Necks shape and arthrosis

Started by pasha811, February 14, 2024, 08:58:13 AM

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pasha811

Well, I had a question in my mind since a week ago.. not sure to post it or not.. but finally here we are. I have been diagnosed Trapeziometacarpal (TMC) arthritis ( also known as Rhizarthrosis ) of both thumbs. I still can play with almost no restriction but I'd like to know in this case what neck shape helps best. So far I am using Fender Strat Modern C neck (two guitars) and Thin U (LTD St-213).
Fretboard Radius is 9.5 for the Fender Guitars and 13.7 for the LTD.
Even if Necks and Fretboards are a personal taste, what is best ? a slimmer neck, fatter neck or in the middle?

Thanks a lot
Paolo
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

IMH1234

That sounds like bad news - I really hope it doesn't get to the point that it affects your playing.

Not sure I can help much on the specific question - my Dad has quite bad arthritis in both his hands and is still able to enjoy playing - he has an Eric Johnson Strat which has a fairly large, slightly v neck with 12" radius. However,  I suspect what works best will depend on your hand position, technique and how much you use the affected joints so may be quite an individual thing

You might want to check out some interviews with John Mclaughlin and Steve Morse - both have experienced arthritis in recent years and found ways to keep playing at a high level so might provide some pointers about neck preferences? Also Mike Stern had to come back from a serious hand injury - all of them have spoken about adapting so may have covered this topic in an interview somewhere

Elantric

#2
With my hands, and a Jimi Hendrix type thumb fretting low E, A technique ,   a fatter neck 1 inch thick is my go to profile for extended live performance,  and better sustain and tone.

The common thin 0.75" thin profile necks I can only play 20 minutes , until my left forearm spasms and I must stop  - so I don't play that type guitar neck at my live 3 hour gigs

 

arkieboy

Jeff Beck also preferred beefier necks for similar reasons.

I'm not sure how people actually play some of the thinner necks.  For some time a 60s LP profile is my favourite, but I don't go any thinner by choice - it's why my Brian Moore LP iGuitar is relegated to a spare in favour of a Pit Bull kit with a GK-KIT installed.

Oh, and all the best with the diagnosis and I hope there's no progression - I turned 60 last year and I'm starting to worry when arthritis might start to affect me ...
Main rig: Barden Hexacaster and Brian Moore i2.13 controllers
Boss SY1000/Boss GKC-AD/Boss GM-800/Laney LFR112

Other relevant gear: Line 6 Helix LT, Roland GR-33, Axon AX100 MkII
Oberheim Matrix 6R, Supernova IIR, EMu E5000, Apple Mainstage, Apple Logic, MOTU M4

IMH1234

Quote from: arkieboy on February 14, 2024, 03:38:28 PMI'm not sure how people actually play some of the thinner necks.  For some time a 60s LP profile is my favourite, but I don't go any thinner by choice

Personally I find myself playing lots of different profiles - I find it challenges me to approach each guitar slightly differently - especially given I seem to have accumalated an excessive number of otherwise similar maple neck Strats. I have a custom shop model that has the biggest neck I have ever found on a Fender (I think it may be their '1056 shape', an early USA standard 'No5' profile (with 12" radius !?!) that makes an 80s Jackson feel beefy and a '56 that has the most pronounced asymmetrical V you could imagine - yet I find they all feel great to play - just very different.

I think a big factor is how you use your thumb - mine is basically just a positioning guide and applies almost no grip or pressure (even when bending heavy strings) so neck profile is less noticeable than fingerboard width and radius - for example, it takes me a while to get used to my recent-ish 335 which has a really wide fingerboard compared to a Strat or Tele.

Paolo - maybe worth looking at whether to adjust your technique as much as the neck - long term might help if you can play with minimum thumb pressure and movement?

pasha811

Thanks everybody for useful answers! I really appreciate your good wishes as well.
It's not the first time and it's not going to be the last that I got a surge in symptoms but the other times (twice) the situation improved after a 1 month of treatment. This time is getting longer as tendons are involved as well. Anyway I have seen several videos of guitarists from my idols to newcomers and I have found a mismatching habit : My thumb is positioned in line with index finger and sometimes the imaginary line from the thumb falls to the left of my index finger just like opening your hand to say hello and keep the neck that way. It's uncommon that I keep the thumb imaginary line between middle finger and wedding ring finger. That happens at solos. Stretching for complex Jazz chords is somewhat harder now but not a great deal if I say goodbye to those. My thought is that the 'open hand' grip I use most of the times can make me harm so I am trying to adapt. I am also using my special aid to avoid those movements while playing.  Aid I am adapting and still enjoying music. 
Maybe it's not the neck but my position (I have learnt guitar by myself) that I might have wrongly developed through the years. I'll keep an eye on that and see how it goes. Thinner necks require thumb force, maybe bigger necks are less demanding I have to try. I have also played Bass Guitar for years so something might come from that as well.
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

gumbo

Wishing you well with all of this... :)

Cheers,
Peter
Read slower!!!   ....I'm typing as fast as I can...

pasha811

Quote from: gumbo on February 15, 2024, 03:43:24 PMWishing you well with all of this... :)

Cheers,
Peter

Thanks for the warm wishes Peter! :)
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

gbr13697

I have a bit of arthritis in my hands, but my main problem is that I have damaged the vertebrae in my neck.  If I am not very careful this leads to numbness in my hands and painfull neuralgia down my arms. I have to ensure that my posture is perfectly upright, and I can not tolerate any weight over my shoulder.  This led me into a search for light ergonomic guitars, which ended with Strandbergs. I have developed a method of hanging my heavy guitars from the ceiling over my guitar playing seat, but my Strandbergs are the only guitars I can play without such restrictions.
I am mentioning Strandbergs in the context of this thread because of the Strandberg Endurneck, which is totally different to any other guitar neck. It does not have the normal rounded profile at all, but I find it very comfortable. Most Strandbergs also use fanned frets, but they have just released a line that has normal straight frets.
There is an explanation of the benefits on the Strandberg web site. https://strandbergguitars.com/strandberg-endurneck/

Brak(E)man

Wishing you well !
Having had some issues with fingers , joints etc
and having zero preference in neck profiles, scale , width etc
I've come to realize that for me the main thing to keep in mind when playing is
no "unnatural" grips , stretch etc. not trying to learn "weird" fretting/positions.
( exactly the opposite of my classical training)
I've practiced this for a long time,way before any issues,
and it helps for me.
Also being careful when sliding the thumb along and avoiding the thumb base and having the guitar low so that the wrist gets in a unnatural "angle"
swimming with a hole in my body

I play Country music too, I'm just not sure which country it's from...

"The only thing worse than a guitar is a guitarist!"
- Lydia Lunch

pasha811

Quote from: Brak(E)man on February 16, 2024, 04:18:16 AMWishing you well !
Having had some issues with fingers , joints etc
and having zero preference in neck profiles, scale , width etc
I've come to realize that for me the main thing to keep in mind when playing is
no "unnatural" grips , stretch etc. not trying to learn "weird" fretting/positions.
( exactly the opposite of my classical training)
I've practiced this for a long time,way before any issues,
and it helps for me.
Also being careful when sliding the thumb along and avoiding the thumb base and having the guitar low so that the wrist gets in a unnatural "angle"

Thanks for the wishes and suggestion!
Back in the day when I was younger I took 10 Bass Guitar lessons and I was told to 'wear' the bass up to the chest rather than down on the belly. I have to restore the habit even when I play sit on a chair to avoid unnatural angles of the wrist. ::)
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

Paresh

Those Strandberg guitars are quite striking, especially the colors in the high-end models. How do they sound? I know they must feel pretty good. Regarding arthrosis, I recently bought a TENS unit for electrical stimulation. I'm using it for another issue now but will soon use it for arthritis as well. It can calm the nerves that are signaling pain. You may know that pain doesn't necessarily correlate with the amount of joint damage, you can have a lot of deterioration in the joints with little pain or the reverse. Also slightly OT, I cut the toes out of an old sock and wear that as a sleeve on my picking arm for neuropathy. It gives me a little cushion. I also keep up my finger stretching and independence exercises. Sometimes I may overdo it but overall I think it keeps my left hand mobile and balanced. It's somewhat like doing yoga or Tai Chi as we age to keep the whole body/mind in balance.
paresh

pasha811

Quote from: Paresh on February 17, 2024, 08:49:26 AMThose Strandberg guitars are quite striking, especially the colors in the high-end models. How do they sound? I know they must feel pretty good. Regarding arthrosis, I recently bought a TENS unit for electrical stimulation. I'm using it for another issue now but will soon use it for arthritis as well. It can calm the nerves that are signaling pain. You may know that pain doesn't necessarily correlate with the amount of joint damage, you can have a lot of deterioration in the joints with little pain or the reverse. Also slightly OT, I cut the toes out of an old sock and wear that as a sleeve on my picking arm for neuropathy. It gives me a little cushion. I also keep up my finger stretching and independence exercises. Sometimes I may overdo it but overall I think it keeps my left hand mobile and balanced. It's somewhat like doing yoga or Tai Chi as we age to keep the whole body/mind in balance.

Thanks for posting!
I use a tennis cuff on the picking hand (right hand for me) for the same reason.
What makes me crazy is that my RX show initial joint damage but pain is there lurking if I made a natural movement that was always pain free until the day before, unexpectedly pain comes in. I might also have progressing carpal tunnel in the mix for both hands. It was spotted in 2020 as very initial. Since then I tool precautions. I worked in IT for 30 years now and mouse and keyboard are taking their toll. TENS might be a good idea. I'll check that. In any case I have been caught into a catch 22 loop.
My first diagnosis in late November was pointing to rheumatoid arthritis then I visited a Guru that excluded that but I think I lost momentum (it took several weeks to perform all diagnostic stuff and visit Doctors) so now it's getting worse.
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

ElliotG

You might find this recent overview of the Strandberg interesting:

pasha811

Quote from: gbr13697 on February 16, 2024, 02:04:17 AMI have a bit of arthritis in my hands, but my main problem is that I have damaged the vertebrae in my neck.  If I am not very careful this leads to numbness in my hands and painfull neuralgia down my arms. I have to ensure that my posture is perfectly upright, and I can not tolerate any weight over my shoulder.  This led me into a search for light ergonomic guitars, which ended with Strandbergs. I have developed a method of hanging my heavy guitars from the ceiling over my guitar playing seat, but my Strandbergs are the only guitars I can play without such restrictions.
I am mentioning Strandbergs in the context of this thread because of the Strandberg Endurneck, which is totally different to any other guitar neck. It does not have the normal rounded profile at all, but I find it very comfortable. Most Strandbergs also use fanned frets, but they have just released a line that has normal straight frets.
There is an explanation of the benefits on the Strandberg web site. https://strandbergguitars.com/strandberg-endurneck/

This Endureneck looks interesting. I saw they lower the prices for the NAMM 24 models. I might be giving a look. It's 1200 Euros and I think a GK can be hooked to it. Thanks for ideas! TENS and EMG can be used to reinforce the muscles. I will check as well.
Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/

Elantric

#15
My latest solution for playing live with arthritus

1 inch thick "Fat 58"  neck profile is stock  on Chibson LP ( $250 on Ebay from LS Customshop))
No longer need to use Custom Shop 50's replicas to obtain a fat neck profile.
Then requires a few upgrades and setup ( Gotoh Floyd, Gotoh Nut, Peavey T60 rewire for coil taps , push push pots for bridge PU phase /Single coil select, Volume Bypass for Solos




Will add an internal GK Kit this summer - will use a spare Gibson/Tronical PU Select switch /Pot for stealth GK VOL , and two Shadow Kill Switch tone potentiometers for GK  S1, S2 switches = stealth GK Install

Many types available
https://www.vguitarforums.com/smf/index.php?topic=6125.450#msg269199

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ls+customshop&form=HDRSC3&first=1