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Beginner right hand thumb

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
478
Location
Frankston Victoria Australia
Hello everyone
I haven't been on here for a while
I have a question that may or may not affect many of you
when I play my tenor I find the pressure on my right thumb a little intense .
Mostly because of the sideways down force on my thumb, an unnatural direction to place pressure on your thumb.
Thereby giving me a medium amount of pain during longer periods of playing
I was thinking of changing my thumbrest ( with some engineering skills ) to allow my thumb to sit in a more vertical position under my rest , therefore relieving some pressure and allowing my thumb to be in a more natural position during playing
I realise this will possibly cause some difference to the way I play the horn but I figure over time my style / hand will adapt to the different position.

My question is
Has any of you tried a different thumb rest position or had your horn altered to accommodate an injury or comfort problem?

JBTsax .....perhaps can you advise........or anyone else?

Regards
Allansto
 
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Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Location
Worcestershire
Hello everyone
I haven't been on here for a while
I have a question that may or may not affect many of you
when I play my tenor I find the pressure on my right thumb a little intense .
Mostly because of the sideways down force on my thumb, an unnatural direction to place pressure on your thumb.
Thereby giving me a medium amount of pain during longer periods of playing
I was thinking of changing my thumbrest ( with some engineering skills ) to allow my thumb to sit in a more vertical position under my rest , therefore relieving some pressure and allowing my thumb to be in a more natural position during playing
I realise this will possibly cause some difference to the way I play the horn but I figure over time my style / hand will adapt to the different position.

My question is
Has any of you tried a different thumb rest position or had your horn altered to accommodate an injury or comfort problem?

JBTsax .....perhaps can you advise........or anyone else?

Regards
Allansto

I've never tried changing anything, but funnily enough I get a lot of thumb probles from my curvy sop, but not from the tenor. I put that down to not taking any weight at all on the neck strap when on sop so the thumb does all the work, whereas on tenor the thumb holds very little weight. So I'd ask, are you confident you have the right neck strap, and have it adjusted correctly? I've used various straps by the way including a Cebula, and now love the Jazz Labs Saxholder which really makes the tenor feel weightless.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,386
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Most modern saxes will allow the RH thumb rest to be adjusted to a slightly different angle to accommodate different sized hands and hand positions. If you have this type, you might try loosening the screw with a large screwdriver and adjusting it more to your liking.

Looking at the issue from a teaching perspective, it sounds as if you are trying to support the weight of the sax with the RH thumb instead of letting the neck strap do its job. The part is called a "thumb rest" for a reason. The thumb rests in that hook to orient the right hand to the proper height to press the keys. This is a common habit and is easily diagnosed by looking at the neckstrap. If the straps or cords are limp rather than taut when you play, you are holding the weight of the sax with your thumb.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,762
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
When standing let it hang on the strap by your side. Adjust the height with the strap and the angle of the crook so it sits comfotably in your mouth, then put your hands on and play it there.

You can move it about when you're playing if you feel the need for show or emphasis but will have a spot where your hands can rest.

You should be able to scratch your nose with your right hand when playing just left hand.

It will make fingering highF# awkward if you have any weight on your hands.

The Baritone taught me how not to fight the weight lol

I can't play the tenor sat down, so can't help you with that.
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
I tend to play with the sax more to the front of me when standing with arms more relaxed and it seems to work also i find when playing to the side standing you right arm feels a little awkward and strains on the shoulder after a while cos your right arm is in more of a position like how a snooker player is cueing, not comfy after too long. Give the holding more to the front standing straight with more relaxed arms a try, works for many players.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Café Supporter
Messages
3,572
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
I don't have problem with my tenor, but my previous bari caused me much discomfort to the joint of my RH thumb, where the thumb joins the palm.
I realised that, with no hands, my bari hung naturally almost horizontally, which meant that my RH thumb was often responsible for pivotting the whole weight of the sax down and towards my knee in order to get the mpc towards my mouth.

I put an extra strap on the harness, and an extra ring on the sax, by wrapping some webbing around the sax just under the octave /low A thumb rest and sewing a metal eyelet onto that. This, attached to the extra strap on the harness pulled the bari to a much more vertical position, so my RH thumb just needed to do a little manipulation of the sax, rather than take almost all the weight of it.

Thumb pain went away witih weeks of this adaptation.

Hope you find a solution for your situation.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,348
Location
leicester
rubber thumb rest cushions or 'thumb savers' are the best thing I've found for helping with uncomfortable thumb rests digging in - I've got them on most of my saxes and clarinets
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
478
Location
Frankston Victoria Australia
wow Im glad I asked this question
I will give all your suggestions a try and see how I get on
I especially like the clue from a few about playing with the sax more in front
How does this sit in the crotch region or is it more on the right leg.
Regards
Allansto
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
wow Im glad I asked this question
I will give all your suggestions a try and see how I get on
I especially like the clue from a few about playing with the sax more in front
How does this sit in the crotch region or is it more on the right leg.
Regards
Allansto
if standing it is no problem, but sitting is a little more awkward so play more to the side when sitting but definate more front when standing, i also feel better balance in the front position
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
478
Location
Frankston Victoria Australia
today during practice I stood up and had the bell resting on the front of my right leg
It felt strange and different but it allowed me to play with virtually no pressure on my right thumb
In fact I was able to play with my thumb not even under the rest on some notes.
Allansto
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,917
today during practice I stood up and had the bell resting on the front of my right leg
It felt strange and different but it allowed me to play with virtually no pressure on my right thumb
In fact I was able to play with my thumb not even under the rest on some notes.
Allansto
Which would confirm what JBT was saying originally about adjusting your thumb rest to the right or left, you can buy aftermarket one's that simply screw on in place of what you already have but with a broader contact area..
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
today during practice I stood up and had the bell resting on the front of my right leg
It felt strange and different but it allowed me to play with virtually no pressure on my right thumb
In fact I was able to play with my thumb not even under the rest on some notes.
Allansto
glad it worked for you.
as some saxes do not have adjustable thumb rests i found this way of playing works well but if yours has adjustable thumb rest then you can easily alter the position. on mine i have done a combo of slight thumb rest altering and playing more in front, works great for me.
 
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helen

Member
Messages
174
FWIW, here's my experience with right thumb pain... As someone already pointed out, most modern horns have adjustable thumb rests, however, vintage horns don't. Because I play primarily vintage horns, I'm constantly up against right thumb issues while playing. Not all my vintage horns are created equally, and some are better built (ergonomically speaking) in the right thumb rest dept. than others.

I have developed a callus on my thumb where the horn rests. Because I play standing up, and pivot the horn around a lot during rehearsals and performances, my right thumb is the pivot point. (Hence the callus.) Even when I play my horns with adjustable thumb rests, the skin around my callus gets red. It's just a fact of life for a saxophone player--much like my right thumb being wider in general than my left, because of 30+ years of saxophone playing. BTW, all my professors and teachers have had the same "condition". Some have called it "saxophone player's thumb".

However, all that aside, I have 1 tenor that is so uncomfortable in the right thumb department, that if I were to use it all the time, I would have my tech replace the original thumb rest, with an adjustable one. My Dörfler & Jörka-stencilled De Villiers tenor is absolutely horrible, and no matter how I try to play it, it just hurts me. Others have not mentioned the problem with D&J tenors, so I'm guessing it might just be my build & the horns.

The other horn that I would have had an issue with is my Buescher bass. The right thumb rest was too far in the centre of the body tube to be comfortable. When I was in New Orleans picking up the horn, Steve Goodson suggested he move the thumb rest for me so that it would be a perfect fit for my right hand. Thanks to Steve, I never had 1 uncomfortable day playing bass--at least in the thumb rest dept.;}
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
478
Location
Frankston Victoria Australia
FWIW, here's my experience with right thumb pain... As someone already pointed out, most modern horns have adjustable thumb rests, however, vintage horns don't. Because I play primarily vintage horns, I'm constantly up against right thumb issues while playing. Not all my vintage horns are created equally, and some are better built (ergonomically speaking) in the right thumb rest dept. than others.

I have developed a callus on my thumb where the horn rests. Because I play standing up, and pivot the horn around a lot during rehearsals and performances, my right thumb is the pivot point. (Hence the callus.) Even when I play my horns with adjustable thumb rests, the skin around my callus gets red. It's just a fact of life for a saxophone player--much like my right thumb being wider in general than my left, because of 30+ years of saxophone playing. BTW, all my professors and teachers have had the same "condition". Some have called it "saxophone player's thumb".

However, all that aside, I have 1 tenor that is so uncomfortable in the right thumb department, that if I were to use it all the time, I would have my tech replace the original thumb rest, with an adjustable one. My Dörfler & Jörka-stencilled De Villiers tenor is absolutely horrible, and no matter how I try to play it, it just hurts me. Others have not mentioned the problem with D&J tenors, so I'm guessing it might just be my build & the horns.

The other horn that I would have had an issue with is my Buescher bass. The right thumb rest was too far in the centre of the body tube to be comfortable. When I was in New Orleans picking up the horn, Steve Goodson suggested he move the thumb rest for me so that it would be a perfect fit for my right hand. Thanks to Steve, I never had 1 uncomfortable day playing bass--at least in the thumb rest dept.;}

Any chance you could send me some photo`s
Allansto.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Café Supporter
Messages
9,100
Location
KIC 8462852
My Buffet clarinet raised a callus on my thumb when I first started playing so I wound a bit of denim around it and secured it with twine. It's still there decades later...

Doesn't anybody ask why you've got an old bit of denim around your thumb?
 

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