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Left hand pain, technique problem or just muscle building?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nellsalot, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Hi, I just got a beautiful Jazz bass yesterday (MIM Standard, I liked it better than the American I tried anyway!) and I'm experiencing some pain in my left hand when I play, especially when I do something which involves my 3rd and 4th fingers and requires more pressure, like on the lower frets or on scales going across the whole fretboard. I think it has to do with having the strength to stretch for and fret the note and the muscles in those fingers corresponding with my thumb. It's in the lower left area on the palm where the thumb comes out of, moving to the upper right. I'm not sure whether I'm putting fingers at a weird angle or whether that muscle needs to strengthen and will do so with time.

    Actually, I've been experiencing something sort of similar when playing guitar (regular 6-string), which I do a lot more of. When I reach my pinky in a certain way the muscles between the thumb and the pinky get uncomfortable. Not really a sharp pain, but it just feels like something's not right.

    I would think that this is a problem in my thumb position but from descriptions and pictures I've seen of proper thumb placement on the back of the neck, I think I'm doing it right. And my fingers are arched over the fretboard, and not at any slant that I've observed.

    Has anyone experienced something similar? If this is merely a matter of building up the strength and stretch then that's fine. I've been playing a short-scale bass, and not very often, so I can see how this might be a bit of shock to my hand. But I don't want to damage myself if it's not.

    Many thanks for advice! By the way, I'm learning Rush's "YYZ" (I'm not even a big Rush fan, but I want to learn this) or at least parts of it for my first learning project on my new bass. And that main rock riff (when it busts out after the intro) is causing me the aforementioned pain, to give you an idea!
  2. Broken Guilt

    Broken Guilt

    Jan 28, 2005
    That comes from being a guitar player, which it sounds like you do a lot more of. You are used to close frets and thin strings. If you are serious about bass, give it time. The muscles in your hand need to learn a new, superior instrument
  3. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    When I started playing bass I experienced some of the stretching problems you are talking about, but never really any pain. Pain is NOT a good sign and not natural. You may be twisting your wrist a little when playing with the 3rd finger and that could be putting some pressure on the carpal tunnels and causing pain. Being female, I don't have the strength of a guy but have never had any problems playing because I am using a technique that is right for me. If you are interested in exploring a technique that has worked for me and many others, check out www.CarolKaye.com where you can view and print pages and pages of free playing tips and diagrams of some good ideas on technique.
  4. You shouldn't be squeezing with your thumb, so that may be the problem. Your thumb is just there so you know where the neck is. Fret with the weight of your arm, not by squeezing, on the guitar and the bass.