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discomfort in first position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by RxFunk, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    I'm experiencing some discomfort while playing on the first fret. Is this just something I'll get over in time, or is it somethinf I'm doing wrong? Also, I'm double jointed in all of my fingers, don't know if that has anything to do with it. The double joint causes them to bend inward at the first joint if I stretch them even a little. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. The discomfort occurs especially on the E and A strings, I don't know if it is because those are the thickest and therfore hardest to press strings, it sounds possible to me.
  2. kreider204

    kreider204 Supporting Member

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    It's usually a bit harder to play at the first fret than any other fret due to the typical angle off the nut, but it definitely shouldn't hurt. What kind of bass are you playing, and has it had a good setup?
  3. J.D.B.

    J.D.B.

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    Hard to say, not seeing you with the instrument or what is uncomfortable (wrist, hand, fingers, or thumb), but usually if I get into some discomfort there, I pull the neck more upright to relax the left wrist a bit. That takes all the loading off everything else for me.

    Josh
  4. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

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    You change your hand position and press directly down on the strings, so the fingers aren't so flat (parallel to the fretboard).

    Is the dbl-jointed fingers due to a connective-tissue disorder? You might talk to a doctor about exercises to fight this.
  5. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Its a Ibanez Roadgear RD500, and it does have a good setup. Low action and pretty comfortable once I get higher up on the neck(around 3rd fret).
  6. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    I'll try this, thanks for the tip.
  7. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    I'll try some other hand positions, and I'm not sure what causes the double jointed fingers, maybe I should look into it.
  8. Ron G

    Ron G

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    I hope this helps:

  9. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    I'll watch these more thouroghly in a bit, from what I saw they certainly look helpful. Thanks, Ron!
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

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    Double jointed (hyper-mobility ) is related by the main characteristics of the joint ends being malformed. It is a condition that needs to be monitored as it will cause problems in later life as the joint deteriates ( this happens to all, but having a hyper-mobility condition will exagerate problems ).

    First position for you means you increase you reach as you extend to that area. As you have extended you will put more pressure on the fingers to try and "hold on" to the neck, all player tend to do this at some point when learning, until you learn the corect postures and the correct muscle groups that support the shoulder and allow the arm to support the hand, not have the hand support the arm and shoulder.
    By extending out your elbow needs to be firm to support the movement, if the elbow is weak or to "soft", it will in effect drop, pull on the hand and make holding on to the neck a habit.
    Add in to that the fret width and string tensions next to the nut, first position can cause problems for healthy hands, never mind any with hyper-mobility issues or weakness.

    But here is maybe your dilemma, hyper-mobility presents itself in many joints, but because we use our hands more we notice it more in the fingers. If it is genetic cause, your elbow may not support the extention to first position. So the best solution is bring first position closer to you, a five string bass may solve the issue. By its very design, bringing the first position of a four string to the fifth fret, you do not need to extend so far.

    Five string basses have great designs these days, the weight issues are negligible these days, better neck designs, active electronics, etc...even strap designs are better these day.
    The cost of them are great as well, the days of them being seen as a specialist bass, so costing more, are behind us, with the market now giving a wide range of styles and price.
    Using a five string is not all about having "five extra lower notes", it can be about solving many playing and physical issues in and around the lower areas of the fretboard.

    When i use a fiver, it is about bring the F or Bb closer to me.
    Again, that relieves the tension you get next to the nut, tension is always higher the closer to a bearing point (on a bass the bearing points are the bridge saddle and the nut, the tension is needed to stop the string sagging, so the least amount of tension is in the middle of the string) and my hands always feel fresher for doing so.
    Some of the spans i would have to use (and the fact open string positions mean a change in fingerings) are eliminated on the fiver, so it is a good option to consider one for these reasons.

    If this an option you can use i would consider it.
    I do not know the extent of your hyper-mobility, your age etc..but if you have problems now, think of how they could develop or be complicted in the years to come, especially if you are putting a constant strain on your hands by playing bass.
    The main thing is use and play what is best for you and trust in your choice, the same may also be true of your technique, so considerations may be needed there as for you " the rules may not apply"....play safe and enjoy it.:)
  11. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Thanks for all the great advice, I'll go and check out a fiver next time I'm at GC and see if it helps any, which it sounds like it certainly might. Again, thank you, this looks really helpful! I also have relatively small hands which is why I was playing four string, because I thought anymore would be too wide for my hand, Any recommendation for a fiver with a narrow nut width?
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

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    Lots of options...remember to think fiver, nut width is not the focus it is how wide the neck is in relation to the areas you play on it.
    Remember you are looking to start your low E at the fifth fret, so the nut area is not that important as you will have options to play away from it. Also a narrow neck can cause a different set of problems, by making the fingers curl to much, so encouraging them to grip rather than play. Also a neck that is to narrow can cramp the fingers to close together, so a bit of width is really required, so long as it is in relation to the players needs.
    String spacing is more important, and that is string spacing relating to your hand size. Pay attention to how even the strings in relation to where you play.
    Quick point, before I used a fiver, I had a second bass tuned B E A D, to which other players would comment about losing the use of the G string.
    But what did I really lose?......five notes at the top end of the neck that I never used. So what I gained with that tuning was five extra notes the the bottom, but with more playing options than I would ever have achieved if I focused on not losing the five notes at the top of the neck on the G string.

    As for choice, there is plenty and to suit every budget.
    The main thing I look for in any bass is feel. If it feels right to me then regardless of the name on the headstock I will take it. I can change anything and everything on a bass....but the feel.
    I can make it look and sound how I want it to, i can change every bit of hardware on it, but I cannot change the feel of it, even basses of the same model and range by the same company can feel different, so make sure you only dismiss a bass you have actually handled and played.

    A bass that feels right is a keeper, its a bass that stays with you for always. I am sure, like me, there are many here on TB that can testify to changing basses only to realise the one they had was the one they should have kept. Want a bass with better pups and electronics, than change the ones in the bass you have, want to change the look then re-spray it, stain it, rub it down etc.. Drill into it and add what you want, but that neck will always feel the same.:)
  13. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Seems like great advice again, thanks. I'll try as many fivers as I can to find one that feels right to me. I have played a five string before, it was a Peavey BXP millenium, and I actually enjoyed it, I just thought that as a beginner I should start out on a four string. Your advice is certainly changing my mind about my previous viewpoint, and I'll save up for a while to try and get one, although I may have to trade my newly acquired four string to do it, as I currently have my money set aside for an amp.
  14. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

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    .. after just scanning the replies I have a couple thoughts that I used to help with left (fretting) hand issues ... I have broken my left thumb twice playing sports, and have severe basil joint arthritis in it currently where it has rotated inward to almost 45 degrees ...

    I play with my bass strapped fairly high, and with the neck at a fairly steep angle .. this allows me to keep my fretting wrist straight, and it requires less thumb support ... at times I actually play without my thumb pressing the back of the neck ..

    .. something else I stumbled across after noticing it was less of an issue while playing sitting, was putting an extension on my strap button on the upper horn of the bass ... it didn't take much, about an inch helped a lot .. I just used a small socket with a washer on either side and a longer screw to do this (put the correct diameter socket between the strap button and the bass horn) .. this moved the bass slightly to my body right, allowing me to reach the first position easier, and maintain a straighter wrist inclination again ... this actually moved the bass more into a seated playing position, when standing ... this is also something you can try without a permanent mod to the bass, if you find it doesn't help, simply return to original ...

    .. playing in pain is never a good thing, and in some cases it is not a matter of strengthening or conditioning ... it is simply ergonomically incorrect for your body, and adjustments need to be made to avoid further complications ...

    I apologize if my response was redundant to others, as mentioned I did not read/watch everything .. simply not time right now and I did not want to NOT respond, as playing comfort is so important .. JMHO
  15. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Good advice, don't worry, you weren't redundant, actually quite helpful:D When I'm sitting I actually put the bass on my left leg and angle it up, and it helps me a lot, and if I'm standing I too hold it up pretty high on my chest.
  16. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

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    I hope that fiver was not your 'keeper ?
    Five strings, six strings, four strings....it's not the amount of strings, its the amount of notes...and they all have the same 12, some just have more pitches, but still the same 12 notes.
  17. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Right, and no that fiver is not my keeper, I never purchased it, just played it to hear the pu's as I was looking for the four string version but they didn't have it. If I do get a fiver it'll probably be Schecter or Ibanez.
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

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    In addition to pulling the neck more vertical when playing in first position I find that I also tend to extend my elbow out more. It sorta mimics playing upright bass and takes some of the pressure off for me. Might help you, I dunno.
  19. RxFunk

    RxFunk

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    Yeah, that's what I do as well,it's just more comfortable for me, perhaps because I played cello for a brief period
  20. charliebrown

    charliebrown

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    If you haven't yet, have the action at the nut checked. I've played so many basses in shops (expensive instruments) that were not set at the nut properly...crazy high.
    Space between the first fret and bottom of each string should be around .022" measured with a feeler gauge.

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