Shoulder pain

I purchased a bass few days back and have started learning from Josh’s videos. I’m considering buying his course in near future (I’ve to get an amp first lol).
Anyways. What my problem is that when I try to play bass my shoulders start to hurt a little after 5-7mins of continuous. Now I Don’t own a strap so it’s certainly not bass’ weight. My wrists feel fine, not any alarming pain yet. Do you think it’s just because I’m just new to holding bass and it feels uncomfortable in beginning?


Your muscles are learning new things, plus you’re probably using muscles that you haven’t used much before.
I definitely recommend you get a strap though… a wide one!


What @PamPurrs said was spot on and @JoshFossgreen recommends always using a strap but I can say, from experience, a bad strap is worse than no strap at all.

Also, you can check these threads to see if they can help sort out what might be causing the pain and ways to relieve it.

Shoulder Pain Due to Weight of Guitar .
Harness Strap .
Hand/Arm issues? Problems? Solutions? Do tell - #28 by pukkita .
Problems with a shoulder .

I know that’s a lot. Unless it’s a matter of just getting used to it, like Pam said, it’s difficult to make recommendations without more information.

Good luck, @Gray and let us know how it goes.


As much as anything more technical or gear related, when you first start with the bass you will be tenser than you realise so even the smallest of movements are constricted and tighten you even more. Once you get a comfortable strap you should feel it less, but for a while you may well still have some aches in muscles that a) you didn’t know you had and have hardly ever really worked, and b) you are still tensing as you try to combine learning, focussing, critically analysing your technique, and quite possibly (if you’re anything like a lot of us) you’ll be worrying too much.

My solution for the tension caused by trying too hard to get it right is to pick something really simple and play along with something (song or basic backing track) just to get the benefit of sounding like you’re ‘playing’ rather than learning. The feeling of getting a little lost in the music is wonderful for relaxing and enjoying the process.

Also, you say you don’t have an amp, but are you playing direct into a computer or headphone amp, or are you playing unamplified? If it’s the latter then you’re being hindered by not hearing anything you play sounding right - you aren’t hearing your playing sound like a bass player so you may be getting more tense about it. The difference in sound between an unplugged electric bass and an amplified one is chalk & cheese. No, it’s worse than that; it’s chocolate and dogs**t - they kind of look the same but there the similarity ends.

Relax. Chill. Enjoy. Get a strap.


What @PeteP said. When I started the course I balked at some of the more simplistic things Josh has us play. Until I played them. Now I love playing those simple bass lines because playing them lets me think about all the stuff Pete is talking about. Like, learning to relax when I play. I never even thought this could be an issue and I started seeing myself tense up.


Thanks Erik for your advice, you are very kind.
In fact, last year I had a very uncomfortable shoulder inflammation - diagnosed as a bursitis, see topic Problems with a shoulder. Despite several physiotherapy sessions (18!), the pain did not go away. This lasted several months, until in February of this year I went to Thailand. During that stay I underwent six sessions of Thai massages (in less than three weeks) which completely eliminated the disorder.
The whole problem lasted six months. I cannot say with total confidence that the Thai massages were decisive (perhaps I was already on the way to recovery), but I am certain that after each massage I felt that the improvements were obvious. From that point on I didn’t have that pain anymore. But for fear of falling back into the same problem I put the bass down. Although it grieves me, it has been so annoying that for the moment I prefer to abstain from playing.
I hope to resume soon …
Best regards to the whole community


I’m sorry to hear you had to quit playing but I do understand doing what must be done to get relief from being in pain. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better.

If you do get the opportunity to pick up the bass again, we’ll be here to help how we can.

Best Regards,


@stefanospinelli - Have you tried playing sitting down resting the bass on your leg instead of having it hang from your shoulder? Making music is such a therapeutic activity in so many ways, and can be experienced not just standing up with a strap on your shoulder…


Thanks Lanny, I used to play sitting down. I think it’s just the arm position and tensions that caused that problem. But who knows, maybe it wasn’t even because of the bass…
Sooner or later I’ll come back to music


Thank you, Erik, it’s a pleasure to know it! Hope to come back to this beautiful community! Cari saluti, Stefano


Sorry to hear that @stefanospinelli! That’s a bummer.

I’m always keeping my fingers crossed for some Star Trek era medical technology. Imagine just popping into Sick Bay and having all your chronic inflammation issues gone in 15 seconds with the wave of a tricorder… that’s the dream. :angel: :space_invader:


:+1: soon or later…will be back.


One thing I noticed last year when I first started playing is I was playing sitting down. This caused me to hunch my picking/plucking hand/shoulder up a bit and cause some shoulder discomfort.

As soon as I bought a nice, thick, padded strap (dont go for those nylon thin straps) adjusted my bass to what Josh shows in one of his beginner videos…the discomfort went away. I latter bought a nice padded stool that sat up high so can half sit/stand and am very comfy now.

Big lesson here is your position is very important as far as how you hold your bass. And especially important medically as you want your fretting wrist and hand to be in the proper position so as to avoid repetitive stress injury.


It’s worth restating that beginners tend to look at their hands way more than they will once they’re comfortable with some basics. We tend to have our neck cricked over to one side or down. If I haven’t played for a few weeks I still look at my fretting hand (my left) far more than is good for me, and I notice the tension building after only 10-15 minutes.

I think that’s where most beginner neck/shoulder pain comes from.


@PeteP you are 100% correct regarding looking at the fret board and it’s relative neck pain. I had that problem when I first started, but I soon discovered that the more I became familiar with the fret board and developed my muscle memory, the less I had to peer at the fret board while playing, and the less I suffered any neck of back issues.


Most likely it is just as you say: be more aware of your position - back shoulders neck and hands - and play as much as possible without looking at the fret. Thank you! I will try soon


I was just wondering how everybody was getting on with their shoulders after getting a few pointers. This is such a common issue that I thought the thread deserved a bumping, and some updates would be helpful.


My shoulders are OK, but I get a lot of back pain. Am getting one of those Kliq straps in a few days and hoping that helps. I do have scoliosis and a damaged lower spine, so can’t probably escape pain completely, but can hopefully reduce it.


My son got me a Levy’s Leathers 3.5" strap for Christmas and it has made a huge difference.

@JT I look forward to hearing what you think of it.


That’s the one I have. I love it, and it’s made a world of difference for me.