Shoulder Pain Due to Weight of Guitar

Hi. I’ve just started the bass, and find that the weight of the guitar (about 10 pounds) hurts my shoulder. I have a 3.5 inch padded strap, but that doesn’t help. The reality is that the entire weight is borne by a small section of my left shoulder, which isn’t heavily muscled. (I’m a slim guy.) It’s like placing a 10-pound barbell plate on it. Is this a common problem, and is there some solution that would really work (e.g., a gel pad) – or am I just not built for the bass? Thanks.

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@asf Welcome to the BassBuzz forums. There are a lot of nice and helpful people here.

Yes, shoulder and back problems are common around here. Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Do you have pain both sitting and standing? Do you gig with others and that’s when it happens? How long can you play before the pain starts? Do you have back pain also? Have you ever had an injury in that shoulder? Anything else you can think of?

10 pounds is fairly common for bass but we have people of all ages and sizes that find a way to make it work for them. :+1:

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Same problem here, but I think it’s getting better. I tried different things, including a harness strap. I now use a 4.6 inch padded leather strap and it seems to help. I also do stretching exercises on my back muscles every morning.

Welcome to the forum.

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Welcome to the forums @asf. Have you been playing bass for long? It may just be down to conditioning, and if so it will ease as you get used to it and develop some strength and resistance. You could try some stretching and strengthening exercises - nothing intense, just enough to help with the weight bearing and pressure.

For weeks when I first started I got some shoulder and elbow aches simply from the unfamiliar posture and actions.

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Unless you are gigging in a musical context where sitting would be frowned upon, try playing while sitting. There, the weight is resting on your thigh and you don’t even need a shoulder strap (however, it might still be helpful to use one, as you could take your hands off the bass without risking it falling off your lap).

Playing while sitting also gives me a much better angle on the fretboard to see what I am doing - I still need that feedback :grin:

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Thanks for all your responses. I’m trying various pads for my shoulder and experimenting with sitting while playing.

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Sitting while practicing is fine, I do as well and I’m using a wide strap with cushioning. Maybe a next experiment could be to use a playing bass stand, horizontal or vertical. I’m yet to decide myself :blush:

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Using the right strap can also make a night and day difference. My current strap is just a cheap Earnie Ball 2" wide nylon strap. It kills my shoulder. I can’t play more than 5 minutes with it before it starts cutting off the circulation in my arm.

I recommend this topic for more information that might help…

This is what I’m planning to get…


I’ve tried one before and the difference was amazing. It made wearing my bass super comfortable with no pain at all.

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@eric.kiser I have that strap now, and it makes a world of difference. I got mine on Amazon… not sure if it’s the same price or lower than GC

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Well, using a cardboard box and three large yellow sponges, I’ve been able to balance the guitar on the back of my sofa and play standing up. I can also play while reclining on the sofa using just two sponges. Enjoying the lessons and at the moment working on a creditable version of “slow” Billie Jean…

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I am so curious… if you can snap a photo, I think I can speak for the forum that we’d love to see the sponge stand in action!

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Here you go…

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Heck yeah. Whatever makes it work. :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

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Love this. Thanks for putting it in context for me.

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Wow! You win the most-creative-use-of-a-sponge-with-a-bass award. :trophy:

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That reminds me of the first FZR 1000 I had.
9 miles after picking it up and my ass was killing me.
Then I had to go from B’ham UK to the South of France on it.
That’s where the sponge came into the frame.

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