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Thread: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

  1. #1
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Hi all

    I'm getting annoying discomfort near my index finger knuckle, as seen in this photo, when playing my Eastman 515v for any period of time:

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    It's as though the neck is contacting my hand in a way that no other instrument I own does - and pinching a nerve or something. It becomes noticeable after playing for 20 minutes or so. And I can still feel a little tinge there after finishing playing. If I don't play for a few days it goes away, but as soon as I play the Eastman with any regularity again, it comes back. Being somewhat new to the mandolin, I'd like to practice half an hour a day, but this is really off-putting.

    For context to this issue, I've played guitar for 40 years, 30 of those semi-professionally, I regularly do three-hour gigs. I've played extensively banjo, ukulele, and have played a lot on a couple of Gibson oval hole mandolins. Never encountered this issue.

    The Eastman neck is obviously very different to all the instruments I regularly play, even the oval hole mandolins.

    So, is there something I can do? Can I change my technique for this particular instrument? I've thought of concocting some kind of glove type thing to put some padding over that point of contact. Tried avoiding any contact at all between the edge of that knuckle and the neck, but that makes playing a little tricky.

    Or will the discomfort lessen as I practice more? I'd be disappointed to have to give up this mandolin. I waited 2 years for Eastman mandolins to come to New Zealand, and chose the best sounding (by a mile) of the three that arrived. There's nowhere here to try mandolins. You're lucky to find anything in any shop priced at over $300.

    I've put some photos below of how I'm holding the mandolin. Maybe it's wrong. Any advise would be truly appreciated. I've also shown some measurements of the neck.

    Thanks,
    Bazz

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    I had the exact same spot give me issues a few years back. What worked for me to correct it was to concentrate on not gripping so tightly.....and rolling the heel of my hand just slightly towards the instrument body. It felt like I had bruised the bone. Tip that thumb a little more towards the headstock and get more of the neck into the web between your thumb and forefinger. Support more of the weight on your lap than on your left hand. Wish I had long fingers like that! Just my thoughts. Good luck to you.

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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    I had a somewhat, not exactly, similar issue with my Eastman 815v purchased at the end of 2020.

    Some of the advice I got in this thread was helpful.

    See here:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...Eastman-V-neck

    I find that I have eventually changed my hand position. Pain will do that to you!

    The pain was more pronounced when I played moving 3- and 4- fingered jazz chord shapes rather than single notes and double stops, which is a shame because that's one of the things I wanted the Eastman for. But i just couldn't make some of the chord shapes without moving my hand into painful positions.

    Over time, I've adapted and now pick up the Eastman as first choice mandolin, but I'm minimising the pain instinctively by avoiding some shapes or sequences, or adapting to get near enough to the voices I want.
    Bren

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  6. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Slight changes to neck dimensions can adversely affect some players. I owned an Eastman 315 for a few years and for some reason the neck demanded a great deal of adjustment on my part in order to play cleanly on longer reaches - a problem I never experienced with Collings, Kentucky, Washburn - eventually I sold the Eastman and doubt I’ll ever own another.
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    I had this issue at the beginning as well but I was trying to hold the neck of the mandolin like I held the neck of a guitar. When I stopped that and held it like a mandolin the issue went away.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  9. #6
    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post

    The Eastman neck is obviously very different to all the instruments I regularly play, even the oval hole mandolins.
    Would you say that the neck profile is more or less V shaped than the other instruments you play? Bigger or smaller?

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    Would you say that the neck profile is more or less V shaped than the other instruments you play? Bigger or smaller?
    Here's the profile at the first fret - not sure you would call it a V:

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  11. #8
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Not a V just too bulky compared to smaller Vs which I greatly prefer
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Looking at your first two photos, the ones of hand position, it struck me that there seems to be a lot of them showing above the side of the neck - I grabbed my mandolin to compare and I would recommend trying go rotate your wrist/hand position slightly so that less thumb is above the fretboard, this should shift the contact point so that sore part on the side of your hand isn't having pressure on it. Your arm/wrist in the photos seems to be held in a quite sideways position, whereas when I play I can see more of the inside of my wrist rather than the sideways view your photos show.
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  15. #10
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Looking at your first two photos, the ones of hand position, it struck me that there seems to be a lot of them showing above the side of the neck - I grabbed my mandolin to compare and I would recommend trying go rotate your wrist/hand position slightly so that less thumb is above the fretboard, this should shift the contact point so that sore part on the side of your hand isn't having pressure on it. Your arm/wrist in the photos seems to be held in a quite sideways position, whereas when I play I can see more of the inside of my wrist rather than the sideways view your photos show.
    Excellent! Thank you

  16. #11
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Also auto correct changed "thumb" to "them" in the first sentence - I meant to write "....there seems to be a lot of thumb showing above the side of the neck.."
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  18. #12
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    I know a few guitar players who keep their thumb high to play the low e. That’s what I meant above you just can’t grab a mandolin neck like a guitar. I had an ache in my writs and in the same spot the OP mentions.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    I see in the pics your hand could have excess tension in that area because your left wrist is not straight. Look at my video on left hand ergonomics



    See if straightening your left wrist relaxes the tension and undoes that problem. You may also need to look at the video of Holding the Mandolin.

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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    I know a few guitar players who keep their thumb high to play the low e. Thatís what I meant above you just canít grab a mandolin neck like a guitar. I had an ache in my writs and in the same spot the OP mentions.
    I assume you mean the low notes on the 6th string, not just the open note. I often use the thumb on the 6th string when fretting an F, F# or G chord but it doesn't stay there permanently. The basic rule of thumb (PtP) is the thumb lands where it lands and you simply don't grab the neck of the mandolin or guitar. Every difference, berween the two, that I'm aware of, follows automatically from the geometry of the respective necks.

  22. #15
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Yep on guitar the ones I know grab notes on the 6th with the thumb during certain chords, like you say only when the notes land Nader the thumb they don’t move it around to fret with it. The need has to line up with the natural thumb position.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	196069 This is my mandolin. Notice the difference in finish wear.

    Obviously the TS is palming the neck of his mandolin
    Last edited by ralph johansson; Aug-31-2021 at 2:54am.

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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    failed againhttps://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=196067&d=1630393332
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by ralph johansson; Aug-31-2021 at 2:19am.

  25. #18
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Thanks for the replies.

    Another recurring issue I have is an ache just above left wrist, circled in red here. It's on the thumb side of my arm, just next to where my watch strap sits:

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    Again, nothing I've ever experienced in 40 years of playing guitar (acoustic - including 12 string - electric, bass), banjo. I gigged a 12 string guitar 3 nights a week for 10+ years, so I'm fine with hand stamina.

    The arm thing is very annoying. I have to stop playing until it goes away. Sometimes a week. And I really want to get on with learning mandolin!

    Frustrating!

  26. #19
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Looking at your first two photos, the ones of hand position, it struck me that there seems to be a lot of them showing above the side of the neck - I grabbed my mandolin to compare and I would recommend trying go rotate your wrist/hand position slightly so that less thumb is above the fretboard, this should shift the contact point so that sore part on the side of your hand isn't having pressure on it. Your arm/wrist in the photos seems to be held in a quite sideways position, whereas when I play I can see more of the inside of my wrist rather than the sideways view your photos show.
    I was going to say the same thing, how about doing all practicing in the dark (force you not to look at the fretboard )?
    Some have said that a tone guard helps get the mando to face down further. I know some who are happy to play with a twisted wrist and the top almost facing the sky…
    And more right forearm pressure, and strap might help.

    -remember these are just mechanical options, the options to try first on my list would be medical.
    Have a look at everything, good luck, I’ve had this before and it actually changed (I believe) with a change in diet…

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    I was going to say the same thing, how about doing all practicing in the dark (force you not to look at the fretboard )?
    Some have said that a tone guard helps get the mando to face down further. I know some who are happy to play with a twisted wrist and the top almost facing the sky…
    And more right forearm pressure, and strap might help.

    -remember these are just mechanical options, the options to try first on my list would be medical.
    Have a look at everything, good luck, I’ve had this before and it actually changed (I believe) with a change in diet…
    I bet looking is an issue as well as hand wrist position. I noticed Sunday when practicing that if I look down I can’t see the front of the fret board but I started ina. Bowl back and got in that habit. I don’t even have fret markers on my A except on the side but I rarely look at those as well. I do agree with playing in the dark position the mandolin so it rests in the hand properly then start relearning how to fret that way. Watch Pete’s vids!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

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ID:	196075. Your holding it wrong there buddy,your hand should look slanted like this…

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  31. #22
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Screenshot 2021-08-31 at 09.45.18.png 
Views:	25 
Size:	371.9 KB 
ID:	196069 This is my mandolin. Notice the difference in finish wear.

    Obviously the TS is palming the neck of his mandolin
    Failed again! this is a mirror image of the original. However, the main point is the lack of wear in the middle of the neck, because there is no contact whatever between that area and my fretting hand. The wear caused by the root of the index finger extends to the the 5th fret, indicating that I don't play much beyond 3rd position.

  32. #23
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	9A0103A0-7F66-4230-A444-5E1813808381.jpg 
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ID:	196075. Your holding it wrong there buddy,your hand should look slanted like this…
    Everybody seems to miss my point: that there is no correct (or optimal) way of holding or supporting the mandolin -- don't hold it at all. Just bring the hand to the neck and let the thumb land where it lands. In my case, for instance, the position in the picture is impossible (because my left thumb stands at a 45 degree angle to the plane of the palm) -- my thumb will land on the side except for barreing and perhaps a few other chord forms.

  33. #24
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	9A0103A0-7F66-4230-A444-5E1813808381.jpg 
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ID:	196075. Your holding it wrong there buddy,your hand should look slanted like this…
    So what I'm seeing there is that by having your thumb turned to ward the nut, your four fingers are more perpendicular to the strings (tips pointing to the sky), where as in my photo my four fingers are more parallel with the strings (tips pointing toward the body of the mandolin).


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  35. #25
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird Left Hand Discomfort - Help!

    Go to peghead nation and look at a couple of the pictures o the pros and their Mandos. I would have a permanent wrist ache if I had my thumb pointing up like that. My grip is closer to yours but my wrist angle is a bit different and I think I have the neck farther up in my grip not s close to my palm which is probably because my thumb isn't so high over the board the edge of the fretboard is more in line with the quick of my thumbnail.

    Just a quick edit to my post depending on the chord or note progression my thumb wanders around and might point up like in the pic or be more like I described.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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