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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:44 pm 
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I've run into an issue with my octave mandolin playing that is greatly bothering me, as it is my primary instrument. I was curious as to whether any other members have had this problem and if there is any way they have adjusted thier grip which has alleviated the issue.

I am double jointed in both of my thumbs (and both shoulders, and legs..) , and due to this, I can not apply even the slightest pressure with my thumb on the back of the neck of my instrument without it popping out of it's normal position and going into the "out of socket" position. I never really thought much of it until recently.

In the past I might get some pain at the base of my thumb that would be between the base of the thumb and where it meets the wrist. This would only come about if I'd played for many many hours nonstop. I simply started adjusting my schedule to playing for no more than 1 hour, but playing more often throughout the day.

Last night I had played for only thirty minutes, and I started getting this pain again. My grip does not seem to be unusual or incorrect, as it seems a standard grip most people would use. The only difference, is that my thumb comes out of it's socket occasionally while I do this.

After I started having this pain, I noticed my thumb on my left hand protrudes at the base, whereas my right hand does not. I will be 24 on Sunday, and I think I'm far too young to have osteo-arthritis, but that's what I'm fairy sure I have. My thumb looks identical to that of a person with arthritic thumb. I have read that people with double-jointedness are more likely to develop osteo-arthritis more quickly, due to increased wear and tear of the cartiledge. I'm seeing a doctor on monday.

My question here is- Has anyone else with doublejointedness encountered this issue when playing a stringed instrument? If so, did you come up with any way to prevent it from occurring while you play? It never bothers me when playing whistles, only octave mandolin. I am thinking a fatter neck would help somewhat. I just bought a cheap kentucky mandolin to see if it would hurt my hand less than an octave mandolin, too. It hasn't arrived yet.

I am curious to know whether anyone else has run into this problem, if there is a connection between double jointedness and the onset of this problem, and also if anyone has found a way to reduce, or eliminate, this from occurring. It only happens when I play, and is gone by the next morning. It is not severe, but I'd like to find a way to adjust my grip to see if it might help. I hope this doesn't mean I have to give up octave mandolin, however if that's the price I must pay in order to prevent further cartiledge damage to be able to continue playing my other instruments, it' sa measure I will take, although I'd really like to avoid that.

I notice it happens more when I'm fretting two different strings with the same finger and need a tad more thumb support. Or when playing a chord, which is not very often for how I play.. That pinching type grip is usually what exerbates the issue. I can't think of a way to avoid it, though.

I am not looking for medical advice or anything of that sort, but moreso advice on technique and experiences of people who have ran into this problem when playing traditional stringed isntruments (mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, banjo, bouzouki, etc etc etc)

I'm doing everything possible to reduce stress on the thumb and use it as little as possible, but it's only helping slightly, as I feel I only can so much. Is this a common thing?

Also- For people who have experienced this or have arthritis.. Have you found a fatter neck, or a thinner neck to help more? I am experimenting with a mandolin just to see if it works out better. If not, I will experiment with a fatter necked octave mandolin or mandola. Have any of you found any instruments (one which my octave mandolin skills might transfer to, tenor banjo, mandolin, mandola, etc) are less problematic for you personally?


I am also going to try experimenting with leaving the body of the instrument on my right leg, like most guitar players, instead of between my legs and with the neck at a somewhat diagonal angle. I think this might help somewhat, however it's very hard to have an octave mandolin sit on the right leg. Maybe I should start using a strap and standing with it in this position... There are a lot of things I want to try and experiment to see if it helps, however unfortunately I don't want to try yet until the soreness from today goes away. I want to listen to my body and not push anything if it's sore.

Perhaps this flare up in the pain could be due to the fact that we just had a ridiculously crazy blizzard. I've heard cold can aggrivate such problems. Hopefully it will vanish with the cold.

It doesn't help that I work in a 30 degree farenheit room doing repetitive tasks with my hands all day, probably... I'm going to be much more careful at work, too.

I just need to know what has worked for some of you, if anything. I can't expect octave mandolin advice from my doctor (unless I get a really cool doctor).. so, I feel it's a good idea to ask people who play stringed instruments.


Thanks,


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:58 pm 
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First, I'm not a doctor and I'm glad you're going to see one about your problem. Best of luck to you.

It sounds like something that might be helped by some special exercises to strengthen the muscles of your hand. Other than that, it sounds to me like you're approaching the mandolins from a guitar perspective. One of the common topics on the Mandolin Cafe is the proper grip for the mandolin family instruments. Almost invariably, guitarists taking up the mandolin will write in about problems with their grip and hand comfort. In a nutshell, the mandolin should be held more on the flat part of your first finger rather than with the thumb against the neck. Because of the way guitars are strung and tuned, the player needs to reach across the neck from treble to bass strings, so having the thumb on the back of the neck with the hand free to move is important. But the narrow neck and the tuning of the mandolin instruments requires us to reach farther down the neck from each position. That is, to reach down more frets rather than across lots of strings. In short, guitarists reach across from high strings to low, mandolinists reach lengthwise from the nut toward the bridge. The mandolin is not just a small guitar and the techniques are different. Adjusting your grip that way might help.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:21 am 
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Indeed mandolin grip is different than on a guitar.

However, I don't play mandolin.Also, I do not play guitar. I play *octave* mandolin. Octave mandolin and mandolin are two seperate instruments. It is nearly the length of a guitar. It's basically a bouzouki except a tad shorter and better for melody playing. However, I'm guessing octave mandolin is to be gripped nearly identically to how one would grip a guitar. It is the same size, and similar thickness of neck to many guitar necks. It isn't a mandolin. It is one octave below a mandolin. Certainly much much closer to the size of a guitar than it is to the size of a mandolin.

That's actually why I'm buying a mandolin (not octave mandolin). The grip will likely be very different on the hand, and therefore might not be causing stress on the same part of the hand as the *octave* mandolin does due to the extremely different size and method of gripping the instrument.

My problem is basal joint arthritis. I believe it was brought about by the work I do, not by musical instruments. My hands are doing repetitive tasks which puts stress on this joint thousands of times per day. Luckily I got a better position at work where I am no longer doing such harmful tasks, however it does not undo the problems I am having now.

I think perhaps you misunderstood my post, and perhaps thought that I was talking about pains while playing mandolin, which is an instrument that I do not play, but rather one I am considering switching to, with hopes that it will stress my hands less than octave mandolin does.

And beyond that, I'm wondering about specific ways people might have changed thier grip or playing, or changed thier choice of instrument, or dealt with arthritis affecting thier music playing in general. Surely there are many other people who play stringed instruments who have had this problem. The thumb becomes arthritic more easily than other joints due to the fact that it moves in more directions than the fingers generally do. Also, any force at the top of the thumb is multiplied 12x, and that is approx. the force you have absorbed at your basal joint. Double jointed people have even more wear and tear against this joint, and an increased liklihood of developing arthritis in this joint.

I'm hoping perhaps this will all get a bit better when the cold weather wears off. I'm considering getting a cortisone injection for it. However, the point of this post is solely looking for ways that musicians have had luck bettering this issue by means of changing instrument to some octave mandolin skill might transfer to, or have reduced this problem via modifying thier method of playing, or how they have made the issue have less impact on thier musicplaying in general.


Regardless, many thanks for the response! Hope all is well! It is very good to know that mandolin will perhaps put less stress on the thumb than the octave mandolin does. This is very good to hear. Hopefully that will be true for me when mine arrives, and if so, I'll invest in a better mandolin. I'm simply trying out mandolin as an experiment to see if it is better on the hands.

Tim2723 wrote:
First, I'm not a doctor and I'm glad you're going to see one about your problem. Best of luck to you.

It sounds like something that might be helped by some special exercises to strengthen the muscles of your hand. Other than that, it sounds to me like you're approaching the mandolins from a guitar perspective. One of the common topics on the Mandolin Cafe is the proper grip for the mandolin family instruments. Almost invariably, guitarists taking up the mandolin will write in about problems with their grip and hand comfort. In a nutshell, the mandolin should be held more on the flat part of your first finger rather than with the thumb against the neck. Because of the way guitars are strung and tuned, the player needs to reach across the neck from treble to bass strings, so having the thumb on the back of the neck with the hand free to move is important. But the narrow neck and the tuning of the mandolin instruments requires us to reach farther down the neck from each position. That is, to reach down more frets rather than across lots of strings. In short, guitarists reach across from high strings to low, mandolinists reach lengthwise from the nut toward the bridge. The mandolin is not just a small guitar and the techniques are different. Adjusting your grip that way might help.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:05 am 
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Sorry pal, I was just trying to be supportive. When mandolinists say 'mandolins' they are referring to the family of instruments which includes the *octave* mandolin. The octave mandolin, mondola, bouzouki, and a great many others are also mandolins.

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However, I'm guessing octave mandolin is to be gripped nearly identically to how one would grip a guitar.


This is the common mistake that I was hoping you'd managed to avoid. Trying to play the open-fifths tuning of the mandolin, no matter its size or name, will put undue pressure on the joints of the thumb if held in the guitar grip.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Tim2723 wrote:
Sorry pal, I was just trying to be supportive. When mandolinists say 'mandolins' they are referring to the family of instruments which includes the *octave* mandolin. The octave mandolin, mondola, bouzouki, and a great many others are also mandolins.

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However, I'm guessing octave mandolin is to be gripped nearly identically to how one would grip a guitar.


This is the common mistake that I was hoping you'd managed to avoid. Trying to play the open-fifths tuning of the mandolin, no matter its size or name, will put undue pressure on the joints of the thumb if held in the guitar grip.



Again though, I don't play guitar. I am not going towards octave mandolin with a guitar approach, becuase I don't play guitar. I don't know how one is gripped. I simply grip the octave mandolin how it seems almost everyone who plays an octave mandolin grips thiers.

I am not sure if you are trying to say that octave mandolin and mandolin are gripped the same, but they are certainly not, nor can they be. There is not a one-size-fits-all grip for mandolin family instruments. A bouzouki and a mandolin are not gripped the same, at all. Look where the neck rests.

I can upload a photo to show you how I grip it later. I don't think the problem is with my grip. The problem is with osteo-arthritis which I don't believe comes from my octave mandolin playing.

Again, I am not trying to play in a "guitar grip" , because I don't know what a guitar grip is! I don't pay attention to guitar players. I do pay attention to octave mandolin an bouzouki players, and that's how I grip my instrument. If you can explain how to grip the neck of an octave mandolin without putting any pressure on the thumb whilst fretting two different strings simultaneously, I would not only be very grateful, but quite amazed! If there is such a method of doing so, I'd be happy to hear it, though. My hand problem has undoubtedly came from work, though. Due to it, even the slightest pressure on the thumb hurts.

I can write with both hands, I am even considering redoing my nut and bridge and stringing the thing upside down and relearning it completely because of this!


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:05 am 
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I'd suggest seeing a good orthopedic specialist, particularly one who specializes in hands.
I'm not double jointed, and at 62 am considerably older than you. I have been developing painful arthritis at the base of my right thumb which sometimes makes mandolin playing uncomfortable or painful. I find that a thick pick (Dunlop 3.0mm large tri flatpick) is easier to grip and makes playing less painful.
This base of thumb pain is called CMC (carpal-metacarpal) joint pain. Google will give lots of information.
My ortho guy sent me to an occupational therapist who made a heat molded CMC brace. This is rigid and keeps motion in that joint near zero. It helps my pain tremendously while I wear it, and when I take it off to do things where rigidity is impossible I still feel better. She also gave me a more flexible neoprene CMC brace which is comfortable and helps a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if you could play an octave mandolin with one of those. I may buy myself a second one from Amazon to use while the first one is drying from washing.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:25 am 
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Thanks! For some strange reason, the pain left my thumb completely, then started coming and going from all my fingers on both hands, and especially my wrist! As of right now, nothing is hurting though. All the pain went away, then occasionally comes back in different areas, especially while I'm at work, using my hands a lot doing repetitive gripping tasks.

However, the good news is that I'm not getting pains while I'm playing anymore!

I ordered a mandolin before it ended up getting better. A bit off topic, but I ended up deciding I only want to buy an instrument if it's one I'm going to keep forever, so I decided to cancel on the kentucky mandolin I was going to buy from somebody, and I ended up getting a nice luthier made mandolin from howard "sonny" morris. Although I am back to playing my octave mandolin, I'm glad I got this! The mandolin is beautiful and it's absolutely superb quality for any price, really. I really really love this mandolin! It's definitely a keeper.

So, something good did come of this. Hopefully the pain will just stay away while I'm playing mando family instruments, whistles, flute,..... and pipes after tomorrow! (I am in way over my head :boggle: but I'll manage :D )


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