Pain in fretting hand wrist + picking consistency at higher speeds

Dan Shipway

Slim Shady
  • Nov 11, 2019
    707
    114
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    Hey guys, as a few of you will have probably seen, I have been on a quest to improve all the little faults in my technique to become a cleaner player. One of the areas which I felt was super important to address was finger strength. It was something that became apparent when playing riffs like Metalingus by AB. I did a number of exercises making sure that my 3rd and 4th finger (weakest fingers) were doing all the heavy work but I noticed that when I was getting to the lower frets I started to get pain in my wrist.

    The pain I am almost certain is from a mix of my picking hand angle to the fretboard and the distance my pinky has to travel to hit the strings (due to it being smaller than the rest of my fingers) and the neck being thicker.

    Has anyone got tips for reducing the tension and pain when trying to use my pinky?

    If anyone also has tips for picking consistency at high speed too that would be great as it feels like instead of a decline between clean consistent picking and sloppy "clunkers" its one extreme or the other.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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    TheRedMageGuitarist

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    Hey guys, as a few of you will have probably seen, I have been on a quest to improve all the little faults in my technique to become a cleaner player. One of the areas which I felt was super important to address was finger strength. It was something that became apparent when playing riffs like Metalingus by AB. I did a number of exercises making sure that my 3rd and 4th finger (weakest fingers) were doing all the heavy work but I noticed that when I was getting to the lower frets I started to get pain in my wrist.

    The pain I am almost certain is from a mix of my picking hand angle to the fretboard and the distance my pinky has to travel to hit the strings (due to it being smaller than the rest of my fingers) and the neck being thicker.

    Has anyone got tips for reducing the tension and pain when trying to use my pinky?

    If anyone also has tips for picking consistency at high speed too that would be great as it feels like instead of a decline between clean consistent picking and sloppy "clunkers" its one extreme or the other.

    Thanks in advance!
    First of all, I'm sorry you're having pain and going through this struggle. Secondly, I know how you feel. There's a couple things I'd like to suggest/ask first and foremost...

    As a classical guitarist, it is CRUCIAL that I spend a good chunk of time on my technique. Like, 40-50% of my time. How much practice are you spending daily on technique alone?
    Also, if you're wanting to build finger strength, legato is the BEST way to do it. I learned this from my private teacher, and combined Syn's Etude legato studies along with a practice tip from Justin Guitar to combat this. What I do, and hopefully it works for you, is to learn a legato Etude from Syn. It can be the 8th note section only, the triplet section, ANY section. But play it SLOW. Move it up to the highest fret you can and play the same thing, and after playing it a few times, move it down a fret. Eventually, you'll be playing the Etude on the FIRST fret, and your fingers will slowly be able to adjust the growing width of the frets. Make sure you relax each time. I hope that makes sense! Believe me, my technique SUCKED but SPEND TIME ON THE ETUDES! They are the BEST for technique practices!

    My hands are small as well. Probably smaller than yours So I KNOW you can do this!

    When you say "the distance my pinky has to travel to hit the strings" registers to me like Kiko Loureiro said, "You're not relaxed enough, you're playing faster than you can, and you have no muscle in the pinky." When you slow these exercises way down, focus on not allowing the pinky to come off hardly AT ALL just to get use to waking up the nerves for better control on it. I hope this makes sense too!

    Also, you may need a different necked guitar. I didn't want to admit it, but when Ed suggested me lowering my string gauge, I played on a guitar recently with 9s and it made a world of difference. We all have different structured bodies, and maybe that guitar's neck just isn't good for your hands.

    I wish you luck! I hope this helps at all :)
     

    William B.

    Hot Topic Tourer
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  • Nov 11, 2019
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    I've been adjusting my thumb position on my fretting hand, I noticed that Syn and some other players are able to wrap their fretting hand around the neck and shred very relaxed even standing. Been training my finger muscles also having things like what Jak said in my subconscious.
    She said Legato was good for strength so I practiced an Etude and I got stronger :D
    A stinging sharp pain isn't good, that's an easy indication you should try changing something

    It's possible at high speeds certain connecting points you might need to isolate and work out the kinks to smooth it out
    for example I can easily do 1234 each string but if I do 34,12 changing strings suddenly I slow down cause I'm not used to it enough
    ( working on this a bit recently )
    Been trying all the tips, sometimes it's a lot to think about at once
    Still trying to relax my picking arm more :D it's getting better
     

    Dan Shipway

    Slim Shady
  • Nov 11, 2019
    707
    114
    9
    Thanks everyone! I have been practicing technique for pretty much about 80% of my routine or 45 mins - an hour (Not every day due to uni work taking up a load of free time so I end up noodling with what little free time I have). I tend to run stuff like 1234 2134 etc and doing some work on leaving out the 1st finger to strengthen my 2nd 3rd and 4th. Most of the pain I get is from finger tension but im not too sure if its due to unused muscles/ fingers being used much more than usual

    One of the big things which is causing the pain is my fretting hand wrist angle, its especially painful when playing power chords with my pinky or doing downward sweeps since it tends to angle even more. Its low quality but here is a picture of my hand when my thumb is at the back of the neck and im playing on my finger tips
     

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    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Dan Shipway

    Slim Shady
  • Nov 11, 2019
    707
    114
    9
    I managed to sort out the problem with wrist pain. Turns out it was the thumb position causing it, I saw a video (and when I tried it ,it made complete sense) which talked about how when your thumb is perpendicular to the neck, a lot of excess muscles are needed and tension is applied. It talked about putting your thumb parallel with the neck since its what is most natural and it seems to be working.
     

    Mauro FILHO

    Local Dive Bar Favorite
    Nov 11, 2019
    43
    139
    I managed to sort out the problem with wrist pain. Turns out it was the thumb position causing it, I saw a video (and when I tried it ,it made complete sense) which talked about how when your thumb is perpendicular to the neck, a lot of excess muscles are needed and tension is applied. It talked about putting your thumb parallel with the neck since its what is most natural and it seems to be working.
    Man, you have to work case to case. It's not symple, but you get used to it. If you are doing one note vibrato, you have to up your tumb, and use three fingers in the same chord (Note), to get more strenght and precision. The tumb perpendicular is needed when you working on scales
     
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