Fretting-hand fatigue--what can you do?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by MichaelRopp, Nov 9, 2021.

  1. dr. love

    dr. love Gretschie

    Jun 2, 2008
    It’s all related: you have to find the guitar that fits you, then a good setup makes it easier to play, and therefore lets you relax and enables good technique.

    Also, remember to breathe…I realized long ago that I unconsciously would hold my breath a lot while I played which is detrimental to your body in all sort of ways.
  2. epimetheus81

    epimetheus81 Electromatic

    Mar 2, 2009
    Berlin, Germany
    This is so important. I do the same and notice it correlates with me over gripping and wearing out my wrists.

    It really does help to take a beat, breath, and relax before you start an exercise or just playing.
  3. Howitt

    Howitt Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    Huntington Station, NY
  4. Howitt

    Howitt Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    Huntington Station, NY
  5. Viking Power

    Viking Power Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2018
    Mountlake Terrace, WA
    This is so interesting. I wish it was easy to determine what is better neck shape wise. I have thin necks, baseball bat necks, and necks that are in between. Not sure which truly is better for my wrist. Doesn’t help that I’m working with a fretting index finger that doesn’t bend or straighten fully. Guess I will try to approach my different necks a bit more scientifically and jot down how my wrist feels after I play each one or something like that.
    Runamok and Howitt like this.
  6. Howitt

    Howitt Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    Huntington Station, NY
    One of the most important observations I ever made early on was that large/tall/jumbo fret wire makes it so much easier to make contact with way less effort, and one of my other blog posts is about my lack of fretting hand callus buildup precisely for that reason.

    They're not for everyone, certainly, especially if you're playing dental floss gauge strings. My electrics are strung like my acoustics, so that's not an issue.

    Ultimately it is your hands that will give you the information required to make a proper decision.

    Best of luck with hunt!

    Viking Power likes this.
  7. bbrowder

    bbrowder Newbie

    Jul 2, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Use just enough pressure to get the job done. And no more. Good luck to you!
  8. hogrider16

    hogrider16 Gretschie

    Oct 18, 2017
    charles town wv
    I've had issues with my hands too. My solution was to use 3 or 4 note chords higher on the neck. Frankly I think is sounds better that way.
  9. Fatiguing neck.
    You’re giving me sense of forboding about a guitar with a thin neck I have on order.

    If you you are talking about a guitar with too thick a neck as less problematic—how do you avoid palming it?
    And how do you manage to play thumb over?

    o_O You aren’t the Corn King Giant, are you? ;)
  10. In my experience. Holding up my pants does affect my wind up on the mound a little. However, ever since that one fateful day in little league, I find that it frightens the batter if I don’t.
    Henry likes this.
  11. Electrosynthesis

    Electrosynthesis Gretschie

    May 11, 2011
    São Paulo
    Hey, a lot of good advice here! I use heavier strings (12s) on my guitars, so I can really relate to what you're saying. My 2 cents:
    • Have the guitar setup properly, it does wonders.
    • I can't remember who told me this, but when doing barre chords, let the weight of your arm pull the strings down. Give it a shot, it was a huge aha! moment for me. There is a lot more strength in that than in the hands alone.
    • Being relaxed is fundamental, but a light touch doesn't happen overnight, it has to be practiced, with intention. I like to warm up a bit before playing, so that's when I try the lightest touch I can get. I often reach for the guitar to help me stress out, but it may happen that I translate that stress into a over tight grip. I have hurt my fingers more than once on the guitar by having pressed too hard, to the point I had to stop playing for a couple of days. So a mindful warm up is important for me.
    Good luck!
  12. tastetickles

    tastetickles Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2021
    Don't know if this would help, I learn this from the bassists. Use strum/pick arm to brace guitar body against your body more, the fret hand elbow pull towards the back. This reduces thumb use.
  13. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I played for about 10 years with very little attention to technique. Then I ran into a very gifted guitarist that set me straight about my technique. What followed was several frustrating months of relearning my right hand technique while disciplining myself to keep my thumb centered on the back of the neck. It was very frustrating, but once I had it in procedural memory, things started to open up and playing became a lot easier. Once you have become accustomed to this, you will find that you can adapt it to seated, standing, and even semi-reclined positions.

    As for what my playing sounds like, it is most often compared to what would happen if a chimpanzee grabbed a guitar and started chunking out triads three octaves above the bass line. :)

    More seriously, I use triads as references in my chords. All of this; scales, chord voicings, and every aspect of music theory is about measuring. If you’ve ever seen a ruler that has both inch and millimeter markings, you can realize that you can measure the same distance and interpret that distance in more than one way. 6 inches is 152.4 mm, but both describe the same physical dimension. The risk with music theory, is losing track of the starting point and having measurements that are factually correct, but inaccurate in describing what is going on in the logic of the song.

    This leads to tone centers, which were a watershed moment in my understanding of music. The rather amazing thing is that some chords seem to imply more than one tone center. A G11 chord is a V chord of C Maj, but a G 13 b9 is a V chord of C Maj in the lower register but that E Maj triad seeks to suggest the V chord of A harmonic minor. On the surface, that may sound like a lot of hot air, but it’s pretty useful as a measuring device and as a way of finding the logic of the chord sequences.
  14. Skip K

    Skip K Newbie

    Sep 16, 2021
    Wake Forest, NC
    If your numbness and tingling are in the thumb, index and middle fingers it is likely to be carpal tunnel syndrome. The good news, it is entirely fixable. I developed CTS decades ago, wrist trauma due to 7 years of riding motorcycle full time. Both were repaired prior to 1990, and they remain fine today. See a good neurosurgeon (not an orthopedist) and go with the "closed technique" if available to you (faster recovery).
    kdm1218, Duo Slinger and NowEarThis like this.
  15. Gregor

    Gregor Country Gent

    Very good points here.

    A good setup is paramount.

    You can actually play a barre chord without even using your thumb on the back of the neck by applying pressure with your left arm as Electrosynthesis says and also pulling on the body of the guitar with your right. Not a practical approach but just to illustrate how you might gain more pressure but not entirely with your first finger and thumb.

    The light touch approach is something I initially had a major problem with when first venturing into electric. Coming from an acoustic background, it took me quite some time to "lighten up" as it were. I had to continually focus on using the lightest pressure possible without causing buzzing and it did take some time but we'll worth the effort.
  16. rockinstephen

    rockinstephen Electromatic

    Years ago, I broke the bone (navicular) at the base of my left thumb. As a result, I've had pain issues for years. Over time, the pain has lessened to the point where it hardly bothers me now. This may be due to the fact that I've strengthened the muscles in my hand. My guess for you is to find a guitar with a neck that works for you. There must be something out there...
    MichaelRopp likes this.
  17. rockinstephen

    rockinstephen Electromatic

    Barre chords have been a problem for me also, but lately I've been using them more. I just to need practice!
    juks likes this.
  18. While I am not a great source for serious technique advice…

    Practice really is the secret, at least from my stilted experience—assuming there are no other infirmities.

    Its just easy to blow off what is hard to do.
    Or being such a perfectionist that one is single-minded & unable to move on because you need to achieve it in numbered sequence, as though its an immutable rule. Learning to play barre chords cleanly doesn’t mean you need to use them later, but you CAN play them when you need to & it stretches your hands / teaches a type of dexterity.

    Even sloppily managed at first. While you want perfect hand position fairly early on, “one” can cut oneself some slack until it gets easier. Sloppy lets you relax.

    Nearly everybody can describe the hurdle of a 1st fret F barre chord.
    I broke my index finger many years ago & it atrophied making it impossible to close it completely, or with much force. Years later, going back to guitar with intensity — its normal enough for full barre chords.
    juks, MichaelRopp and Viking Power like this.
  19. David_GS

    David_GS Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    I've been learning Cavatina and found I was having hand pain the next day and I discovered the same video posted here and it really helped in overall felxibility and relieved the hand pain.

  20. fasteddie455

    fasteddie455 Electromatic

    Jan 27, 2010
    Arlington, Texas
    Wow, surprised bo one has mentioned it yet… while probably not the culprit in this case , it does make a difference is fretboard radius. The more curve the fretboard has, the easier it is to play barre chords. The way it was explained to me is, the smaller the fretboard radius, the more closely it matches the natural curve of the fingers in their resting state. I have found that my hand gets more tired quicker playing on a fretboard that is a flatter radius. This is one of the things I really like about a compound radius neck… it is more curved near the nut where you are more likely to play more barre chords and it gradually flattens out where you are likely to play less barres and do want less “noting out” or “fretting out”. It is the best of both worlds. You should try a 7 1/4 radius neck and see how your hand feels. If it makes a difference, you can possibly have your neck sanded into a smaller radius or maybe even a compound radius.
    kdm1218, juks, MichaelRopp and 3 others like this.
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