So out of desperation I went for the nose grease, and lo and behold, everything fell into place beautifully, and my playing returned to normal. Anyone else do this? Or have any less disgusting ways to combat dry sticky strings?

Also, just a thought - if this is as common practice as I think it might be, ALWAYS change strings when you buy second hand.  🤮 

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I'm sort of in the boat with the changes between rounds & flats for different gigs.. Getting really bad blisters from rounds at the moment. John Deacon can be seen licking his fingers before different passages live quite a few times. Although never nose grease, I do occasionally moisten my fingers just a little bit to "ease the pain"

 

I always change strings on pre owned instruments you don't know where they've been 😂

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I used rounds for decades, discovered flats, enjoyed them immensely, but after about ten years I'm now back with rounds. Obviously they aren't as slick, but I counter this by playing for hours every day and thus have developed huge pads of hard skin on my fingers. The issue I get at sweaty gigs is my left hand sticking to the back of the neck, but found that judicious use of a Scotchbrite pad makes the neck silky and satiny smooth. Next!

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3 minutes ago, discreet said:

I used rounds for decades, discovered flats, enjoyed them immensely, but after about ten years I'm now back with rounds. Obviously they aren't as slick, but I counter this by playing for hours every day and thus have developed huge pads of hard skin on my fingers. The issue I get at sweaty gigs is my left hand sticking to the back of the neck, but found that judicious use of a Scotchbrite pad makes the neck silky and satiny smooth. Next!

I struggle with flats as I always feel like I am going to burn the tips of my fingers if I slide too fast, for that reason I have gone back to rounds on all basses including the fretless basses, I prefer the sound and feel. To combat the dreaded sticky neck syndrome (especially on a varnished / painted neck like my US sub) I spray a tiny amount of silicon spray onto a cloth and wipe the back of the neck, it cures the problem instantly, seems to last a good few weeks and, thus far, doesn't appear to have had any negative impact on the neck, meaning I can confidently now use the Sub as my main gigging bass with Yodaclub

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13 minutes ago, xgsjx said:

Isn't this what groupies are for?

Thankyou, I was just finishing my breakfast...

Anyway, how would this work in practice?  Would you have to keep disappearing backstage between numbers ?

I think a small tin of Vaseline might be quicker and less demanding...

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Have you thought of using coated strings? I tried the Warwick coated ones (I've forgotten what they were called) and they were really rough and abrasive on my fingers, but then tried DR Silver Stars / Black Beauties and they have a lovely texture - just slippery enough and just enough bite but without being rough on your fingers. They also have a really punchy tone which is great, especially on brighter basses.

Edited by darkandrew

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9 minutes ago, musicbassman said:

I think a small tin of Vaseline might be quicker and less demanding...

Compared with groupies? Definitely.

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15 minutes ago, Roger2611 said:

I spray a tiny amount of silicon spray onto a cloth and wipe the back of the neck, it cures the problem instantly...

Good call, but I have a thing about minimising bass-related clutter. Plus, I'd probably forget to do it at a crucial moment. 9_9

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I'm exactly the opposite - I find that dry, clean fingers are so much easier to play with than wet/greasy/etc ones.

My solution years ago was to position a small clip on fan pointing in the direction of my right hand. It means that my fingers don't sweat, my strings don't get sticky and everything is smooth to the touch.

If you're looking for smooth rounds then D'addario XL nickels are the smoothest I've ever used. That was really important to me when I made the switch from flats a couple of years ago

Plus isn't nose grease etc going to significantly shorten the life of your strings as the grime gets between the windings?

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6 minutes ago, Delberthot said:

Plus isn't nose grease etc going to significantly shorten the life of your strings as the grime gets between the windings?

I was just about to say exactly this - grease on strings is a terrible idea.

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I was told by an upright player years ago that the grease from the nose is unique and a fantastic lubricant when playing! Could be a load of rubbish but he said it with conviction 😎🤔

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I had to google it - Wiki so must be true;

Nasal sebum, also known as nose grease/oil, is grease removed from the surface of the human nose. The pores of the lateral creases (where the nose joins the face) of the exterior of the nose create and store more oil and grease than pores elsewhere on the human body, forming a readily available source of small quantities of grease or oil. The grease is a particularly oily form of sebum, thought to contain more squalene (C30H50) than the secretions from other parts of the skin.[citation needed] It is notable because nose grease is a convenient durable lubricant.

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13 hours ago, Delberthot said:

I'm exactly the opposite - I find that dry, clean fingers are so much easier to play with than wet/greasy/etc ones.

My solution years ago was to position a small clip on fan pointing in the direction of my right hand. It means that my fingers don't sweat, my strings don't get sticky and everything is smooth to the touch.

If you're looking for smooth rounds then D'addario XL nickels are the smoothest I've ever used. That was really important to me when I made the switch from flats a couple of years ago

Plus isn't nose grease etc going to significantly shorten the life of your strings as the grime gets between the windings?

It’s not so much the smoothness of the strings that’s the issue, I think it’s more to do with pre-performance nerves, it’s the finger equivalent of a dry throat. But it does happen mostly with rounds. I don’t mind too much about the string life, I prefer them to be a bit on the dead side anyway.

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I always use Vaseline or lip balm, and if it's mislaid I rub my hands through my hair hoping that I haven't washed it recently... nothing worse than trying to play with sticky hands.

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I understand that nose grease is also used by watchmakers, and apart from the human nose is only found in a certain type of shark (I don't know if this is true, I read it in a Jack Reacher book).

Anyway, clean, dry hands work best for me.

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The whole pupose of playing roundwounds is to get bright sound from strings and many bassist keep the longevity of bright rounds by washing hands before playing then wipping strings after. So why greasing it. I don't gig or practice but don't blisters as 2 hours if that a week keeps my finger tips resistant. 

I read sonewhere that keeping hands dry and use a bit of talcum powder on finger tips may help keeping then blister free?

I find new flat wounds to be bright but as you experienced bassist now they lose brightness quick.

Back to nose grease, if you run out of stuff, eye up a greasy punter in crowd.....

Have you tried ear grease?

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3 hours ago, SH73 said:

The whole pupose of playing roundwounds is to get bright sound from strings and many bassist keep the longevity of bright rounds by washing hands before playing then wipping strings after. So why greasing it. I don't gig or practice but don't blisters as 2 hours if that a week keeps my finger tips resistant. 

I read sonewhere that keeping hands dry and use a bit of talcum powder on finger tips may help keeping then blister free?

I find new flat wounds to be bright but as you experienced bassist now they lose brightness quick.

Back to nose grease, if you run out of stuff, eye up a greasy punter in crowd.....

Have you tried ear grease?

No even I wouldn’t sink that low. Nose grease is my absolute limit. 

I wonder if you could use earwax to bring a dry rosewood fretboard back to life though? 🤢 🤮 

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