Tendonitis in my plucking hand. Any advice on technique to heal this? Thanks!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bfidel, Jul 23, 2021.


  1. bfidel

    bfidel

    Feb 13, 2009
    I've been playing bass with a bent wrist for decades now. Starting to have issues with my fingers, wrist, and forearm. Any advice on changing my technique to improve this? Should I get a pickup cover to rest my hand on like Jameeson did? Thanks
     
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
     
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  3. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    How low/high does your bass hang? Too high will force you to bend your right wrist, too low will force you to bend your left wrist. Try belt-high with the neck up at about a 45-degree angle.

    I took typing class in high school, when there were still typewriters. We were taught that the fingers should rest on the home keys with wrists at the same height as the knuckles. That's about right for playing the bass as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
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  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Agreed. Having the body lower helps keep your plucking wrist straight, and having the neck angled upward helps to keep your left wrist straight.
     
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  5. bfidel

    bfidel

    Feb 13, 2009
    I tried practicing while standing . This seemed to aid in better positioning. I will try your suggestions. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.!
     
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  6. bfidel

    bfidel

    Feb 13, 2009
    Very interesting and simple. Just need to get that shoulder strong so it feels natural. Thaks for taking the time to post!
     
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  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    The standard advice is to find the right strap length and position for playing standing, and then making sure you maintain that same position when sitting. I find that hard to do unless I'm sitting on a tall stool or something. If I sit on something low or soft (like a sofa), the bass winds up too high relative to my body and I wind up with my forearm draped over the body and my plucking wrist bent -- probably exactly what you've been doing and now are trying to fix.
    You already have plenty of strength in your shoulder; the hard part is getting used to it so it "feels natural."

    When I use this technique (which is almost always) my forearm either doesn't touch the bass at all, or it just slides gently against the upper part of the face of the bass. (Luckily, both of my main basses have a perfect body contour there.) If I'm wearing short sleeves I always wear a wide cotton wrist band so my forearm doesn't stick to (or damage) the glossy finish.

    BTW, one other advantage I've found in using this technique (in addition to muting) is that it forces me to pluck softly, so I can turn up the amp and let it do the work. If you're like me you tend to "dig in" when your thumb is firmly anchored on the pickup or elsewhere, but there are a lot of advantages to a soft touch (e.g., no calluses or blisters, less fatigue). So if you happen to also want to work on lightening up on your touch, switching to the floating thumb will serve double-duty.

    It took me a little while to master this technique, so be patient -- it'll be worth it. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
     
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  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    When sitting, I let the bass's lower bout hang between my legs, so the strap is still holding it up.
     
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  9. bfidel

    bfidel

    Feb 13, 2009
    It seems that the inside of my wrist wants to anchor onto the body. Is this what you found too or is my technique still not there? Should any weight be pressed ? Thanks
     
  10. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive Suspended

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    First, rest until it’s better or risk a chronic injury. Second, find a GOOD teacher to help you fix your technique.
     
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  11. MMiller28

    MMiller28 Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2003
    Wisconsin
    The more your elbow is bent, the more you'll be bothered by playing with these symptoms. If I'm seated I always have the bass between the legs rather than on my right thigh, so I can have my elbow open more and not so tightly bent.
     
  12. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    For this particular technique you want the weight of your lower arm to be pressing your thumb against the (unplayed) strings in order to mute them. You shouldn't have to exert any effort to really "press" against the strings, though: Your arm's weight should do the work naturally. But if you allow that weight to press your wrist into the bass body it won't hold your thumb against the strings -- in which case the muting won't be effective or might produce unwanted harmonics.

    Something else that works for me is to wear the bass so it's resting against my right hip more than my belly, with the neck angled slightly outward (toward the audience) as well as upwards. My plucking fingers are basically right where they would be if my hand were in my pocket. This might help in discouraging your wrist from wanting to anchor on the body.

    Remember, you're trying to unlearn a decades-old habit of resting your forearm heavily on the bass body, so be patient. Getting comfortable with the "floating thumb" is likely to take weeks, not hours or days.
     
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  13. bfidel

    bfidel

    Feb 13, 2009
    Thanks Lobster11. Alow me to clarify that when I play the E string my floating thumb is now on the body at which time I want to anchor it the old way. Haha. Continuing to make corrections to push that elbow out.
     
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