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Left Hand Locking Up?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Journey55, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. I really hope someone here has an easy solution, and this isn't a bad medical problem but.....
    I've recently started to jump up my songs I'm learning to more string bouncing songs (ie Muse, Zeppelin) and although I start off sections strong, eventually my left hand starts to lock up and I'm forced to take a break. I first noticed this when I was learning Dazed and Confused and got to the solo section where JPJ keeps playing the 5's and 7's for a long time. I simply assumed that the song was out of my physical ability to play at the moment and elected to return to it later with more experience, however this keeps occurring on more and more songs which has led me to believe that there is something up with my left hand/fretting technique...any ideas on what it might be or on how to fix it?
  2. cracked_machine


    Jan 8, 2010
    I'm sure someone here will criticize this advice, but hey this is my experience (10+ years and no injuries)

    Make sure sure your thumb is in the correct position behind the neck (vertical). Octaves can be a bitch when it comes to cramps, etc.., but it does get better with practice. Muse stuff like New Born or Uprising is notorious for killing your left hand.

    Don't grip so hard. I also had similar problems gripping a pick too hard (with the other hand obviously). You need to relax your hand a bit more.

    Also If your thumb is all bent out of shape (not vertical) you're probably wearing the bass too low for your hand size/arm length. Bite the bullet and wear it a bit higher.

    Practice will always help, but stretching is recommended and don't practice too hard otherwise your fears about injury might come true.
  3. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Stretching should be done AFTER exertion (playing)

    Keep your palm OFF the neck

    Amd most of all PRACTICE THESE SONGS SLOWWWW WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE AND HAND ALIGNMENT. this will develope the strength and endurance of the correct technique, rather than just trying to start playing fast and continue playing crappy
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    This tells me that you jump headlong into fast intense playing from the very start. In this case it is not surprising that your hand locks up. When you start your practice, before you even touch the bass, warm up first, with gentle stretches for about three to five minutes. Do a You Tube search for "Warm Up Hand stretches for Guitar" if you are unsure what to do. Then pick up the bass and spend five minutes or so SLOWLY playing some chromatic scales or such like. Build up to intense playing gradually.

    Keeping well hydrated can also help.
  5. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    I've had the same problem with that part of Dazed & Confused for about 4 or 5 years! I'll definitely have to put these tips to use! that part sounds so awesome but totally kills my left hand!
  6. AmadeusXeno


    Mar 8, 2011
    Among the great tips others have already said I have found that massaging my hands before playing for a few minutes helps a lot. Just spend a few minutes massaging each hand starting from your palm to the tips of each finger. It helps the blood flow in your hands and also loosens up the muscles.
  7. Coming back to this after a while and I can play all the songs I had difficulty with with relative ease, with the exception of Dazed and Confused which still evades me but I read over the responses again and saw it said about keeping the thumb vertical, now is that along the truss rod or facing upward? Thanks!
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Let the thumb go where is naturally wants to.

    Check out these two clips :

  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Check out the Carol Kaye wrist technique.
  10. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    Sounds to me like you need to relax your hands. It doesn't take much pressure to fret, and anything more than needed to get a solid sound is going to cause issues like this.

    If you can practice the parts more slowly, you might develop enough "muscle memory" to be able to play them more relaxed at speed. If you have Reaper, it's pretty simple to take a song and slow it down while preserving the pitch. This will allow you to play along, but at a more relaxed, slower tempo while you're building up to full speed.
  11. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Also, go see a massage therapist.
  12. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    first relax and second, you should do a warm up before playing technical music ...
  13. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I've had this happen a few times, only it's my right hand that cramps. It never happens at rehearsals even if we play more there than at gigs, so I have to think it has to do with tension and/or dehydration. I've tried consciously to play more relaxed, take every chance to relax the fingers, and also make sure I drink enough, and it does help to some degree. Other than that, I think I simply need to practice more between gigs to build the required stamina. Trying to play relaxed and not put so much power into the fretting and plucking is key I believe.

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