Wrist pain


New to forum. I've been playing for years and have always had a problem with wrist pain in my left (fretting) hand, and recently in my elbow too. It's especially bad playing bar chords near the top of the neck, and playing power chords in general (I'm playing mostly electric now). I try so hard to keep my wrist straight but can't seem to do it. I have a brace too. Sometimes I see people playing power chords even with their guitars slung low, and they seem to be able to keep their wrist straight or even bend it the other way a bit. Eg. Keith Richards. Is this because their fingers are bigger? Are my fingers too small to do this, maybe? I guess slinging the guitar higher would probably help, but I guess I want to look "cool" and have it lower, dumb as that may sound. But if it's not possible, I'll just have to put my guitar up high like they did in the early 60's (and maybe buy a mod suit). Anyways, any help on this or just comments would be much appreciated.



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houseadrian wrote:

Hi Adrian,

Neck thickness, size and shape are also important factors that may be contributing to your wrist pain. Try a friend's guitar that has a thicker neck to see if it helps. Also, check your thumb position---it should be behind the neck and not wrapped around to the bass side of the fingerboard. This will also tend to force your wrist into a straighter position.

Good luck,
Scott Gordon / ScoGo Guitars

Welcome in, Scott :)

Nice to see a builder in here, and here's a Q. As a bass player, I often adopt the "baseball" grip when playing and it seems comfortable to me. Some songs (and, more definitely) some necks like the "V" Fender Jazz make me adopt the classical, thumb-central-to-back-of-neck posture. This can be murder on the tendons after a while. Is it my sloppy technique, and should I be practising this more for long-term benefit? Fat, rounded necks and thumb-splayed never gives me any problems.


If it's comfortable for long periods, that's a good sign. I think the key here is the thick neck. Most factory electric guitars & basses are designed with thin necks---marketed as being "fast", though I don't see the connection between neck thickness and playing speed myself. Nothing slows down your playing like a good dose of pain!

Our hands are designed to grab larger sized objects most efficiently. They are too large to exert the same force on something much smaller. Think of holding a baseball bat as opposed to a pencil. The best size for us depends on the size and proportions of our hands and the position they are in when we play.

Playability issues are probably the least addressed, but the most important aspects of a musical instrument. Especially stringed instruments where there is so much body contact.

Thanks for responding.

Scott Gordon / ScoGo Guitars

Adrian, I could not figure out how to send a private message, but please let me know if what I told you to do helps.


That's weird; I sent you the following private message on Nov.13, but I guess it didn't go through? Thanks again for your comments!

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I'm taking your advice and taking a break for a while, and will certainly try your suggestions re. using gravity more and pressing lighter on the fretboard.
Thanks again, and all the best,


Hi Scott et al,

So I've stopped playing for a while due to pain :x . And now I'm getting pain from typing. Damn! Again, for now I can't leave the house due to illness, so I guess rest is the answer.

Funnily enough I find a thinner neck easier on the wrist, because I can get my fingers a little further around it. I have a tele and a strat - find the strat easier to play but like the sound of the tele better. Anyways, for now I'm just listening closely to my cd's and dreaming about when I'll be able to play again.


guitars & basses are designed with thin necks---marketed as being "fast", though I don't see the connection between neck thickness and playing speed myself. Nothing slows down your playing like a good dose of pain!

I couldn't agree more, Scott - although I wouldn't call myself a speedy fingerer if I'm honest. If "thin=fast" were a universal truth, we'd all play Rizlas. I think of necks as analogous to the grip of a tennis racquet or the reach/rake adjustmenton of a car's steering wheel; what is "best" is what "fits" the individual. Trying brands out for feel (or, if you have the time/money, having one made to your prefs) makes sense.

On another note, Michael, here's a quick way to send a PM to a particular contributor. Click on their # of posts line, which lists their contributions, then click on their screen-name. The profile, along with the "PM" option, then appears.

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