Right thumb pain - help diagnose

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by joegrant413, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    Hi folks, IMG_1399.JPG IMG_1400.JPG

    I'm starting to have some right thumb pain. I've been playing bass for about 7 years, and had a good bass teacher a few years ago.

    Anyway, I practice every other day, and have started noticing that my right thumb has been bothering me. Usually don't notice it till the next day. The slight pain is at the joint for the thumb and the rest of the hand.

    Since Christmas is coming and I'll be practicing and playing more to get ready to play for praise band on Xmas Eve, I want to see if there is some minor adjustment I can make and incorporate soon.

    I play a 35 inch scale 5 string MTD Heir. I mostly pluck using three fingers, and typically rest my thumb under the 5th string, below the neck pickup, and against the bass. Attached are a couple of pics.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  2. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    I've had the same pain and I've found that it's probably because I sometimes get lazy and have my thumb bear far too much weight, oftentimes in awkward positions, without noticing it unless I'm looking for it. This poor form happens particularly when I'm learning... rewinding and figuring fretting hand stuff out... the right hand gets poorly positioned *when not even playing* and gets tortured.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    The only thing I can think of that would cause your problem is, as Ant Illington says, you are pressing down too hard with the thumb.

    Also, FWIW, your pictures show a fairly bent wrist, which can cause further problems at a later time.

    Perhaps these clips will be of some help :

  4. Bent wrist would be my thought. WalMart has a thumb brace $19 that can be worn at night. Eight hours of rest each night for a week or so should help. However, will not correct the problem - which IMO COULD be coming from too much bend in the wrist. I say "Could be coming"...... diagnosing over the Internet is suspect.
    pcake likes this.
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I agree.

    OP, all we can do is suggest what we think might be the problem. If the suggestions given so far, don't work, seek further advice, including medical...

    Don't play through any pain.
  6. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    Thanks, folks, for the replies so far!

    I suspect the wrist being bent too much. As I've gotten more comfortable with bass over the years, my guess is I've gotten too relaxed about the arm and wrist. So I'll try to adjust it, and also move my right thumb to the face of the pickup, not on the bass body.

    - Joe
  7. JusttheBassics

    JusttheBassics Guest

    Jun 23, 2016
    You say that you tuck your thumb under the B string. What is happening with your hand and thumb position when you reach for the D and G? Does it remain anchored under the string, or do you bring it out and float it?
  8. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    I'm pretty sure the thumb floats up for the G string. The answer is probably "it depends" for the D string. I'll pay attention when I practice next time.

  9. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    Hmmm... I'm asking myself, so how do I not bend the right wrist so much? Some options include 1) moving up the right elbow, 2) moving the forearm up from the bass body, and.. 3) loosening up the strap, right?

    About 3 months ago I tightened up the strap. Maybe I need to take it back down to where it was. Again, I only noticed this right thumb pain a few weeks ago. I've had the same strap, same bass for a couple of years before that, with no pain issues.
  10. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    Also should note I'm in my mid-50s... hey, aches and pains are slowly accumulating in general. Part of life.
  11. JusttheBassics

    JusttheBassics Guest

    Jun 23, 2016
    I, too, experienced this - putting too much pressure on the thumb. Now that I remember, it occurred when I was playing between pups and laying my thumb flat against the body and somewhat tucked under the E - like the OP.

    Perhaps experimenting with a different thumb placement might bring some new insights for an accurate diagnosis. Best of luck - playing in pain is no fun.
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thumbosis. Hope you get things worked out.

    Later_Peter likes this.
  13. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Lemme page @Fergie Fulton . He knows a lot about stuff like this.

    My .02:

    I've had pain in my basal joint sometimes, but it was the fretting hand rather than the plucking hand. I'd def suggest you try to find a setting for your strap length that allows both wrists to be as straight as possible. And +1 to the recommendations, above, that you change to the floating thumb technique.
  14. KJMO

    KJMO Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2015
    I bet you have a little arthritis. I just started getting some, and it's mostly in both my thumbs that I notice the pain. I haven't figured out what to do about it yet.
  15. Felken


    Jun 28, 2016
    Ottawa, CAN
  16. I don't believe you've stated your age. If your old (like me) it's arthritis. (Thumbs, knees, neck, spine, toes etc.) And....if that is the case, whining will do no good. Just keep playing.
  17. Try a little ibuprofen before a gig or prolonged session.
    KJMO likes this.
  18. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    Just practiced about an hour, and observed more of what's happening.

    So I have indeed gotten in the habit of *keeping* the thumb under the 5th string, even when playing the 1st and 2nd strings. I will work on correcting that, maybe going to the floating thumb technique. But probably not until after Xmas.

    BTW, I have no issues using a pick. In fact, to handle the next two weeks, I might use the pick a lot more.

    I'll keep reading the posts... thanks everyone!
  19. joegrant413


    Dec 6, 2009
    BTW, I'm in my mid-50s.
  20. KJMO

    KJMO Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2015
    A couple beers works pretty good too ;-)
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