Death Grip

Anyone else have a habit of fretting and gripping way too hard with your fretting hand thumb, especially when playing fast?

It is a bad habit I have developed and it is turning in to an actual problem. I’m starting to get some mild wrist pain from it. And while this is a good excuse to stop what I was doing, and chill and practice muted slap and pop technique for a while, I want to fix it before I give myself an RSI or something.

One thing I have read online is to devote part of practice time to playing without using the thumb on the neck at all. I have tried that and it seems good. It’s not totally breaking the habit though. One guy claimed he actually taped his thumb to the side of his hand for a while to practice. I might have to try that.

I am also thinking seriously about springing for a lesson locally to have an instructor look at my overall left hand form, but for this problem I am a little afraid that the instructor I get would be a very by-the-book perfect form type (common here) who would just focus on the technically perfect hand position and not the most ergonomic, which is kind of the opposite of what I want. Still, this seems like a good option.


Agh, that sounds nasty, @howard

I would definitely recommend consulting with an experienced teacher (that is one of the things that just doesn’t work as well online, or perhaps not at all…), but finding the right one can be quite challenging.

And by “right” I don’t mean one that basically says what you want to hear, but also not one who wants to beat textbook stuff into you at any cost. Instead, the best teacher is someone who recognizes your individual “challenges” (anatomically, conceptually, …), makes you aware of them, and develops solutions for you and with you. Alas, these guys are hard to find…

Good luck!


Thanks! Yeah, I’ll probably ask around for instructor recommendations. There’s an amazing range of instruction available here, so finding one shouldn’t be too tough, just might take a few tries. I found a couple that do free trial lessons too, but usually those are big schools and probably random instructors.

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Howard - I’m guilty of too much force, strain, and exertion on both hands. It has lead to rough problems in the muscle and the hands.
Please oh please - breath lots.
Relax lots.
Turn the amp up, and play softer.
There’s a sweet spot that you can find where you are putting in the perfect amount of energy to get the perfect sound. Try and find that, and relax into it.
I still don’t do it - particularly if I get a bass solo. I an excitable boy. But! It’s a goal, and I still work towards it.


Turning up the amp is great advice! Breathing and relaxing too.

Practicing adequately amplified is so important. I wasn’t doing it for a long time as I tend to practice late at night and that might have contributed.


Yeah, that’s a good tip.

I think everybody (who will admit it) sometimes uses more force to play bass than is needed, including me.

What I’ve been doing for myself is at the beginner of most practice sessions, I start with some technical warm up stuff, and I’ll intermittently start using way way less pressure than I need, so the notes don’t actually come up, and then I slowly add tiny bits more pressure until I get notes again. Then I can find where the threshold really is and get used to that feeling for the rest of my practice session.

After a few months of focusing on that again, I feel like I’m consistently playing easier with my fretting hand, and I’m remembering to adjust that during rehearsals/gigs too, so it’s working well for me.

And this -


Slower songs with easy Bass parts are not usually an issue but as they get faster and/or more technical I find myself squeezing the neck too. Sadly I’m aware of it, will relax my hand and the next thing I know I’m back to squeezing before the song is done.:cry:



I’m with you @Gadget. I love putting on my experienced teacher hat and asking people to relax and breathe… but, damn it, at a show last weekend I got super amped up. When I get excited my whole body tenses. Adrenaline + my brain’s instinctual shouting “you’re trying to do a cool thing! Use muscles!!” = my muscles tighten up, everything feels like it’s in slow motion; clunky; not good.

So. I’m with you on this 100%.
Best thing to do is just dedicate practice time to relaxing and playing. Whatever the phrase or the situation is where you feel the tension, try and isolate it and play it. Let the brain and body get comfortable with the scenario so they’re not activating ‘fight-or-flight’ channels in the bio mechanics.

And then, like me, you’ll still have to deal with lapses.
Steady on, steady on, steady on.
(he said to himself…)


also… when I logged in today, I really thought this was a thread about Death Grips.
I was pretty stoked…


What happens on day 60? Why the Death Grips have to leave me hangin’ like this.