I am experiencing some very strange changes in my playing, and I’d like to know if anyone has ever dealt with a similar issue. Within the last few months (since October), a combination of dryness and who-knows-what-else has affected the grip of my fingers on the strings. The most troubling outcome is that my thumbs seem to generate squeaking (or whistling) sounds on the strings.
This only happens occasionally, but the first couple of times I noticed it, it really freaked me out. I have calluses, and they don’t seem abnormally hard or rough, so that’s not the problem. And when I say my fingers seem dry, they LOOK fine and would probably still seem soft to anyone else, but they’re dry in a silky, powdery way.
I moisturize (I have the Udderly Smooth, Bliss Hand Cream, and a variety of others), and I would be willing to file my calluses, but I fear that’s not the problem. It’s almost as if my fingertips are too smooth (although nothing looks out of the ordinary, fingerprint’s intact and hands look normal).
As for how it feels on the strings, the best analogy I can come up with is driving with bald tires. It’s a lack of traction.
When I say squeaking, it’s not due to sweat, since I’ve never had sweaty hands. It’s that something about the texture of my fingerpad (especially on the thumb) is interacting with the string to produce a “squeak,” even when there’s no plucking motion. (For example, a month ago, I heard the offending sound while I was warming up before a student’s lesson and placed just my thumb on the string, and moved it up and down, maintaining contact with the string (but without plucking), and what I got was one GIANT squeak.)
I can still play, and am still generating a pretty good sound. But these small differences are irking me, because I can’t figure out what might have caused them. Bad habits creeping in? Lack of a humidifier?
I know this seems like an “amateurish” issue, but it’s new to me, and a little scary, since my playing schedule shows no signs of letting up any time soon. I would like to fix this if possible, and welcome any ideas you might have.