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samfin1991

Short scale for carpal tunnel?

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Hey guys,

Wasn't really sure which thread this should go in, seems to be a mix of stuff, but anyway...
So I'm a drummer of about 15 years, but took up bass about a year ago for several reasons (mostly sick of expensive gear, no practise at home etc.) but most importantly because my wrists aren't what they used to be (self taught drummer resulting in poor technique that I fixed too late).
I bought a Thunderbird when I first started (I know, I know 😂) and for the first year or so didn't really have any trouble; however I'm now getting mega cramps in my fretting hand, especially when reaching for octaves and fifth notes with my little finger, to the point that my whole hand sometimes locks up.
I've learnt my lesson (literally) and had lessons since I started playing, and my tutor says my technique is fine, so I was wondering if a short-scale bass might be the answer, and if anyone else had had the same problem and found a solution? I would go and try one, but the nearest music shop is a loooong way to travel, and don't want to just buy one online then discover it makes no difference.
Thanks!

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A good Osteopath may help, if you haven't tried yet. Mine checked out strap length/height of my bass as too low can cause wrist problems.
Also look at how your Thunderbird sits in relation to arm length for the 1st/lower frets on the bass. ie...Fender bass top horn strap button ends over the 12th fret area. Some modern basses over the 14th fret area.
Where does the Thunderbird top strap button sit, it could be 'pushing' the neck/lower fret area position away from your body and possibly straining your wrist to operate easily.

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The problem with the Thunderbird is that, due to the body shape, the top strap button is around the 17th fret which (as mybass points out above) pushes the neck farther away from you - reaching those lower frets will be quite a stretch.

If you'd like to message me a pic or video of yourself playing I can critique your technique and identify what may be causing your problem.

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Yes, I'd agree with Steve in his above post. In this case, it may be the 34" scale length that is a problem
But with the nut of your bass that much further away, it's more of a stretch for your left arm, and stretching your fingers may be more difficult due to your wrist position.

Definitely try an osteopath. I would also try a few more basses as well though. Often, in shops, they just hand you a bass and plug it onto an amp - but take your own strap along, or ask them if you can also try the bass with a strap, so you can see how it handles when you're stood up (if you ever intend playing live, this is important unless you intend to sit down for every gig).

I've got a couple of different scale length basses, and I actually find medium scale a good option. Being used to DB and 34" scale - I'm conscious that I'm likely to over-shoot or overstretch on my 30" and 25" scale basses (especially the latter). It may be that 34" scale is fine for you - and you just need a bass with a different body shape. Go and try a few P and J basses to start. Also, if you can, try a Squier SS (short scale) Jaguar. They're very well made and good value for money. I've seen them go for £150 ish second-hand, which is a lot of bass for that sort of cash. Be aware that Squier Jag basses also come in 34" scale as well - so make sure it's the SS model you're trying....

Best of luck with the pain though - hope you find a solution :)
Let us know how you get on

EDIT: Try a few different models of P and J too - because neck radii and nut width seems to vary so much - even within the same make and model :o Edited by Marc S

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PS. Are you anywhere near a regular bass bash, or other BC members?
I ask, because you don't mention your location in your profile or this thread - you never know.....
...there may be an upcoming bass-bash event, or maybe a local friendly BC member may let you try out a bass or two?
We bassists are generally a friendly bunch - just like drummers ;) lol Edited by Marc S

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