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Author Topic: Hand Problems  (Read 2793 times)

Offline razztazz

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Hand Problems
« on: December 22, 2005, 10:24:45 PM »
Are classical guitars easier to play than steel string? Specifically, do they need a lighter touch with the left hand?

Here's my situation:

Haven't played in almost 20 yrs. The past 6 months been working with an acoustic steel string. Slower going than I thought but I guess I'm not as young as I used to be.  My left hand has developed pain in the joint where the thumb meets the hand. I thought it would be temporary but it's not. I have been trying to finesse this for about 6 weeks...laying off for a few days... shorter sessions... longer sessions...lowered the action as much as I dare. But the grip strength/ string pressure required to play is more than I'm comfortable with.

I am afraid of something chronic developing like tendinitis or arthritis. Or perhaps at 49, I already had a tetch of rheumatiz and the guitar  just brought it out?

Anyway, I really hate to give it up just as I'm getting going. I have never played or held a classical but have been told that due to the much lower string tension you don't need a gorrilla grip to play them. It's either that or piano lessons 'cause I can't risk continuing to play like this.  

Thank You
rocky

Offline Pike

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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2005, 02:24:46 AM »
Man, that's gotta be frustrating razztazz. You could try a classical but you may not like it. Maybe the guitar you are playing is just a beast or maybe it's tuned way to high, which would give it too much string tension? Try tuning down to decrease string tension. Maybe the action is still too high. Does it buzz? Take it to a luthier for a free look over. He'll tell you if there is a problem with it. Go to a guitar shop and play a whole lot of different guitars including OM's (they are shorter scale, less string tension) and classicals. Maybe you will need to lay off for a couple of months anyway, then start back very slowly. If it continues, I'd go see the Doc, right?
 

Offline Styles

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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2005, 09:56:54 AM »
Hey razztazz...

Sounds like a problem my dad had....

Try some glusamine pills which are for joint lubrication... Heat your thumb befor playing to increase blood flow...

These are just some of the techniques my Dad used to help him..

Pike also had great sugestions.. Smaller scale guitar for sure has less tension..
Try all before a nylon guitar..

Good luck..
 

Offline razztazz

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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2005, 10:31:29 AM »
All excellent suggestions. Thank ya'll.  Just for  your info: I am playing a new Washburn D-100. I guess that's one of their lower end models but I see nothing 'cheap about it. Well, it does buzz a little, but that is due to the lacking gorilla grip.  I've tested it.

The action, from all accounts I've read about guitar actions, is ridiculously high. That's even after all the lowering. I SUSPECT this is the culprit but to take it to a Lutheir would cost big-a-bucks and I could probably just buy a new guitar anyway.

ONE thing I noticed: Was playing using key of C (C F G Am) chords with a capo on 2nd fret. MAN! All of a sudden it was easy to play. And what happens when you capo? The action gets way way low.

Some questions:

I never heard of an OM guitar. I will research it on the web. Thanx for mentioning it. They aren't chintzy guitar substitutes are they?  I mean, they're worth playing, right?

PIKE, you mentioned  Try tuning down to decrease string tension. I am thinking of tuning down a full tone and then just living with the capo on the 2nd fret. (Not sure if this will cure the problem) Is this the kind of thing you're talking about?  If not, could you illiucidate me please?

I am not a trained musician.  I know some music/chord theory just from reading and plinking. I just want to be sure I'm getting your drift.


rocky

Offline Western

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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2005, 12:03:05 PM »
Razz,
I am 53, and just learning myself.  Picked up a Washburn DC10SCLE electric acoustic from http://www.zagerguitar.com.
It is custom tuned by Denny Zager, and I found it much easier to fret than my stock Fender.
I also purchased an electric - one thing I found right away is electric guitars (this one and the others I've tried in shops) have thinner necks, and it takes much, much less finger pressure to fret.  I have meaty hands, and can hardly do an F chord on my acoustic, while it is easier on an electric.
Another brainstorm - you could try a smaller-sized guitar, like the Daisy Rock models, which are specially made for girls smaller hands.  They make a good quality guitar, both acoustic and electric models.
Good luck - keep at it. -Western
Best Wishes, Western
Washburn D10SCELH
Washburn X50ProLH

Offline Pike

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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2005, 12:39:21 PM »
No, just tune down. Yea, an electric, that's another good idea.
 

Offline nogin007

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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2005, 04:32:50 PM »
You might try a different grip. Some of the older pickers played with what seemed unorthodox chord shapes to other people. I'm talking about people like Merle Travis, who used his thumb over the top of the neck. Playing a classical guitar might put more strain on your thumb, especially if you learn the correct way of playing, with the thumb in the center of the neck. I don't make all my chords as they show in chord diagrams. I use different fingers. However is most comfortable to me.
 

Offline razztazz

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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2005, 06:33:50 PM »
Ya know noggin, ya might be on to something. From June till about 3 months ago I was using a grip that is allegedly frowned upon  The Baseball bat. Yes, there was some discomfort but I'm using my hand like I never do. So there's some break-in to do. Then 2 months ago I started playing the right way ie, with the thumb midway on the neck a la classical mode. THat's when the pain started. Well you can see that thumb joint is sort of a pivot point for all that pressure. Maybe I should give it up and just do what comes naturally? Especialy since I am not too concerned about finger playing at this time. Chords and time are all (more than) I can handle right now.

I have tuned down 1 whole tone as pike said. Now of course I have to sing in a different key. Not good. Playing with a capo on fret #2 tho. Does seem to be easing off the pain. Time will tell

I might stick with this throu the winter and as it is in good shape use it as trade-in for one of those smaller  OMs types
rocky

Offline John Burr

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« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2005, 11:16:55 AM »
Razz Baby!  Don't think that guitar can't be made to play great!  It's a nice solid guitar, well made and super smooth.  It's not you, it's the setup!  Take it to a Luthier right away.  A good luthier will fit it with the right strings for you, file down that nut to get it way lower, (it should play as good without the capo as with it), adjust the tension on the truss rod to flatten out the neck, dress the frets and possibly the saddle and that guitar should play a dream!  I got this done on my Takamine EG240 Acoustic and it plays like a $2000 Taylor.  No it doesn't SOUND like a $2000 guitar but it plays perfectly.

The cost, including some flat wound DR Rare strings was $42.  The best money you will ever spend on a guitar is getting a good setup done.  To understand what they do and maybe even try it yourself check on www.frets.com for some great explanations and lots of pictures of what needs to be done to your guitar.

The thimb pain at our age, I'm 48 and just started playing 2 months ago, is going to ease up the minute you get that setup.  Mine still bothers me but it is most certainly a bit of Arthritis and some Aspirin usually take care of it for hours on end.  The aspirin isn't just anti pain, it's an anti-inflammatory too so it does promote healing as well as give you a couple of hours more to practice.  

Don't give up, it's too much fun.  Get the setup done and you will LOVE your new guitar.  You will also become a believer in getting a setup done on every guitar you ever buy right away.

BSR
« Last Edit: December 25, 2005, 11:23:49 AM by John Burr »
Blind Snoopy Rhodes

Offline razztazz

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« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2005, 12:21:57 PM »
John Burr: Thanx for the encouragement.

Actually I have done everything but the fret job and nut job.
I'm figuring if I do any more than that, going to the luthier, making a big production, I could just as well take this a local guitar shop and use it as a trade-in for one of the smaller models previously mentioned. (It's still in hardly-used condition)

Frankly, I find the dreadnought design to be a bit unwieldy as it is. A smaller frame would be appreciated. I only bought this model because, when I was shopping, I found that there were a billion affordable dreadnoughts available and everything else was sort of a cult thing that only guitar-gurus seemed to know about.

And yes, it is too much fun! And I don't want to give up. I wish I had more talent though to move things along, ha ha

Happy Holidays!

« Last Edit: December 25, 2005, 12:24:17 PM by razztazz »
rocky

Offline DJK0219

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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2006, 10:07:59 PM »