Fingering Shoulder Pain

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Duce-hands, Feb 3, 2014.


  1. Duce-hands

    Duce-hands

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    So I've been playing upright since August. I've found the best local instructor I could find. (He's an instructor at one of the vocal universities) He's critiqued my form and stance and said it was good. Problem is I can not play through and entire song because of the build up of pain in my left shoulder (I pizzacato with my right hand). Im not trying to be arrogant but I am in good shape but I feel like something is wrong as to why I'm unable to make it through 7 cycles of Autumn Leave playing in 1/2 position through 1st without having to stop bc of shoulder pain. any suggestions is very helpful
  2. tcl

    tcl Gold Supporting Member

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    Get another teacher. If there's no one local, try Skype. Chris Fitzgerald is very hip to physical efficiency and he's on TB. Lynn Seaton, John Clayton or Rufus Reid are also excellent instructors. There are many others but those are the first few that come to my mind.
    You should NOT have any pain when you play your bass, if you play correctly, with good technique, and assuming that you've developed the muscles and reflexes required. Any of the teachers I suggested can DEFINITELY help you.
    They may not be cheap, but then they're masters of their craft with many years experience and you usually get what you pay for.
  3. powerbass

    powerbass

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    western MA
    a picture of you plying would be helpful. if your elbow is up/away from your side this places stress on the shoulder. dropping the shoulder brings the elbow in closer to the body, the left hand is more diagonal allowing the first finger to spread which opens the hand.
  4. So Low Bass

    So Low Bass

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY. USA
    Yes, a picture might be helpful. Are you sitting or standing? Is your bass at the correct height? Back to pictures: it would be helpful for you to see how pros position themselves by viewing photos and vids.

    By the way... half position IS hard!
  5. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Pics would be good, And if you want a Skype lesson I specialize on Posture. I would guess that you are squeezing the strings and compensating somehow all the way up to your shoulder, or engaging it when it should be relaxed.

    PM me if you want to talk more.
  6. meandering

    meandering

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Location:
    pullman, wa, usa
    your teacher says your form and stance are good, but have you brought up this issue with him? I would do this, if you haven't already, before exploring the "get another teacher" idea.
  7. jdombrow

    jdombrow

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Perhaps a physical therapist or chiropractor would help
  8. TonyD

    TonyD

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, Den Bosch
    Try to do some shoulder exercises:



    start swimming

    I think every right handed bass player should strengthen the left shoulder
  9. Duce-hands

    Duce-hands

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    As requested here are a few pictures of my form and stance.

    Attached Files:

  10. Duce-hands

    Duce-hands

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    I am practicing out of the Simandl's book and utlitizing my instructor for posture and stance techinque. I currently stand.
  11. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Elbow up on your arm that fingers the fingerboard.
  12. tcl

    tcl Gold Supporting Member

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    Your posture looks pretty good to me but there are far more knowledgeable folks here than me so hopefully they'll comment. Two things, perhaps: 1) I think we usually try to get the nut parallel to the eyebrow, so that would mean bringing the bass up an inch or two and 2) maybe stand behind the bass a bit more instead of off to the side? I've seen folks hold it like you are or even more to the side even, but it might help. Last suggestion, try sitting on a stool? As I said, hopefully, more knowledgeable folks will chime in.
  13. powerbass

    powerbass

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    western MA
    I agree that your posture looks good. There is a list of things you can go through to figure this out. First of all do you have a history of shoulder, arm, wrist, neck pain/injury? Do you have full pain free range of motion in your shoulder? Is your bass set up well w/light gauge/tension strings, lower string height? What does your teacher say about the playability of your bass? Next you need to look closely at how your body feels while playing. Where do you get pain in the front/top/back of shoulder? If you lay your left hand on the strings without any pressure on the strings do you get shoulder discomfort? When you play where is the effort of pressing the strings coming from - shoulder, wrist, forearm? Are you relaxed/loose when you play or do you "muscle" the notes. Ideally the pressure of pressing the string down is shared by the forearm, arm, shoulder and the whole body. If you "play" with just one body part you will have discomfort in that area since it is over worked. If you change your body position relative to the bass do you find a position of more comfort? How much do you practice? If you have been playing since August that is not a long time. I've been playing 3+ years, it has taken me that long to feel comfortable playing - I am also in good shape.
  14. So Low Bass

    So Low Bass

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY. USA
    I'm 5'6. From watching vids of Carter, Comfort, Brown, Spalding... I've raised my bass so the nut is WAY above eye level when straight up. Then I tip the bass back towards me. This give me easier access to the upper positions without stooping AND puts my right hand towards the end of the fingerboard.

    Perhaps your bass is too low and you're reaching DOWN too much to pizz so your left shoulder is contorted. Having a teacher is GREAT but this isn't 1914... Check out some other players online and see how they stand. Look at Esperanza in particular... I'd say she plays a bit.(Also, check out your teacher on one of his gigs??)
  15. dropbass

    dropbass

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, Florida
    Relax more
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago
    Check out my stance in this pic. The edge of the back is leaning into the crease between groin and stomach. This opens the angle up and keeps my fingering arm/hand from twisting around as with your stance. In thumb position the weight of my arm/hand is able to help stop the strings easily. I think thumb position would be very difficult as you are holding the bass.

    Yes, relax the shoulder muscles, you may be involuntarily engaging. Try stretching the shoulder/neck, and massage may help. A physical therapist can help you learn about the complex muscular system in this area and hopefully relieve the symptoms.

    Good luck!

    Attached Files:

  17. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2010
    I'm not convinced it's your stance. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect a rotator cup problem. I have a similar problem myself.
    But mine took 50 plus years to kick in. You say you've only be playing for six months. Did you every injure your shoulder previously playing sports?
    Good luck.
  18. Wally Malone

    Wally Malone

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2001
    Location:
    Boulder Creek, CA
    Disclosures:
    AFM International Representative
    There are other injuries in addition to the rotator problems. I had surgery for a torn labrum and have healed fine from the surgery. Does your shoulder hurt doing any other activities or just when you play the bass?

    Wally
  19. Duce-hands

    Duce-hands

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010

    All good questions and I've thought about them over the last few days. Firstly, its not so much left shoulder pain as it feels like fatigue, when you over work your muscle and fatigue sets in. I don't have any history of injury with my shoulders, arms or wrist. I often feel as if I am muscling the notes in order to create sound without any buzzing. With that, I imagine I'm not as loose as I'd like to think. Regarding the playability of the bass my instructor did say the action is a bit high and I am pressing to hard on the strings, but that should be addressed shortly as I'm finally getting an opportunity to get into the hands of a good local luthier. I feel as if my elbow is raised to high in relation to what the height of the bass "should" be. The nut of bass is at eyebrow level.
  20. powerbass

    powerbass

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    western MA
    Good idea to speak w/your luthier about your set up, little things make a big difference - string height, sound post position, tailpiece & cord, proper string/string nut height etc. You don't want to fight your bass. The next piece of work is to focus on the sensation of playing - do you breathe easily, do you clench your jaw, legs etc. Are you anxious about the notes you play, keeping time etc? All these things add up creating tension, the shoulder may be working the hardest, the fatigue is showing up there. Try practicing w/easy, smooth breathing, stop when you reach the fatigue state - drink water, stretch your body then come back for more practice. As I mentioned it takes a long time to develop strength, endurance, accuracy and ease playing the UB. You can't rush this process without risking injury. You may find that your bass set up is the main problem. Let us know how you do


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