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Cramp hands

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by fenderbender4, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    If I eventually get a cramp in my left hand what's going on? Do I need to lighten my "Grip of Freezing Death"? I don't think it's conditioning because I play other times for hours on end. I'm talking about after a minute and a half. Also, does anyone know how to build up economic movement? I feel sometimes that my hands are flying all over to get to a destination. It probably adds some pizzazz, but I see a lot of accomplished guys (Michael Angelo Batio) and they barely move their hands.
     
  2. TimL

    TimL Member

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    I've only been playing for two years, so I don't know if this will help at all.

    I had the same problem at first, then was watching that video that kicked around for a while of the asian girl playing Paganinni's Caprice #something...and when she was playing muted I got the idea. So I decided to try something, I played everything for about an hour muted and did that for a few days. Since then I've not had any problem with fretting too hard or the Grip O' Death. After that, no sore hands or fingertips.

    HTH

    Tim
     
  3. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    I've been playing for about five. It's just really recently. I've had soreness in my hand tendons/muscles before, but I have a feeling it's because I'm using a Death Grip and pushing 500 tons of force into the strings.
     
  4. Rocktrans formed

    Rocktrans formed Member

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    The hard thing to do is to play strongly with your picking hand and as lightly as possible with your fretting hand. I still hurt my hands sometimes from playing barre chords, where fretting hard is pretty much impossible for me to avoid.
     
  5. trucks

    trucks Member

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    Before you start to play, wash your hands in warm water to get the blood flowing then stretch. Whe you begin to play try some simple things at slow tempo to get the hands going. Petrucci's Rock Discipline starts out with numerous stretching exercises which really help.
     
  6. nland

    nland Member

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    I get the cramping every so often too and I've been playing since I was 9 (45 now). It mostly happens too with barre chords. For whatever reason, it comes and goes, but definitely I think it comes from having a "death grip" on the neck when playing.
     
  7. Nomadgtr

    Nomadgtr Member

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    Yep what nland said is right. I'm his age as well and I usually experience this after rocking out on classic rock full of barre chords for about an hr. I remember playing that stuff as a kid though before I had my arms and hands built up and I didn't have near the endurance that I had as I got older. I can play jazz or fusion and never have that problem unless I try some crazy Holdsworthian reaches for an extended period of time.
     
  8. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    I don't know if you've considered this or not, but I thought I'd toss it out.

    For the longest time, I thought I was just unable to play acoustic guitars because every time I played on our Guild D25, my hands would cramp like crazy. So I just stopped playing acoustic, and only played my Les Paul.

    Later, I noticed the same thing with playing electric when I got a Strat. Les Paul was fine, but the strat killed my hand.

    After a while, I noticed that the necks on the strat and the D25 were both thinner and narrower than the Les Paul. Hmm ...

    So I started looking for instruments that had a "wide fat" neck profile. Taylor and PRS W/F profiles seem to work well for me.

    I had my Artinger made with a profile that is close to the PRS wide/fat and that works well. Another Artinger that I picked up used has a slightly thinner neck profile, but is the same width as my other one, and I find I can't play it quite as long without feeling some cramping.

    My recommendations would be to check out some other neck profiles, as well as trying to adjust your guitar height on the strap to accommodate
    easier access to the neck and strings for your wrist.

    -jm
     
  9. PaulM

    PaulM Member

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    I've been playing for decades as well. I concur with the neck size comment. It may not be a "wide fat" neck that is "right" for your hand, but I personally notice that rounder, thicker necks alleviate hand cramp problems for me as well. I play les pauls or a tele with a slightly vee'd warmoth "boat neck" and I instantly feel the cramping of thinner necks whenever I play one.

    I would guess that one could go "too big" as well as "too small" so I'd be like goldilocks and find one that is "just right."
     
  10. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    He he ... I may not have said this, but that's what I meant. For ME it was the smaller thinner necks that cramped my hands, but it could be the opposite as well. The bottom line is that the instrument is a tool, so find one that fits your hands as well as your ears.

    Thanks for the clarification, Goldilocks! ;)

    -jm
     
  11. Brian D

    Brian D Member

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    This was my experience with my old Strat as well. I couldn't play it for more than a half an hour before my hand would start cramping up. That was probably the main issue that led me down the road to my current PRS McCarty, which I haven't had any problems with.
     
  12. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Do a point by point inspection of the entire "mechanism" - meaning the left arm, from shoulder down to fingertips, and try to loosen up, lighten up and relax the points where you have tension - this is a hard thing to describe over e-mail and such but it would be pretty easy if you were playing in front of me.

    And sure, sometimes you'll find some guitars more than others will fatigue the left hand. I owned a PRS Custom 22 Soapbar for a while, and while I loved the way it sounded and loved the options on it, it used to hurt my left hand like a b*tch...so, out it went.
     
  13. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    watch yourself practicing in front of a mirror to check your posture...bad posture (slumping over) can induce tension in your hands and may cause cramping or hand pain...

    when sitting do you practive with a strap...a properly adjusted strap will also go along way towards keeping your hands tension free...


    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  14. Gary

    Gary Member

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    eat some bannas:)
     
  15. mkl13

    mkl13 Silver Supporting Member

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    +1 on Petrucci's Rock Discipline stretching exercises. The last couple of years I follow his stretching and warmup exercises and dont have cramp problems anymore.
     
  16. Secret Ingredient

    Secret Ingredient Member

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    Are you playing a 'fretless wonder'? I had an Ibanez with a fat neck and very small/low frets. I had to mash the strings into the fretboard. It was very hard to play. Taller frets allow your hand to float on top of the strings without the struggle.

    Also, a fretboard flatter than 12" radius is probably kind of hard to do barre chords on forever.

    Just my $.02
     
  17. captainT

    captainT Member

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    I agree with your point. I always thought that I liked thinner necks but when I developed a problem with my fretting hand, I one day picked up a Gibson with a 50"s neck and was amazed that my wrist and hand actually felt comfortable. For myself it wasn"t the width of the board but the thickness that seemed to help. If you love to play be open to suggestions and try different approaches. Good luck and keep on plucken.:dude
     
  18. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    +1 on the neck size. Too small is as bad as too big
     

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