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Thread: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

  1. #1
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    Default Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Taking up mandolin again has reactivated a minor nuisance I had years ago when I played guitar more - it's that little white spot in the photo of my left thumb below. That feels like a hard skin callus, and it's pretty much on the thumb joint - so when you play, it presses on the neck and hurts. I suspect it's similar to 'corns' that people get on shoe pressure points. Any ideas how I get rid of it? Thanks, Max
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    I'm not a doctor (don't even play one on TV) and I don't know what that irritated spot is exactly. My only observation/advice is that thumb placement on your fretting hand is (should be) different on mandolin than guitar. Maybe try to leave your thumb a little less involved when playing the mandolin.?.

    Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    You could maybe give it more picking fore arm pressure with constant slight adjustments?
    Some people are able to play without any fret hand thumb pressure at all.

    Strap adjustment’s important and posture too.

    The white spot could even be the beginnings of something like a boil in which case it’s a healthy diet, heavy physical exercise and maybe later even antibiotics.

    (not a doctor either)
    Last edited by Simon DS; Jan-12-2021 at 8:12am.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Another wild guess here: you are gripping the neck way too tight. Relax and enjoy playing. I actually don't know why you would get a callus or whatever that is on your thumb. Maybe post a pic of the grip you use?
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Another wild guess here: you are gripping the neck way too tight. Relax and enjoy playing. I actually don't know why you would get a callus or whatever that is on your thumb. Maybe post a pic of the grip you use?
    I was going to post something similar. Loosen up your hand a bit. It may help.

    Also, I played for about an hour this evening and I'm not sure if my thumb, in that area, even ever touched my mandolin. I tend to play with my thumb nearly wrapped around the neck and pointed toward the peg head. Holding the neck deeper my palm.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Taking up mandolin again has reactivated a minor nuisance I had years ago when I played guitar more - it's that little white spot in the photo of my left thumb below. That feels like a hard skin callus, and it's pretty much on the thumb joint - so when you play, it presses on the neck and hurts. I suspect it's similar to 'corns' that people get on shoe pressure points. Any ideas how I get rid of it? Thanks, Max
    I am neither as experienced nor as skilled as these people telling
    you that you are doing it wrong. I think I am resting the neck of
    my mandolin in my left hand like my instructor told me to. I just
    tried it, and I feel the pressure on my thumb joint when I play.
    If there were a splinter or something in there I think it would
    cause pain.

    I had a spot in my other thumb that caused bad pain if it got
    pushed on too hard or hit. A few years ago a hand surgeon
    excised a lump from below the surface. The lump was benign
    and it has not grown back yet. I think it was beginner stuff for
    a hand surgeon, but he did it. After it healed what a difference.
    It was worth taking the time to have it fixed. This may not
    apply to your situation, but you might give it some thought.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Thanks guys - I always seem to hit this spot on the thumb whatever I play - mandolin, guitar, fiddle, etc. Maybe I should go see a podoiatrist. I'll certainly check to see if I'm grabbing rather than just resting it on the neck.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Maybe I should go see a podoiatrist.
    Maybe there's more to your technique than you're letting on...
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    softnek stick-on neck pad.

    https://softnek.com/

    The problem can happen because you are gripping a v-neck like a guitar instead of the mando neck-pinch.

    I personally prefer the guitar grip myself, hence the softnek pad on my v-neck mandos.
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    There are specific kinds of physical therapists and occupational therapists that deal with musicians and their experiences. If you can find one of those you can probably get some real advice. You can check any college town with a college that has a good symphony program. There is often a physical therapist that the university has either hired or keeps on call, just to help musicians.

    A second idea is to check your thumb position with the now famous Mike Marshall tips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmagoBQunZI and see if that helps.
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    I've had two things happen with my left thumb.

    First, the V profile of my F-9 caused pain and thickness of skin on my left thumb. I eventually had the V profile softened to a C profile and it helped a lot.

    Second, with the onset of winter a year ago, I started showing RA symptoms in the form of a left trigger thumb and a right trigger ring finger. I've been wearing braces at night on both fingers to "train" them to keep them from becoming fixed in a flexed posture, and so they stay in a more natural straight posture. This has also helped a lot, although I've lost some degree of movement in both fingers. With the left hand I've had to re-learn how to support the mandolin (and banjo and double bass) neck with a straight thumb. With the right hand I've had to re-learn how to flat pick and how to finger pick and pizz/slap/bow with a straight ring finger. I'm actually pleased with how things have worked out, at this point a year since the RA set in, I'm playing all my instruments well enough that I'm not embarrassed about the new limitations.

    My observation from these experiences is that hands are remarkably resilient regarding compensating for problems like these, but it can take some time to re-learn.
    -- Don

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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    A second idea is to check your thumb position with the now famous Mike Marshall tips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmagoBQunZI and see if that helps.
    Thanks - now this is interesting. I probably built up this pressure sore (or whatever it is) through playing fiddle. I've been looking at a couple of classical mandolin books in the last couple of days, and their take on holding the mandolin (forearm mostly parallel to the neck) and thumb position (not on the edge of the board) is radically different from Mike's, and most photos of folk and bluegrass players I see.

    I guess it's different strokes etc...but the problem with that is you very often only discover what doesn't work so well some distance down the line?

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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post

    I guess it's different strokes etc...but the problem with that is you very often only discover what doesn't work so well some distance down the line?
    That’s why you take lessons as a beginner. I spent 6 months on the wrong path before I got good instruction. Easier to start right than to fix basic things later.
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Thatís why you take lessons as a beginner. I spent 6 months on the wrong path before I got good instruction. Easier to start right than to fix basic things later.
    Thanks Bill - rhat's a great idea in theory, Bill - but,

    1) UK is in CoronaVirus lockdown just now, so nobody's giving face to face music lessons

    2) Mandolin isn't really a mainstream instrument here in UK, unlike USA - so many 'mandolin teachers' are guitar or even fiddle teachers moonlighting on teaching a second or thirs instrument, rather than specialist mandolin teachers. There must be some of the latter - but they're not easy to find.

    3) I look around YouTube at videos of mandolin professionals, and I see all kinds of mandolin left hand positions - it almost loooks like 'do what fits you', but I assume there's more to it than that.

    So, I'll have to figure this at home for a couple of months.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Unlike the writers of posts 2 & 3, I am a doctor (of Folklore). It looks to me like you're a victim of the evil eye. Have you tried dropping silver in water then bathing your thumb in silver water?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post

    1) UK is in CoronaVirus lockdown just now, so nobody's giving face to face music lessons
    For some information that you might find more useful, there is plenty of free advice from experts available on the internet, such as these videos from Pete Martin, who often contributes to the Forum. It's not like being in a room with a teacher, and there may be contradictions in instructors' approaches, but there are helpful tips to be had. All the best with your healing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mDN...nel=PeteMartin



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrs2...nel=PeteMartin

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Anybody fixed this kind of left thumb aggravation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    Unlike the writers of posts 2 & 3, I am a doctor (of Folklore). It looks to me like you're a victim of the evil eye. Have you tried dropping silver in water then bathing your thumb in silver water?
    Yeah, I tried those, Ranald - I even met the Devil at a crossroads at midnight, but he turned out just to be another politician looking for a new job - and anyway, he had two thumbs on his left hand and played fiddle. Thanks for the vid links though, I'll check those out. Max

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