Left thumb pain - just started playing a Warrior 6

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by thumbs3000, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Hi Adam,

    Firstly may I say I really admire your playing and your vibe towards the craft of bass playing!

    I've played 4 and 5 string electric bass for nearly 20 years. My main basses have been a 5 string Wal, 4 string jazz and previously 5 string Stingrays or Warwicks. I've never really had RSI or tendinitis concerns.

    I bought a beautiful Warrior 6 string about two months ago. This is my first 6 string. I absolutely love this bass, the sound is amazing and piano-like and the woods are gorgeous.

    The Warrior has a very thin and flat neck, it is thinner than any bass I've played. String spacing is 18.5mm.

    Just recently I've been experiencing pain in my left thumb (both joints) and wrist, only after playing this bass. Could this be just a normal part of transitioning to 6 strings? Do I need to alter my technique to adapt to this instrument?

    The main differences between this bass and my others is:
    - Very thin neck profile
    - Wider spacing (my 5 strings are normally 17mm) and therefore quite a broad fingerboard


  2. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    hi mark, thanks for the kind words!

    based on what you are describing, my guess is that the wider 6 string neck is causing you to use a sharper bend in the fretting hand wrist and/or pressing harder with your fretting hand thumb when you are playing notes across the wider fingerboard. sharp wrist angles (under tension) are what can cause problems if gone unchecked over time. you can help make your wrist angle more moderate by trying combinations of the following things:

    -raising the bass slightly or pointing your neck in a slightly more upward direction

    -avoiding stretching your fingers to reach wider shapes across single strings. when you stretch your fingers to reach or cover distance, it pulls the wrist angle forward (away from your body) and subsequently makes it sharper and introduces tension.

    -make sure you are not incorporating tension from the fretting hand thumb by pressing too hard against the back of the neck when you play.

    hope that helps!

  3. Adam,

    Thanks so much for your reply. It's helped a lot already. I'm realising the move to 6 strings requires a bit more attention to my technique than I anticipated. On closer inspection, my wrist angle was definitely the culprit.

    I've raised the bass right up (higher than I ever thought I would!), tilted it on a bit more of an angle and just need to keep an eye on my left wrist, altering my playing whenever I see an angle start to appear. It'll probably just take a while for my technique to become second nature. I really need to concentrate on it at the moment.

    Unfortunately it seems those big spread chords might be out for me though, as they instantly force my wrist into a sharp angle. Do you have any tips on how to play these without the health risks?

    Here's an example of me playing the bass in question, with a chord progression I'm working into a composition:

    Lastly, I just want to let you know your video on the moveable anchor has been a great help keeping those sympathetic tones under control!
    Link for anyone reading: