Hi all,
again, this is another post that is not really a luthier question, but
I always get such good advice here, so I thought I'd ask...
I have been getting alot of discomfort at the base of my left thumb
(my fretting hand) when playing my guitar(s). Mainly this happens
when playing my acoustic guitar. With this guitar (Martin Custom D),
it has a wider and thicker neck than the electric, plus tighter tension
on the strings, and lower/thinner frets, so, for me with my relatively short fingers,
it is harder to play.
Anyway, after playing, the whole area at the base of my left thumb
gets real sore. In the past, it would eventually go away, now it lingers for
a long time, but has gotten me worried it could be the beginnings of arthritis
(I am 45 years old). Anyway, has anyone else out there experienced this?
If I just switched to my electric (Fender Squier Telecaster), which for me takes
much less effort to play (bigger frets, narrower/thinner neck, less string tension),
would this be a good solution?
Any thoughts? Thank you!

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Taylors have a thinner neck profile than Martin or many other acoustics.  In a similar budget range to the Seagull is the Big Baby Taylor.  I have one and really like the thinner neck - feels more like an electric.  Or - if you really love that Martin you could have a luthier shave the neck to a thinner profile and then refinish it

David's sports medicine person made a really good point about looking at your hand position when playing.  Repetitive Strain Injury (and that is the diagnosis that we are probably talking about here) is all about the cumulative strain on tendons, not the bones and joints.  It is worth knowing a little bit about the anatomy of the hand and wrist. 

The muscles that move your fingers are all located in the forearm.  Put your arm and hand (palm down) flat on the table and drum your fingers up and down.  See the muscles moving way up near your elbow?  They are attached to long cable-like tendons than run all the way down through the wrist, to the finger bones.  If your arm and wrist are in a neutral position like they are on the table in front of you the tendons have a pretty straight run from muscle to bone.  But if you bend the wrist, rotate it, add some lateral angulation - now those tendons are running around some corners and experiencing some real friction.  When you are playing you might hold your wrist in that position for an hour or so, and put significant tension into the muscle/tendon unit by holding down a bar-chord on a steel-string acoustic.  It is no surprise that guitarists get some trouble. 

Like typists and machine operators - it really makes a difference if you adopt the most ergonomic position.  Often our playing style sees us develop some unhealthy postures. 

I hope that it all settles down for you. 


Even though im 16 i snapped both wrists in two past sports and as for my fingers i am still good so would finger exercises help keep my fingers in tip top shape too ( i do use finger exercises though cause i play thrash and  heavy metal).

and the acoustic had a nice thin neck and medium tension it was a taylor customs i wish i could find it again cause that thing was comfy on my hand ( in got stolen from my back stage rack 2 years ago)

You've gotten lots of good medical advice here.  Let me add a few comments on the instrument itself.

I would look at the setup of the guitar.  A nut that is too high will cause you extra stress in the first position.  And the amount of neck relief and saddle height will also affect the instrument's playability.

Then you might consider a lighter gauge string.

If after all of these you still find pain, it may be that the guitar is not one that fits you well.  You may want to try others.  

Whatever you do, get the problem corrected.  Lasting pain from performance is something you need to address or give up playing!

And perhaps take a lesson or two from a serious professional teacher.  Sometimes we develop bad habits that we don't even recognize and a good teacher may be able to  identify a problem with your technique.

Good luck!


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