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Fretting hand (left) thumb gets uncomfortable

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Chrisk-K, Nov 24, 2010.


  1. Chrisk-K

    Chrisk-K

    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    After using "thumb over the neck" for 10 years or so I recently adopted "thumb behind the neck."

    Now, my left thumb's joint gets slightly uncomfortable when I play. I cannot say there's a pain; it's just an uncomfortable sensation in the joint of the thumb.

    Has anyone experienced this?
     
  2. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    Check out this link and see if you are doing things in the same way.

     
  3. fonnet

    fonnet

    Jan 6, 2008
    Toulouse
    Maybe the neck shape is not the right one for your hand? It depends on your hand size and distance from the joints. For example, I'm very happy with "D" shaped neck not too chubby or thin but I can't play more than 15 minutes on a Warwick (very thick "D" shape imho) as my thumb is over compressed... And it's such a disappointment! I love the Warwick sound!!! The overall solution was in some case to have my thumb low on the back of the neck and pointing almost to the headstock, merely like on a double bass but you have to play with the neck pretty vertical (again a problem with the Warwick as their heads are sooo heavy...).
     
  4. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Not an expert, but from what I've read and seen and a little of what I've experienced, you're probably putting your thumb in an awkward alignment, so that you're pressing it into the neck at an angle and straining it. Pay attention to where you're feeling stress on the thumb and try different positions. Most people seem to say that the thumb pointing up toward the headstock is most natural, but figure out what works for you.
     
  5. Chrisk-K

    Chrisk-K

    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    I'll try that. My thumb points up to the sky.
     
  6. fonnet

    fonnet

    Jan 6, 2008
    Toulouse
    Question that could be important: the discomfort happens when you are playing sitting, standing or both? The angles vary a lot between the 2 positions and the thumb position is rarely the same if you don't play sitting in the classical position.
     
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Why have you changed after 10 years?
     
  8. Chrisk-K

    Chrisk-K

    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Because I now play a lot of jazz-oriented funk/rock. I cannot play octave after actave and chromatic passage after chromatic passage with my left thumb over the neck!
     
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    So now you need more functionality from your fingers.
    Now you need to have the neck more in the fingers for such passages. Many ways to do it including the most important one mentioned, does your bass suit your style. Many players suffer from having the wrong type of neck for their hands. Many hands sizes and few variations of neck to choose from don't help.

    But look at both, look at the bass you use, is it fit for function?
    You know you have to give your fingers more access, so a blend of the two is what you have to find. The thumb really is not needed to play bass.
    Any discomfort is should really be over in a matter of weeks as it is not pain as of such just you using your hand in a different way. That means you are using muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints in a way that they have not been used to, because this is all new to them.

    Thumb position follows hand position, so let your hand dictate where your thumb goes. Play with freedom in the fingers, positioned by the wrist and let the thumb follow where it feels comfortable. Don't focus on the thumb, focus on what you want to achieve from the fingers...this is the real key not thumb position.

    For example if i hold the bass with my thumb over the top, fingers on the fretboard, then drop my wrist down slightly and put the fretboard more in my fingertips, my knuckle joints moves forward, so my thumb will follow by pulling back and/or dropping in behind the neck. The thumb is now in a position put there by the hand. The thumb did not assume this position on its own or was positioned in a way and then the fingers adapt to it. I find it strange that so may believe the thumb is not allowed to move in to different positions of support as the hand moves and changes. There is talk of reduced thumb movement reduces injury.....but if that is so then why are the fingers allowed to move with so much freedom but not the thumb?
    They have the same basic structure of bone, joint, tendon, ligament, blood vessels, nerve endings etc. If any thing the thumb joint ( which is a saddle joint) is more capable than any other joint of freedom of movement and direction of movement.
    So use it don't restrict it, as long as it follows hand movement and does not lead it, it will find its own positions to support finger movement.:bassist:
     

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