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Thumb pain--bad technique, bad fit, or both?

 
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plaidbeer
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Joined: 21 Aug 2010
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Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:57 am    Post subject: Thumb pain--bad technique, bad fit, or both? Reply with quote

I've noticed that when playing the Casino, I get what feels like a bruised thumb (middle to lower half of the thumb) by the time I'm done. This didn't happen with the Jazzmaster that I could recall. Hurts like hell and for long periods of time.

So, I just got finished playing and made a conscious effort to either have my thumb off the neck (supported the neck with the meat of my palm) or to only have it barely on the neck and it's not as bad after playing this time. I'm guessing that I'm normally pressing the neck really hard with my thumb most of the time when it hurts, but this new way of playing doesn't feel natural at all.

Is this normal or is it the product of me playing a guitar that might be a bad fit, in terms of the neck? It's a thinner neck than the Jazzmaster, but it's a 12 inch radius vs. 9.5. Played a Jagstang this afternoon and it played like a dream by comparison. No pain, and I felt like a giant playing it even with my smaller hands.
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George
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Joined: 03 Jul 2009
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How thick is the neck in terms of depth, and wide is it? I've got thumb and hand pains playing really shallow and wide necks on Ibanez and Jackson super strat type things before. That said, I pretty much always play Fender style necks so maybe it's just a case of getting used to it?
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Gabriel
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Joined: 11 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get this when I've been using bad technique on my guitars - they all have really wide and fairly thin D shape necks. When you're playing your thumb you ideally be touching the centre of the back of the neck. If you were to be playing a powerchord your thumb would be in the space between your first and third finger but at the back of the neck.

When you play on the top two strings a lot of players will slide their thumb up to the top third of the neck so they can bring it over the top for string bends.

If you play this way you shouldn't have any issues.

So you should have your hand like this:



And not like this (unless you're bending strings):

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plaidbeer
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Joined: 21 Aug 2010
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Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrperson, I have my thumb nearly over the top like in the bottom picture in your post and hard up against the neck, so that probably reflects poor technique on my part. For some reason, I also press down really hard on the strings, probably to avoid unintentional muting of the other strings. I'm primarily playing open chords (or variations of). I think I wind up really getting into it while playing and wind up squeezing the hell out of the neck.


George, Phil O'Keefe said on HC that he has an '01 Casino that's MIK like mine and the neck measurements are:
Nut / 1st fret (both are the same): 1 11/16" (almost 1 23/32"); 12th fret: 2 1/16"

He likes his and has smaller hands, too, so it has to be my technique, which I feel somewhat relieved about because I don't want to have to buy/sell another guitar right now. I've been through four guitars (Tele, Duo, BT JM, Casino) and have only been playing since September. It's a bitch trying to find the right guitar when you don't really know how to play.
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Gabriel
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Joined: 11 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

plaidbeer wrote:
mrperson, I have my thumb nearly over the top like in the bottom picture in your post and hard up against the neck, so that probably reflects poor technique on my part. For some reason, I also press down really hard on the strings, probably to avoid unintentional muting of the other strings. I'm primarily playing open chords (or variations of). I think I wind up really getting into it while playing and wind up squeezing the hell out of the neck.


With open chords it can be ok to have your thumb over the edge - but this has caused problems for me in the past. Really work on trying to get the position of your hand and wrist right. Try to keep your wrist as straight as possible and try and make sure your thumb is in the right place. In regards to the amount of pressure you are using, try backing off. You should be using as little pressure as possible and your thumb shouldn't be applying any pressure either, it should just act as a 'stabiliser'. Its really important to try and work through these issues as further down the line you can exacerbate certain problems with your hands or you'll find it far harder to play different chords - such as highly extended inversions.

Don't worry about the guitar, all guitars can be comfortable regardless of the neck carve.
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Dave
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Joined: 09 Jun 2008
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Location: UK - Southampton

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just seen this- You could be getting RSI in the thumb socket from the constant pressure wearing down on the cartilage that cushions the bone. I got that along with the top joint of my index finger fucked up from too much drop D one finger riffing with tiny hands and big necks. I nearly gave up guitar it got so bad, until I read these articles and forced myself to learn a new way of doing things. Much of the issue has now gone.

It will feel odd for a while as the brain needs to build new pathways but repetition over time will cause it to click in soon enough.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/correct_practice/discover_your_discomfort.html
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/correct_practice/finding_the_incredible_lightness.html

Hope that helps
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plaidbeer
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Joined: 21 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave, thanks for the articles. I kept with it for a while after last posting here and came the conclusion that the Casino isn't the greatest fit for me. There's currently a deal being worked out with another Shortscaler.

I did find a guitar that's more comfy to me--a '72 RI Tele Thinline. Smaller neck radius. I'm going with the '69 instead, though as I want single coils.
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mordechaister
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Joined: 21 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Often playing a thinner neck can be more fatiguing than a thicker neck. Note when I say thin or thick I mean from the face of the fingerboard to the back of the neck profile. An example would be to make a "C" shape with your hand so your fingers are curved opposite your thumb. Then flatten your fingers out and you'll probably feel a cramp in the middle of your hand.
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plaidbeer
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Joined: 21 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^Good point about thick vs. thin necks.

I wound up selling the Casino and got the '69RI Tele Thinline several months ago. I haven't experienced the thumb pain issues like I had with the Casino and have made a conscious effort to position my thumb behind the neck and not over the top (still mainly playing open chords or partial open chords). I miss the Casino's sound, but the Tele has been more comfortable to play.
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JJLipton
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed my hand position shifting more towards the classic style, almost completely now. I think it's more comfortable.
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