Picking hand gets cramped up a lot when playing...how to fix this

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MovingPitchers, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. I play with pretty thick picks, i believe .84mm thickness. I don't know what else to do to prevent my hand from cramping up after five minutes.

    Warming up beforehand is a must and definite for all techniques but even after, it tends to cramp up.

    Ugh. Can anyone help or fix this problem before it's too late?
  2. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    How tightly are you holding your pick? Relax.. sounds to me like you're gripping that pick for dear life and using too much muscle to pick. Can't say in all my years of guitar/bass playing that my plucking hand has ever been the one to suffer cramps.

    Make sure your wrist is hanging relaxed, don't stiff wrist it, and you only need enough pressure on the pick to keep from dropping it.. no more no less.

    If this is already what you're doing I'd consider the possibility that it is a medical issue, but I hope for your sake that this is not the case.

    While a strong attack can make some cool noises "WHEN YOU WANT TO", you really just need to lightly roll the pick over the string. It shouldn't be overly forceful.

    Not sure if I've been much help but I hope you work this out.

    Might I also recommend learning a two finger technique? Make sure you're always playing through your amp as well, it will truly show you how beneficial a light touch can be.
  3. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    Only other thing I could possibly think of is, how are you using your pick? When I use one my arm movement is as if I'm turning a doorknob (only enough to pick the strings I'm using) with a bent and highly relaxed wrist. If you're picking by trying to move you arm back and forth from the elbow I could see some forearm cramping as a result.. but.. that isn't how I'd ever try to use one.
  4. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    firstly, .84mm is too THIN for bass, try 2mm for a start.

    Also try the Stubby or Dunlop Tortex big triangle ones,easier to grip lightly imho,I have the exact same problem, but I use picks rarely.
    AaronVonRock and hdracer like this.
  5. Good thinking. I figured I should go at least 1.00mm minimum for bass since the strings are obviously thicker.
  6. I do seem to notice I'm holding on for dear life. Maybe that's why. But if I don't, I feel like I'll drop it, even though there five picks planted in my pickguard for easier access. Would a thicker pick allow me to loosen my grip a bit?
  7. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

  8. On the topic of picks, I'm looking for something that'll contribute to the growly tone I'm looking for. Stock P-Bass MIM pickup with GHS Boomers are the setup and I like the way it sounds. The Boomers certainly live up to its name!
  9. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    +1 on the Dunlop Triangle Stubbies 2mm. They even have a rough surface to give you some extra grip.
  10. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    every time i give my hand a pick, he hits me. :( i wish i had your problem
  11. Garuga


    Mar 24, 2010
    are you strumming one direction or up and down. I notice if I used to only down stroke my arm and hand would kill. Until I learned to actually neatly go up and down it was hell.
  12. I do up and down picking a lot because down picking only hurts like a MF.
  13. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    If the problem is simply that you're squeezing the pick too hard, using a thicker pick might help a little -- but that won't in itself solve the problem: You'll still have to work on loosening your grip. But using a pick that just feels different from what you're used to might help remind you to do so. With that in mind, you might also experiment with different sizes and shapes, not just different thicknesses, until you find one that you can comfortably hold onto without squeezing too hard.

    I'd also look at other aspects of your technique that could be causing strain in your hand. Two things I can think of that could cause the same kind of cramping are: (1) if your right wrist is bent while you're picking -- either because of your arm position or because you are wearing the bass too low; and (2) if you are anchoring your picking hand on the body, below the strings, with your pinky and/or ring finger (as many guitar players do). Is either of these a possibility?
  14. 1. I'm not sure, actually. I'll have to evaluate myself next time and look in the mirror for any of these. My bass is not that low. When standing, I have it resting on the area between my lower torso and my bladder area..sorry IDK how else to describe it. Just find pictures of Guy Berryman or Nate Mendel and it'll be similar to that.

    2. I never saw anyone do that so I guess this is out of the equation. I DO rest my picking hand on the body, on the arm contour though.