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anybody have a picture of proper left hand positioning (wrist pain)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fiebru1119, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    i'm just wondering if theres a good picture of how you're left (fretting hand) wrist is supposed to look.. i'm starting to have pain there and its got to be that i'm at too steep of an angle. i'm basically wondering how steep is too steep. also i know this varies from person to person and where you are at (on the neck) but im looking for possible solutions to thins problem. thanks in advance
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I don't have a picture, but could you describe how you hold it?

    Personally, and I think this works best for everyone regarding wrist pain, I keep my wrist straight, and I generally have one finger per fret, keeping my thumb roughly behind my middle finger. The key there is keeping your wrist straight. If it's bent, and you apply pressure to it, it can be baad
  3. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    yea i've been messing around tonight trying holding my bass at different heights and angles to keep my wrist from bending too much.. i USED to hold it about belly-button high (the center of body of the bass... say where the pickups are) at about a 50degree angle (pretty high).. i lowered it to just under belt high and raised it to like a 75-80 degree angle.. it helps playing on the low end but its hard not bending it to reach down to hit notes on the 5th string

    also i should add, i practiced about 6hrs yesterday but stopped as soon as it started to hurt.. i wanted to take a couple days off but i had rehearsal tonight and class tomorow.. :meh:
  4. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Look for pictures of Jaco, he had good left hand form...

  5. Carol Kaye demonstrates the best thumb or left hand technique that I know of, she has played for more years, then most of us and her technique is tried and true.

    You can print out her technique from her free playing tips pages. Also, post your questions on her forum, she will set you straight on how to rid the pain!


    Pivoting Up

    Back View

  6. yeah, whenever I have doubts about my left/right hand, I always tried to review how Jaco put his hands, I have watched his Modern Electric Bass video like at least 20 times over and over again, everytime looking at different aspects.

    He have good right hand form also! But its his right forearm rested on the bass that I don't understand, that never felt natural to me when I have to jump strings.

    Well, there's some Jaco videos lying around on the net, surf around! I wouldn't recommend looking at too many pictures of different people though, that confused me too much!
  7. Hmmm, I am lost on when to have this form, I thought the common practice is to let the thumb be pointing up, and not along the neck? But my thumb does goes along the neck when I am jumping frets...
  8. sixontimber


    Aug 2, 2003
    That Carol Kaye technique looks pretty bad to me (EDIT - although it does say "pivoting up" but I have no idea what that means?)

    Basically you just want your hand to be as relaxed as possible with as little bending in the wrist as possible. Make sure your elbow isn't against your body when you are playing in lower positions on the bass - that will help.

    You also want the thumb to be pretty much as Wrong Robot describes. It should sort of float along in that position.

    Note also that you shouldn't really be applying that much pressure. Notice how little you actually have to press down on awell set up bass to make the note sing - not very much at all. Economy is the key here. It might seem wacky, but another tip is to try and imagine that the strength is coming from the arm, rather than simply the tip of the finger - that will help (this also helps wth right hand technique).

    You should also try fingering with the TIPS of your fingers - not the pad and, where possible, do not collapse the joints - i.e. try to keep the fingers curled (as in Jaco's picture); you'll find this pretty much happens naturally anyway if you use the tips of your fingers.

    I think that covers it.

  9. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I think that Garry Willis (sp??) has what I would consider a perfect left-hand technique. He has some videos out, take a look.
  10. snapple


    Nov 25, 2003
    Victoria-Vancouver Canada
    Endorsing Artist: PCL Vintage Amps
    I used to position my hand with my thumb in the middle of the neck pointing up... when i got my sr5 i found this caused me serious wrist pain that no combination of angle and bass height could fix. I switched to carol kaye's technique and haven't had a problem since.
  11. Sorry, I wasn't so familiar with Carol Kaye. You mean Carol Kaye's technique is for the thumb to point along the neck? That is quite natural for me only while playing on higher frets.
  12. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Adam Nitti has some great lessons on his website, and one of them deals with left hand technique. It's here. There are multiple pictures from multiple angles to give you an idea of how your hand should fret.

    Can anyone answer this question for me: In relation to your body, what angle do you hold your bass at? If you were to use a protractor and measure the angle between your torso (midriff?) and bass neck, what would it be? 30 degrees? 45 degrees?
  13. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    thanks alot for the responses..

    i made a couple of improvements today that, while they may take a while to get used to, really relieve the stress off my wrist.

    like sixontimber described, one was trying my best to use the very tip of my finger (ie comming onto the fret vertically), and another was extending my whole arm out when in the lower register. it feels kinda awkward but from some pictures of jaco and willis its pretty much how it is. i've been just practicing some scales and things up and down the neck trying to keep my wrist as loose and straight as possible. all is good so far. thanks again

    and to WillPlay4Food, right now its at about 50 degrees and i sorta pull it up towards me making it 75-80 degrees (yea i know its steep, but its confortable) when in the last 5 frets. i've also always kept my thumb flat on the back of the neck parallel to the middle/index fingers... i only go perpendicular when reaching above the 12th fret
  14. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    haha i was just about to edit and say use a mirror..

    after i noticed how much my wrist was actually bending (something i really couldnt see before), no wonder i had pain..

  15. See if this helps clarify the technique for you! Taken from Carol's Free Playing Tips

    I use this technique myself and it has rid me of the awful right hand pain I developed over the years, (bad habits).

    If you have anymore questions, ask away, I'll do my best to answer them for you!

  16. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Hey all I am mostly new here been browsing all the forums for about 2 months though. I would like to comment about how knowledgable everyone here is and there is some great advice!!

    Now, about the left hand technique. I first picked up the bass about 4 years ago and ever since my primary focus has been to have the best possible left hand technique. That picture of Jaco is the opitamy of a relaxed left hand and wrist technique .. ie, fingers relaxed, not jutting out or curled up, and wrist perfectly in line between hand and forearm.

    But I do have a couple questions though. A wierd thing happened yesterday when I was playing modes up the neck as fast as I could (in time with metronome)... for the rest of the night after that my ring finger had a sort of buzzing sharp pain radiating from the base of the finger to the last knuckle. Once I noticed the pain I stopped playing but after about an hour I was playing on my guitar and the pain was still there, but ONLY when I was not using it. For example I played a 1-2-4 sequence I'd have pain then I'd play a 1-3-4 sequence and the pain went away immediately... Is that a sign of bad left hand technique? Perhaps due to undue tension in keeping the ring finger off the fretboard? I mean if I relax it all the way it tends to get in the way when doing a fast sequence which requires it NOT to touch the string at all.
  17. Try practicing some withouth your thumb touching the neck at all! That way the pressure have to come from somewere else then your thumb. If you find this incredibly hard, you probably suffer from tension....
  18. I have tried this before, but I can't do it. Note that my right hand is not touching the body of the bass at all, I do not rest my right forearm on the body of the bass. So the bass is free to pivot around my stomach when I am strapped. Pressing on the frets without my thumb just makes the bass swing anti-clockwise (look from the top) around my stomach area...
  19. Well, why not try putting your right forearm on the body of the bass just so you cna try this out? ;) I've found that taking the thumb out of the equation sometimes helps my technique a lot.

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