My thumb hurts!

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by peteroberts, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. Yesterday, for the first time, I really started working on thumb position. Actually I was doing the exercise recommended by Rufus Reid in the latest BP, he says you should do major scales all the way up and down the fingerboard; I went up to the first 3 notes in thumb position. My thumb hurts like hell! Also it's pretty hard for me to get the D and A strings...any pointers? How many hours before the blisters develop into callouses? :eek:
  2. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    Well, I don't know how long until it stops completely because I just started TP recently, but I did manage to hasten the initial callousing. I just went up and dwn chromatically in TP with only my thumb for two days and it's started to become useable. I only did it once per day on each string and then stayed out of TP for the rest of the day.
  3. Man, my thumb still gets sore sometimes and I've been playing in thumb position for years now! But you should be able to build up a callous in a few weeks or a month. Also, before it becomes a big fat blister try coating it with some super glue. It will make a temporary callous to keep it from blistering.
  4. thanks! yet another use for super glue :D

    I just tried some it hurt! Should I grin and bear it or give it a rest? It looks like 2 or 3 small blisters on the side of my thumb...right at the joint.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    The fact that your thumb hurts like hell just means that you're probably doing it right. That said, I had good luck in the earliest stages of TP study with using a band-aid on the thumb joint and placing the pad where it would be between the sore spot and the string. Kind of cheesy and only for practice, but it did allow me to keep going without screaming until the callous built up enough to do without. Good luck.
  6. Yeah, it's perfectly normal. I'd say give it a break for a couple of days, better to lose a little practice then end up with a bloody mess of a thumb... if that happens, you'll definately be out of commission. ;)
  7. Hey, Julia
    give Yourself some rest, and be careful. You don´t have to master the TP in two weeks, do you? The callus builds up slowly and You´ll be able to stand the pain.
    I´ve been playin´ at TP for some years, and today the whole of my left thumb looks different than my right. It has bulge and a callus in the joint at the right side just in the spot which presses the strings. It´s not the callus that´s worrying me, but the bulge which seems like the joint has grown bigger under the callus. It hurts like **** if I try to play too much.

  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I was speaking strictly of skin pain. I've never experienced any forearm pain from TP. That said, the exercises you posted are excellent, and are a great place to start. Why do you feel the forearm should be painful? (not baiting, just honestly curious)
  9. yeah, I think (?) we were speaking entirely of ripped up skin, not muscle or some other internal pain.
  10. I took everyone's advice and rested for a few days over the holiday...I went back yesterday and did some TP, just a little. I'll slowly work it up. Thanks everyone! My thumb don't hurt no mo' :D
  11. Good to hear, mine does now....after reading this thread I considered needing more rehearsal, and last saturday I played 8 hours, most of that in TP. Geez, what a dummy...:D


    PS. gettin´ better, no blister.
  12. Thanks, Jason, for those exercises. I guess if the thumb starts to hurt, you could still practice in the upper register by playing slow and vibrato on different notes without the thumb pressing down. I am referring to Mark Morton's approach to slow playing in the upper register with what he calls "one giant finger". This is a major feature of his book, "Concepts and Techniques", which originally was his doctoral dissertation at the Juilliard School. While apparently largely influenced by cello technique, the miraculous Dr. Morton argues that you can get a bigger, more projecting, and more beautiful vibrato sound in slow upper register playing with one finger pressing down very strongly on the string with the other fingers functioning to support the one finger.

    But this differs radically from traditional Simandl technique, for example, where if you are in the position where your thumb is on the G octave and you want to play Bb with your 3rd finger, the other fingers support the Bb by the thumb pressing down on the G and the 1st finger pressing down on the Ab below. Dr. Morton advocates pressing down with the 3rd finger on the Bb, while the thumb is pressing against the 1st finger, the 2nd finger is between the 1st and the 2nd finger, and the little 4th finger is pointing up in the air. The bassist is then pressing down on the Bb with the 3rd finger on the note with the supporting force of the entire left hand and the thumb, 1st and 2nd fingers in a tight "V" hand position.

    Dr. Morton believes that Simandl is largely correct for lower positions (although he has some modifications of it here-and-there) and when playing quickly. So he calls the traditional approach "technical playing". However, he believes that Simandl and all later followers left out how to do "legato playing" in the upper register. Since he uses this "one giant finger" approach in the upper register, he feels this register should not be called the "thumb position", but instead should simply be called "upper register". Since he feels he is expanding on Simandl, rather than being radically different, he calls his entire approach "Simandl Plus".

    Of course, this legato upper register approach does slow you down and it would not work with Jason's trill exercise above. However, it could give us "thumb hurters" a way to continue working on intonation, phrasing and other things in the upper register.

    Jason, what do you think of Dr. Morton's "giant finger" approach to legato playing in the upper register?
  13. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Sounds like a case of too much too soon.
    As we say in Tanzania, haba na haba hujaza kibaba. When I was having the same problem when studying TP with Michael Moore, he told me to put a band of adhesive tape around the sore spot, and that the callus would build up even with the tape.