Fretting-hand fatigue--what can you do?

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

  1. NowEarThis

    NowEarThis Gretschie

    Jun 23, 2021
    Northern Rivers NSW Australia
    Reckon that’s what it is, I had my hand done 10 years ago but it never felt 100%. I’ve booked a nerve conduction test next week and that will tell.
    Runamok likes this.
  2. dspellman

    dspellman Electromatic

    Jul 4, 2020
    Los Angeles
    Proper technique and practice are probably 80% of the way there.
    But I do have preferences. I like thinner necks, jumbo frets, flatter fretboards, very low action and I like to play with a light touch.

    There are those who have smaller, weaker hands, who use the larger baseball bat size necks as a anchor for the muscle at the base of the thumb when bending or using vibrato, and if they latch onto a thin neck profile, the base of their thumb aches.
    MichaelRopp likes this.
  3. MichaelRopp

    MichaelRopp Electromatic

    Jan 20, 2021
    @Howitt -- thanks for sharing that! I don't know that it's 100% related to this situation but it was a great read nonetheless, and I am thinking that your solution (the "orthopedic neck") sounds similar to what I think I might need.

    @Electrosynthesis -- thanks for that. I'm still trying to get the feel for letting the weight of my arm do more of the work. Have to practice that more.

    @Synchro -- I appreciate the music theory insights, and I totally agree. I came from bass so I'm still a bit too "bottom-of-the-chord-centric" in my guitar playing, but I'm conscientiously trying to fill in more of the taller parts of the chords while letting my bassist hold the floor.

    @Skip K -- thanks, and glad to hear your repair results were good. I'm confident that carpal tunnels are NOT my problem. My issue is fatigue in the thumb flexor, and it's in the meat of the muscle itself, not my wrist.
    Electrosynthesis likes this.
  4. MichaelRopp

    MichaelRopp Electromatic

    Jan 20, 2021
    @dspellman -- yeah, that is what I am finding. Thinner necks cause me more trouble than chunkier necks. The "shoulders" of the neck seem to make a lot of difference too. Also, one thing I believe I am finding to make a big difference is fret size/height. Med-jumbo frets seem to really help my issue, whereas medium or smaller cause more trouble, I'm guessing just because of the need (real or just perceived) to apply more pressure.

    @fasteddie455 -- agreed on fingerboard radius. I *think* that what I'm finding is that neck thickness/girth and fret size/height make more of a difference to my hands than fingerboard radius. Fingerboard radius does make chording easier but it doesn't seem to make AS much difference to my thumb-flexor fatigue issue as those other two factors.
    Runamok likes this.
  5. Good comparison on the undersized screwdriver.
    Finding the perfect mix of neck profile & width is getting to be important (to me) as well.

    For @MichaelRopp: Are you on any medication?
    I have to wonder if some medications exacerbate the condition.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  6. slickfaster

    slickfaster Country Gent

    Dec 29, 2009
    I have this.. going to shorter scale guitar helped.. as did lighter gauge strings.. get action reassessed…also raising guitar strap… Shorter jam/practice sessions…
    Get some dumbbells n start a wrist work out going… if you experience wrist pain stop Immediately and take time off till you can continue to strengthen..
    All things I did….
    Runamok and Electrosynthesis like this.
  7. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    Lots of great advice here already, just a couple of other ideas. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and eat a banana before you practice. I got dehydrated at a summer gig and after a couple of hours with the sun in my back it caught up to me before I knew it I could not even hold a pick and had to take a break and get a drink in the shade. And bananas are good for cramps.

    If you stand, try raising your guitar a bit by shortening the strap a notch and hold the neck at a slightly higher angle so you don’t have to bend your wrist as much.

    if you sit, try getting a footrest so your knee is higher up. Maybe try the left knee more like a classical guitar position where you can sit upright more and not lean over the guitar with you back hunched over it.

    get your whole body comfortable, not just the wrist and hands, try to keep a natural posture as much as possible to alleviate any constant strain in your feet, legs, back, neck, etc. use a music stand with good light so you can see it well. That’s all I got. Sounds like you have a lot of good info to digest already, I hope those things are helpful.
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