Home Forums Guitar Discussion Guitar Wrist pain

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  • #24532
    houseadrian
    Participant

    Hello,

    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.

    Thanks,

    Adrian

Viewing 16 reply threads
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    Replies
    • #73831
      1bassleft
      Participant

      [quote]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![/quote]

      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.

    • #73779
      houseadrian
      Participant

      Hi Scott et al,

      So I’ve stopped playing for a while due to pain 😡 . 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.

      Adrian

    • #73825
      houseadrian
      Participant

      Michael,

      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,

      Adrian

    • #73827
      michaelferris
      Participant

      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.

    • #73807
      ScoGo
      Participant

      Hi,

      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

    • #73823
      1bassleft
      Participant

      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.

    • #73805
      ScoGo
      Participant

      [quote=”houseadrian”]Hello,

      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

    • #73777
      glw
      Participant

      Adrian check out the Building the Ergonomic Guitar blog at http://buildingtheergonomicguitar.com/ – it’s not just about building – there are several articles on there that might interest you.

    • #73809
      1bassleft
      Participant

      ps, I did a search on Crue, tacos, etc and didn’t get the titillation I hoped for. Instead, I got six moped riders lifting their visors, splodging my stained-glass door with zitpuss and claiming that I’d placed an order for chicken fajitas.

    • #73769
      1bassleft
      Participant

      Adrian, we had a poster here, a guitar tutor, called Bob Houston. He hasn’t chimed in lately, but look up his details here; I’m sure he’d help. Also, there’s a fairly new member “Michael Ferris” who’s had extensive, classical training and possibly had to deal with tendon-crunch in his time. Finally, you could also do well to talk to Acoustica1 of this forum. Fingerlock hits many a good player.

    • #73815
      houseadrian
      Participant

      Hi guys,

      Thanks for the responses. I actually got tested for carpal tunnel a few years ago, but it was negative. So I guess it’s just “tendonitis”, meaning pain in the area. I’ll try tilting the neck higher – Chuck Berry did that I think. I just can’t seem to get my wrist straight for bar and power chords especially on the 6th string no matter how hard I try. Getting some instruction would probably be an idea, but right now I’m stuck at home due to illness. Anyhow, I’ll keep trying new things.

      Adrian
      ps what’s the tacos story?

    • #73820
      1bassleft
      Participant

      and, back to serious, I agree with myfoot; this makes me think of carpal tunnel syndrome. I know the subject has come up and been talked over at length a while back. If required, I’ll have a look for the thread that first alerted me to the condition.

    • #73789
      Tim
      Participant

      Yup, and having smelt a ‘Taco-bell’ I can imagine it was quite effective…

    • #73856
      lee_UK
      Participant

      Bill Wyman used to play his bass at an upright angle, but according to his autobiography he did this to shield his eyes (using the headstock) from the lights so he could eye up all the 13 year old , sorry i mean 16 year old girls in the audience, so he could entice them back stage for a nosh, sorry i mean ‘some’ nosh and a good old rogering…. aledgedly.
      Good clean fun compared to what Motley Crue used to get up to.
      I suppose everyone has heard the Taco’s in the back of the van story???

    • #73818
      Tim
      Participant

      I play bass (meaning a long neck and big stretches) and have had this problem a bit as well (to the point of losing the ability to press the strings down mid-set!). I’m sure you’ve tried this, but I now tend to have my bass low-slung but the neck quite a steep angle, this seems to put the fretting hand on it’s side as opposed to horizontal which I find helps. Thinking about it, Slash and Zakk Wylde, to name two, tend to solo near vertical.

    • #73843
      lee_UK
      Participant

      I used to find it very difficult to play a low slung guitar, so you are not alone.
      I don’t think it’s anything to do with short fingers, just an odd wrist angle.

    • #73813
      myfoot
      Participant

      Sounds like carpal tunnel syndrome.( a repetitive motion problem) May help to see a dr. and get a proper diagnosis .
      http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm

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