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Ok, I'm fed up with trying to straighten my wrist out.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MistaMarko, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    Been playing bass for 4 years. The way I play is..I rest my forearm on the body of the bass and bend my wrist anywhere from a 70-90 degree angle when playing. I play in a few bands..practice daily..have never felt one ounce of pain from this. I also use the floating thumb technique; I anchor my thumb on the string behind the one im plucking..w/e its called.

    After reading around on this forum a bunch, I've seen so many things about carpel tunnel..tendonitis..blah blah blah. So I figured I'd straighten my wrist out.

    Since this past JUNE, I've been making a valiant effort to play with a straight wrist.

    Off and on I debate with myself whether it's worth it, whether I should honestly put the time foward to try and change something..if it ain't broke..don't fix it..?

    Ive become a very good self-taught player, but I am so fed up with trying to play with a straight wrist. I just can NOT perform like I can with a bent wrist..I cant skip strings I can't do 16th octaves I cant do anything..I feel like as soon as I straighten my wrist I just lose 40% of my skill. It just feels extremely un-natural and awkward. I'm almost ready to give up. I just cannot make it feel natural.

    Any advice on what to do? If its worth changing technique..if so..best way to go about doing it? Easiest way to re-learn..or should I even re-learn to begin with? Is it ok to keep playing with a bent wrist but just make sure I stretch?..I'm so lost.. :bag:
  2. I would just recommend moving your plucking-hand elbow higher/forward to reduce the angle
  3. When you practice, sit down. Shift your bass to a different position so that your headstock is closer to your left ear. Your wrist should get used to that after a while. If you're any good at all you will probably get carpel tunnel no matter what so don't even worry about it.
  4. Choosh


    Jan 14, 2008
    That's really encouraging. ^_^
  5. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    Well, I watch videos like this:

    So, according to the pros..I'm not sure what to do; it gets pretty contradicting. If I were to forget their opinions and go off myself..I'd say, like I said, I haven't experienced any pain from a bent wrist. I feel like I'm almost overthinking this situation..but I'm just trying to prevent myself from developing bad habits.
  6. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    I've been playing for 7 years now and haven't had an overly bent wrist on either hand... recently I've noticed sufficient pain when playing like I used to. The pain goes away when I play "correctly" (Ie: no bent wrist) for long periods of time. It cuts into my skill a bit, but with practice I'm sure I'll be up to snuff as I am how I was playing.

    I currently when playing in a band, play regular and then if it starts to hurt, play straight wristeded. While practicing my myself I strictly try to play straight wristed.

    You may not feel the pain now, but once you get older, the odds are against you. (IMO & IME)
  7. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    Gotcha. I just hate that 'skill-cutting' factor, it just frustrates me to no end. I mean it's like trying to learn how to write with the opposite hand you normally write with: it always feels awkward and no matter what you do you just can't do it quite like the other way.
  8. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Yeah. It's a killer.

    Funny you should bring that analogy up. I'm left handed and play righty. lol. I would crack a joke but we've all seen the threads on arguements of left handed playing vs right handed playing depending on predisposition. ;-) (jk of course... :))
  9. I hate to say it, but this technique could catch up with you and if it does, the pain and problems can seem to come out of nowhere. I had to quit playing entirely for about 3 months straight due to the pain and numbness I started having.

    It can be frustrating to feel like you're taking a few steps back in your playing. You can look at the bright side though, and look at this re-learning process as an investment in your future bass playing longevity. It's a really good investment IMO. It'll pay off in the long run with more of this ---> :bassist: :D

    What I do is raise my right elbow up a bit; I rarely rest it on the body anymore. By lifting my elbow up off the body, it naturally reduces the amount of bend.
  10. Charred


    Sep 18, 2004
    lancaster, pa.
    It's so natural for us to continue with the technique we learned as beginners holding the bass on our laps...DROP IT! Evolve, and stand erect! Man is genetically made to perform at his best, standing on two feet with weapon in hand. Spread your stance /straighten your 'trigger' arm. FIRE! Let the youth in you dictate, in music at least! No laws to be broken, no penalties to pay. Be free-play like it ;)

    Am agreeing with bassXgirl here!! Erect, lower-slung,...you can sit with bass chest high in your aging exit... Until then', frequent the gym or whatever endeavor keeps you fit and lithe.
  11. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    I'm dealing with some of the same issues, that is forgetting bad habits, trust me for the past 6 months or so i've been trying to work with good form and theory (thing i negated the first 9 years). Now i can't even remember how i got along in the first place. Be patient and it will pay off. I played 3-4 gigs screwing up song because bad was conflicting with good, but it's working out.

    But it is true you will probably get carpal tunnel anyway.
    I have pretty good form now, but working in IT and sitting at a computer all day... isn't helping :(.
  12. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    I suppose everyone's right. Good points made. It's just hard to re-learn muscle memory and make it feel completely natural again. Lose a little, gain a little in the end, huh?
  13. It is more than a little gain, carpel tunnel can force to stop playing. You will get used to playing with a different wrist angle.
  14. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    I hope so; it's been 8-9 months now and it feels just as awkward as it did when I started.
  15. SweetMelisma


    Feb 25, 2008
    My problem was with my left wrist and caused by both bass and guitar. I had the left wrist all bent, especially when playing low F's. I now have a nicely straight left wrist when I play, thanks to the pain that pointed out any time I didn't have it straight.

    All the other responses so far have been great, but they only dealt with bass playing. I have to watch how I get up out of a chair that I don't put too much pressure on that wrist or it'll hurt. I have to watch how I sleep so that my wrist is straight at all times. Even scratching my back with my left hand is painful. Actually, WAS painful. I took care of it with better technique and taking it easy throughout the day, and now I'm pain-free. It took a loooooong time, but it's resolved (knock on wood).
  16. elpelotero


    Jun 16, 2006
    I hate to sound like a jerk or anything but I was able to straighten my wrist out in just a few months over the summer. Nowadays if I don't play with a straight wrist my technique gets severely limited. My speed, reach, and dexterity have all improved.

    You can do it. Just make it a conscious effort every single time and be sure to use your shoulder and elbow to pick everything up. Don't play bass on your bed. Play on a chair where you can hang it off the side so your arm can hang a little. Eventually it becomes natural.
  17. Lots of people play with a bent wrist and you might play a lifetime that way without a problem. But wether you like it or not, "proper technique" is with a straight wrist. I didn't get this from an electric bass teacher, but from several double-bass, percussion and piano teachers (and overheard from a trumpet teacher too). In all the lessons I've had, keeping the wrist straight is what came up most often. It's biology.
  18. LMAO

    Have a look at Todd Johnson's Floating thumb technique

  19. Jonny B

    Jonny B

    Nov 5, 2006
    I'll be the scapegoat...

    I've been playing with a bent wrist for over twenty years, no problems here.
  20. Morkolo


    Aug 11, 2003
    If you don't think it's fun now wait until you may have to do it then. I was only playing for a few years and all of a sudden my right wrist started to pain so badly I couldn't play at all. I had to wait a week and then ONLY play with a straight wrist. I tried going back to my old style several times but I always had that same extreme pain and sometimes numbness. It can be scary. Now I can play better than before, not because I changed my technique. But because I had to practice so much to correct it.

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