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Neck Profile (?) and hand strain   You are logged in as Guest
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Harry

Posts: 390
Joined: Jun. 24 2010
From: Montreal, Canada

Neck Profile (?) and hand strain 

For some time I have been experiencing strain in the left hand for a variety of reasons (many hours in front of the computer, many hours of practice on the guitar). I think many can relate to this. But recently I realized one of the guitars I own definitely adds to the left hand strain. I feel like both hands tend to work harder on it. Perhaps this is why it leads me to tense up and I cannot play very long on it without some strain in the left hand especially. This was not the case over 10 years ago when I got it.

I know the neck profile is much flatter on this guitar. For example, a planet waves NS capo tightened all the way will still be a little loose on the first fret of the guitar whereas it is fits fine on the other guitar. I suppose I am wondering if I have any choice but to sell this guitar which would really suck. At the same time I just cannot afford to keep a guitar I will not play very much. Has anyone experienced a guitar that causes fatigue/strain in this manner? Is it the neck profile, the stiffness of the guitar overall?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 13 2018 16:52:25
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

I'm on my phone right now so I can't go too deep into it, but there are problems with thin necks for some players. Too thin a neck can cause a hyper extension if the thumb to the hand. That opposable thing we humans have can be pushed too far causing pain.

Don't despair, there are ways to work if that's the issue.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 2:40:14
 
Harry

Posts: 390
Joined: Jun. 24 2010
From: Montreal, Canada

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

Thanks for this. I suppose I have more or less made my mind up to sell this guitar and purchase one that will suit me more. I have a peghead blanca that I can use in the meantime.

I just don't want to feel like I am passing on a guitar that has an issue to someone else, but then as you pointed out this guitar for a variety of reasons may suit another person's hands perfectly. The previous owner was a professional who used it for a good 10 years, so I am hoping the guitar will find its way into the hands of a person who will use it. At the moment it is just sitting in its case as a memento of my friend and former teacher.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 13:49:22
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

I hope it finds a happy player. neck profile is really personal. As a maker I can attest that one person will really dislike a particular neck, and the next person to try it will say it's really, really nice feeling. Go figure.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 14:31:57
 
Harry

Posts: 390
Joined: Jun. 24 2010
From: Montreal, Canada

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

Is there a standard in terms of neck profile the way there is for nut width etc...? Would this be measured with calipers or something? Or is it just the shape approach of C, D, etc

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 15:25:14
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

There seems to be some consensus about how thick at the first fret and the 10th fret a neck should be, but profile shape is very personal. Most players want the 'D' shape, but there are flatter neck fans. My rule of thumb, pun....is not too thin. I tend to want about 2 mm thicker than most makers now, but thick and thin neck isn't really the question, it's shape, and a big factor is an open mind to stay with an unfamiliar neck profile long enough to make it feel comfortable.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 15:44:36
 
mrstwinkle

 

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Joined: May 14 2017
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

Is it mostly when doing lots of barre chords? I used to get stiff left hand when playing pieces with lots, then realised it -went away- if I made myself learn the piece with only pressure coming from front (i.e. hand not round the neck at all). I could go back later and play normally without pain.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 17:06:12
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11035
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

I have several guitars each with a very different neck profile and feel. Despite what might feel comfy or not, the only real factor to playability is the action height of strings over the fingerboard. This is easily adjustable via the bone saddle, and sometimes trying a different string brand makes a difference too (light tension strings are easier to push down). This is also personal, but normally a simple thing to fix and not to blame the guitar for. One guy complained about how hard his guitar was to play so in my mind was this monster action....then he showed it to me and the strings were hitting the frets like a banjo....so I recommended a different brand of string and that “fixed” the problems he seemed to have.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 17:25:05
 
Harry

Posts: 390
Joined: Jun. 24 2010
From: Montreal, Canada

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to mrstwinkle

I guess barre chords but also pinky reach etc.... I suppose the main thing is that somehow the other guitar does not give me as much trouble. It took some time to realize this.

(Ricardo) I have compared my guitars and the action is actually higher on the peghead guitar that I find is easier on my hands!

This is why I suspected neck profile as the culprit. The peghead also has a slightly smaller scale and the nut width is also a little less. Maybe it is a combination of all of these things I am not sure. But both hands have to work harder on the guitar I am thinking of selling which is also why I wondered about stiffness which I have read about here.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 14 2018 18:47:53
 
jalalkun

Posts: 254
Joined: May 3 2017
From: Iraq, living in Cologne, Germany

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

it might be the neck width, it plays a bigger role than expected. it might also be a combination of everything (scale, neck width and profile). how about the general string tension generated by the guitar? like some guitars are really hard axes and some are too soft to play easily. getting strings with softer tension might counteract the higher pull on the not-so-comfortable guitar - if that's the case.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 15 2018 16:15:36
 
Harry

Posts: 390
Joined: Jun. 24 2010
From: Montreal, Canada

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to jalalkun

I agree that I think it is a combination of all of the above the scale length, the nut width, maybe the stiffness of the guitar and definitely the flat neck. I have tried lower tension strings, but the problem is they just don't sound as good on the guitar. I use Luthier 20 which I think is not that bad in terms of tension. Labella 820 red for example make the guitar lose so much attack.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 15 2018 17:47:04
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3734
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to mrstwinkle

quote:

ORIGINAL: mrstwinkle

I used to get stiff left hand when playing pieces with lots, then realised it -went away- if I made myself learn the piece with only pressure coming from front (i.e. hand not round the neck at all). I could go back later and play normally without pain.


^ That looks like quite a useful hint.

Another point being that sitting position does not allow posture altering to compensate for the distance to the neck.
Over time constant holding up of the left arm leads to strain and muscular imbalance.
Hence either altering position between sitting and standing (optimally with one-central point-suspense of the guitar) or at least training antagonist muscle groups for balance should be helpful.

Further, guitar standard proprotions appear to suite rather large hands / tall people.
In calssical forums I recall some players with age finding relief by resorting to smaller proportions and some even to ukulele a likes.

Here on the forum folks like to claim that proportions would hardly matter, pointing out how small people and kids were getting by, as if it equaled ergonomical fit in the same time.

Even though of no experience (other than with the comfort of a charango once), for a custom build I asked for short-scaled and at bridge narrower spaced dimensions, and the builder to his own surprise found that it fit him well.
Go figure.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 16 2018 10:38:40
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2659
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

I had a guitar with a very flat neck that gave me pretty bad tendon/pain issues around the big joint of my left thumb. Built my own guitar with a nice rounded D-shape neck and it went away. I also prefer slightly thicker and well-rounded necks.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 18 2018 0:46:09
 
Echi

 

Posts: 560
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Neck Profile (?) and hand strain (in reply to Harry

Many good suggestions.
I agree with Ricardo that in most of the cases right stings and action may solve the problem.
That said, there are unfortunate guitars with long scale, flat neck and big string spacing which are harder to play.
Things like strings spacing can be fixed with little lutherie adjustments (new nut and new holes at the bridge).
Regarding the neck shape, it’s a matter of taste but D shape is probably easier and is becoming fashionable again.
My experience, for the guitars I have/had: Bellido, Montero, Barranco are really comfortable guitars. Caceres/Arcangel and Manzanero also comfortable, with thin necks and short scale. My 2 old Condes have very long scale but D shape necks and play comfortably (but with some stretching on the first frets because of the long scale). Gerundino, average.
I had also a very hard guitar (thick neck, high action, pulsacion on the stiff side). Probably the worst factor was the combination action/ neck thickness.
Well, the guitar sounded otherwise very well. After some serious set up done by a luthier (reset of the fretboard, new frets, new bones) now the guitar plays like butter.
In conclusion, if you like the guitar, maybe you can invest in some serious set up work. If the problem is for definite the neck shape or scale you may consider a guitar in the Granada style.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 18 2018 9:46:47
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