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Sep 8, 2021 - 3:08:12 PM
16 posts since 7/29/2021

I guess I finally got my right hand in the correct position for chording because I can now feel the tendon stretching and my index and middle fingers tingling a little. Now I know why you guys were saying take it easy on the practice sessions.

Sep 8, 2021 - 4:25:15 PM
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6265 posts since 10/13/2007

I don't know that you should be getting tingling. That sounds like nerve problems. Go see a good ...a good teacher. they will talk to you about the purpose, structure, and feel of positioning.
ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 09/08/2021 16:26:38

Sep 8, 2021 - 5:12:27 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5592 posts since 10/12/2009

Subject title says left-hand, your post says right-hand ....."for chording" ? Which is it, left or right?

Regardless, neither hand should have "tingling" fingers, or feel "tendons stretching"......I believe both hands should feel "relaxed" while you're picking.

There is no universal, standard hand position, for either hand, for Bluegrass banjo. It's different for everyone.

Edited by - RioStat on 09/08/2021 17:16:38

Sep 8, 2021 - 5:53:56 PM

16 posts since 7/29/2021

Left hand. I should know the difference by now.
Anyway, I kept thinking my left hand position was too lazy. Today I started emulating the position of some teachers and that’s when I noticed the uncomfortable feeling.
But some players have said there is a progression to stretching tendons and getting muscles accustomed to new things. I’m less than eight weeks into this.
I’m trying to decide on a teacher I think will do me the most good and with whom I connect.

Sep 8, 2021 - 6:29:30 PM

49 posts since 5/29/2021

I'm new to banjo world, but I've played bass and guitar for decades, and at no time should you ever be in pain, or have a tingly feeling, or have any other type of discomfort except the usual callus building if you don't already have them. If you do, you're either not playing with proper ergonomic technique, or you've got something going on. Hard to diagnose without seeing you play, but I might recommend finding a teacher who can help you straighten your left hand technique out so it's not painful.

Sep 8, 2021 - 7:05:16 PM
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74 posts since 5/8/2021

Okay, your left (chording) hand shouldn't have any tension and you should NEVER have any sort of tingling. That's really bad.

You say you're copying the positions of various players, well, unless you have the exact same body type (down to the ounce and millimeter) then you should never just copy somebody's playing position. Go you YouTube or do an image search, and you'll notice everybody's position is slightly different. They're adjusting based on their own body type so they can avoid all tension.

As Mr. Hydinger said, I think a good teacher would be beneficial.

Sep 8, 2021 - 7:14:23 PM

16 posts since 7/29/2021

Started the search tonight with more intensity for a teacher. I’m ready.
My hand position for the previous eight weeks gave me no problems until I changed it today. I adjusted back slightly tonight and it was more comfortable.
Looks like finding the right teacher is going to be a bit a process. So many candidates to consider.

Sep 9, 2021 - 12:12:55 AM
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phb

Germany

2979 posts since 11/8/2010

Well, my left hand sure hurt when I learned to fret the strings with proper technique. Using the finger tips, setting them down perpendicularly to not mute neighbouring strings, having different fingers at different frets at the same time, having the fingers extend from the palm more or less in parallel with the frets; all these things were quite challenging at the start. Perhaps you people have been doing this for so long that you forgot about that?

Edited by - phb on 09/09/2021 00:13:47

Sep 9, 2021 - 4:45:09 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26399 posts since 8/3/2003

All I remember about a hurting left hand is my fingertips getting so sore I couldn't fret anymore. It took quite a while to toughen them up where I could pick for hours on end. However, I never had a tingling feeling or tendon stretching.

I would definitely shorten my practice sessions when my fingers started feeling like that. Better to have 2 or 3 shorter session and no pain in the fingers.

If the condition continues, I'd definitely go check it out with a doctor. Could be a nerve problem, could be the start of carpel tunnel syndrome or who knows what else.

Sep 9, 2021 - 6:19:16 AM
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88 posts since 1/17/2019

In my experience each successive instructor said the previous one taught me the wrong way. Hence, there is a right way, a wrong way and the current instructor’s way.

You may end up hooking up with different instructors until you feel comfortable with one...which is a good thing. Also, I have found no real experience difference between in person vs. Skype (or whatever virtual platform).

Best of luck on your journey!

Sep 9, 2021 - 12:19:47 PM
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683 posts since 11/21/2018

Try to keep your wrist as straight as possible (no gooseneck look). This can be helped by pushing your elbow away from your body a bit, changing your neck angle, practicing while sitting in a sort of classical guitarist's body position, etc. Definitely take practice breaks every 30 min. or so. Consider whether your day job or other activities include repetitive strain that your used to but gets worse when playing banjo. Look up stretching/shaking techniques for avoiding carpel tunnel syndrome and use them prior to and after practicing. Soaking in warm water prior if you're really bad off.

I had terrible tendonitis years ago and doing these things kept it at bay most of the time. I've also found that lifting weights and doing some grip strength work (it's my other big hobby) really helps if one's forearms are "built up" a bit.

Sep 9, 2021 - 4:23:58 PM
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2639 posts since 4/5/2006

BG banjos are heavy! Sling the strap over your left shoulder, guitar style. There is a long list of culprits discussed in the Muscle Tension thread, & this is one of them. Watching the left hand, by concentrating on the fret board inlays, can lead to problems. Stop & think about how unnaturally contorted that puts the head, neck, shoulders, & back. If you must, use the position dots on the side of the neck, head straight ahead, eyes leading to hand destination. Open (left) hand vs. closed hand, there is no one size fits all. The open hand offers extended range of motion, however, care must be taken to not exert excessive pressure for extended periods. A closed hand requires less pressure at the cost of range. Thumb fretting the 5th string is, well, thumb fretting the 5th string. Flexibility is the key. Practice whatever works at the time, but change as required. The goal is to play as relaxed as possible. Doing so often involves a learning process.

Edited by - monstertone on 09/09/2021 16:35:26

Sep 13, 2021 - 12:23:32 AM

HSmith

UK

423 posts since 12/30/2005

Hi
For someone very new to the banjo, I'd say a small degree of discomfort in the fretting hand could be expected. Some of the contortions we need to put the left hand through are simply alien to 'normal' folks. For example, the opening few notes in my tab of 'Slipstream' require quite a stretch. A relative newcomer is likely to find that very uncomfortable. In fact experienced players with small hands may have a problem.
I'd say persevere. Allow a little discomfort but if it even approaches pain, stop and take a break.

Sep 16, 2021 - 3:48:27 PM
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Enfield1858

England

128 posts since 8/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Well, my left hand sure hurt when I learned to fret the strings with proper technique. Using the finger tips, setting them down perpendicularly to not mute neighbouring strings, having different fingers at different frets at the same time, having the fingers extend from the palm more or less in parallel with the frets; all these things were quite challenging at the start. Perhaps you people have been doing this for so long that you forgot about that?


Well, I certainly haven't been doing it for so long - total time playing banjo, about 6 months.  I grant you that, at the start, I had problems with getting the fretting fingers coming down vertically on the strings, and getting sufficient spread - but that was sorted out by my brilliant teacher, whose view is that 'one size does not fit all'!  She treats every one of her students as an individual in every respect, including their physical size and shape.  When she was able to restart giving face to face lessons this year, one of the first things she checked with me was the position of my fretting hand, which felt cramped and awkward from my wrist right down to my fingers.  A few tiny shifts of the position of my elbow, forearm, wrist and hand to match my body parts to the banjo, and everything fell into place, so I could spend a solid hour practising with no cramps - and certainly with no tingling, which indicates a problem with a nerve being trapped, and which should never be ignored or just 'slogged through' (unless you want to risk doing permanent damage to yourself).

As @struggle_bus points out:  " . . . unless you have the exact same body type (down to the ounce and millimeter) then you should never just copy somebody's playing position."

If my teacher had done nothing but help me find the position for my fretting and playing hands which is correct and which works for me, she'd still have been worth every penny that I've paid her.
Thanks, Kate! yes

With best regards,
Jack

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