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Need Some Help With Right Hand Ergonomics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Balkan, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Balkan


    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    I've started gigging some recently, and now that I'm playing more often I'm finding that I'm having trouble with my right hand ergonomics.

    I developed repetitive strain injuries a while back,maybe 10 years ago, mostly from typing, but I've basically had the problem under control after treatment by doing lots of stretching and exercises.

    But now I'm finding that the bass playing PLUS typing is like throwing gasoline on the fire. I play a P-Bass, and I've always adjusted the strap so that the bass in on the same level standing up as sitting down. Problem is that I develop pretty much a right angle on my right hand wrist when playing this way.

    I'm still surviving with lots of breaks for stretching, but I'm not comfortable anymore. is there anything I can do to make this better? Should I lower my bass when standing?

    Many thanks in advance!
  2. Ron G

    Ron G

    Mar 16, 2009
    Portsmouth, VA
    Have you tried using a pick on some songs to give your hand/ wrist a little relief, it helped me. I used Carol Kaye's method of using a pick.
  3. bassistgook


    Feb 5, 2009
    I lowered my bass till it was comfortable for my right hand which is waist level. I almost always play with a strap on my bass so when sitting down I sit close to the edge and let the bass hang between my legs. Another thing that can help is the angle you hold your bass while playing. Having the head stock higher above the body at about a 45 degree angle seems quite comfortable to me and might help you.
  4. Been there. You really have to lower your bass a few inches. Then try to keep your wrist as straight as possible. A way to help keep it straighter is to use the joints in your picking fingers, at least a little, instead of keeping them straight as so many do. Takes practice.
    An excellent way is to use the Gary Willis approach:
  5. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Although I don't follow his advice, I acknowledge Gary Willis' reasoning behind his right hand approach as very valid and judicious:

  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    You beat me to it.
  7. Balkan


    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks guys - I checked out the Willis video and have started playing around with his approach. Still a little weird for me, so I hope I survive my gig this Friday without killing myself or totally screwing up!

    I don't play with a pick these days but I do mute at the bridge and thumb through a few songs which I think is pretty much the same deal in terms of hand position.
  8. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Definitely use a technique that keeps your wrists as straight as possible.

    I've battled mild wrist pain in my left hand off and on, sometimes causing me to be concerned with whether I could continue playing.

    My wife is a registered nurse and she advised me to take 4 ibuprofens every four hours, and wrap my wrists in an ace bandage at night, and try to keep it elevated. This worked wonders for me.

    The ace bandage minimizes the amount of fluid that can build up in the carpal tunnel. Fluid buildup is a result of the stress irritation. The fluid tightens up the spaces in the carpal tunnel, causing even more irritation the next time you play. So by checking the fluid buildup, you reduce the chances for further injury.

    Also, don't take that much ibuprofen on an empty stomach.

    At least this was my experience. Of course, I'm not a doctor so take it with a grain of salt, but the ace bandage really worked for me.
  9. Balkan


    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Cool thanks - when I was diagnosed with repetitive strain it actually wasn't carpal tunnel but thorasic outlet which means the nerves were getting pinched up in the shoulder/armpit area. Didn't help that my posture sucks. That said, I bet this advice will be good for me too!
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Instead of self-diagnosis, you might want to get a consultation with a bass teacher with an academic background and some knowledge of repetitive motion injuries. You might even want to consult a doctor who specializes in sports injuries and maybe can play a little bass (don't laugh...they're out there!). Self diagnosis can help if you use reputable sources to work on it, but you also may have an extenuating injury that makes bass playing in normal positions difficult.
  11. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009
    Hey Balkan

    IF you have to do lots of typing - eg for work - which definitely adds stress to the hand try looking at switching your keyboard to the DVORAK layout. It will mean relearning how to type...but in the long run it should help ease the tension on your right hand from typing. IF you google DVORAK you'll find a ton of resources on teh topic...

    Hope that helps.

  12. ZonGuy


    Sep 2, 2007
    Most of what has been said before - with one new point.

    If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer with a mouse, the computer use may be a cofactor. I had right hand issues for many years which I thought were primarily bass Installing RSI prevention software (and using it) seems to have really helped my right hand.
  13. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009

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