#1
my biggest problem is pain in the bottom part of my thumb now, on my fretting hand. 
i play a 6 string, steel string, acoustic guitar in standard tune. 
all i am really playing are easy barre and open chords, with few exceptions to more difficult chords. 
i pretty much always stand up while playing. 

so, maybe some musicians have some therapy suggestions i'm not thinking of. do's and don'ts. 
begginer geetarest.
#2
 Your thumb probably gets fatigued because it's still weak - I use to have the same problem. Give it some time and it'll be fine.
#3
Quote by davidmanolis
 Your thumb probably gets fatigued because it's still weak - I use to have the same problem. Give it some time and it'll be fine.

No. Fatigue is normal, pain is not. There is literally no issue of strength when it comes to guitar, at least not for the larger muscles.

It's hard to say exactly what's causing your thumb pain, but I'd wager you're squeezing too hard. Pain at the base of the thumb is a common guitar injury and can definitely turn into full-on tendonitis if you don't give it some rest and adjust your technique.

I'd recommend remaining seated while you play, and putting the guitar on your left leg for anything technically intense. Keep your wrist flat and relaxed as much as possible. Don't apply any more pressure than is needed.

Do you have a warm up routine? do you set any time aside to work on technique outside of playing songs? Take 15-30 minutes every day and work on playing slowly and lightly, using the minimum effort to make sound. If you rush straight into playing songs that you aren't ready for, you'll end up using brute force to maintain your speed and accuracy, and that definitely takes a toll on your tendons (as well as limits your development).
#4
You may need treatment already.  Be careful.  If tendonitis kicks in for real, that can take a long time to go.

I guarantee you're squeezing too hard, as cdgraves says.  

You can consider lighter gauge strings and/or lowering the action.  May also be the neck setup.
#5
Quote by cdgraves
No. Fatigue is normal, pain is not. There is literally no issue of strength when it comes to guitar, at least not for the larger muscles.

It's hard to say exactly what's causing your thumb pain, but I'd wager you're squeezing too hard. Pain at the base of the thumb is a common guitar injury and can definitely turn into full-on tendonitis if you don't give it some rest and adjust your technique.

I'd recommend remaining seated while you play, and putting the guitar on your left leg for anything technically intense. Keep your wrist flat and relaxed as much as possible. Don't apply any more pressure than is needed.

Do you have a warm up routine? do you set any time aside to work on technique outside of playing songs? Take 15-30 minutes every day and work on playing slowly and lightly, using the minimum effort to make sound. If you rush straight into playing songs that you aren't ready for, you'll end up using brute force to maintain your speed and accuracy, and that definitely takes a toll on your tendons (as well as limits your development).

I disagree, developing strength in your left hand is imperative to the process of learning to play guitar, irregardless of what technique you are practising.  If you play too many barre chords when your thumb is fatigued it will inevitably hurt. Given enough practise this will happen irregardless of how good your technique is if you're a beginner with weak hands. It is however quite likely the he is applying an excessive amount of force and is consequently getting fatigued too quickly. 
#6
Quote by davidmanolis
I disagree, developing strength in your left hand is imperative to the process of learning to play guitar, irregardless of what technique you are practising.  If you play too many barre chords when your thumb is fatigued it will inevitably hurt. Given enough practise this will happen irregardless of how good your technique is if you're a beginner with weak hands. It is however quite likely the he is applying an excessive amount of force and is consequently getting fatigued too quickly. 

There just isn't strength to develop, and the muscles in the hand itself are not the ones getting most of the action. In fact if you're heavily using the muscles in the palm, you're probably doing something wrong. The bulk of the exertion is in the forearm, while the hand should be relaxed. There some muscles that need to be developed for dexterity, but not for strength. It takes as much pressure to fret a note as to change the channel on a TV remote.

Getting fatigued quickly is a sign of overexertion and either putting too much pressure on the neck, or overcompensating for lack of coordination. The muscles around the base of the thumb in particular are easy to over-use by squeezing on the neck.
#7
Tendinitis is like my biggest fear.. Maybe your hand just isn't strong enough yet. Do hand stretches before and after playing.
#8
how do you help prevent or stop tendonitis?

The traditional way has always been through the adoption and maintenance of proper form, having been explored, identified, developed, and perfected by the greatest players and teachers over the last few hundred years.

Now days, with the popular emphasis on "whatever feels right", "there is no proper form", "do what you like", "whatever works" etc... it has become difficult and usually ineffective to try to guide a problem player back to proper form. Every other instrument on the planet enjoys a well understood necessity for proper form. Except for the classical guitar, the general guitarist lives is a squishy world that does not demand proper form from day one. The simple proof of this is the number of questions about it - look at the deluge of questions right now about how to hold the pick...

Checking for deviation from proper form should be the first thing, not just at the appearance of discomfort or pain, but also  the noticing of lack of clarity, lack of articulation, lack of precision, lack of speed, lack of rhythm, lack of fluidity, etc... checking for proper form should be your "go to" answer to everything except lack of talent.
Quote by reverb66
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#9
Quote by cdgraves
 Do you have a warm up routine? 

no i don't. never thought about it. i just go into playing songs, standing up and i am fretting hard to build up strength on playing, to try and not play as sloppy. 
thanks for all the info. 
Quote by jerrykramskoy
You may need treatment already.  Be careful.  If tendonitis kicks in for real, that can take a long time to go.

I guarantee you're squeezing too hard, as cdgraves says.  

You can consider lighter gauge strings and/or lowering the action.  May also be the neck setup.

not sure i can lower the action myself. i only play an acoustic. but lighter gauge sounds like a good idea. thanks
Quote by davidmanolis
It is however quite likely the he is applying an excessive amount of force and is consequently getting fatigued too quickly. 

i don't really feel tired while playing. and the pain started in the next day or two that i noticed at work. it's not real bad. i only feel it when i pick up something heavy and have to wrap my hands around it. 
begginer geetarest.
#10
PlusPaul you're 100% correct. Being trained in violin, I experienced a lot of emphasis on proper playing technique. When it comes to guitar though, most people disregard any advice they get from other players. Furthermore you can play with your guitar hanging quite low while still not hurting yourself. Just be aware of the wrists angle and other little things, like using too much force.
#11
Quote by Lloyd_rogers
no i don't. never thought about it. i just go into playing songs, standing up and i am fretting hard to build up strength on playing, to try and not play as sloppy. 

I would change all of that.

A warm up routine can be as simple as some 1-2-3-4 exercises with picking, hammers, and pulls. Just spend 15 minutes doing basic, repetitive stuff at a moderate tempo and focus on being accurate and consistent.

When playing, don't press any harder than you need to make the sound you want. Strength is a non-issue with guitar. You're moving a wire that's less than 1/16" a few millimeters to the frets - very little physical effort required. The real skill you need is coordination. Play with delicacy and finesse.

The key to overcoming sloppiness is to slow down and work out the specific motions, making sure not to over-exert. Focus on being relaxed and efficient with your motions. Get the music clean at a slow tempo first.

PlusPaul Yeah, I'm also baffled as to why guitar is seen as an exception to the basics of standard technical competency. The kind of music that's considered standard for other instruments is beyond the reach of many guitarists. It really fuels the "Just a guitarist" stereotype, and the lowered expectations actually bring down the value of skilled guitarists.
#12
Lloyd_rogers Strength is not what's needed at all.  More like fitness, finger independence,  and stamina , for technically demanding styles.  Strength can come into it for effect (e.g really picking hard, at some point, or bending a string a long way ... but even then the larger muscles should get applied, while the fingers act as locks.  You must also allow for your own body ... we're all different.  For example, some folk play legato hard, pulling off hard, hammering on hard.  I can't (hand damage) but I can play legato fine ... I relax my ffingers off the strings.

Lot of people think strength is needed.  Don't follow that path!!
#13
Do a YouTube search for isometrics by Pebber Brown.  I also suggest doing the stretch exercises found in the beginning of John Petrucci's Rock Discipline.  

I also had to stop playing for a while and started exercising to get better blood flow into my fingers.  The tingling feeling comes back every now and then but not as bad.  I also realized I wasn't taking enough breaks while practicing Paul Gilbert's shred alert.  So be sure to take breaks every now and then.  Hope this helps.  
#14
Quote by cdgraves
I would change all of that.

A warm up routine can be as simple as some 1-2-3-4 exercises with picking, hammers, and pulls. Just spend 15 minutes doing basic, repetitive stuff at a moderate tempo and focus on being accurate and consistent.

When playing, don't press any harder than you need to make the sound you want. Strength is a non-issue with guitar. You're moving a wire that's less than 1/16" a few millimeters to the frets - very little physical effort required. The real skill you need is coordination. Play with delicacy and finesse.

The key to overcoming sloppiness is to slow down and work out the specific motions, making sure not to over-exert. Focus on being relaxed and efficient with your motions. Get the music clean at a slow tempo first.


Once again cdgraves hits the nail on the head. Guitar is not about strength. I find a good test is to see if you can play without your thumb touching the neck - it's a bit awkward, but with proper technique it's possible, even for bar chords. I suffer from RSI due to poor guitar technique. I've spent the last half a year trying to relearn and remove bad habits. It's been hugely eye opening and has helped me progress as a player.

I also find it is very easy to build up tension/press too firmly when I'm not comfortable with a piece. Always slow the f**k down and play it as slowly and relaxed as possible. You might be surprised, if you have years of bad habits (like I had), how much tension you are holding - so much so that you might not even realize you have it.
#15
This could well be an issue of thumb position. Do you have your thumb pointing sideways or up towards the ceiling? It should be (by default) pointing up to the ceiling. Do you have your thumb print on the back of the neck or the thumb tip? Again, by default, it ought to be your thumb print.
#16
Quote by StuartBahn
This could well be an issue of thumb position. Do you have your thumb pointing sideways or up towards the ceiling? It should be (by default) pointing up to the ceiling. Do you have your thumb print on the back of the neck or the thumb tip? Again, by default, it ought to be your thumb print.

my thumb never points up to the ceiling. it wraps around muting the low E string at times, or almost muting it. if my thumb presses against the back of the neck, it's the face of the thumb that presses on the back of the neck. i also notice the top part of my thumb will lean back pointing sideways, like i'm double jointed or something.
i basically only play barre and open chords. not really soloing much. 
begginer geetarest.
#17
Lloyd_rogers One important point: many things feel 'right' when we've been doing them for a long time. It sounds to me like you've got in the habit (probably early on) of putting your thumb in a bad position. 

When doing typical bar chords, your thumb should be about halfway up the neck pointing to the ceiling. Your thumb should not point sideways and it should not be over the top of the neck. 

The only exception to this, I'd say, is when we play chords very high up the neck; e.g. above fret 12. At this point your body is in the way so we end up with the thumb pointing slightly back.

We do mute the low E-string with the thumb with certain open chords. We also put the thumb over the top during most string bends, and maybe when fretting only the thinnest strings.

If you need convincing, take a look at almost any great guitar player. Overwhelmingly they position their thumb as I've describe (whilst doing bar chords).

I strongly advice you to invest some time retraining yourself to fret as I've described. It feels a bit like starting again but it's really important. If you continue as you are you're going to end up with serious problem.

I've written a short article about technique and the problems of going with what comes naturally: http://www.stuartbahn.com/nothing-natural-about-playing-guitar/
#19
Amputation is the most reliable way for sure.
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#20
I'd be sparing with the thumb-over. When your thumb hangs over it puts pressure on the first joint, which would seem to be where you're getting discomfort. Use it when you really the leverage or have no other practical muting options. For the most part your mutes should be done by the right hand and normal left hand fingers. If you're playing acoustic there's little reason you'd need to mute with the left thumb.
#21
This might seem a little insulting, but make sure you're playing right. A lot of beginner guitarists/ self-taught guitarists strum by moving the hand up and down, when they should be using the muscles in their elbows. If that doesn't make sense, just say. I'm pretty bad at explaining things.
#Acoustic Life
#22
cdgravesThe fatigue relates to strength. If you muscles are used to lifting 60 lbs then doing a few more reps at a lwer weight won't fatigue them unless you have not strengthened and toned the muscle along with endurance. However, those things all rely on strength to an extent. To be fair he needs to rest his hand well for about a week doing RICE to help relieve an potential inflammation. Tendonitis should not be common on the thumb normally for the fretting hand as the bulk of the work should be done with the fretting fingers. The thumb just helps to stabilize the neck. If he is applying that much pressure with his thumb onto the neck then there is something wrong. He should go see a doctor as muscle weakness and pain in the hand can mean potential Carpal Tunnel or several other issues such as peripheral nerve damage from diabetes or other sources.

The long and short of it is to rest it for a week or two and try again. Start building your forearm muscles. If the problem persists and or gets worse consult a physician. To be honest it sounds like you are overworking weak hands and they just need time to rest.

How long have you been playing? Has your practice habits changed much recently? Do you have any issues with diabetes or other potential disorders that could effect the nerves of your hand?
#23
Quote by cdgraves
I'd be sparing with the thumb-over. When your thumb hangs over it puts pressure on the first joint, which would seem to be where you're getting discomfort. Use it when you really the leverage or have no other practical muting options. For the most part your mutes should be done by the right hand and normal left hand fingers. If you're playing acoustic there's little reason you'd need to mute with the left thumb.

thanks. sounds like good advice. still having some pains in the thumb. 
Quote by awesomehuggles321
This might seem a little insulting, but make sure you're playing right. A lot of beginner guitarists/ self-taught guitarists strum by moving the hand up and down, when they should be using the muscles in their elbows. If that doesn't make sense, just say. I'm pretty bad at explaining things.

i"m not insulted. i'll try any advice really, and most advice i've got here on these forums is pretty good so far. i'll try the elbow thing. it's effortless to at least try something a few times, to see how it works/feels. thanks.
begginer geetarest.
#24
Ive been taught opposite of the strum at the elbow after I was having pain there. I since switched to strumming with the wrist and it's worked better for me.

I have carpal tunnel syndrome and I know the pain. I usually warm up slowly on a table raising each finger while keeping my hand flat then do some stretches pulling the fingers back slowly. It helps a great deal. I also have learned to fret lighter and that has made a huge difference in fatigue and pain.

As a young player I went ham on everything. If the veins in my left hand and forearm were not bulging then I wasn't going hard enough. I had a teacher who played a scalloped neck, he would make me take lessons using it because if you mash the string with the force of God it goes sharp. It really helped me learning how not to play.
#26
Lloyd_rogers Regardless of how you resolve your guitar setup. rickyj's advice is spot on.  I speak from very unpleasant personal experience that stopped me in my tracks for a long time, from overplaying.

Stretch  before you play, away from the guitar ... neck (left,right,up, down), shoulders (shrugs, rotations), forearms, hands.  Take a 5 minute break every half-hoiur or so.  Stretch when you've finished.