Eliminate Pain In Your Left Hand [Video Lesson]

Have you ever been practicing and noticed a bit of a pang in your left hand?

What about after a gig – have you come off the bandstand with an ache in your left arm?

Have you ever experienced a throbbing that just won’t go away?

Have you ever had such intense agony that you had to stop playing for a while – or even weeks or months?

Or worse yet, has your hand ever spontaneously closed up into a fist all by itself?

These are all real afflictions that we need to be aware of as bass players. If you’re not careful, they could put you out of action permanently!

I don’t want that for you, and I KNOW you don’t want that for yourself.

That’s what this week’s video lesson is all about – the elimination of pain in your left hand.

One of our faithful Become A Bassist subscribers emailed me a question not too long ago about his own pain. He was having some of these more intense pains and actually had his body involuntarily creating fists.

This is something that needs to be addressed before it spirals out of control, so watch this one right now!

Doing this exercise in the video will actually train your left hand and arm to relax as much as possible – and should take care of most of your pain problems pretty rapidly.

Now I’m curious…

Have you ever gone through a similar experience with pain of your own? What steps did you take to deal with it?

If you have any insight into this area of what we do, I want to hear about it in the comments section below.

Who knows – you may be going through the same thing as hundreds of other bass players just like you!

As always, thanks so much for reading, watching and sharing. It makes my day to help other bass players like you.

Any questions, just send me an email!


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7 Responses to Eliminate Pain In Your Left Hand [Video Lesson]

  1. Pedro Monteiro May 4, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Hey Luke,

    Nice exercise! I’ve been experiencing some pain in my left hand because I use my thumb a lot…I end up squeezing the neck, which I’m trying to correct.

    I’ve been practicing the exercise you describe and I really think it helps! However I still can’t feel completely comfortable when I’m standing.

    So how do you release your left hand thumb when you play standing?

    Thanks a lot.

  2. Michal September 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Hi Luke,
    I am very beginner upright bassist (few days now, but before few years with bass guitar) and I am struggling with my left hand technique.
    After few arpeggios I can feel tiresome and pain in my left thumb, which is a bad sign. When I try to press strings more from arm and shoulder my bass starts to rotate to left and I have to oppose this movement with my left thumb.
    Have you any piece of tip/advice for this situation? How to apply pressure to strings from shoulder without turning the instrument to the left?
    I can only play in standing position, because lack of higher stool.

    • lukemcintosh89 September 7, 2014 at 12:49 am #

      Hey Michal,

      I can’t be sure without seeing your technique in person, but it sounds like it could possibly be a stance issue. Tell me, when you play how much are you leaning your bass into you? I know people call it an ‘upright’ bass, but that doesn’t mean your bass should be completely upright. Ideally, you should lean your bass into your body at an angle so the bridge of your bass faces off to your right.

      Try messing around with how you position your bass on your body. Try putting your endpin a little bit further away from you and lean your bass in at a greater angle. Try to find the place where you can use all of the power in your shoulder without having that rotation that you’re having. Like I said, it’s difficult to explain without being there with you in person.

      I’d also recommend you sign up to the BAB Newsletter. I share a bunch of videos all about technique with email subscribers that aren’t anywhere on YouTube or on this site. They could really help you out.

      Let me know how you go with it!



  3. Jed Allen March 17, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    I’m experiencing pain in my right wrist–my guess it’s from bowing. Any one have a similar pain? I use Penetrix, but the pain persists. I’m also an experienced bass guitarist and pianist.

    • lukemcintosh89 March 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

      Hey Jed,

      Great question – I just want to say first of all that I’m NOT a doctor. I can only speak about my own experience and what I tell my students, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

      I guess the right hand isn’t something that’s covered in the video, but the same kind of principles apply. Now I would need to look at your wrist when you play to know for sure, but with most of my students, (and this quite a big generalization) pain is caused by one of two things. #1 – forcing your body to do ‘unnatural’ things, like forcing your wrist into an uncomfortably acute angle. Or #2 – Overusing a muscle or set of muscles to play.

      For example, the muscles in your hand and wrist are very small compared to the muscles in your forearm, bicep, tricep and shoulder. Therefore it makes sense to use those muscles as much as possible rather than the small muscles in your hand. Also – are you squeezing the bow quite tightly? Sometimes that can cause pain and relaxing your grip would be one possible way to solve your problem.

      Like I said, it’s hard to say without seeing you play. The best thing would be for you to take a few lessons with an experienced teacher and let them know what the problem is. An experienced eye will be a great help to you. Even if you drop the money for just one lesson, it will almost certainly be a worthwhile investment – especially if your teacher knows what they’re talking about.

  4. eddie May 19, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    does this lesson apply to electric bass?
    I don’t see how, but, whaddaiknow

    • lukemcintosh89 May 19, 2015 at 1:12 am #

      Hey Eddie,

      Thanks for the comment – and it’s a great question you ask. In short – yes, you can use the same concepts if you’re having pains in your hand from playing electric bass. Although, you’d probably have to change how you apply those concepts.

      For example, in this lesson, the whole point is to get the big muscles of your arm, shoulder and back to do the work rather than the small muscles of your hand. Your arm muscles can do a lot more work for a lot less effort than the tiny hand muscles. It’s the same when you’re playing electric bass.

      Most of my students who have pain in their hands or arms can fix that problem by using the big muscles to do more of the work or straightening out the joints so that when they play, the body is in a more natural position.

      If I had to guess (and I’m totally guessing here) I’d say your problem would be that you’re squeezing the neck of your bass too hard to get a sound – meaning the small muscles of the hand are working more than they need, leading to the pain. The other possibility is that you’re playing with a significant bend in your wrist putting huge amounts of pressure on the muscles and tendons in there.

      Are either of these true?

      If that’s the case, then I’d recommend finding the minimum amount of left-hand pressure you can use and still get a good, strong sound from your bass. Think of pulling your bass into your body rather than squeezing with the hand. This will feel strange after developing the habit of squeezing like there’s no tomorrow, but if that is the case, it should help at least a little bit.

      If you’ve got the significant bend in your wrist, try moving your elbow out from your body and straightening the wrist. This will take a lot of pressure off your wrist and hands. It will also dramatically improve your dexterity.

      Thanks again for the comment and the question. If you have any others, you can reach me here or through email. I’d be happy to help.



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