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New Instrument. Hand Problems?

Rick Fielding 30 Nov 99 - 01:29 PM
catspaw49 30 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM
DonMeixner 30 Nov 99 - 02:17 PM
Michael K. 30 Nov 99 - 02:35 PM
Vixen 30 Nov 99 - 03:01 PM
MAG (inactive) 30 Nov 99 - 03:28 PM
Chet W. 30 Nov 99 - 03:46 PM
Scotsbard 30 Nov 99 - 04:13 PM
Vixen 30 Nov 99 - 04:14 PM
DonMeixner 30 Nov 99 - 04:35 PM
JedMarum 30 Nov 99 - 04:39 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 01 Dec 99 - 06:11 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 99 - 01:25 PM
Jacob Bloom 03 Dec 99 - 01:38 PM
Vixen 03 Dec 99 - 01:57 PM
Easy Rider 03 Dec 99 - 02:00 PM
Noah Zacharin 03 Dec 99 - 03:19 PM
Little Neophyte 03 Dec 99 - 08:15 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 99 - 09:08 PM
Little Neophyte 03 Dec 99 - 09:43 PM
Noah Zacharin 23 Dec 99 - 02:30 PM
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Subject: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:29 PM

Last night at a Cafe here in Toronto, I was speaking to a friend of mine. He is a superlative writer and player, who for reasons known only to himself has kept an extremely low profile in music. He has just purchased a very glitzy and expensive new guitar, with a much different neck shape than the one he's used for almost 30 years. He talked about experiencing some finger pain. I've had a bit of that myself recently. I used a very thin necked Lowden as my working guitar for about 15 years and never had any problem. When I switched to "Woody" (my 1950 0-18) didn't notice much difference, other than the neck was fatter and I started using more Barre chords and fewer "thumb" chords. No problem though. Recently I've been in love with a 31 year old rosewood dreadnaught (of uncertain parentage, tho probably an early K. Yairi). I'm getting some definite finger pain, and now I'm wondering if others have found that switching instruments has caused grief. New muscles at work....that kind of thing. My friend and I have both gone from VERY thin necks to wider ones.
Any feedback appreciated. Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM

I'm kinda' glad you brought this up Rick. I'm noways near the picker you are, but I have had that same problem. I figured it was because I didn't play as much and that was the problem. Fact is, I can do hours on MY 6 or 12....both with thinnish necks....but Karen's causes me pain after a very short time.

I'll be interested in hearing some other comments too. I wonder if the shape and thickness together can exacerbate the problem? Would the pain lessen if I played the other neck exclusively......but it doesn't seem to have in your case has it?

Good thread.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 02:17 PM

As I have some experience in this from a diferent direction I'll relate mine. I went from wide to narrow, an O-16 to an F-30 Guild. The nut width was only an 1/8" of an inch diference but that diference was telling.

First think in terms of muscle memory. (Rick has spent hours and and hours over the past 30 years making a living with instruments. He may not realise how aware he is of muscle memory.) About the time you get used to an instrument you can play by "Radar" almost. You develop an economy of motion that suits you and the instrument you play. You don't have to watch what you do. ( Doc Watson, Jose Feliciano, Riley Puckett) Then you screw up the mix by changing to a diferent instrument and the whole process begins again.

Changing from wide to narrow is easier than the return. Its somewhat easier to compress than to stretch a muscle. Its the stretching that strains the muscle and forces you to rest awhile. I my case the reconnective surgery means I can open my fingers beyond 60% so the beautiful Martin sits in the case waiting for a friend(s) to stop by with out a guyitar to play while they visit. I play the Guild or a narrower still banjo.

The depth of the neck creates its own unique set of problems. Deeper necks mean more reach is required and the fingers need to go further around the finger board to create chords. This makes it harder to hit the chord you know and you have t stretch those fingers to accommodate. Suddenly the Barre Chords are needed when you didn't use them before. Try any number of handmade necks from the same company on the same model and you'll be surprised at how different the feel is from one D-28 to another.

Rick, my bet is you are battling muscle memory and probably repetitive motion illness and maybe some arthiritis.

Don


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Michael K.
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 02:35 PM

I believe it's the thickness of the neck, not the width of the fingerboard.

I have 2 instruments which are both 1 11/16ths'' width at the nut, one being a V neck and the other being a soft V.

I have no problem of pain playing either one.

I have 2 other instruments, one of which is a 1 3/4s'' with a soft V neck (again no pain or problem playing) but the other one which was a custom ordered instrument has a 1 3/4s'' with a low oval....and I was stupid when I order this instrument with the low oval, having never played this kind of neck. The instrument sounds amazing, but the low oval and additional thickness it adds to the neck, has made it impossible to fingerpick and play further up the neck without enormous hand pain.

Broke down a couple of weeks ago, and took it to my local and trusted luthier. It is currently have the sides tapered and shaved to the specs of a soft V, with perhaps even more tapering. We're not touching the bottom of the neck so as not to interfere with the truss rod and stablity....just shaving and tapering the sides right below where the neck binding ends.

An expensive process, as the neck will eventually be removed for the sanding and refinishing part of it, before being reattached and set up....but it's way cheaper than the hit I'd take if I were to try and sell it. It's only 8 months old and was very expensive.

I just want to make it into something I can play, as effortlessly as my other instruments.

So Rick,you and your friend should consider shaving the necks.....Consider it ''customizing'' the instrument to your hands, if you plan to keep and play it for a long time.

Since my instrument is a custom one-of-a-kind, I was not concerned with ''altering the originality and possibly devaluing it'' as (a) I plan to keep it, and (b) the neck shaving just adds to the individual customization.

The two best necks for fingerstyle (IMHO) seem to be soft V, or low profile.


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Vixen
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 03:01 PM

It seems to me that if you're discussing "shaving necks" this thread should be attached to the one on facial hair a few weeks back...

Seriously though, I've got an Alvarez I've played for 14 years, no problem except barre chords are difficult (though not painful) and a Suzuki on which barre chords are impossible. I'll have to measure up the nuts neck depths and see what the differences are between the two.

My musical pain problem is on the wind instruments...I'm still (after nearly 5 months of playing) having pain in my left thumb joint (where it joins my hand) after I play my flute (not during...only after). With the new Low D pennywhistle, however, the thumb joint gets sore practically on contact (I'm taking a break from that instrument for a couple of weeks).

NOW, however, the thumb pain is cropping up on guitar--Alvarez, Suzuki, or Tim's Guild. I'm suspecting a touch of "a tritus" and have started glucosamine Hcl and Condroitin sulfate (as recommended in some other thread) to see if they help. Meanwhile...I eat lots of Ibuprofen. If it all persists, I'll actually go to a sawbones...

Just be careful, guys, if you're shaving the necks...and don't even *think* about shaving the nuts....it'll lower the action! ;>

V


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 03:28 PM

I now have pain free playing for the first time in mgwmph years, after going from a dreadnaught to an 00. Wish I'da done it long since. fingers, wrist, shoulder(s).

any kinda pain which feels like repetitive motion, folks, do try changing instruments.


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Chet W.
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 03:46 PM

I am physically and emotionally welded to my 1933 Gibson L-00, which I use for almost everything and I can make it sound a lot of different ways. I need the wide and thick neck because my hands are extra-large, but I don't have pain when I play my 69 J-45 with the ultra thin neck or my partner's Taylor. I guess the neck thing comes into play if you play several different guitars. One trick about barre chords that you probably already know, turn your index finger, the barring one, slightly counterclockwise (as you look down at it on the fingerboard). It takes a lot less muscle strength this way than flat on because your finger won't bend sideways, so much of the strain on the muscles is taken up by the bones. It also enables your other fretting fingers to come down on the fretboard at a more natural angle.

Have also experienced the thumb problem with the low D whistle. The solution: I made a leather collar for it with a hole in the back, which fits between the fipple and the holes, and to which I attach a sax neck string with hook. When you adjust it just right it works like a charm, so that your thumb has very little work to do towards holding the thing up. Let me know if you need more specifics on how to do this.

Chet


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Scotsbard
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 04:13 PM

My first guitar was a spanish 12-string built to some zany bigger is better principle. With a nut that must have been over 2.25" wide and low-rider frets but a featherlight action, it simply took a lot of barre'ing. I don't remember any finger pain, just lots of frustration.

My old Yairi flamenco has a deep oval neck and classical width, never any pain there either. The jumbo frets and nylon strings, or maybe even the musical style may have some influence on the

The Ovation 12-string with (I'd guess) a medium deep "V" eventually seemed to cause some cramping when playing lots of barres, and I've essentially quit playing it.

The Takamine EN-32C has a medium oval neck, and wider than average nut (dunno the measure), and I've only noticed hand problems after several hours of practice.

And just to add to Vixen's comments: I've noticed the same thing about left hand cramping when playing low-D whistles. Its roughly the same muscles/joints that ache when playing guitar, mostly near the base of the left thumb. I suspect it has to do with how much time the left index finger spends stopping holes in comparison to the others, just as the barre chords do for guitarists. It definitely has something to do with repetitive stressing of the same tissues.

~S~


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Vixen
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 04:14 PM

Chet--I'll try that harness idea on my low D...it has a thumbrest, but I can't seem to find any place it works well, so perhaps a little suspension will help things!

Thanks for the idea!

V


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 04:35 PM

The Ovation is an ergonomic nightmare. The rounded back causes the whole instrument to twist up so the neck is twisted up as well. This forces you to turn the top of you left wrist very far forward and then, Addining insult to injury reaching back to the body with your fingers to make chords. Hyper extending wrist and fingers, a tendonitis garden ever one lived.

That being said I play an Ovation in the band I'm in not because its a great guitar, its isn't even close, but it has a narrow and shallow neck and it has acceptable electronics. I also don't have to expose my Guil;d to the excesses of life in bars. :-)

Don


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: JedMarum
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 04:39 PM

I have never had finger pain from switching guitar necks. I have noticed that I play much better on some necks than others. My Larrivee (J10) has a medium wide neck, wide at the nut, which I need because I have very large hands and play a lot in the first position. It is not a deep neck, nor is it a V. This neck is perfect for me.

My Santa Cruz (000) has a nice wide V neck, which I like very much also, becasue of the shape of my hand and the way I play, it is best suited from playing up the neck - and that's OK, because that is what I use that guitar for.

For me the problem with different necks has been their impact on my playing ability! I get pretty sloppy with a slender neck!


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 06:11 AM

Rick, does the Dreadnaught have even a wider neck than the 0-18 or a narrower neck? What about its profile? I find I get thumb pain if I use a neck that is not enough of a "handfull". By that I mean the combination of profile and width. If the net result of the two makes me close my hand too much, I get that pain in the left thumb. It feels like muscles rather than tendons.

I have another problem in going from a wider neck which I usually play to a narrower neck on a "beater" I sometimes play. It has to do with muscle memory, I think; but what I found is that I realy push the string into the fretboard with the narrower neck guitar with a LOT more force than is necessary. I think it is insecurity. Both guitars have about the same action and the same gauge strings. This causes pain in the first and second joints of the left hand and my finger-tips to flare up even though they are well calloused.

Murray


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 01:25 PM

You know I'm starting to think that it may be a combination of factors. All of them miniscule, but they add up to sore muscles and aching fingers. I don't appear to have the symptoms that some describe when they're talking about Karpel-tunnel.
Oh and by the way My friend, who inspired this thread, (who may choose to remain anonymous, or not) may be checking in at Mudcat. If so, welcome. You'll be a valuable addition.
Rick


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Jacob Bloom
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 01:38 PM

It's comforting to know that I'm not the only person having trouble with a Low D pennywhistle. I'd like to try a thumbrest first, but I don't know where to find one to attach to it. Any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Vixen
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 01:57 PM

Jacob--

My susato low D came with a clip-on thumbrest. If you go to their website, there's a link to a page about thumbrests.

click here

Good luck!

V


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Easy Rider
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 02:00 PM

I have one word for all of us who suffer from this kind of repetitive activity pain:

ICE!

for twenty minutes after practicing. It reduces the inflammation and the pain. Other times, use

HEAT

to soften it up and increase circulation.

(How do you like my new HTML tricky things?)

I have been having pain in my Left wrist and elbow and the muscles in my forearm. I can't explain it, since I have been playing the same two guitars I always have. ???


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Noah Zacharin
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 03:19 PM

hey hey. "my friend" does not wish to remain anonymous. my name is noah zacharin, and hello to all of you. my hand problems have been ongoing, and at one time threatened to cut me off from many things i love to do. one thing i love is cycling; one change i made was getting off my racing bike and buying one that has me riding around town looking like mary poppins (very upright, minimal pressure on wrist and elbow.) that helped a lot. also being very aware of movements that hurt and not doing them, or changing angles to make them stop hurting. one big help was holding my left elbow away from my body when i played--that kept my wrist straighter. as for my new guitar: the jury is still out on its sonic qualities (as related to my playing style and sense of aesthetics) as well as its effect on my health. we'll see. and hey rick, thanks for the very flattering description of "your friend". bless ya


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 08:15 PM

Hi Noah,
So, are you the superlative writer and player Rick's been talking about? Glad to meet you.
I'm one of Rick's students who is aspiring to be more than a good cook.
You may notice my posting on the BS threads. But, I am often present on the music threads. Just kind of quiet, taking notes most of the time.
Anyway, welcome to the Mudcat. Wonderful people here.
I was just wondering, do you own a big boat?

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 09:08 PM

No Bonnie that's not a yacht in his pocket, he's just glad to see you.
Oops, Noah, I'll be sorry I said that, cause it might result in a series of "last word" rejoiners, that'll get a decent thread way off topic, but I just wanted you to know that one reason I love the "Cat" is 'cause of the humour (and I DON'T mean mine!)
Rick


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 09:43 PM

OOOOOh My God Rick, I'm so embarrassed.
I was thinking more of an ark, not a resurfacing submarine.
I think I'm going to go practice my chords now.

BB


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Subject: RE: New Instrument. Hand Problems?
From: Noah Zacharin
Date: 23 Dec 99 - 02:30 PM

apologies for not responding sooner; i had to towel off from rick's steamy comments. A: i do not have a boat. got a bike that i love. got a guitar (that seems to be causing me fewer problems than it was intially. guess it responds well to love and attention. who doesn't?) and a couple of records, songs that i sail upon, new release in springtime. happy to be here. impressed by the many places y'all come from. speak t y.


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