Why Do Some Bass Players Wear Gloves?

What do you think about when you think about playing bass guitar? 

4-string vs 5-string? Either playing with a pick or with fingers

Gloves? Does the word “gloves” come to your mind? 

It might come out as a surprise, but whether you wear gloves or not for playing bass guitar can make a difference. 

If you want to understand why then keep on reading! Because the world of gloves is quite fascinating (never thought I’d ever write such a sentence). 

For now, we’ll provide the quick answer:

Bass players wear gloves to prevent certain issues that might interfere with their performances. These go from keeping their hands from sweating to maintaining the blood of their fingers hot during cold weather. The simple act of wearing a glove can also put a stop to certain health problems.

Let’s analyze the underrated role of gloves on bass guitar. Trust me, it is more interesting than you might believe!  

Reasons why it might be a good idea to use gloves when playing bass 

As mentioned above, the reasons can be many.

First of all, gloves keep sweat away from your instrument. That is to say, you won’t prevent clammy hands, but gloves will make an excellent job absorbing the sweat. 

This is a good thing because sweat on strings generates a dull sound. Eventually, it could lead to a quicker change of strings due to an early worn out.

Picture it this way. You are playing live.

Suddenly, your fingers are all wet

Therefore, your strings are slippery, thus making your playing sloppy. 

You made a poor performance and a fool of yourself and the girl you liked went away with the singer (as usual). And all because you thought wearing gloves was stupid. 

I’m exaggerating. But if you are still not convinced, then let me provide more advantages. 

Gloves are crucial for long performances

Playing occasionally is ok. The worst you can expect is some blisters on your fingers (which by the way, gloves can prevent them as well). 

However, playing for hours without a break has consequences. Your fingers will hurt… a lot. 

In the end, this affects your performance and overall joy of playing. 

Gloves are fantastic because they reduce friction between fingers and strings. 

More specifically, they distribute the weight of your fingers against the strings throughout the glove, preventing hand fatigue. 

Another reason is the reason why gloves exist, and that is they keep hands warm during cold weather

Freezing temperatures prevent blood from circulating properly, reducing the agility of your fingers. A pair of gloves and the problem is solved.

Lastly, let’s not forget that gloves are a practical tool for people with health conditions. 

Several musicians have Nickel allergies, which is a big problem if we bear in mind most bass strings are made of nickel. Gloves prevent contact with this material. 

Most important, gloves help people with Focal Dystonia, a disease where fingers move involuntarily. Luckily, whenever fingers touch anything, they stop moving. 

Gloves can trick the brain into feeling there’s already a contact there. 

Reasons to not use gloves when playing 

Oddly enough, we find more reasons to wear gloves than to not. 

I say oddly because you probably have noticed that most bass players prefer not to wear them.  

If you ask me, I would encourage you to learn how to play WITHOUT gloves. The reason being gloves are a handy tool but are not essential. 

Try to apply the same logic to a pick. 

Playing with picks provides more attack and a stronger sound, but learning to play solely with fingers is useful. 

How would you respond if you ever have to play without a pick? Well then, how would you respond if you ever have to play without gloves? 

Now, reflect upon the following:

Gloves prevent blisters. But calluses are the result of blisters, and calluses are a good thing. 

Why you may ask? Because calluses are a sign of betterment! 

If your muscles hurt, then it is a clear sign you have been exercising. 

If your fingers hurt, then it is a clear sign you have been practicing. 

The result? Motivation to keep on playing. 

This simple trick can make the difference between improving or having your bass guitar gathering dust on the corner of your room. 

If you are still not convinced, bear in mind that callouses are temporary, so do not worry! 

With all that being said, we don’t find technical reasons that could prevent better playing. You have the freedom of choosing whether you wear them or not. 

Is there any sound difference? 

It might be the minimum, but playing with gloves affects the sound of your bass guitar.  

Gloves help reduce string noise. Therefore, you can forget about all those unwanted rattles. 

What is more, when playing with high distortion, string noise will be amplified. Again, a pair of gloves minimizes this problem. 

Going back to what we mentioned before, a lack of gloves allows for sweat and pain in your hands. 

Sweat and pain in your hands condition your performance, which all in all, makes a difference in the sound. 

To sum up, don’t be scared. The difference in quality will probably be minimal.  

Are there any special kind of gloves for playing bass? 

There are a good amount and variety of gloves that suit a wide range of characteristics. 

For example, musicians with Nickel Allergies can try wearing thin gloves made of silk or nylon. They are also handy for blister protection. 

More specifically, you can google “Guitar Glove Bass Glove –M- 1 Glove” for a good pair of moisture-wicking, water repellent gloves. 

However, if you plan to protect your fingers from harsh winter, then either cotton gloves or winter gloves are a top-notch selection. Say goodbye to frosty nails. 

We recommend the Achiou Winter Knit Gloves, with a touch-sensitive palm that allows for phone use. 

Be careful, though. You want to rehearse, not to scroll down on Instagram! 

Homemade alternatives 

We understand that sometimes money is a problem. Therefore, we would like to recommend two homemade alternatives. 

  • Talcum powder – a beautiful sweat absorber 
  • Sweat rag (or any rag) – for cleaning up both hands and bass 

These are cheap options that can easily replace gloves.

Famous bassists that play with gloves

The number of famous bass players who wear gloves is rather small.

The most famous is Duff Mc Kagan from Guns N’ Roses. There was a time in which alcohol made the skin of his fingers crack.

He said he had to wear bandages under his gloves to be able to play bass. Maybe gloves were there for hiding those bandages.

We can mention Etienne Mbappé, too, who wears gloves to keep bass strings bright. He says he likes the “bigger and smoother sound” they provide.

Lastly, we’d like to mention Scott DeVine from Scott’s Bass Lessons, who teaches bass on YouTube. 

Sadly, Scott suffers from Focal Dystonia (the disorder in which fingers move involuntarily). Gloves are essential for putting a stop to the shaking.


In conclusion, gloves are of paramount importance for specific reasons. They are a handy tool that solves health and weather issues.

You may not need them under normal circumstances, but I sincerely hope you remember this information next time you see a bass player with clothes on his hands.