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Thread: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger?

  1. #1
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger?

    It doesn't feel like a muscle or tendon, sort of feels like the bone or the knuckle.
    It doesn't bother me when I play guitar or bass.
    So pressing down a heavy bass string is fine.

    It started after I started mandolin, but that doesn't mean that's what caused it.

    But I thought I'd ask the experts here if they think it's possible.
    I know that the left hand position in playing mandolin is different than guitar--and I've been playing that way.

    So maybe I was doing something wrong that hurt my finger (Just one of them-my middle finger) or maybe the different position is why it hurts on mandolin, but not guitar or bass.


    Then again it could just be a sign of aging...
    Thanks for any input.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    You don't say where on your finger it hurts. Is it at the point of contact or on a joint etc.?

    Fretting big bass strings which are under low tension is very different from fretting small pairs which are under higher tensions. They can really 'bite' if you don't use minimal force sufficiently far back from the fret. You can bruise tissue well below the surface over gripping on a mandolin.

    As for joints, faster high impacts such as can come from playing lines of triplets or allowing tension to cause you to hammer a lot more on the fretboard can really aggravate any osteoarthritis you could be developing.

    The cure to minimising those is a relaxed fluid minimal effort and impact fretting technique.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  4. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Oh yeah ... you betcha. You are playing a smaller , tighter , finger pattern with higher string tension and double courses. This is why mandolin setup is so incredibly important. With a good setup less actual grip need to be used to obtain a clean sound from your mandolin. The other thing to be careful of is over gripping the instrument. A relaxed grip and "attack" is necessary for good tone and for good control not to mention speed of play when you get to that point. Relax .... and download a copy of Rob Meldrum's mandolin setup book. You can find him on this site and he will be glad to email you a copy. If I misspelled Rob's last name someone please correct me. R/
    PS.... If you are playing the solid body in the picture then you are more likely to be over gripping than have a poor setup. Though that still is a possibility just less likely. R/
    Last edited by UsuallyPickin; Nov-22-2015 at 8:16am. Reason: Saw picture
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    When i started playing strings, i got wrist pain/tendinitis from cello, guitar and bass guitar, whereas i've been playing other instruments from early childhood with no problems. And then mandolin used to fatigue my left (fretting) forearm really quickly, but no pain.

    You could try the usual finger easers:

    - light gauge strings (the E's on a regular gauge set are at 20 pounds+ each, close to the tension of the D and G's you can calculate exactly here: http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

    - flatwounds

    - lower action (2nd easiest)

    - tune down a half step (easiest)

    also the usual advice on barre's: pull in with your left arm and push in gently with right elbow to counterbalance, so it's not just a death squeeze action with your thumb and fingers
    Last edited by gtani7; Nov-22-2015 at 12:11pm.

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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Some of this is normal maybe. I had some left hand issues starting out. Lots of practice time plus playing quick melody notes gives fingers, joints, and tendons a workout.

    Proper hand position, string pressure, mandolin setup etc will ease the stress on things. I probably use half the fretting pressure now that I used starting out.

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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    +1 on getting some setup advice. Worn out frets can make it hard to get a clean sound w/o fretting too hard. A nut that's too high can really make the strings bite when fretting on the first or second fret.

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  12. #7
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Thanks for all the responses-this is one of the reasons I joined here-I played mandolin with others today for the first time at a jam, where I also played guitar & bass, and there was another mandolin player as well.
    My finger was fine all afternoon, so maybe I'm getting better, or just used to it.
    I did hurt the finger afterwards though setting down my guitar case and catching my finger between the case & a water bottle, but that was more an impact thing, & it faded quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    You don't say where on your finger it hurts. Is it at the point of contact or on a joint etc.?
    It's around my knuckle--both the knuckle itself & below the knuckle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    Fretting big bass strings which are under low tension is very different from fretting small pairs which are under higher tensions.
    I was wondering about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    The cure to minimising those is a relaxed fluid minimal effort and impact fretting technique.
    I have been working on that, so hopefully that helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    I probably use half the fretting pressure now that I used starting out.
    I went through that on guitar, and got over it, so I'll keep an eye on it with the mandolin as well.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  13. #8
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    A relaxed grip and "attack" is necessary for good tone and for good control not to mention speed of play when you get to that point. Relax .... and download a copy of Rob Meldrum's mandolin setup book. You can find him on this site and he will be glad to email you a copy. If I misspelled Rob's last name someone please correct me. R/
    PS.... If you are playing the solid body in the picture then you are more likely to be over gripping than have a poor setup. Though that still is a possibility just less likely. R/
    I had a set up done and i made a huge difference, but I will check out the book, I have similar info for guitar & bass, so having it for mandolin makes sense. (And I am playing the mandolin in my avatar--an Epi Mandobird 8

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    You could try the usual finger easers:

    - light gauge strings (the E's on a regular gauge set are at 20 pounds+ each, close to the tension of the D and G's you can calculate exactly here: http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

    - flatwounds

    - lower action (2nd easiest)

    - tune down a half step (easiest)

    also the usual advice on barre's: pull in with your left arm and push in gently with right elbow to counterbalance, so it's not just a death squeeze action with your thumb and fingers
    I am using lighter gauge strings, & I will consider your other advice as well.
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Katz View Post
    +1 on getting some setup advice. Worn out frets can make it hard to get a clean sound w/o fretting too hard. A nut that's too high can really make the strings bite when fretting on the first or second fret.
    The set up did level out the frets, and it is noticeably better now
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  14. #9

    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    The type of neck you have can certainly affect your finger fatigue If you have big hands and the neck is like many early Gibsons, meaning teens and 20s, it is a much different neck than today's modern designs. They seem narrower and deeper in the back of the neck. It appears you are playing an electric instrument, and I can't tell what your neck is like. I've had some problems changing from old to the new. You might also have had a tendonitis problem, and high action can affect your hand. Some low end instruments can be quite painful to play, because the neck is just poorly made.
    Al in PT

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Watch this video to help minimize your left hand tension.

    -----------
    Pete Martin
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  18. #11
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Bergstein View Post
    The type of neck you have can certainly affect your finger fatigue If you have big hands and the neck is like many early Gibsons, meaning teens and 20s, it is a much different neck than today's modern designs. They seem narrower and deeper in the back of the neck. It appears you are playing an electric instrument, and I can't tell what your neck is like. I've had some problems changing from old to the new. You might also have had a tendonitis problem, and high action can affect your hand. Some low end instruments can be quite painful to play, because the neck is just poorly made.
    I probably have average sized hands--with longer than average fingers for my hand size.
    the neck is very similar to other mandolin necks I've tried.
    I've had tendonitis in my elbows & knees, and his feels quite different.

    But thanks for the advice--each reply in this thread has had something useful.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  19. #12
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    Watch this video to help minimize your left hand tension.

    Thanks for posting the video.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  20. #13
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Could improper fretting hand technique cause pain in a finger

    Again--Thanks for all the suggestions & advice.
    Since starting this thread I have had less pain and fewer issues playing mandolin.

    So I do really appreciate this community for that & other advice I've received in just under a year since I started my mandolin journey.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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