Ukuleles, Arthritis and Yours Truly

Doc Ivory

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I've been playing stringed instruments, mainly electric blues for better than 50 years.
In my particular case, I've developed pretty good arthritis in both hands but mainly my fretting hand.

As such, my guitar, mandolin and banjo playing have sadly tailed off a bit.

But BOOM! along came ukulele in the form of a Lankai concert sized instrument which worked well for quite a period
of time. But alas, that fell by the wayside as arthritis again interfered.

Two or three weeks back, I thought I would give a tenor sized ukulele a try as it has a bit larger fretboard and two weeks later, my Pono arrived.
I've been able to play for an hour or better once, twice a day and no residual pain!
HOLY SMOKES!!!
To say I'm enthused sounds kinda stupid. I'M BACK!!!!

I will need to find a strings that are a bit more slinky than the ones it came with. These original ones are pretty firm.
Regardless, I can play and not pay for it an hour or two later.

Wonder if i can do My Stevie Ray Vaughn or Johnny Winter impression on it? 🤣🤣

Any other fellow sufferers in the group?

ONWARD!
-Doc
charter member of the Ibuprofen Society
 
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Yes, although i primarily play harmonica, I played mandolin, guitar, and various banjos. I bought my eldest a ukulele, and discovered it was pretty cool. Now osteoarthritis keeps most of my stringed instruments in cases, but the tenor uke and occasional baritone are doable. I'm grateful, and it's really interesting doing more with less on four strings.
 
Yes, although i primarily play harmonica, I played mandolin, guitar, and various banjos. I bought my eldest a ukulele, and discovered it was pretty cool. Now osteoarthritis keeps most of my stringed instruments in cases, but the tenor uke and occasional baritone are doable. I'm grateful, and it's really interesting doing more with less on four strings.
Glad you can still play!!!
I'm grateful as well.
 
I've been playing stringed instruments, mainly electric blues for better than 50 years.
In my particular case, I've developed pretty good arthritis in both hands but mainly my fretting hand.

As such, my guitar, mandolin and banjo playing have sadly tailed off a bit.

But BOOM! along came ukulele in the form of a Lankai concert sized instrument which worked well for quite a period
of time. But alas, that fell by the wayside as arthritis again interfered.

Two or three weeks back, I thought I would give a tenor sized ukulele a try as it has a bit larger fretboard and two weeks later, my Pono arrived.
I've been able to play for an hour or better once, twice a day and no residual pain!
HOLY SMOKES!!!
To say I'm enthused sounds kinda stupid. I'M BACK!!!!

I will need to find a strings that are a bit more slinky than the ones it came with. These original ones are pretty firm.
Regardless, I can play and not pay for it an hour or two later.

Wonder if i can do My Stevie Ray Vaughn or Johnny Winter impression on it? 🤣🤣

Any other fellow sufferers in the group?

ONWARD!
-Doc
charter member of the Ibuprofen Society
Try Fremont Blackline. I use an uwound low g and the strings just feel "softer" to my hands
Congrats on being able to play again
 
I’m delighted you can get back to it!

I began to notice this some 13-14 years ago in some of the fingers of my right hand, mainly thumb, index, middle whilst playing the bagpipes. I’m somewhat new to the uke and am experiencing a bit of pain in both hands during practice and afterwards.

From my piping experience, I found the following help quite a bit:

- Getting in the habit of stretching the fingers very carefully throughout the day till it becomes something you do without giving it much thought;

- Before each practice, I run my hands under warm to hot water for a good long time (once you do this you’ll ask yourself why you weren’t always doing that over the years;

- Stopping at the first sign of pain and not playing through it;

- And since I’m new to this, I’m still on the look out for lower tension strings and other helps for this, so I’ll be watching this thread closely for tips.

Thanks for bringing it up!
 
I’m delighted you can get back to it!

I began to notice this some 13-14 years ago in some of the fingers of my right hand, mainly thumb, index, middle whilst playing the bagpipes. I’m somewhat new to the uke and am experiencing a bit of pain in both hands during practice and afterwards.

From my piping experience, I found the following help quite a bit:

- Getting in the habit of stretching the fingers very carefully throughout the day till it becomes something you do without giving it much thought;

- Before each practice, I run my hands under warm to hot water for a good long time (once you do this you’ll ask yourself why you weren’t always doing that over the years;

- Stopping at the first sign of pain and not playing through it;

- And since I’m new to this, I’m still on the look out for lower tension strings and other helps for this, so I’ll be watching this thread closely for tips.

Thanks for bringing it up!
Great job Cliff!!!
I do the hands and finger stretches most every day at the behest of my physician.
Warm water though, I may need to try that!
 
My favorite strings for being easy in the hands (and it happens, ALSO my favorite sounding) are UkeLogic Soft Tension. Joel will work with you on his Etsy shop to customize sets any way you'd like, so no matter what you're looking for, I already recommend staying with him anyway. 😁

Glad to hear you folks are finding your way! Thanks for the updates!
 
My favorite strings for being easy in the hands (and it happens, ALSO my favorite sounding) are UkeLogic Soft Tension. Joel will work with you on his Etsy shop to customize sets any way you'd like, so no matter what you're looking for, I already recommend staying with him anyway. 😁

Glad to hear you folks are finding your way! Thanks for the updates!
Thanks Tim!!!
I have him bookmarked on Etsy!!
 
Great suggestions. Set up and action are another way of helping the hands. You may lose a bit of volumn and some would suggest a bit of tone, but having strings super low and a radius fingerboard with soft strings would might all add up to a big change. Not to tell you to sell one of your awesome guitars, but, if you did, you could have a master builder build one with your needs in mind. A thought.
 
Use concert strings for lower tension. If u want it even lower tension use nylon concert strings instead of fluorocarbon.
 
Yup, I’m a member of the Ibuprofen Society too. I have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Chording has become a challenge - my fingers are no longer flexible enough for many chord shapes, and my wrists complain when I can‘t find a comfortable position when shaping the chords. Fortunately, I can still manage finger style playing reasonably well. When that eventually goes down the tubes, I have other instruments that will take the place of my ukuleles. As long as I can still make music (or something resembling it), I’ll be a happy camper. :)
 
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Use concert strings for lower tension. If u want it even lower tension use nylon concert strings instead of fluorocarbon.

This is exactly what I was going to recommend.

Being a long time stringed instrument player you know that the sound will change with a change of strings. But string experimentation is a cheap way to findout what works for you. Best of luck
 
Great suggestions. Set up and action are another way of helping the hands. You may lose a bit of volumn and some would suggest a bit of tone, but having strings super low and a radius fingerboard with soft strings would might all add up to a big change. Not to tell you to sell one of your awesome guitars, but, if you did, you could have a master builder build one with your needs in mind. A thought.
Hey Rich!
A custom uke may be on the horizon as "age" progresses. (I can't beieve I'm saying that)
My new Pono is set up very well by the wizards at TUS and it indeed has a radiused fingerboard.
Tim gave be a heads up about a string maker that makes soft tension strings that he likes.
So far, so good on the high tension strings that came with my Pono, but for the next set, I'll try a little lower tension string.
 
This is exactly what I was going to recommend.

Being a long time stringed instrument player you know that the sound will change with a change of strings. But string experimentation is a cheap way to findout what works for you. Best of luck
Its gonna be a little trial and error for a while till I find the right combination. But that can be fun, no?
 
My favorite strings for being easy in the hands (and it happens, ALSO my favorite sounding) are UkeLogic Soft Tension. Joel will work with you on his Etsy shop to customize sets any way you'd like, so no matter what you're looking for, I already recommend staying with him anyway. 😁

Glad to hear you folks are finding your way! Thanks for the updates!
Just purchased a couple sets from him. Lets see how they do!!
Thanks for the "heads-up"
 
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