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Carpal Tunnel & Fretting Hand Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mr Cheese, Nov 8, 2019 at 3:08 PM.

  1. Mr Cheese

    Mr Cheese

    I starting playing bass about 2 years ago, and I never had a teacher that told me the right technique, or any technique for that matter. To explain my current "technique": I don't palm it, but the the part of my hand just under the fingers touch the fingerboard, and my thumb is between index and middle finger, but at a bent angle. However, this technique does keep my wrist straight. I mostly learn from Scott's Bass Lessons, and have been trying to practice the technique that he recommends. However, it is extremely awkward, and it requires bending the wrist at a 90 degree angle. This is the most common of techniques, but I heard that bending your wrist at such an angle can cause carpal tunnel. So I'm wondering if my current technique is a good one, or do I have to switch to the traditional wrist bending one.
  2. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    Hello. I do not quite understand exactly what you are doing, but a teacher who does not teach you any technique is not a good teacher, IMHO. Could you provide some pictures so that we can help you?
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    sounds to me like you're trying 'too hard' to do something...something that may even be goofy. or your fears might be 'overindulged'. a good face-to-face encounter with a competent teacher/player would have your :poop: straightened out in about 90 seconds.

    get to a good instructor, at least once, on this issue: and then get back and let us know what you learned! thanks in advance. good luck! :thumbsup:
  4. Mr Cheese

    Mr Cheese

    I've seen a total of 4 "bass" teachers so far, and all of them are actually guitar teachers that teach bass as well. I just can't seem to find a good teacher!!! The best I've had is SBL!!
    123Nil likes this.
  5. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Fret with the pad of your finger, not the tip. This will normally pull your wrist into a comfortable angle.

    Wrist in a normal angle or CT will sooner or later develop. I speak from personal experience.

    Do what ever is necessary to get your wrists into a normal comfortable angle.
    Williethump and JRA like this.
  6. Mr Cheese

    Mr Cheese

    Even if it means doing an "improper" technique?
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    guitar cats who think they teach 'good bass' are guitar cats who think they teach good bass. better keep looking! good luck! :thumbsup:

    "improper technique" is in your head, according to your interpretation of "technique," via a video, on youtube, yada yada. if it hurts = you're doing it correctly but you're a wimp -or- you're doing it incorrectly and you apparently have no clue where you're going with your own interpretation of the lessons. i'm sure there are other possibilities, but you need to find out for yourself: "what gives?" ergo my advice: consult with someone who knows better...find a teacher! good luck! :thumbsup:

    the posters on your thread want to help you. you need to help them do that. open your mind...stop with the oppositional stuff. good luck with your hands! ;)
    skaine, DrThumpenstein, swink and 2 others like this.
  8. Mr Cheese

    Mr Cheese

    Translate that to English.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    see someone who can help you. it's better than the internet. ;)
  10. landrybass


    Oct 23, 2011
    Technique is sort of relative, I was always told thumb over the top is super bad. I still do it sometimes to mute the low E if I’m tapping or something. I use it to fret low notes on electric guitar sometimes. I’m 20 years into playing though, my second year playing I was not at all concerned about it and was much more concerned with thrashing around with buddies and having a good time.
    Vinny_G and JRA like this.
  11. lat


    Dec 30, 2014
    Lower Basstonia
    Also, make sure your bass isn't riding too low and the neck is angled upward at a comfortable angle FOR YOU. Make sure your bass is set up properly. Fighting a bad setup can hurt too.

    Find the position that makes you the most comfortable, or if you are just starting out, the least uncomfortable...
    Vinny_G likes this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No technique requires a 90 degree angle for your wrist. Not good. Stop immediately. You need a few lessons with someone who can get your technique straight. Try to find a jazz guy from a local college if you can. If anything, you can bend your hand from the hand a little bit, not your wrist. That sideways motion is bad news. I could probably help you if you can post a couple pics or a short vid of your playing. But you need to get some advice from someone who knows what they're doing and take it to heart, man. No musical instrument should cause you pain when you play it. Blisters at first? Yeah, it'll happen :D But beyond that and it should never hurt. Quickest way to surgery.
  13. La Faro

    La Faro

    Jun 20, 2016
    Da Nang, Viet Nam

    skaine, gebass6 and fearceol like this.
  14. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I agree with @Vinny_G and @JimmyM in that we would need some photos or a short clip to see how exactly you are fretting.

    In a nutshell..."safe" technique involves both wrists being as straight as possible as often as possible. IMO (and there has been much debate.. for and against... about this recently in another thread) the thumb should not be behind the index/middle fingers, but should be allowed to go where it is required to support the fingers. This would sometimes involve it pointing towards the headstock. This is mentioned in the clip above.

    I agree with the suggestions to get a few lessons from a good teacher. In the mean time, the clip below may be of some help.

    Best of luck...and welcome to TB. :)

    Vinny_G likes this.
  15. egarcia


    Dec 14, 2017
    This is a good book by a doctor who plays Bass.
    skaine and Vinny_G like this.
  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Watching a video is not a lesson. A lesson implies two way interaction. You need someone that can watch what you are doing and point out the things you are doing right AND the things you are doing wrong.
    Then you haven't seen ANY bass teachers. With so many teachers using Skype, there is no reason you can't find a good teacher.

    Any technique that causes pain is bad technique.
    fearceol likes this.
  17. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    ....or the OP could check out this Talkbass thread.

    Health Related Issues To Playing
  18. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Good videos. It also points out how learning one part of a technique leads to a lot of mistakes for me. I play the thumb behind the fingers in my technique and my hand doesn't end up in the cramped position he demonstrates because of some other parts of the technique.

    Anyway, for the OP, if you take up a technique, practice the entire technique. It is helpful to have an instructor check what you are doing to make sure you are not doing it wrong. Even good techniques are bad when done wrong.
  19. If you can't find a local bass teacher then at least go to an open jam and talk with the bass players there. Watch how they play, the position of the bass and how they hold their hands and arms. If there are no open jams near you then at least talk to some one who plays bass. Never bend your left wrist! Ever!:rollno: You won't stay a bass player for long if you do.:rollno: Good luck. ;)
  20. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Welcome to TalkBass!

    A really important part of learning the bass is to study the technique of pro players. I think you will find, there is no single one-size-fits-all "proper technique." Rather, bassists have developed a lot of different techniques, depending on the size and shape of their bodies and the style of music they want to play.

    In particular you should pay attention to bassists who have had long, successful careers without injury. I'm talking about the "meat and potatoes" style of players, holding down the low end, night after night, for decades. These are the people whose opinion of "safe technique" matters the most to me.

    For example check out how relaxed Adam Clayton looks. No stress or tension anywhere in his hands, wrists, or arms that I can see.

    Another player who makes it look easy is Paul Jackson (of Headhunters fame).


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