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Playing Guitar with Arthritis

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GUEST,Alley 07 Aug 06 - 04:43 PM
Cruiser 07 Aug 06 - 04:58 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 06 - 05:00 PM
Wesley S 07 Aug 06 - 05:04 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 07 Aug 06 - 05:06 PM
Cruiser 07 Aug 06 - 05:29 PM
jonmac 07 Aug 06 - 05:39 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 06 - 07:43 PM
Cruiser 07 Aug 06 - 07:48 PM
Bobert 07 Aug 06 - 08:11 PM
Cruiser 07 Aug 06 - 08:27 PM
bobad 07 Aug 06 - 08:32 PM
Kaleea 07 Aug 06 - 08:58 PM
Stewart 07 Aug 06 - 09:35 PM
leftydee 08 Aug 06 - 05:04 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 08 Aug 06 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,van lingle 08 Aug 06 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,vl 08 Aug 06 - 06:18 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 09 Aug 06 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Alley 09 Aug 06 - 11:40 AM
PoppaGator 09 Aug 06 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Alley 10 Aug 06 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,weerover 10 Aug 06 - 09:35 AM
Good Soldier Schweik 10 Aug 06 - 10:44 AM
SharonA 10 Aug 06 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,van lingle 10 Aug 06 - 08:19 PM
Genie 10 Aug 06 - 11:51 PM
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PoppaGator 26 Apr 07 - 04:38 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 26 Apr 07 - 04:49 PM
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van lingle 29 Oct 07 - 11:40 PM
Mr Red 30 Oct 07 - 04:36 AM
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Subject: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Alley
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 04:43 PM

The "C" chord on the guitar is easy--for anyone else. Having arthritis in the first finger of my left hand makes the "C" chord a b----! I don't like expressing myself that way, however, it seems that I am at my wit's end. Does anyone else out there in "Mudcat World" have this problem? Had a music lesson today, and it was difficult for me to go from "G" to "C". No, I am not a beginner. I've been taking lessons for well over two years. Instead of getting better, it's getting worse. The "C" chord is the only one that gives me trouble. Thing is, you can't avoid it completely. The more I practice, the more painful it gets. Sure would hate to give up the guitar since I enjoy it so much. Just wonder how others, in the same boat, are dealing with it. Thanks for listening.   Alley


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Cruiser
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 04:58 PM

Although I do not have arthritis I exercise my fingers before playing a lot. They are basic stretching exercises and the first one includes doing "push-ups" with my index finger, similar to when you were a kid and did finger puppet movements (at least I did). I even saw a book on Mel Bay once about finger exercises for instrumentalists. I bet you can find something on the web. I also use a finger exerciser and I will post what it is called later. My exercises have all been as preventative measures and not restorative, so they may not help.

I also rub wintergreen isopropyl rubbing alcohol on the joints and the tips of my fingers before playing and sometimes afterwards.

Just a poor lame joke (sorry I could not resist):

Instead of playing guitar with Art Hritis play guitar with Art Thieme (a legend on Mudcat)

Good luck and continue to exercise and warm up before playing.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 05:00 PM

well, instead of playing C with arthritis, try a plectrum ... (sorry)..now that the smart-ass remark is out of the way -

...yeah the older I get the harder it is to make the chords. I have exactly the same problem...index finger on left hand is a little stiff and I notice it more when I try to bend it to catch the C note on the 2nd string (or G7 chord - same problem)... fortunately for me after a few minutes it seems to limber up and the pain and stiffness go away.

I wish it were the same for you. Sorry I don't have any answers, I posted only to commiserate with your condition. There will be many folks along shortly with all kinds of suggestions I'm sure - the age of most everyone around here falls on or along the "onset of arthritis" curve. Best to you.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Wesley S
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 05:04 PM

I'll assume you've seen your doctor about this. So far I havn't had the problems you're dealing with but I guess it's just a matter of time.

I'm guessing that the finger that's really giving you trouble is the C on the A string. If so I'd be tempted to just touch the string without any pressure - and mute it. At least you would hear the other strings. Not a good solution - but it's the best I can think of. Listen to your doctor of choice.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 05:06 PM

Well start taking cider vinegar and cod liver oil and glaucosamine tablets. I have it in the top of my left middle finger, get a gripmaster and keep exercising your fingers,dont stop playing,if you plsy in d major you wont have to use c major chord much.and piano type finger exercises,resting three fingers on a flat surface and move the fourth one and do this with all your fingers in turn.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Cruiser
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 05:29 PM

Another suggestion is to use barre chords where your index finger will be straight and flat against the fingerboard and no bending is required.

Captain Birdseye got the exerciser name correct: Gripmaster. I have the blue Light Tension and the red heavier tension ones. I bet the blue model would be just right because it is the repetition that matter for warming up.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: jonmac
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 05:39 PM

There are OTC preparations that are said to help creaking joints - mainly fish oils etc. (taken internally!). Gentle stretching exercises might help - but take it gently - too vigorous and you'll set yourself up for some painful weeks!
Practically I can only suggest that you try very hard to relax your hands when you are playing ... I know that I had a great deal of trouble with my hands when playing which I put down to holding the instrument badly (which shouldn't apply if you're having lessons) and to gripping to tightly / tensing my fingers. Once I'd mastered playing with my hands "relaxed" the pain vanished - and my playing improved!
Otherwise - don't use the particular chord shape - capo up and use different shapes - not sure it'll actually help though - and it will probably upset your teacher! If you're using steel strings - transfer to nylon.
Strengthen the fingers ... my teacher had me playing every note on the instrument to strengthen and increase flexibility ... don't know if it would help you ... I played (string/fret)
6/1,6/2,6/3,6/4,5/1,5/2,5/3,5/4,4/1,4/2,4/3,4/4 etc up to 1/4 - then slide up one fret and then play down 1/5,1/4,1/3,1/2,2/5,2/4 etc - then slide up a fret - play up etc.etc. until you reach the twelfth fret - then play the sequence back to the start again. Can be down as a slow meditation listening to the notes - or as a speed exercise! Whatever else it'll give your left hand a damn good work out ... but as ever - proceed with care and do stop if it starts to hurt!

Good Luck - pain killers are of dubious value and should be avoided when playing as they may tempt you to push too hard!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 07:43 PM

Or try some other tunings...


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Cruiser
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 07:48 PM

Guest:

Please give us some examples that are specific to alleviating his condition while fretting the fingerboard.

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 08:11 PM

Hey, help is on the way...

About 5 years ago I was havin' lots of pain in my right thumb and as an acoustic blues player that ain't good... I had the x-rays and all an' was diagnosed as sufferin' from arthritis in the "thumb base"...

Treatment, you ask??? A danged cast to imobilze the joint for 2 weeks... And then, maybe surgery... So, I did the cast and then slowly went back to playin' guitar... It took a couple of weeks an' I was back where I had been before the cast but...

...a few months later the pain came back and I went to the internet and read everything I could... I even posted a thread here on Mudcat an' got more info and here is what will work:

1. Salmon oil: 3000 mg per day

2. Glucosamine: 3000 mg per day

3. Chondroitin Sulfate: 2000 mg per day

4. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): 100 mg per day

Now if you go to www.vitaminworld.com you can purchase one pill that has #2, #3 & #4 in it and 2 a day plus the salmon oil will work!!!

I know...

My right thumb is my music and I am now 100% pain free!!!

I promise you that this will work...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Cruiser
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 08:27 PM

Joint Soother


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: bobad
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 08:32 PM

I've played with them Ritis boys and I'm telling you Art is the baddest of the lot.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Kaleea
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 08:58 PM

I've been playing Guitar since I was about 13, have taught Guitar for many years & YES!! I have lots of arthritis in my hands & fingers. Achey, painy, swollen, tight, cramping hands, fingers, & wrists. It can really hurt!
First, let me suggest (as above) that you ask your Dr. about a good medication to help reduce the inflammation. Some are helped by using a hot pad--yes, on your hands, or even running very warm water over your fingers. Please bear in mind that everyone's location & amount of arthritis can be different, so what works for others may not work for you. Some exercises can help one, & make it much worse for another.
   What you need to do is attempt to use less of the movement which is causing wear & tear of the joints, etc., which are inflamed. With arthritis, muscles are not the issue--inflammation, usually on joint areas, is the problem. While we do need our finger muscles working, I wouldn't run right out & get a finger exerciser too quickly, as that is for muscles, not arthritis. It's also possible that you might be able to have a physical therapist help you. Ask the therapist about a Guitar-style finger exerciser to see if it will help or not. (It was not good for me to use.) I have actually taken my Guitar & Autoharp (the instruments that hurt me the most) with me to the physical therapist for assistance with movement. The physical therapist, who also played Guitar, changed the way he had fingered G for 45 years after seeing my hands in action.
If you are hurting from changing the G to C chords, I'm wondering about your posture, the exact position of your elbow (not down on your leg!!), wrist, and fingers, as well as how you are fingering the G. Be sure to tell you teacher about this problem. God help you if your teacher is a kid who has never known joint pain.
G to C is much less irritating on my old bones because I learned how to play the G chord thus: (no index finger!) middle finger on 6th string, ring finger on 5th, pinky on 1st. (point your index finger to the heavens) In the beginning, your pinky muscles may complain, but they'll get strong pretty quickly, & most people have less inflammation in their pinkies than the other fingers. To change from the above fingered G to C, the hand does not have to bend & turn the wrist a different direction, thus drastically reducing painful movements! I always try to conserve movement, and not hold any one chord position too long.
To change from G to G7, just lift pinky & place index finger on 1st string, 1st fret. This G fingering is really much less movement (& wear & tear on joints), although some of my big, burly male Guitar students with large hands have, over the years, complained that this is hard, as they may have learned it the other way. When I compare my short stubby hands & fingers to theirs, they usually realize that if I can do it, so can they!
   Barre Chords have always been more painful for me to play, especially in recent years. But I do it anyway, cause I figure if I stop, there's no going back.
   When I play in bands, or by myself, I try to change instruments frequently so that I am using different movements, & not grinding the same old joints all the time.
I'm also interested in what others are doing to try to send ol' arthritis packin'! Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 09:35 PM

The above advice (Kaleea) is very good. I also have mild arthritis in the thumb of my left hand. I play fiddle as well as guitar and recently experienced pain in my wrist and thumb. I had physical therapy for the past several weeks - my PT was also a guitar player. Stretching, heat and cold treatments, and muscle strengthing were part of the regime. Also an X-ray confirmed the mildly arthritic thumb joint. Now it is much improved, but I have to recognize the limitations in my wrist and hand movement and avoid any extremes that elicit pain. Also avoid overuse, and use a cold pack after practice if pain appears. Later, heat improves the circulation and healing. You really have to learn to live with these limitations and not push to extremes. I'm now much better and can play without pain if I don't push it.

Good luck. See uour doctor and work with a good physical therapist.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: leftydee
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 05:04 PM

try tart cherry juice. 4 oz (2oz x 2)mixed with 8 oz water. Yeah, I know, it sounds nuts.... thats what I thought too, but it really helps me. That with some hot water soaks followed by cold water (repeat a couple of times )and a couple of ibuprofen now and then and I'm back to playing every day. My thumb was so bad that i could not play barre chords. Now I play with only minimal discomfort on occasion. The cherry juice is $14 / bottle but well worth it


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 05:48 PM

The last comment is not daft , I suffer from gout but control it via diet. one thing that is particuarly effective for me is lemon juice, it is acid but it turns into alkaline in the body, gout is related to arthritis, it is an excess of uric acid in the body. and has a similiar effect, e g, stiffness of joints. cherries are another fruit that help to alleviate gout. ORANGES are bad for arthritis as are coffee and tea taken in excess.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,van lingle
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 06:12 PM

Anyone tried Grape juice with Certo (pectin). You can read about it at Healthcentral.com? I've been using it for a few days now. One table spoon pectin to 8 oz. grape juice. Someone told me Dr. Gott suggested it. More later. vl


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,vl
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 06:18 PM

Should have mentioned that that is my daily ration. Other recipes at the site.vl


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 07:08 AM

thanks BOBERT,andGUESTVL.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Alley
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 11:40 AM

Just want to thank each and every one of you who took the time to give me advise about dealing with arthritis. I love playing the guitar even though I'm not that good. I've been taking lessons for three years, and should be much better than I am. I have been practicing base runs with the "C" chord hoping to conquer this very difficult reach. I guess I should be grateful that my left index finger is the only one that gives me trouble. Thanks again.

Alley


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 12:19 PM

My arthritis in my hands was so bad that I quit playing for several years, and was only able to starrt up again after discovering, and starting to treat myself with, liquid glucosamine with chondroitin ~ this stuff. The makers of Syn-Flex contend that glucosamine (which promotes flexibility in arthritic joints) enters the bloodstream much more effectively when taken in liquid form than in tablets or powder form. I don't know about the science, but I can give the product my personal endorsement: "Works for me!"

I have a bit of a problem with my left index finger, too, but my problem is at its worse in my two pinkies. I can't completely bend either one into my fist; fortunately, I don't use the right pinky at all in my playing; however, I use the left pinky a lot but fortunately have found ways to make it work despite the chronic stiffness and soreness.

There are two basic approaches to dealing with arthritis: painkilling vs promotion/restoration of some degree of flexibility. As noted above, reliance on painkillers alone is not much help for someone striving for continued high-level performance of the joints in question, and indeed creates risk of further damage by masking pain that would otherwise prevent you from making your problem worse. Restoration of flexibility is the way to go; you can always supplement this approach by occasionally taking a few ibuprofins or aspirins or whatever ~ preferably after playing or otherwise overworking your arthritic fingers, not before.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Alley
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 08:47 AM

Poppa Gator, What do you mean by "restoration of flexibility"?

Alley


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,weerover
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 09:35 AM

Didn't realise guitars could get arthritis...sorry!

I have arthritis as well but only my knees are significantly affected - so far. After breaking the little finger of my left hand years ago it remains slightly deformed and stiff and makes most chords a little awkward, but I never was much of a guitar player anyway. Good luck Alley, keep practising and hope some of that good advice works.

wr


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 10:44 AM

Glucosamine sulphate is more effective if its taken with curcumin, which can be found in turmeric. it is important to take glucosamine SULPHATE. rather than just glucosamine. fresh ginger is also helpful for arthritis.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: SharonA
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 07:01 PM

Alley, you could try this alternate C chord which may be easier on your aching index finger:

Index finger on 5th string, 3rd fret
Middle finger on 4th string, 5th fret
Ring finger on 3rd string, 5th fret
Pinky finger on 2nd string, 5th fret
Do not strum or pick the 6th string. Dampen the first string with the top of your palm (at the base of your index finger) so that it will not vibrate when you are strumming the chord.

(Basically, it's the 3rd-fret C barre chord without the barre-ing part.)


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,van lingle
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 08:19 PM

One alernative fingering for 1st position C is:

Middle finger on 3rd fret of 5th string- C
Index finger on 2nd fret of 4th string -E (or you can leave this one open and damp with the pad of middle finger if it gives you pain)
Open 3rd string-G
Ring finger on 3rd fret of 2nd string-D
Pinky on 3rd fret of 1st string-G

This C with added 9th can be heard on the Byrds' version of Wasn't Born to Follow and a bunch of other folky type tunes usually in conjunction with a G chord that is formed by moving the ring finger down to the 6th string,third fret- G, and the index finger down to the 5th string string, 2nd fret- B. Although it usually is heard starting on the G chord and then going to the C. It gives things a different kind of texture and you can also throw in a few hammer-ons on the bass strings. Good luck. vl


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Genie
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 11:51 PM

When I cut off the tip of my left pointer a few years ago, I was forced to learn some barre chords to play C and as an alternate way of playing G, etc.   Necessity was the mother of long overdue invention for me, as I had convinced myself (for decades) that I was physically incapable of playing barre chords.   Now I often play C that way just 'cause it sounds nice higher up the neck.

I also switched the fingers I was using for A, E, and some other chords. So now I vary that, depending on what chord I'm going to next.

I still find the old fingering for C troublesome a lot of the time because of arthritis in that same finger and in my left pinkie, but I can switch positions off and on, so my fingers don't get as tired.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,slowhand2
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 03:51 PM

I too developed arthritis in my index finger which started around the age of 44 or so after playing guitar professionally since I was 12. It's very frustrating and initially I tried many so called 'cures' and ended up wearing a copper bracelet which seemed to relieve the most pain for a couple of years. After the pain got worse I started on Glucosamine with chondroitan and that seemed to relieve it for a few years but now the pain has gotten considerably worse and the 'heberdens node' on my index finger has increased it's size and become painful to touch. I am now 52 and still playing professionally but aside from taking advil, using aspercream on the joint, still wearing copper and taking Glucosamine I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep playing. For me it's not a matter of chords (which I can play relatively pain free), it's the dexterity and movement required for the complex guitar solos I have to frequently play in a night. I once booked for surgery on it but cancelled after being told there was a great chance of limited use of the finger after. Anybody got any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 04:38 PM

Wish I had an idea or two for you; I have problems of my own.

When I first joined Mudcat a while ago ~ almost exactly 4 years ago, when I was age 54 ~ I had just begun taking glucosamine/chondroitin and enjoying very positive results, and was happily redicovering the guitar after a couple of years when arthritis had caused me to quit completely.

In the meanwhile, I've been thought a lot of changes: a bout with cancer, a year of displacement thanksa to Hurricane Katrina, and various personal and family problems I choose not to discuss at the moment. Through it all, being able to play my instrument has been a great comfort, if not every single day, certainly as a periodic "excape" or exercise in creative self-preservation. Also, just within the last year, I've begun to "play out" (perform) for the first time in many years ~ just a monthly one-hour set at the moment, but begun with a definite intention to gradually build up towards actual paying employment, hopefully developing a source for supplemental income after retirement.

Now I'm having great doubts, because despite my continuing glucosamine regimin, my fingers are getting worse and worse.

My right hand is relatively OK ~ only the pinky is crippled, and I don't use that anyway. My picking/strummoing technique is not affected at all.

It's the left that's giving me fits. I need to use the pinky on this hand, and it hurts bad; the top joint of my left index finger is pretty painful, too. In my case, it is a matter of making chords; not so much a failure of the strength needed to hold the strings down as an inability to control positioning while exerting pressure. In other words, it's harder than ever for me to avoid damping strings that should be left open and free to ring out. I may eventually have to quit standard tuning completely and take up slide guitar!

Not long ago, I posted some blowhard opinion about choosing to restore flexibilty (via glucosamine) as opposed to simply killing pain (with NSAIDs). Now I need both; when I want to play, I take a couple of advils or aspirins even though I continue to take my glucosamine/chondroitin complex in ever-larger doses.

Worst of all, now I have to wonder how long it'll be before even this jacked-up therapy loses the battle with nasty old Arthur Eyetis.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 04:49 PM

personally I like standard tuning and drop d,.but could I suggest you consider DADGAD OR DADEAEor other open tunings


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 05:24 PM

I love standard tuning; maybe it's just an aversion to retuning, but even though I've learned a few open-tuning pieces, with and without slide effects, I rarely practice and never perform them.

I love the blues, and the sound of slide guitar (which I can produce passably well), but somehow I find it boring to play. Go figure.

With the prospect of completely losing the use of half of my left-hand fingers, however, the time may well come when the only way I'll be able to play is as a slide-guitar player. Crippled as my left pinky might become, it should still function as an essentially dead hook on which to hang a slide.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 05:36 PM

Alternative open tunings *can* mean, if this is what you need, less work on the left hand (presuming you're right handed) and some beautiful non-standard chord voicings. You could experiment with open G (bottom to top: DGDGBD), G6 (DGDGBE), or open D (D.A.D.Fsharp.A.D). Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 06:15 PM

You're right, Ian; even without the slide (which is the ultimate "crutch" for eliminating strain on the left-hand fingers), alternate and open tunings often create opprtunities to play with fewer fingers and easier fingerings than standard.

I can play a few basic slide-blues riffs in open G and open D (or E), just enough to bore myself to death through a few repetitive choruses of basic 12-bar blues.

Beyond that, I have a "repertoire" of exactly three songs in open D, each with a very different "sound" from the other two, and only one of them utilizing the slide. They are, all three, much easiler on the left hand than most anything I play in standard:

~ Mississippi John Hurt's "Payday," a blues-ish country folksong that is not "Delta" style, not played with the slide, and not in 12-bar format.

~ The Paul Brady arrangement of "Lakes of Pontchartrain," which has a sort of "DADGAD-like" Celtic sound. (I'm still having trouble playing and singing this at the same time. Brady capos up four frets; I have trouble vocalizing the high notes even with no capo at all.)

~ A slide-guitar version of the old spiritual "Twelve Gates to the City" that I learned from the great master Fred MacDowell way back when I had the opportunity to meet him back in 1968. It's not in 12-bar form, and is definitely not "devil's music" blues, but it shares a very sharp and eerie sound with the bluest of hard-core Delta blues.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 27 Apr 07 - 06:34 AM

re your version of lakes of pontchartrain,try paying it in drop d,but have your bottom note c,g c f a d.the whole guitar down a tone,the high notes will be easier.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Robin
Date: 29 Oct 07 - 12:35 AM

try rubbing alcohol mixed with fresh lemon juice


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Jim Krause
Date: 29 Oct 07 - 12:46 AM

The "C" chord on the guitar is easy--for anyone else. Having arthritis in the first finger of my left hand makes the "C" chord a b----! I don't like expressing myself that way, however, it seems that I am at my wit's end. Does anyone else out there in "Mudcat World" have this problem?


Yes, I have some minor difficulty with the C major chord, too. And that was what led me to seek medical treatment. In my case I was finally diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I'm still seeing a rheumatologist [sp?]. I hope you'll be doing better soon.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: van lingle
Date: 29 Oct 07 - 11:40 PM

Jim, I had surgery on my lefthand thumb about 2&1/2 months ago and haven't been able to play much in standard tuning with all it's barre and multi-finger chords. I've found in DADGAD,which has been mentioned up the page a few times, I'm able to play lots of interesting 3,2 even one finger chords and there are at least a couple of options for a 1st position C that doesn't involve the index finger.Good Luck.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Mr Red
Date: 30 Oct 07 - 04:36 AM

try rubbing a little neatsfoot oil on your hands. A little goes a long way - and let it dry a while. For the cost of the oil it is worth a try. I have seen one person who hadn't played for a couple of years succeed for a tune or two. Get the sort that is packaged for horsey things which has a nice smell - the raw stuff doesn't.

It is a Black Country (UK midlands ish) trick and I suspect it was discovered by ostlers. Regular applications of course.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Todd
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 11:10 PM

I just turned 50. I played bass since 5 and professionally for 30 years, and I rip. I retired and went from playing bass to playing lead guitar. Since then (2 years ago) I've had problems and they're getting worse. My knuckles get so bad I must stop playing for a couple days. String bending takes a real toll! Bass playing has little string bending and mostly is just pressing down on the strings. I end up getting the claw hand and it hurts bad to pry open my hand suddenly. I call it the curse! Exercises just puts more wear on the joints. I tried stuff called Oscal, but it didn't help. I also used some creams to no avail.

I'm going to try the Syn-Flex mentioned above in a post. http://www.easysource.com/synflex/syn_info.htm It seems to have a lot of ingredients mentioned by others.

I'll reply in a month or two and let yall know if it helps.

Peace


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,iancarterb
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 01:59 AM

Personally I swear by the glucosamine (which I started taking for a bad knee and realized it didn't take so long to warm up) and warming up with SLOW scales, and the gripmaster is good too, but I have a friend who swears by (presribed) ONE aspirin a day to keep under control the arthritis he's been holding off for 20 years.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: banjoman
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 06:39 AM

There's always a way to get round most problems. I had surgery on both wrists a couple of years ago to combat?? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which caused me very painful problems both with guitar and banjo. Didn't do that much good but I believe that if you have some mobility in a joint, then keep using it or you may lose it.Lots of the advice above re medication/ embrocation etc is good, but keep playing. I find that adapting my banjo style to using just thumb and one finger of right hand meant I can keep playing. I also tune my guitar to open tuning so I can play using less fingers - very much in banjo style.
Keep plaing and good luck.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: mattkeen
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 07:25 AM

You could try playing in an open tuning (G or D probably) and also try using different chord inversions so that you are not using the same shape all the time.

I am interested in the Gripmaster type idea - I don't understand how this could help me as the arthritis I suffer from is basically "rust" made worse by repetitive strain. So how does more working of the joints help? Genuine question, not trying to be a smarty pants


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 10:22 AM

I've had one guitar lesson in my life. The teacher knew that I just wanted to be sure that I wasn't doing anything harmful to myself, having been self-taught.

When I told him that I had trouble with the C chord he said, 'You're not supposed to play C on the guitar.' Now this was a man with tremendous skill. I decided he knows what he's talking about.

'You're not aupposed to play C on the guitar.' The guitar was not designed with that chord in mind. What relief that brought me!

He did point out a helpful thing - the index finger can swivel sideways and towards the thumb, so that it's possible to press a string with the side of the finger alongside of the fingernail.

My fingers are so skinny this isn't much help, but to someone with more flesh on the fingers, this could be helpful.

===
Here's another approach. Play an Am chord. Now lift your ring finger. You have a C chord on the highest four strings of the guitar. Often, this is all you need to get by.

====
I play early music and Celtic music with a group of friends. When I come across a good tune in C, I enter (or download) it into Noteworthy Composer and change the key. It's better for the guitar and the flutes, makes no difference to the harps, and is okay for recorders.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 11:11 AM

I don't have arthritis in my hands as yet. I expect to in time but just now I am free of that issue. I do have some partially frozen joints due to scar tissue as a result of a table saw injury. These scars limit my extension as well as retraction in the index middle and ring fingers of the left hand.

I was a full length guitarsist for years after the injury but in the last 2 or three my limitations have become worse. I have discivered the key of "G" and the capo. G D Em D7 Am A A7 B7 are all compact chords that span two frets and except for the G are in two frets and no more than three adjacent strings. The required C chord is less an issue tthan others when capoed. The Bm is a problem but playable or when possible I subsitute a D major and in many cases this works fine.

The problem I addressed was which was more important to me. Playing the guitar or singing and communicating a song.

Don


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Bearheart
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 01:21 PM

Speaking as a massage therapist and musician, I have dealt with problem from both perspectives (though I don't play guitar).

I have found the Blood type diet and related information very useful.

For Blood type Os and Bs especially, but also for some other folks, gluten from grains can be very damaging to the joints as well as often causing celiac problems. According to my uncle's doctor (who was treating him for shingles), 40% of all people of northern European ancestry are gluten intolerant. there are substances in certain foods called lectins which cause damage to various tissues in the body and they are Blood type specific. Glucosamine is effective for joint problems because it blocks the lectins that affect the joints. But if you reduce or eliminate wheat (the main culprit for most people) you aren't putting the lectins in your body to begin with. As someone else said, coffee is another substance that exacerbates the problem.

I discovered this almost 10 years ago. At that time I was beginning to get severe arthritis in my left elbow. About 6 months after it started, I quit wheat, corn, and coffee cold turkey.In two weeks I was painfree without taking anything for it.

I am now 54 and aside from the effects of a severe injury to my right thumb joint which is aggravated almost daily by my massage work, I am not suffering to speak of at all. I still avoid those substances most of the time, and I occasionally take glucosamine, and I sometimes do hand stretches (which as someone already mentioned, are very beneficial). However, I am able to do lots of vigorous gardening work and all the other stuff I do (living in the country and being pretty self-sufficient.) I really believe my eating habits have made all the difference for the strength and health of my hands.

Also as a side note, aspirin and iboprophen have lots of bad side effects for most everyone, especially if taken on a long-term basis.
If you want to help yourself with the pain, topical herbal preparations are your best bet-- Tiger Balm and such-like. If you experiment you'll find something that works.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: David C. Carter
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 01:34 PM

You might like to try this:

3rd finger on 6th at 8th poss.
2nd finger on 5th at 7th poss.
2nd finger deadens the D string.
G is played open.
4th,or pinky on 2nd at 8th possition.
Top E played open.

Good luck

David


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Escapee
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:05 PM

My answer doesn't actually address your question head on, Alley, but you might consider a banjo. At least the way I play, it requires less force from the left hand and the neck is much smaller. With the standard G tuning, there are simple one-finger barre chords all over the neck. I have occasional flare ups, but I just take more pills for a while. Not a good long term strategy,as has been wisely pointed out. Good luck with it.
Fair winds,
SKP


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 04:23 PM

I can trace my own degeneration over the last couple of years, reading through this thread. I brought my knobby old fingers back from the dead 8-10 years ago when I discovered glucosamine, and bought myself several years of regeneration. I fact, I had quit playing my guitar completely, and was able to pick it back up.

Now I've been playing pretty regularly, almost daily at home, and have even begun to play "out" after a 35+ year layoff. However, my fingers are giving out again, especially the left pinky. It won't band backwards anymore, which means that a basic favorite barre chord is now absolutely impossible for me: the Bb (114441) and inversions up the neck.

What really sucks is that many aspects of my playing are much better than ever, my musical understanding, and even mind-to-hand coordination. But there some things, an ever-increasing number of things , that the hands just can't do any more. I guess it's like what happens to athletes around age 35-40 -- the will and know-how are still there, probably better than ever, but the body just breaks down.

I went to a doctor not long ago; she had nothing to say except to keep on taking the glucosamine and to pop NSAIDS as necessary. (Nothing I wasn't already doing.) I had hoped that there would be some kind of steroid or something that might help. I'd take it, wihtout hesitation, assuming the cost would not be prohibitive. After all, we're not talking about cycling ~ no authority is going to drug-test me after a good performance. Well, not for steroids, anyway...


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 06:37 PM

Realizing that GuestAlley may not check this thread, given that it started in ought-six, I have two suggestions:

Medically, I second the glucosamine idea, although it's been getting mixed reviews here on Mudcat.

Musically, I suggest trying an alternate tuning like open G, which is
DGDGBD. Majors are straight barres, which still takes some effort but the forefinger will be straight and you can lay the middle finger over it and press with both. (G is open; C is across 5; D is across 7)

Sixths and sevenths can be pinkied on to the high D string two or three frets above the barre; like 777779. If you want more chords in that tuning, buy yourself a simple banjo chord chart, because standard-tuned banjo is also an open G. (I use that idea myself, not because of arthritis, but because I can then play songs scored for banjo on my guitar or my dobro, and get a better sound.)

If you play in a minor key a great deal, then tune the B down to Bb:
B-G-D-G-Bb-D. But remember if you want to play a major chord while in that minor tuning, you have to finger the B-string one fret above where you otherwise would.

If your voice is such that you're in C most all the time, you could tune to an open C, which could be E-G-C-G-C-E. If you go that route, you're on your own for chord forms, but if you chose to pursue that avenue, I'm sure you can find forms somewhere.


CC


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: peregrina
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 09:59 PM

Newtone strings has special extra low tension strings. Each string can be tuned to the same tuning with less tension than the usual tension reuired for that note/gauge.
Thus to play any given note or chord requires less pressure. They say somewhere that all their strings require less tension, but these extra low tension ones are described part way down the guitar section of their website.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:14 AM

One thing to consider if you are suffering from joint pain is the possibility that the problem may be a result of your medications. I have been having joint pain for the past few years and considered it to be the result of arthritis and old age. After taking Bactrin two weeks for a sinus infection I had so much pain especially in the knees that I could hardly walk. I decided to check for possible side effects caused by my medications. Three of the prescriptions I'd been taking (two for blood pressure and the bactrin) listed joint pain as a possible side effect and two were not supposed to be taken at the same time. I stopped taking all three and most of the joint pain is gone after several months. Best to consult with the doctor about alternatives to possible problem medications.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Louie Roy
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 01:27 PM

Alley at the age of 83 I too have difficulty with the standard C chord and have had for the past several years so I went to a different C chord pattern. It works for me and it might work for you.there are two different ways to do this go to the 5th fret and play the C chord in the A position and the F chord in the F position and the G chord in the F position starting on the 3 fret or go to the 8th fret and play yhe C chord in the F position and the F and G chord in the a position starting on the 10th and 12th fret. I won't atke up space rtying to explain this on mudcat thred but if you'll PM me your email I'll lead you through both of these C chords. Also all of your supporting chords will either be played in the A chord position or the F chord position


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 12:39 PM

I'm "only" 60, Louie, but my particular case of crippled fingers makes it much harder to play that "A-position" barre chord than a first-position C.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Louie Roy
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM

PoppaGator I don't play the bar chord I just use the standard A chord


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: mattkeen
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:21 PM

Don't be crazy Louie that means that you can't play Free or AC/DC riffs!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Louie Roy
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 09:14 PM

mattkeen you lost me I don't understand your posting you'll have to explain it to me


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 05:34 PM

Louie, by "A-position barre chord," I meant, for example Bb played as 114441, B as 225552, C as 336663, etc. The chord where, if your barre-ing index finger represents the nut, the bent-back pinkie three frets higher makes a chord shaped like first-position A.

Now that I can't use my pinkie because it doesn't band back anymore, I can't make the chord because the top joint of my ring finger is too long not to muffle the top string. (There are plenty of other instances where I've been able to substitute my ring finger where I used to be able to use little Mr. Pinkie.)

Some folks, I'm told, are able to make this chord using all four fingers: index as the barre, midddle on the 4th string, ring on the 3d, and index on the 2d. I've never been table to do it that way ~ fingertips too large to fit ~ and it's more impossible than ever now with the arthritis.

Now, I'm with you as far as not knowing a damn thing about heavy-metal guitar playing.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 06:17 PM

Get a Portuguese guitar, where the left hand is operated by piano keys?


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: mattkeen
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 06:47 AM

Hi Louie

Its just that all those riffs are based around a 4 string bar at the send fret using your others fingers to add the extras. And they are classic riffs in my opinion that are great fun to play.

Sorry for being obscure


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Dan Keding
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 09:35 AM

I actually switched to a different guitar when my hands starting to get too painful. I have always played Larrivees and I traded my old dreadnaught for a 000 size with a twelve fret neck. The finger board is wider but my fingers aren't as cramped and I seem to warm up faster and not be in as much pain. The stretch in the chords is a bit more - hardly notice it - but my fingers have more room and I don't need to bend them as severely. I also use light gauge strings.

Go to a store and try one and see if the wider fingerboard makes a difference.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Tweed
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 04:46 PM

Cedell Davis with butter knife slide (pic)

Don't give up guitar because of arthritis, cause it could be worse.
This is from Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues" regarding Cedell Davis:

Cedell Davis was born Ellis Davis on June 9, 1927, in Helena, then a booming river town on the Arkansas bank of the Mississippi. He grew up there and in the upper Mississippi Delta around eight miles south of Tunica, on the E.M. Hood plantation, where his brother lived. Together with one of his childhood friends, Isaiah Ross (future Sun recording artist Dr. Ross the Harmonica Boss), Cedell began playing blues, first harmonica, then some guitar.



Then tragedy struck -- during his ninth and tenth years he grappled with severe polio. He returned to Helena, to his mother, who was locally renowned as a healer, though she worked as a cook, and there he began the painful process of relearning, in fact rethinking the guitar, which he could no longer play in the conventional manner. "It took me about three years," he recalls. "I was right- handed, but I couldn't use my right hand, so I had to turn the guitar around; I play left-handed now. But I still needed something to slide with, and my mother had these knives, a set of silverware, and I kinda swiped one of 'em."



This was the beginning of a guitar style that is utterly unique, in or out of blues. The knife-handle on the strings produces uneven pressure, which results in a welter of metal-stress harmonic transients and a singular tonal plasticity. Some people who hear CeDell's playing for the first time think it's out of tune, but it would be more accurate to say he plays in an alternative tuning. Because the way he hears and plays intervals and chords is consistent and systematic.



Cedell began playing around the Delta as a young man, and over the years he continued to work in some of the world's most dangerous dives. Somehow he learned to project a kind of presence that defuses violence, keeping him miraculously whole amid raging chaos. There is something Buddah-like about that presence, a sense of having learned to deal with a physically violent world with his mind. It also enables him to compose and sequence verses for new songs on the spot and hold them in his memory for as long as necessary.



Over the years Cedell has played in Southern juke joints with a number of other musicians. His most significant and longest-lasting association was with the great Robert Nighthawk, who was considered the Delta's finest slide guitarist by no less an authority than Muddy Waters. They worked together for ten years straight, roughly 1953-'63, trading off "bassing" and lead duties song by song. During the early part of his time with Nighthawk, Cedell was based in St. Louis, where he got to know Big Joe Williams, Charlie Jordan, J.D. "Jelly Jaw" Short, and other leading lights. But during the last part of 1957, he was badly injured in a St. Louis tavern, when an apparent police raid caused a massive stampede. Before that, CeDell could at least walk on crutches. But his legs were broken in so many places during the stampede that he has been largely confined to a wheelchair ever since.



On June 5, 1961, he "came back home to play." At first he was based in Helena, but after he secured a regular gig with Nighthawk at the Jack Rabbit (later the Jungle Hut) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he settled there, and there he remains. Pine Bluff's other claims to fame include a massive U.S. Government chemical and biological warfare research and storage facility, located nearby; and according to CeDell's song, "If You Like Fat Women," there are "more fat women there than any place I ever saw."



Many listeners find CeDell difficult: his sense of time, his sense of structure, that timing--not to mention his lyrics. CeDell is a remarkable communicator, and quite possible the greatest hard core vocalist around.

- Robert Palmer



From *Here*


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Louie Roy
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 10:22 PM

I want to thank both of you PoppGator and mattkeen for your comments. You are both correct in your reply and yes you do have to have your little finger to chord the progression I suggested and I admire both of you for clarifying your comments, Thanks again Louie Roy


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 09:00 AM

I'll just mention that people shouldn't feel discouraged by the mixed results from glucosamine use. Give it a trial, anyway. I know I tend to prejudge and think "placebo effect" when results are inconsistent (works for some, doesn't work for others). But in the case of glucosamine, I had to rethink because of my vet's advice regarding dog arthritis, and the results for various friends' dogs. Glucosamine really does work for some dogs and not for others, so it is likely the same for humans. I've no idea why; perhaps some component of the user's chemistry affects results.

I'm just beginning to feel the early effects of arthritis in my hands, and glucosamine is one thing I intend to try - though it didn't work for my own dog!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 20 May 08 - 12:32 PM

I'm going to see an orthopaedic surgeon tomorrow with a view to having the knuckle joint of my right index finger replaced - similar to hips and knees but smaller and more fiddly.

Anyone got any knowledge of anyone having this done?

Roger


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 May 08 - 12:56 PM

I have not heard of anyone having such surgery, but I look forward to learning about your results.

I could use a whole new left pinkie-finger, myself...


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Ernie
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 01:36 PM

I've got basal joint arthritis (at the base of both thumbs) and arthritis in the first joint of my left index finger. I take Gluecosamine; not sure if it works or not. My hands still hurt, but I suppose it could be worse...
Anyway, what I've done is buy a Taylor T-5. It's an electric/acoustic with strings and action of an electric guitar. If I didn't have this guitar (or some kind of electric), I don't think I'd be playing anymore. Every once in a while I pull out the acoustic (Martin 00028EC), but it's very discouraging. I'm actually thinking of selling it because I just can't seem to play it anymore.
Anyway, my point is that electric strings/action take a lot of stress off your hands and may extend your playing time by several years.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 03:17 PM

Jeez, Ernie, I couldn't imagine abandoning my own all-acoustic Martin, even though it is getting increasingly difficult for me to play. It just sounds so good, and it's the only instrument I've owned for the last 39 years, which means that I've developed ways to make it sound its best.

I know, of course, that the average electric guitar is much easier on the left hand than just about any steel-string acoustic, and I'm certainly not ready to switch over to electric ~ not completely, anyway.

I hadn't given much thought tot he idea of an acoustic-electric, and hadn't imagined that the action would be significantly easier than on a regualr "acoustic-=acoustic" guitar. I'm intrigued by what you're telling us about your Taylor T-5.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 28 Sep 08 - 08:17 AM

As it turns out, the right hand index finger joint that I'm having trouble with is not suitable for joint replacement due to the high forces generated by the finger/thumb pinch. Apparently the experience is that artificial joints fail or loosen because of this.

So, I'm having the joint fused instead - the operation is set for October 16th. I did ask the surgeon about it affecting my playing and he is hopeful that things should be OK, given that I have very little movement in the joint anyway.

R


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 30 Sep 08 - 03:08 PM

Yup, my hands are getting creaky but thank goodness they still perform well. After gigging on acoustic for 7+ years, I've restrung with lights and tune down to C. The guitar sounds huge and the string tension is low enough that it sounds like a funky strat with acoustic tone. My left index finger is the sore one but if I adjust my hand position so it's more of a right angle to the neck, it feels much better on the C and F chords. I also play a Strat in various bands - low action and light guage works wonders.

I'm also taking Glucosamine, as it's helped with hip soreness. I sure hope modern medicine can come up with the arthritis killer!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Aeola
Date: 30 Sep 08 - 05:33 PM

I have a mate who has suffered from arthritis since 18 years of age and has been on pain killers all the time. He had the fingers straightened ( screws put in, had his toes done at the same time )needless to say it went wrong and one of the screws is still in his right hand and still on painkillers. He plays a mean guitar but has taken to using a plectrum and does play acoustic/electric. Music is his life ( he has had major heart surgery ) and he just puts up with the pain. Not good news but you can continue. He enjoys the gigs every w/e!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Twelvestrum
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 11:11 AM

I don't have arthitis, but in a recent accident, I severed the nerve for my left hand index and middle fingers. This has resulted in almost no sense of touch in the index finger -- so that 'C' chord is very difficult, as well as many others because I can't feel where the fingertip is being placed. This results in a lot of buzzes or dulled notes. Barre chords are very hard because I can't feel the amount of pressure that is needed.

I have managed to adapt my playing style so that I make a lot of use of the other 3 fingers, but my lack of trust in the index finger is a real nuisance.

My solution is to look for alternative tunings in which I can use one or two finger chords and drones. DADGAD looks to be a very likely candidate, especially as I prefer folk and Celtic-style music.

As far as trying to overcome this type of problem, whether it be arthritis, nerve damage or whatever - a constant source of inspiration has to be Django. Look what he accomplished with just two fingers!!!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: olddude
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:04 PM

Your finger remember where to go, but the arthritis makes it hard to go there, I have a body riddled with it, Lost all feeling in the left hand from a neck injury, absolutely no sense of touch, lost most of the sense of touch in my right hand (my picking hand) with the exception of my thumb and the docs say it will never come back because of the nerve damage. The only thing that works for me is just playing and playing and playing. They will adapt my friend , they will re-tune and figure out how to press the strings. It maybe different from before but they will work. All I can say is I have tried every medication and nothing really works for me The only thing I found was practice through it.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: olddude
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:33 PM

I did however figure out that I have some feeling under the finger nail on one of the digits :-) I took a banjo 5th string pin under the nail not too long ago. That let me know I was alive. Glucosamine never did much for me but I know people who do swear by it. I hope you feel better and can get it worked out


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Big Elk
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 06:13 PM

Question 1 Have you diagnosed arthritis or have you assumed that this is the problem. Inflamed ligaments and tendons in the fingers are incredibly painful.

Question 2 Have you looked at the set up of your guitar, can you adjust the action, if you play first inversions chords only, you can have less relief and the guitar will require less pressure to hold down a note. If you are not familiar with these terms seek out a good guitar technician.

Question 3 What gauge and tension of strings do you use and what is the width of the neck on your guitar. And the scale length of your guitar.

Generally, because there is no 100% failsafe rule, as your hands stiffen up,   
•        Find and use a warm up exercise before you play.
•        Go for a wider neck, that is thick enough to fill the hand but not so thick it's uncomfortable.
•        Use lighter or low tension strings as they require less effort to finger. If you do have a problem you don't want to make it worse by playing guitar.
•        Seek out a good guitar technician who can optimise the set up of your guitar to keep you playing.
•        Complementary medicines are great, but seek advice.
•        Look at your posture, eliminate all tension, look at Alexander, Classical Guitar and other techniques.
•        If you have to seek out a new guitar, think about a compact body, balance, and ease of action. Dreadnaughts, Super Jumbos 12 strings and medium gauge strings are out. 12 fret necks pull everything into a compact shape and reduce tension in neck, shoulders and hands.
•        Play around with tunings, DADGAD gives a fantastic range of options with 2 fingers.
•        If you cant be technical, live with it and focus on being musical instead

I have been plagued with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and chronic tendonitis for years, but I have kept on playing. I can't do big stretches or bar chords, but I am musical and I now have to think about the music and the lyrics of a song and not the technique. This has made me a better musician.

Don't Give Up, adapt.

Best Wishes


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Two step
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 04:16 PM

My knuckles have just begun to be painful. I've bought a child's guitar so I don't have to stretch so far, I'm hoping that will help. I'm vegetarian so don't want to take fish oil, but maybe it is something I'll have to consider. I take shellfish free glucosamine, it helps a little.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 05:12 PM

as well as dadgad,try cgcgcd.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Barry
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 08:48 AM

Hi Guys,

I've been playing the guitar for about a year now. Bit late in life as I am 53, still better late than never. I play most days and the joints on my fingers and thumbs have now started to swell and some days I find it too painful to play.

Have a copper bracelet and have been looking into Glucosamine/Chondroitan. I am also epileptic so not sure if this will clash with my medication (phenytoin and carbamazepine)?

Thanks for the tip about the extra low tension strings.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 09:49 AM

someone mentioned on another thread DGDGAE,an interesting tuning.the problem with louieroys, a major shape on 5th fret,is that it is not a very good inversion,youare doubling the weak note[the third],but of course its better than not playing at all.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Tom Walsh
Date: 02 May 09 - 08:33 PM

I've suffered from chronic Gout for many years. I finally stopped drinking (it's been over a year)changed my diet and take medication (Allopurinal). However, the gout attacks did severe damage to the joints of my fingers. I can hardly move the fingers of my right hand, and have about 75% motion in my left. As a guitarist for 44 years, I'm making due the best that I can. I've had to relearn how to hold a pick. Finger picking is out of the question.
Getting back to that C chord, one way to attack the problem is to learn triads in every key every where on the neck. This way you should be able to find a comfortable way to play every chord somewhere on the neck.
For major chords, you need the 1st, third, and fifth notes of the major scale. C,E, and G for a C chord. Anywhere that you can play those notes together, you're playing a C Major chord. Learning these triads will also help you in learning your way around the fretboard.
For Minor chords, it's the 1st, flatted third, and fifth notes.
For myself, I started on a Glucosamine/Chondroitin regimine so far, I haven't noticed any results. I pick up the guitar for at least an hour a day and play the songs that I like using the chord inversions that I can still play. I also try some things that I can't really reach hoping that maybe I'll be able to do it tomorrow.
It's almost like learning to play all over again, you know, when your fingers just don't want to reach that note, but eventually they do.
Tom Walsh
Bronx,NY


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Ihaveasolution
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 10:30 AM

Guys and Gals-

I'm young- 28 years old and I already have arthritis creeping into my left index finger (I first picked up a guitar when I was about 11). Funny, all that talk about difficulty playing "c" chords. That's exactly when it starts to act up- when I play country/blues music on the acoustic guitar and play lots of open chords, particularly "c".

I found a solution: Play slide guitar.

Tune to open E, pick up Allman Bros. Live at Fillmore East. Devote your life to learning to play like Duane. Hopefully that will keep me playing at full volume and pain free until something else kills me.

J


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 01:44 PM

My particular case of arthritis doesn't give me any trouble with the C major chord; for me, it's the first-position A major chord ~ which I used to make easily with one finger ~ that gives me problems. It's almost impossible for me to play this chord without muting the open high-E string. (I believe that this is the same note on the same string that poses problems for other folks with the C chord.)

The problem is that my fingers no longer bend backwards at the top knuckle ~ neither the index (with which I used to hold down three strings to play the A) nor the pinky (used for the same three strings in the same "shape" but in barre-chord form, that is, Bb, B, C, and so on up the neck).

For the A, I try to "fudge it" by playing the simplest form of the A7 (002020), muting the G string with one finger but being careful NOT to mute the high E. And as far as the barre chords like Bb, I just can't play 'em at all.

On the other hand, I'm actually regaining some ability to play the top two strings with my semi-crippled pinky. I can't move it as fluidly as I used to, but I'm learning to adapt and to hit the same notes as before, but in a more stolid and deliberate manner.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 02:47 PM

I suffer from gout.lemon juice is the job.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Marianne
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 08:30 AM

Thanks for this thread, I googled "Guitarist Arthritis" and found it.

I play acoustic since I was 12 (I'm a lot older than that now) but my current love is bass. Recently my hands and fingers have been giving me all kinds of problems, at first I thought it might be related to menopause but doc says I'm not there yet. Tingling, aches, and soreness/inflammation in the joints and knuckles.

I've had to abandon "finger style" bass playing for the moment and take up the plectrum instead; maybe I can take it up again later if and when things improve.

What I find is my hands and fingers play beautifully when they're "on the job" but it's only afterwards they start complaining!

I also work constantly with computers and my left index finger is the one I use for the mouse so I think that is also a factor.

I take glucosamine/chondroitin and also fish oils but I am going to take up that suggestion about wheat. Been suspicious about that for a while. I also have an ibuprofen gel to rub on the hands before and after playing and also a glucosamine gel... and I use a wrist support on both wrists now.

Mostly just wanted to say it's really encouraging to know that there are other old creaky people out there still playing their axes! When I started with this I thought it was the end of the world, couldn't imagine a life without playing... but turns out I still can so I intend to keep doing so.   Thanks everyone for sharing.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,acid black cherry
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 01:01 AM

i'm 16 and i'm already getting the symptoms of what everyone's talking about!!!

both sides of my family are FULL of arthritis, and i just found out that pain in my heals since i was 12, was arthritis!
also most of my figures are curved; if that means anything?

i play guitar solos lately, and i can feel pain in my figures building.
my mom says to put a hot pad on, but from experience from my heals, it doesn't cure in the long run.

I heard if you don't warm up your hands before playing, you could get hurt; perhaps related to arthritis.
guitar warm ups, such as 'spider walk' or whatever that creepy finger movement exercise, has helped me increase playing spread, and i don't exactly get pain WHILE i play.

I think the advice of taking fish oil supplements and those two other kinds are good, because i learned in my health course that those are essential for lubricating joints.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: leftydee
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 09:50 AM

Soaking between very hot and very cold water alternately for 20-30 seconds 6 or 7 times then stretching gets my poor old arthritic hands loose enough to play. It's not a cure but gets rid of the stiffness tempararily. See a doctor too, you're young and have along time to use those hands!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: MikeL2
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 10:13 AM

Hi Everyone

I play guitar ( right handed ) and some years ago I broke some bones in my left hand when some clumsy 20 stone rugby forward stomped on it.

My hand was set in plaster with my fingers bent at the second knuckle for some weeks.

When the plaster cast was removed my hand was "stuck" in its bent position. Physiotherapy helped take away the swelling and stiffness.

Except for the first knuckle joint which was still swollen and bent downwards.

The medics said that they would break and re-set the joint but at that time I couldn't afford to have my hand in plaster again and decided to live with it as it was.

I started to play my guitar again but I have always had difficulty since playing a full barre with the first finger. Practise helped me overcome this but now I guess my age iis catching up on me. I now find it impossible to play barres at all and I am having problems with the joints on both hands. I have tried all kinds of things to try to " lubricate" them and none really worked for me.

I still wanted to play music so I bought myself an electric keyboard for Christmas. I have not really played piano or keyboards before.

I have been learning by playing practice pieces and scales with both hands ( separately at the moment)and I am finding that the different exercise to the hands and fingers is helping me get better mobility in the joints.

I am now able to play my guitar more fluently - still not able to barre. But as I don't gig these days I can get around it reasonably well.

So guys maybe you should try to play a keyboard.......and no I don't sell em....lol

cheers

mike


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Gutcher
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 06:39 PM

The advice from Mikel.2 is very sound.
   In my own case, 5yrs.back, I would rise in the morning & for up to
   two hours be unable to touch my porrige spoon or teacup due to
   the extreme pain.
   At that time I happened to purchase a 3 row button keyed box
   [B.C.C"] at a roup[rhymes with pout], not pope as our southern
   neighbours have it,this being the first time I had ever handled
   such an instrument.By dint of long & constant practice I mastered
   the beast & am happy to report that I now only get an occasional
   twinge of pain. I must stress that long hours at a time were
   involved.Drove my long suffering wife up the wall.
   I do not take medication of any kind for the arthritis but
   prefer to use mind over matter,this in my case works very well.
   I do not play any other instrument
   Joe.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 09:34 PM

switch to lap steel guitar!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Jan 10 - 11:49 AM

No advice, etc., from me this time. I'm just checking in to report that I'm developing a new problem.

Til now, my arthritic pain and stiffness has been concentrated in my four left-hand fingers (especially the pinky and index) and right pinky. Now I've begun to feel it in my left THUMB, and down into the heel of the hand, affecting my whole left-hand grip on the neck of the guitar. Not yet totally crippling ~ I can still play through the pain, which varies in intensity from negligible to very annoying. My main problem is worry over how much longer will it be until I won't be able to continue playing.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 30 Jan 10 - 12:00 PM

My RA must be playing up again. I tend to keep my hands balled into fists and bent inward at wrists when not using them, even in sleep. Wake with ouchies of stiffness and waves of pain in fingers, hands and forearms. Sometimes hot sharp tingly pain.

Guitar playing is off. I can get through about one and half songs before they say NO MORE!

Most annoying thing is not doing chord changes at right timing. Too soon or too slow. it's a bummer.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Johnny Savola
Date: 31 May 10 - 08:35 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions, many I've not thought of.
I've got big pain in the thumbs (osteo arthritis) so my solution is:
1.Scallop your fingerboard. You will then require less pressure to cleanly fret the string - makes a huge difference.
2. Low,low action. Better to sacrifice tone than to not play at all.
3. Thomastic KR116 flat wound stings for classical guitar (can still use a magnetic pickup)- Smooth, low tension, easy to play.
4. Use chords incorporating open strings.
5. Open tunings.
6. Low Stress Diet: eat nothing from the cow and give up wheat; obviously stimulants like tea, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes don't help (if you're like me and can't give them up then try to not be a glutton. reduce your input of these things)
7. Take zinc, magnesium, fish oil and selenium supplements.
8. Attitude: do what you can, while you can, and be grateful that you can. Best wishes and make as much music as you can.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,Durango Guitar Works
Date: 31 May 10 - 09:19 PM

Try using a short acale 24' guitar..strings bend easy and you use a lighter touch..I have arthritis,,it works for me.

Thanks Jimmy
Durango Guitar Works


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,baza
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 04:39 PM

Afraid you're all going to suffer regarding the arthritis in your hands. I have been looking for the cure for twenty years but have now started on Methotrexate tabs, not nice to take but it has to be better than the pain, arthritis is a disease that over the counter treatments will not cure, so get on down to your doctors and let him advise you, it will take a blood test and then the Doc will be able to prescribe a course of treatment.Best of luck to Y'all.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,john
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 07:22 AM

I've had it for close to 15 years - am nearly 50. Blood test - only 80% shows up in blood test. Depends if you have osteo or rheumatoid type (in general terms). See a rheumatologist. NSAIDS used to help but long term use put me on the road to gastritis - so beware of them. I now take Methotrexate.

As for playing - warming the fingers/wrists/bodies helps. I take a couple of paracetamol (acetaminophen in N/America), and use red tiger balm about 30 - 60 mins before I play. That seems to loosen the hand etc up.

Find alternate chords and/or change key (capo). I play more bass now - less stress on the hand. lighter gauge strings then lower the action. I'm teaching myself alt tunings and will likely have to take up slide. I used to fingerpick a lot. Consider a shorter scale guitar (don't have to stretch). As to the width of the fingerboard, I need a narrow one to play lead and a wider one to play chords (classical guitar width).

It's very much about finding what suits, looking after the joints, and getting GOOD medical help early before the deterioration gets too advanced. And as MikeL2 did, a friend of mine swapped to piano. Better some music than none!!

I did a lot of carpentry today and then tried to play guitar tonight - not a hope!


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: autoharpbob
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 08:10 AM

I stopped playing guitar for about five years, and when I came back to it my fingers wouldn't work - osteoarthritis. So I took up the autoharp. With the left hand, one finger=one chord. And not a lot of pressure required, and it comes from the arm not the finger joints. The right hand fingers just need the ability to move fast - no pressure at all. If you want to stick with the guitar, look at Keith Richards hands sometime! It must still be possible. If you have osteoarthritis, once the nodule have fully developed, the pain tends to go.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Clontarf83
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 02:31 PM

I'm running into this problem over the last 12 months. Right shoulder sized up, tendonitis in the left elbow, swollen stiff fingers.

I have started with glucosamine, and mu GP is getting me xrays and mri for soft tissue

The biggest problem is psychological--its no longer a pleasure to pick up my guitar--even picking it up is painful...

There are plenty of cures offered in this thread---thanks to those who contributed.

I read that Jean Carignan, the quebec fiddle master, used to knit to keep his fingers supple, while he worked as a taxi driver.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 03:08 PM

keith richards plays in [d]gdgbd


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Subject: Arthritic nodes on chording hand - treatments
From: Genie
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 07:04 PM

One thing glucosamine and NSAIDs can't really help is the interference with chording caused by Bouchard's nodes and Heberden's nodes at the finger joints.   That's why I started that thread to see if anyone has information about successful surgical removal of such nodes.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Fl!p Breskin
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 08:11 PM

Whew! Lots of us are dealing with this. I started by removing Nightshades from my diet completely for 3 full weeks, and then re-introducing it to see what happened. It was unmistakable that for me, removing nightshades removed the arthritis completely. But that's no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers of any kind at all (chilies), and a whole bunch of other stuff. If anyone wants my list, I'm happy to share it.

Before I got that sorted out, I learned not to strum every string on every chord. That lets you leave out the index finger on the C chord. These days I also got a guitar with a MUCH shorter scale so I don't have to stretch so far.

I teach guitar, and also ergonomics for string players. I'd be happy to talk with you and see what we can figure.

I've watched a lot of friends progress from being able to play through being able to play a little, to not being able to play any more. Many of them spent some time on Dobro along the way.

Recommend Ursula LeGuin's short story Gwillan's Harp, in her Compass Rose collection.

Good luck!
/Fl!p


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Genie
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 08:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, Flip. Especially the tip about the C chord. (I've gone back to a non-barre F and non-barre versions of the B minor chord, both of which can be moved up the neck, just without hitting the E and A strings, because of a Bouchard's node on my barre-ing finger that hits the fretboard painfully when I do a barre.)   

But I didn't think diet had much to do with osteoarthritis, which is what I have (not rheumatoid).    Plus, even when I control the pain and stiffness with topical or ingested treatments (e.g., glucosamine, NSAIDS, capsaicin, etc.), my left hand fingers (the first two anyway) won't fully straighten and the distal joint on my left ring finger hardly bends, making it very difficult to play most barre chords except for Fmin.    Does changing your diet enable really stiffened arthritic joints to actually bend again?

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 11:48 AM

You might dismiss this, but think about your diet (food intake) and its effect on your joints.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Brian May
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 07:51 AM

The best I managed is when I played with Fred Wedlock.

What do Arthritis do anyway? Everyone I've asked just said they're were a pain . . .

Taking cover ...


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Genie
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 05:58 PM

Stringsinger, if I had reason to really suspect that nightshades were causing my arthritis, I might take the (to me) draconian measure of never eating any potatoes, tomatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatilloes, etc. But I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and the location of my arthritic joints clearly suggests wear-and-tear from heavy use as the culprit. (E.g., the worst nodes are on my my left hand (as is most of the stiffness) and in the location of an old injury to my big toe. I don't seem to have arthritis in my wrists or ankles, or most of the other joints of my body.) Plus my screenings for rheumatoid arthritis keep coming up negative.
It may seem a minor thing to eschew nightshades, but though I rarely eat potatoes or eggplant or peppers, giving up tomatoes and tomato products would mean giving up on a number of health benefits that they provide. Plus, so many salads, soups and other dishes contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, that it's not that easy (or desirable) to cut tomatoes out entirely. I'd do it if I were convinced they were a likely source of osteoarthritis. But I just haven't come across any sound evidence to convince me that eating tomatoes contributes to the stiffness and the loss of cartilage in the joints of my chording hand.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 04:54 PM

Genie, take cod liver oil ,cider vinegar and glucosamine, cut out oranges,
dont know about tomatoes, if you wish to cut out tomatoes, do so, just take folic acid and vitamin c tablets instead, but cut out oranges.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Genie
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:59 PM

The main nutrient I would eat tomatoes for is lutein, but aside from loving (and growing) tomatoes, eschewing them would mean never eating pizza, red salsa, many salads, minestrone, etc.
Lots of other ways to get the other vitamins.

And I hardly ever eat oranges (though I do like them).

I still don't think diet is a major contributor to my very localized arthritis problems, but I do take glucosamine and fish oils.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,john
Date: 08 Sep 11 - 04:32 AM

Diet works for some, not others. Methotrexate works for 2/3 of the people. I know someone who swears by the diet - got him out of a wheelchair. Shouldnt' work for OA - that's wear. not immune system based.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,guest.gl
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 06:10 PM

Starting playing about 2 years ago (in my late thirties) and recently started experiencing painful, swollen joints in my fretting hand open C chord being the worst. Whilst I have no suggestions as to what may or may not work, I shall try a combination of the recommendations, I can truly say that some of the comments from those above are very inspiring and brought a lump to my throat. Nice to know that 5 years on from the start of this thread that guitarists all over the world, suffering or not, still have the passion and desire to keep playing and support each other. Rock on (or blues or jazz or whatever) brothers and sisters, rock on !


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: GUEST,BigBoa
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 07:44 PM

Several good ideas, but the mighty Boa didn't notice many suggestions including finger exercises. There are a number of good books, including "Guitar Fitness" by Josquin Des Pres. There are also plenty of videos on youtube and other places by Michael Angelo Batio, Paul Gilbert, John Petrucci and others as well as sites dedicated to guitar like guitarlessons365, all of which have plenty of finger exercise examples. Don't worry so much about the speed as just doing the examples cleanly. Pick a few out and ALWAYS use them as a warm-up. The mighty Boa ALWAYS makes sure to do some and though having normally stiff fingers and pain in the left hand at the base of the thumb, these exercises tend to loosen things up well before playing. Lots of other benefits too, syncing up the hands, picking technique, etc.


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Bobert
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 09:41 AM

Well, well, well...

Seems that that the glucosamine has finally given out for me and my thumb base arthritis has settled back into my left thumb... I play almost exclusively slide so I can still handle that but I'm thinkin' of seeing a doctor... I know... Horrors!!!

B~


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Subject: RE: Playing Guitar with Arthritis
From: Baz Bowdidge
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 02:08 PM

After 20 years as a tech in the music biz, Multiple Sclerosis forced me into early retirement.
Early days of this condition I returned to playing an occasional floor spot (guitar, banjo, banjolele).
As things worsened, with ability diminishing, I turned to Rob Aylward (in those days based here down south).
Rob built me a guitar to my needs. Because I used to capo up 2 frets to play in A (G shape ala Carter) he made me a guitar with a neck 2 frets short (my joke,I tell folk it's 'Two frets short of a guitar).
Coincidentally this facilitates two advantages 1. For me - a wider neck 2. Normal tuning requires slacker strings for easy action.
A thought for the OP, Alley - if you slacken off your strings, capo up a few, then tune to preference - would that work?
(sadly my playing days are over - such is progressive MS)

Baz


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