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Pinky joint pain holding me back...need help.

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by eyemanoddwon, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. eyemanoddwon


    Mar 26, 2013
    I stopped playing double bass seriously when I was younger partly because I developed increasingly worse pain in the little joint of my left hand pinky. I'm starting to play again, but the pain has already returned. Orchestral work is probably out of the question, but I'd like to be able to play jazz for longer than a few minutes without it hurting. :help:

    Are there any known issues that affect that finger joint? And are there any ways to make it hurt less? Do they make mini braces like you wear for bad knees that work on a finger? Or certain treatments that'll help? I've talked with my doctor in the past, but he wasn't much help. I have adjusted my playing style to reduce use of the finger, but that only delays onset of the pain...it still becomes unbearable after a couple hours of playing. :crying:
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Only thing I can advise is getting the nut height and strings as low as possible to ease playing. I suppose you could try taping your finger for support and see if that helps. If you play with a collapsed joint, that could be the problem.

    Find a good physical therapist in your area that works with musicians. Talk with symphony players for recommendations and maybe a lesson to go over your technique.
  3. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Left hand finger joint pain while playing can/may be attributed to your finger joint hyperextending or bending too far back. Proper technique and some finger exercises might get you out of pain. Take a lesson or a few w/a bass teacher that has a handle on proper technique first. IMHO
  4. Please do a search on this forum: I have posted some replies and threads on pinky problems, because I had the same issue. My guess is, your pinky is not strong enough yet to press down the strings. Good left hand technique and slowly strengthening your pinky might help, along with a proper setup of your bass.

    Good left hand technique:

    Strenghtening pinky (be carefull!!):

    there are finger splints on the market. I never used them, but it's wortwhile to study if they can help you:

    Don't give up!
  5. I don't in any way intend to substitute my situation for a medical diagnosis but I experienced a very similar problem.

    I had acute pain in the second joint of my 4th finger about a half hour into every gig, and by the end of the night it would be excruciating. At first it wouldn't hurt unless I was playing but after a while it would stay tender for days.

    It turned out it wasn't actually a joint issue but tendinitis in my FDS tendon (thats the one in your palm right under your pinky, I had to google it). I got a cortisone shot that worked for about 10 days and gave me some time to work on my technique. I still have problems occasionally but its been less severe and improving my technique has helped substantially.

    I have a pretty high action on my bass but I like the response I get from the strings the way it is and I'm not as of yet intending on changing my setup.

    Both great videos Tony D posted.
  6. aikibass

    aikibass Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    I play electric - so my view may not be applicable at all. But that's never stopped me from spouting off before!
    I hadn't played for about a year, and was then offered a spot in a blues band. At that time I switched to flatwound strings - and unknowingly bought substantially higher tension strings than what I was used to. My little finger took a beating, and the next morning I would have to use my other hand to uncurl it. Switching to lower tension strings (actually just going back to roundwounds - which are inherently lower tension anyway) fixed the problem.
  7. I have suffered exactly the same symptoms as described here. In my case, I suspect arthritis, since I have that problem in my right thumb as well. I have tried taping the pinky joint with athletic tape (I found some in concert black!), and it helps a little. Not 100%, but I can get through rehearsals and performances. Best advice is see a physician and have the problem properly diagnosed.
  8. StargazerEm


    Nov 22, 2013
    I had this problem before, but over time it has gone away. I think I caused it by over extending my pinky, and putting to much pressure on it.
  9. There are many variables in the situation. It can take specific practice routine to gain strength. You must look at the logistics of how you press on the strings, I would first look at how you play, is your left elbow up? does it look like your holding a tennis ball? nice curved fingers? when you play? how much scale work do you do? with a tuner? how many finger-tip push ups can you do? if your little finger is weak then it needs to be used. What the fellow said about strings is way true, it took me years of trial with no help but trial and error to find a balance of tolerable string tensions, as it is I have a split set to survive, I play a 5 string double bass so I have a solo set on the top 3 and mediums on the E and the low B, but I have neen playing a lot so as I get strong even the B string is tolerable. But strengthening the pinky takes time and dedication. Try chromatic scales using the pinky. Not to mention trills exercises??

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