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What is this pain from?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DDXdesign, Sep 27, 2018.


  1. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Hey guys - now I know I should just ask a doctor, but until I have a chance to do so I thought I'd ask if anyone else has had this specific pain happen, and what it turned out to be if so.

    So, imagine this scenario: You're playing a bassline that has a chromatic bit across three consecutive frets, which you play with your 1,2,3 fingers. Better yet, the bit goes up and then back down, or down and then back up - 1-2-3-2-1 or 3-2-1-2-3. With me so far? Doesn't really matter if it's out at 1st position or right in front of your body's centerline, just the fingering matters as far as I can tell.

    Now, when *I* do this move, I get this weird pain in my hand as if the tendons and muscles are 'tripping over' each other, for lack of a better phrase - like there's a lot of feeling of stuff getting stuck and popping loose within the extensor tendons' vicinities. It hurts, but not a lot - I'm more concerned that it'll get worse or that I'm damaging something when I play.

    What say you? Thanks!
     
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The 3rd finger is anatomically bizarre, tendon-wise. It's not unusual for our hands to feel "weird" and uncomfortable when we try to move the 3rd finger independently of the others. Two suggestions:
    1. As you play, look down at the palm of your fretting hand. Does it look like "butt cheeks"? In other words, is your "life line" creased at the base of the thumb? If so, try making your palm wide, flat, and smooth. You may need to reposition your thumb to accomplish this. This will relieve pressure on your tendons and allow better range of motion.
    2. You could trying the chromatic passage with fingers 1-2-4-2-1. In this scenario, your 3rd finger can work together as a unit with your 4th finger, combining their strength.
     
    Lobster11 and fearceol like this.
  3. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    1. yes on the buttcheeks palm, about 50% of the time, since i keep my thumb in the "middle" compared to my 4 fingers. Can't play any other way, though all other playing is unaffected in the way the chromatic thing is.

    2. I do 124 a lot, but for consecutive frets sometimes that doesn't work out.
     
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Keeping your thumb "in the middle" usually causes a severely bent wrist, which stretches and strains the tendons in the hand and wrist. Allowing the thumb to get out in front of the other fingers when it "wants" to and pointing it toward the headstock (rather than perpendicular to the neck) will relax your hand and reduce or eliminate the wrist-bend. Check out this video for a demonstration and explanation:

     
    Mushroo likes this.
  5. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Is this passage slow enough that you can use 1-2-shift2?

    Not exactly the same, but I used to have issues playing things like Peter Gunn. I ended up varying my fingering choice every other time through.

    I’m sure it was the repetition that was creating my discomfort and not the passage itself.
     
  6. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    That's insane - the vid made me run and pick up my bass to check. I've been playing for 20-odd years and didn't notice. What I discovered is that my hand of course likes to be in the neutral position, and for some notes/lines it's plenty good that way, but, when I have to make a fret stretch of any kind and/or to use my ring finger, my hand shifts to the thumb-pincer bent-wrist thing. Huh. My hands aren't big, so even two frets next to each other down low (like 2nd to 3rd fret) can require me to play them 1-4 if I want to keep the neutral position on the hand.
     
  7. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Just wanted to come back into this thread and say thanks to @Mushroo and @Lobster11 - I've been concentrating on keeping my thumb off to the left wherever possible, and it's really helped! (EDITED I had forgotten to thank Mushroo)

    My bass's action is just about low enough that I can play some lines without even putting my thumb on the back of the neck (just experimenting with what the form does to my finger position and movements).

    Combined that with attempting to optimize efficiency on my plucking hand - from seeing things like zach rizer (Proton Lenny here on TB) playing with barely any discernible movement in his right hand (!!!) and I feel like there's a nice light at the end of this tunnel as long as I pay attention.

    Decades of playing sub-optimally is hard to retrain. Now if only I had ever bothered with theory...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
    Lobster11 likes this.
  8. Ppl often say thumb in the middle of the neck, it should move around to keep your wrist and those tendons working as smoothly as possible. Believe it or not, sometimes the bass just doesn’t work for your body.
    Up to you on the level of experience and your level of comfort with hand positions and how that affects your future decisions.
     
  9. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Well, right, thumb in the middle of the neck as a general rule meaning "vertically", between the bass and treble edges, but it seems my pain comes when my thumb is in the middle of my fingers, "horizontally" as in lengthwise along the neck. Still, keeping it in neutral position off to the left of my fingers tends to put it up near the bass edge more like players who wrap their thumbs over. Like I said, been playing for almost 30 years and this is like a whole new chapter, heh.
     
    Lobster11 likes this.

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