RH wrist angle

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
bunglenutter

RH wrist angle

Post by bunglenutter » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:42 pm

So I'm aware that a straight wrist on the RH is considered the most desirable, however I find it quite uncomfortable in that I have to adjust my elbow or shoulder to odd positions to accommodate the straightening of the wrist. I have some photos of what I mean here: http://imgur.com/a/OpRD7 - the top picture is what I think most people want, and the bottom picture is what my hand wants to do naturally. I think I might have quite long fingers or forearms if that makes any difference, but I'm not sure about that.

Is it normal to feel incredibly uncomfortable when trying to play with a straight RH wrist?

Cao Nguyen

Re: RH wrist angle

Post by Cao Nguyen » Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:55 am

I play in the same RH position as yours, maybe less extreme. I feel more comfortable to play with a flat wrist and it's fine for the fingers, but not the thumb. In order to make the thumb nail contact with the string properly I must raise my wrist up.

Nick Cutroneo
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Re: RH wrist angle

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:22 am

Typically when one references a "straight wrist" we are talking about the view from the front (not the top like your photos). A straight wrist means that it is not bend out of "normal" position from side to side (thumb side to pinky side of the hand). Think "Segovia's wrist" as an example of a bent wrist. This position, if exaggerated places unnecessary stress on the wrist and the tendons that run through the wrist. There can be deviation depending on the individual's flexibility, however when stress is introduced that's when you want to watch out.

The two pictures that you posted, bunglenutter, I would consider that the "arch" of the wrist or how high off the guitar the wrist is. In both pictures I would consider them extreme. The first one doesn't allow for the fingers to properly follow through into the hand while playing without hitting a lower string (if playing free-stroke). Playing rest stroke it's a pretty decent position. As for the second picture, there is way too much arch in the wrist which will ultimately put strain on the tendons and cause problems down the road. Somewhere in the middle is ideal (at least for a free stroke positioning -- I always use a flatter wrist for rest strokes). As a general rule, I place the large knuckles of the hand over the strings that are being played -- IE if the i finger is playing the 3rd string, it's large knuckle should be placed over the 3rd string. The fingers should have a gentle curve to them (think allowing your fingers to wrap around a ball loosely).
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Re: RH wrist angle

Post by guit-box » Thu Nov 26, 2015 5:34 am

I wrestle with the wrist arch myself. My fingers sometimes prefer a lower arch and then I can't get enough thumb nail on the string. So my thumb likes a higher wrist. My observation is that many guitarists who like a lower arch tend to have giant thumbnails to compensate. Check out Jason Vieux's ping pong ball thumb nail. Also, Christian Saggesse, or Giulio Tampalini seem to have low wrists. I've also seen players who "seem" to be playing off the thumb nail from let to right instead of the more common middle of nail contact point. They have a really bent back thumb to accomplish this and I can't say I'd recommend doing that unless that's how your thumb likes to bend.
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bunglenutter

Re: RH wrist angle

Post by bunglenutter » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:05 pm

I'm trying to reduce the arch somewhat, but I can't tell if it's uncomfortable because it's simply not natural to me or because I'm just not used to it.

edwardsguitar

Re: RH wrist angle

Post by edwardsguitar » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:24 pm

Your right hand in the bottom photo looks just fine. If it feels relaxed then you're on the right track.

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Re: RH wrist angle

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:35 am

bunglenutter wrote:I'm trying to reduce the arch somewhat, but I can't tell if it's uncomfortable because it's simply not natural to me or because I'm just not used to it.
Never go by if something feels "uncomfortable" as that feeling can be created just because you are not used to something. Again, based off of your photos, I cannot provide any suggestions as to how to alter your hand because I cannot see the front of your hand. However, I'd start with placing the forearm further away from the elbow. Especially since (by the pictures) you seem to have long arms and fingers, your forearm doesn't need to be close to the end of the instrument, in fact you'll probably place closer to middle of your forearm.

With all that said, here are some guidelines that should help you determine if you are on the right track or not.

Body Positioning: Both feet placed in front of your body, not tucked under the chair. There should be a 90 degree angle from the knee to your foot. Your ankle should be under your knee.

Guitar Positioning: The headstock of the guitar should be at the same level as your head. This is a combination of several factors: 1) proper footstool height, and 2) dropping the lower bout of the guitar in-between the legs enough. The neck of the guitar should be pushed out slightly, with the body of the guitar tucked into the right side of your body. Here's a pictures that show's what I'm describing:
right-to-sit-like-this.gif
Right Hand Position: The wrist should be in a neutral position (think of your hand by your side, there's no deviation of the wrist). Depending on your flexibility, when you bring your hand to the guitar, you may have a slight bend in the wrist (forward facing). However this should not be created by allowing the hand to go limp and succumb to gravity. You need to actively position and hold your hand in place. Gravity will only pull on the tendons and create long-term issues. The amount of arch depends on placement of the large knuckles (from a forward facing view -- IE: use a mirror). Pull/push the elbows forward and backwards to find the right positioning needed.

Again, for me free strokes and rest strokes have fundamentally different positions. Free strokes have a higher arch in the wrist because the large knuckles are place directly over the strings being played, while rest stokes have a lower arch because I place the large knuckles 1-2 strings behind the string(s) I'm playing.
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bunglenutter

Re: RH wrist angle

Post by bunglenutter » Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:48 pm

That image is very useful! Thanks.

I do have (I believe) quite long arms and fingers so surely that's bound to have an impact.

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Re: RH wrist angle

Post by lagartija » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:59 pm

bunglenutter wrote:That image is very useful! Thanks.

I do have (I believe) quite long arms and fingers so surely that's bound to have an impact.
Yes, it will have an important effect on your position. I have stubby short arms and just getting them around the guitar is a challenge! :lol: If I had the guitar neck as forward as Nick's picture shows, I would not have adequate access for my left hand, especially in first position. My thighs are short, too. So for me to accomodate the lower bout of my guitar, I must spread my legs wider than shown and my left foot is further left than shown in Nick's picture. Each person has to make adjustments to their position based upon the proportions of their body. No one position fits all. I think for the first six months of my guitar adventure, I wrestled with my guitar every day trying to get the position that would be good for both the left and the right hand. Even now, every so often I reevaluate how I am sitting and sometimes I use a guitar support and sometimes a footstool.
When I play, the guitar position is not static; it depends on what I am playing and what access I need to get the sound I am looking for. None of my teachers have commented negatively on my basic playing position, so for my physical proportions I seem to have come to a position that (at the moment) works for me.
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Re: RH wrist angle

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:15 pm

lagartija wrote:If I had the guitar neck as forward as Nick's picture shows, I would not have adequate access for my left hand, especially in first position. My thighs are short, too. So for me to accomodate the lower bout of my guitar, I must spread my legs wider than shown and my left foot is further left than shown in Nick's picture.
Just for clarification, I used the picture not as "this is how far out the guitar neck should be or where your legs should be placed" but rather to clarify what I meant by the neck forward and the body tucked into the right side of the body.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

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