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Betty

Thumb Strap Question

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Hi,

 

I've had my Bastari for about a week now, and am having no problems with my pinkies. But, I think my thumb straps are too loose, even though I cannot make them any smaller. How snug or loose should they be? I am getting aching thumbs and wrists and am not sure how much is down to being a newbie, or is in fact due to the straps...

 

Thanks!

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Hi,

 

I've had my Bastari for about a week now, and am having no problems with my pinkies. But, I think my thumb straps are too loose, even though I cannot make them any smaller. How snug or loose should they be? I am getting aching thumbs and wrists and am not sure how much is down to being a newbie, or is in fact due to the straps...

 

Thanks!

 

You may try to abandon pinkey rests and put your instrument on your knee, while sitting. Some keep straps very tight, but not stick their appendages far in them (good overall life practice), or, like me, keep them very loose, and flexible. It's not your straps, it's you. You tense and your shoulders are probably high up to your ears, and you try too hard to hold it with your pinkies.

Those pinkey rests will not help you. Later, when you develop technique, you may experiment with them, and hold instrument in the air, but unless you are performing onstage and just have to show off your tail suite, there is no reason for it.

But if you instist, your thumbs are stressed and tense. Relax them, relax your wrists, arms, flex them alot. And keep those shoulders down. You're not alone. Some think EC is designed by God and need no improvement, some (like me) think it's been simply a practical joke.

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I had a Stagi at first. The thumb strap leather was exceedingly stiff and caused some problems. Now I have a Morse. The leather is soft and flexible where it needs to be. Much more comfortable. If I had kept the stagi, I would have inquired about new thumbstraps from Morse and Co. or I would have made some new ones myself that were not so stiff. It seemed that the stitching was poorly done too and the sewn joint was right where my thumb least wanted a rough spot.

 

 

 

Randy

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Betty, if you can't tighten the straps any more take the tina into the nearest 'proper' cobblers shop and have them punch extra holes into the straps, it will only cost a pound or two. It might even be such a novelty that you get it done for nothing!

 

I'm a bit like m3838, with fairly loose thumb straps. I can't argue with the logic re: finger rests either, I use mine more than I should but I'm hoping to wean myself away from relying on them.

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Hi,

 

I've had my Bastari for about a week now, and am having no problems with my pinkies. But, I think my thumb straps are too loose, even though I cannot make them any smaller. How snug or loose should they be? I am getting aching thumbs and wrists and am not sure how much is down to being a newbie, or is in fact due to the straps...

 

Thanks!

 

1) ...to abandon pinkey rests and put your instrument on your knee, while sitting...

 

2) ...Those pinkey rests will not help you...

 

3) ...Some think EC is designed by God and need no improvement, some (like me) think it's been simply a practical joke.

 

re:1) Hear, hear!

re:2) Hear, hear, hear!

re:3) IMHO, there is definitely room for improvement... ;).

- and folks attending Bradfield Trad Music next week will have a chance to see one :)

 

/Henrik

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I suspect that all of us have slightly different ways to hold the instrument as a result of having different bodies-- I have very large, thin hands. When I play my EC I usually have the left end resting on my left knee to provide stability. I've found that I need some reference to triangulate consistently where the buttons will be, so stability of the instrument is necessary. Both thumbs are in moderately, but not too, snug thumbstraps. My right pinky uses the finger rest, but I often find that my left one is floating above it. Because my hands are so large the only parts that touch the instrument are the thumbs in the thumb straps, the little finger (lightly) in the finger rests, and the fingers playing the buttons. When I started (on a Stagi) my thumbs got quite a workout and my little fingers got tired as well. I think that a couple years of playing have strengthened my hands and relaxed my technique. I also now have instruments which are easier to play.

 

My Tenor Treble aeola has plated ends. Some of the plating is worn off where someone with smaller hands or different technique might have rested his/her palm on the instrument for stability. My palms are at least an inch away from the instrument, so that my fingers can arch to reach all of the buttons. I never touch the part of the instrument where some previous owner clearly did have contact. I suspect that neither of us was using wrong technique, just adjusting for what works.

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Hi,

 

I've had my Bastari for about a week now, and am having no problems with my pinkies. But, I think my thumb straps are too loose, even though I cannot make them any smaller. How snug or loose should they be? I am getting aching thumbs and wrists and am not sure how much is down to being a newbie, or is in fact due to the straps...

 

Thanks!

 

You may try to abandon pinkey rests and put your instrument on your knee, while sitting. Some keep straps very tight, but not stick their appendages far in them (good overall life practice), or, like me, keep them very loose, and flexible. It's not your straps, it's you. You tense and your shoulders are probably high up to your ears, and you try too hard to hold it with your pinkies.

Those pinkey rests will not help you. Later, when you develop technique, you may experiment with them, and hold instrument in the air, but unless you are performing onstage and just have to show off your tail suite, there is no reason for it.

But if you instist, your thumbs are stressed and tense. Relax them, relax your wrists, arms, flex them alot. And keep those shoulders down. You're not alone. Some think EC is designed by God and need no improvement, some (like me) think it's been simply a practical joke.

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I think Wheatstone originally intended that notes would only be played with two fingers

on each hand and the other two fingers would be under the finger rest.

 

I agree that the system wasn't designed by God and could be improved. However you need

to be aware that when you first learn to play any instrument, it is often painful. As

you learn to play you may find that this pain disappears. So don't rush to change the

physical layout of your concertina. Remember that past generations have learned to

play without physical damage using thumb straps and finger rests and they have

continued to play into old age.

 

If your thumb straps are too loose then do get extra holes punched into them.

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You could also try inserting an object under the strap that would tighten it. I've seen one of those flat sticks sold in craft stores used (in the US often called Popsicle sticks. I once used a pencil. Looks a little weird, perhaps, but doesn't hurt anything and doesn't involve making holes in the strap.

Edited by Mike Franch

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I think Wheatstone originally intended that notes would only be played with two fingers

on each hand and the other two fingers would be under the finger rest.

 

No doubt about that as it explicitly says so in the patent papers

 

I agree that the system wasn't designed by God and could be improved. However you need

to be aware that when you first learn to play any instrument, it is often painful. As

you learn to play you may find that this pain disappears. So don't rush to change the

physical layout of your concertina. Remember that past generations have learned to

play without physical damage using thumb straps and finger rests and they have

continued to play into old age.

 

Spontaneus impressions by beginners are often highly relevant indications that something is wrong with a construction or a method.

Some problems no doubt vanish by practise but this may be temporary or illusory. Health problems often appear after a long period of dysfunctional practise and then may be more or less un-curable. So - if there are any signs of flaws in a construction these should be dealt with as soon as possible. The circumstance that a tool has been un-changed for ages is never a proof of its perfection and experiences from "past generations" have to be judged critically. Advice from "experienced players" not seldom reflect unwillingness to change their own habits. That many "play into old age" may be a hasty conclusion - you hardly ever meet those who stopped but investigations show that physical problems are the most common causes that musicians stop playing an instrument.

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Hello concertina world,

 

I'm having the same problem as the original poster here. But in my case, punching more holes in the strap won't do any good. Even when I pull the strap as tight as I can, the triangle formed by the strap, the face of the instrument, and the rigid part that comes out perpendicular to the face is much larger than my thumb. It's probably at least twice as large. What do I do?

 

Some background information, in case any of this is relevant:

 

- The instrument in question is a Jack, which I bought used from the Button Box.

 

- The Jack/Jackie tutor book says "Adjust the straps so that the thumbs cannot slide all the way through the strap. The straps should feel firm, not tight, around the thumbs." I'm nowhere close to being able to meet either of those conditions.

 

- My hands and fingers aren't particularly small. Probably about average for a woman.

 

- Prior to getting the Jack, I've been playing a Stagi 18-button mini for about three months. So I'm not totally a newbie, and I have some idea of how things are supposed to feel.

 

- I've played around a bit with a Jackie and a 30-button Stagi at the House of Musical Traditions (fortunately only a few miles from where I live) and didn't have this problem with either of those instruments. I plan to take my Jack in to the store to compare it side by side with the Jackie to see what's different, but I won't have a chance to do that for a few days at least.

 

- I've tried Mike Franch's suggestion of inserting things into the straps. This works for a quick fix, and may end up being my permanent fix, but it seems to me that it's a sign that something is wrong that I can't tighten the straps anywhere close to enough on their own.

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I solved this problem by cutting a piece of a black leather glove to fit around the entire thumbstrap and sewing the ends together. This decreased the size of the hole my thumb had to fit in. Make sure the leather is soft enough to bend around the curve of the thumbstrap and also that it feels comfortable on your thumb.

 

Gerard

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I solved this problem by cutting a piece of a black leather glove to fit around the entire thumbstrap and sewing the ends together. This decreased the size of the hole my thumb had to fit in. Make sure the leather is soft enough to bend around the curve of the thumbstrap and also that it feels comfortable on your thumb.

 

Gerard

 

I found small bags of leather offcuts at a craft supply place, and used a few pieces to line the curved surface of the little finger rests. Of my lach. EC. These have a very raised lip at the edge (maybe they were lined originally) which was starting to leave a permanent dent in my pinkies! A great improvement in comfort.

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I'm having the same problem as the original poster here. But in my case, punching more holes in the strap won't do any good. Even when I pull the strap as tight as I can, the triangle formed by the strap, the face of the instrument, and the rigid part that comes out perpendicular to the face is much larger than my thumb. It's probably at least twice as large. What do I do?

 

- I've tried Mike Franch's suggestion of inserting things into the straps. This works for a quick fix, and may end up being my permanent fix, but it seems to me that it's a sign that something is wrong that I can't tighten the straps anywhere close to enough on their own.

 

I haven't come across your problem but it sounds as if your straps are much different from the traditional ones - like those you find on Wheatstones or Lachenals. Do you know these so you can describe the difference or can you possibly send a photo? I get the impression that the rigid ( metal) part of the thumbstrap is too wide/high for you and maybe there is too much width between this rigid part and the loop or clasp that holds the soft strap down also. In that case they probably are wrongly designed for many people.

 

In my view traditional thumbstraps are not very functional either but of course individual thumb size determines what is suitable or not. My thumbstraps are wider ( 30mm compared to 20-25mm) , thicker, more padded, and steadier than common ones.To work fine the thumb straps should fixate the thumb comfortably and immobilize the distal joint so that you don't need to use any muscular force by the thumb (or the little finger) to hold the instrument. This makes the contact with the instrument more stable, improves tonal control and you reach all you want anyway. A functional thumbstrap is essential for playing English so don't try some provisory "quick fix" - get some good ones instead somewhere.

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