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Pain in my wrist

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Aqualunged, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Aqualunged


    Dec 27, 2011
    Hello everyone. I've just started playing DB and my wrist is killing me. My instructor keeps telling me it's because it's so twisted around the neck. However I don't know what to do about that, if I don't twist it I can't reach or muster the strength to hold down with my pinky. Any advice? I can upload a picture if that would help.
  2. Please do. Some notes about your setup would also be helpful, but listen to your teacher before you listen to the Internet. That's what you're paying for, right?
  3. Aqualunged


    Dec 27, 2011
    I'm not sure what you mean by setup. But maybe these will help.

  4. Ryker_M


    May 10, 2012
    London, Ontario
    I'm by no means an expert when it comes to joints or how to "properly" hold a bass; but from my experiences I play in a very similar fashion. Although I keep my thumb behind my second finger.

    Have you tried turning the bass more towards you? Generally, it shouldn't face 90 degrees away from you.
  5. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    this is a technique issue and should be moved to that forum
  6. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    Your technique is not that bad, what I see is in the first pic is that you need to raise your elbow. Everything about your hand looks tense to me as well. When you mention your instructor, are you talking about your school orchestra teacher? If so, you need private lessons from a qualified bass teacher, if not you need a better private teacher. Telling you that your hand is twisted and not giving you what you need to fix it is not good enough. If you are having pain it will only get worse without someone helping you in person, the internet is not really the place to address an issue like this.
  7. JPHYeoh


    Jan 22, 2013
  8. derylgallant

    derylgallant Bassist from Prince Edward Island, Canada

    Aug 1, 2005
    Charlottetown, PEI
    Also, In that first picture your 2nd finger is collapsed ... try your best to avoid this by playing more on your fingertips ( like the 2nd picture )... of course your pinky won't be able to be right on its tip but that's ok.. the rest should be fingertips.

    the name of the game is to relax and make it comfortable... DB is such a physical instrument and requires time to build up the required hand muscles to allow for endurance without pain ..

    practice your technique in front of a mirror by just playing 3 chromatic notes ( 1st finger, 2nd Finger, 4th Finger, 2nd Finger, 1st Finger ) ... do it with a tuner to make sure you're playing in tune and correct it when you're not.

    Do this for 15 mins max...then relax and do something else.. you'll notice your endurance w/o pain getting better and better.
  9. Do you feel as though you are "pinching" the strings down between your fingers and thumb? If so, this may be at least part of the problem.

    You should be able to press the strings down largely without the use of the thumb, and there are a couple of ways to achieve this depending how you hold the bass. But it amounts to using the weight of your left arm rather than just the strength of your hand.

    Also, the height of your strings in relation to the fingerboard may be too high, making technique difficult. From the photos, it looks like it could be lowered a bit, especially at the nut.
  10. Along the lines of what Mike said, your strings appear to be as much as 2mm high at the nut, which will make the strings feel stiff and make it harder to stop notes. That could be half the problem right there. A few minutes spent with a qualified bass luthier could correct that at minimal cost. The strings should barely clear the very top of the fingerboard, just high enough so that they don't buzz when you pull the open string hard.

    I'm no expert either, but I agree that you look very tense. Relax, and remember to breathe deeply. Without sufficient oxygen, muscles and tendons don't want to behave. Also, you should try to keep a straight line through your elbow, forearm, wrist and palm in order to reduce strain on your left arm and hand. This will be easier to do if, as suggested, you turn the bass slightly so the edge of the upper bout is resting against your breastbone.
  11. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    How much pressure are you using on your pinky? And your other fingers for that matter? I try to use as little pressure as possible to stop the note. You could expieriement by playing with varying pressure on your left hand to see how much you really need.

    And the string height may be a little high, but it could be the angle of the pics. It is worth a trip to your luthier to see if it is set up optimally.
  12. Aqualunged


    Dec 27, 2011
    Thank you everyone for the help. I'll try to address all the questions.

    1. I feel like if I turn the bass more towards myself I have even further to reach around the fingerboard.

    2. I do have a private instructor. He plays the bass but is not a bassist exclusively. He is the director of the music program for a really good private school though, so I believe he is knowledgeable.

    3. My hand is incredibly tense because that is the only way I can hold the strings down. Also I feel I need to tense it so I can splay my fingers to where they should be.

    4. I'm perplexed at how you could hold down the string without the thumb bracing against the back of the neck. I will try it when I get home but that seems crazy.

    Do you mean I shouldn't really press with my fingers but rather "pull" with my arm/hand?

    Again thank you everyone for the speedy replies and advice I really appreciate it!!

    Also as far as the strings go, I'm using a loner bass at the moment. So I don't have much choice in it, nor do I want to change it in anyway.
  13. derylgallant

    derylgallant Bassist from Prince Edward Island, Canada

    Aug 1, 2005
    Charlottetown, PEI
    This is always a hard one to teach as, just like you're experiencing, it's incredibly hard to conceptualize if you haven't gotten there yet.

    Have you tried playing by sitting down on a stool?? the greater angle of the bass in this format makes it easier to learn... you use the gravity and the weight of your arm to do most of the work in pressing down the strings.. play on your fingertips and keep your fingers in a consistent shape in position ( where all you need to do is put down your 1st, 2nd or 4th finger to play a note in tune ) ..

    the good news is that it gets easier...

    this all being said... if the bass isn't setup well and your action is really high you're just in for frustration as you're left to really just clamp down like vise grips to get the fingered notes to sound. Been there ...not fun... hurts.. frustrating.

    Even though it's a loaner sometimes you can take it to a luthier ( with permission ) and get them to have a look and give better advice as to any easy fixes for the bass ( adjustable bridge, etc ) ...

    all the best
  14. Yup, that's exactly what I mean.

    Try playing a up where your thumb meets the heel of the neck (fingers are a little closer together up there). That would put your first finger on about a D on the G string. With your fingers in playing position and thumb relaxed (no pinching), feel like you're pulling the bass into your body using the weight of your left arm. There should be enough there to get the strings down (and once they're down, they can't get any "down-er").

    This is not to say that you won't need to develop finger/hand strength, but "clamping" the hand, I believe, might be a contributing to your wrist pain (I'm not a doctor, nor do I play on on television).

    The key is patience. I don't know how long you've been playing, but there is definitely a physical learning curve, since you're using those muscles in new ways. Just always try to practice with as little tension as possible, otherwise it will build itself into your playing (and once it does, believe me, its hard to get rid of).
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I've dealt with wrist pain. My problem was a new bass that was harder to play than my old bass. Setup was part of the issue. Get your strings down to 5-8mm (G-E) as measured at the end of the fingerboard. Make sure they are a business card height at the nut. I agree, sitting may be a good idea for you. Use a stool low enough that you can place both feet flat on the floor.
  16. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    I don't think the strings are as much of an issue as setup. Even if it is a loaner bass, I think a visit with a luthier would be money well spent....just for the fact that you don't want to develop any bad habits of clamping the string down to make it sound. Once you move on to your own bass, it would take a long time to 'un-learn' any bad habits. Does the bass have an adjustable bridge?
  17. I'm not a teacher, but I recently have been studying the Michael Klinghofer videos (look for How to Drive a Double Bass on Google). He describes a technique of balancing the bass so you barely have to support it with your hands at all. Then by leaning it forward slightly, you can stop the strings with very little pressure. (He calls it 'how not to hold the double bass' and 'how not to press on the strings', or something like that). He gives some good pointers on using the German bow also if you're interested. As Klinghofer says, "playing the double bass is either easy or impossible."

    This helped me a lot, and may help you too.

    Good luck.

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