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Developing some wrist pain (Fretting hand) Looking for some technique feedback.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DuckSoup, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    So here in the past few weeks I've noticed my fretting wrist tends to hurt a little when I bend it or I play drums. I'm wondering if it's either poor technique when playing bass, or if I'm just playing too much. I practice almost every day, sometimes 1-2 hours. I'm just looking for some feedback on my playing style. It doesn't hurt when I play, and I try to minimize the bending in my wrist. (I've only been playing 9ish months, so I'm still a newby.)

    I uploaded a video here where I covered Here to Mars from Coheed and Cambria. It's not my best work and I'm still working on this song, but I'd love some feedback on my technique. Also this is a difficult song for me because there's a bit of stretching on some of the parts.

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Love your tone! You sound great for 9 months. :)

    For the wrist pain, try relaxing your thumb. It looks like your "life line" is deeply creased at the base of your thumb, making your palm look like "butt cheeks". Doing this compresses your tendons. Try repositioning your thumb so your palm is wide, flat, and relaxed.

    Also there were a couple spots where I would have used my 4th finger instead of my 3rd finger, like going from the 1st fret to the 3rd fret for example. (But you seem to have freakishly long 3rd fingers, so your hands are a different shape than mine, and maybe you are just doing what's comfortable for your body.)
    DuckSoup likes this.
  3. Inara

    Inara Fretless Femme Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    An exercise my first teacher gave me to show me how little finger pressure is required is to play without anchoring your thumb at all on the fretting hand. Not a lot, but just to show your brain. If your bass has a good setup, you might be very surprised at how much harder you're pressing on the strings than you actually need to. I certainly was, the first time I tried it.

    Hope this helps, and best wishes!
    DuckSoup and Mushroo like this.
  4. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    Thank you for the feedback guys.

    Yeah I do think I'm applying a bit more pressure with my thumb than what's needed, and I'll try and work on that a bit.

    Going off what Mushroo was saying, I picked up my bass just now and played a couple notes, and just stopped in the middle of it. I took a picture of my hand (Attached image), and I think I see what you're saying about not relaxing my thumb. Perhaps I'm just squeezing too hard? Playing on the lower notes always feels weird for me. It's not that it's uncomfortable, it's just not the same as playing in the middle of the neck.

    Thank you!

    Attached Files:

  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Yup, you are squeezing too hard, which gives your palm that "butt crack" look. As @Inara suggests, your thumb should just lightly graze the back of the neck, as a "guide" not a "fulcrum". The way your thumb is buckled and collapsed doesn't look relaxed, try repositioning so your thumb is more naturally curved.

    A good guideline for how hard you should press the strings, is the amount of force it takes to type a letter on your computer keyboard, no more. Try keeping your hand relaxed and dropping your elbow, using gravity and the weight of your arm to fret the string. Like if you are trying to pull open a stuck door, squeezing the doorknob harder won't help, but if you pivot and use your body weight, the door will open easily.
    Inara and DuckSoup like this.
  6. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    I tried playing without anchoring my thumb, and boy it feels weird. It's like I just can't hit the notes right, or I get a lot of buzzing. Almost like I'm using my hands to pull the neck towards me to push down the fret. It's a bit odd. It's also possible my action is a bit too high. I don't like fret buzz, so I have the action just a bit higher than what might be considered normal.

    It's going to take some practice, and maybe I'll find an instructor here who can better observe. I may also try adjusting the action as well.

    Really appreciate the advice guys.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Try letting your thumb come around the neck some. It doesn't HAVE to be on the back of the neck all the time.
  8. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Hey, also, your thumb doesn't always have to be opposite your middle finger.

    AND, maybe you're fretting too much on the tips of your fingers.

    Relax, try holding the neck as if you were wiping down the strings. Sorta. Play more 124 with your third finger just helping your pinky. And just maybe aim the neck a tad out from uou by bringing your bass around your right hip a tad.

    Just some thoughts. Try 'em and see.
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Now that you mention it, the action on that E string looks like it's crazy high in that photo. A good setup might make all the difference.
  10. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    When I measured, the string height on the B string was about 3mm at the 12th fret. I lowered it to 2.6mm after taking that photo. There's no buzz right now and I noticed a bit of a difference with how much I need to push the string. I was doing some exercises last night on not using my thumb, or just lightly grazing the back of the neck and it was easier after adjusting the action. I may adjust every so slightly again.
  11. Quick check in ----- if the wrist is straight most of the pain goes away. Fretting with the pad of the fretting finger instead of the tip seems to put the wrist in the right angle. Fretting with the pad seems to deaden the lower strings and also helps with string buzz.
    Seanto likes this.
  12. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    @DuckSoup Man I have been playing for almost 3 decades and JUST THIS WEEK got the same advice you just did above, from these same TBers, and my hand feels so much better when I do it their way, though it's tough to untrain my old habits after all this time. Lower action makes it super easy to achieve though. I like mine so low that you can blow on them to fret notes, but your mileage may vary =0)
  13. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    Yeah, playing now after lowering the action has made a big difference. Before if I wasn't using my thumb, I'd have to pull the bass towards me with my fretting fingers to actually fret the string, but that .5mm adjustment has made it easier for me now. I was playing for a bit last night, and it's weird how much of a differnce the change in action and posture made. Currently I'm just gliding my thumb along the neck. The more difficult parts of a song I tend to grip down still, but I think that's just something I need to practice. Just trying to keep my hand relaxed.
  14. I think you are fretting with the fingers too straight.
    See your index finger, its like making a bar chord.
    Fingers should be more curved, with the tips a bit more contracted/closed.
    Fretting with fingers straight requires more tension in the knuckles, palm and wrist.
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Checkout the link and if it raises any specific questions to your playing then drop me a line and i will try and help.
    All above is great advice, but i feel your posture and technique may hold the key.


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