Hand cramps? Normal?

Hey Fellas,
I’ll upload a video of my right hand before long since I found a good phone holding stand… but quick question. I’ve been playing guitar for around 20 years, but it’s just been southern rock/country stuff. I have never ever been able to play really fast and thought it was just not at all possible for me until I found this blessing of a guy named Troy! Now I at least have a little hope that I can play fast and fluid one day……
On with the question… Is it normal for the hand to cramp when trying to find the technique that works for me? Does this indicate that I’m doing something wrong, or is it just a thing where it will take time for my hands to adapt without cramping?


Could be a few different things. Are you warmed up before playing? Do you feel the cramp while just getting into position, or actively playing? How hard are you gripping / picking? Video would definitely help whenever you get the chance.

How do I go about uploading a video? I see how to upload an image, but not a video.

You can upload the video to Youtube and post the link here.

No, this is not normal.

Awesome! Thanks. I’ll do that tomorrow👍

Does your hand cramp when you use it for normal activities or just when trying to play fast?

Was just kinda cramping yesterday when playing. Normally doesn’t cramp. Today I’ve been working to find my best/fasted position and I haven’t had any cramping. A little fatigue after 2-3 minutes. I’ll take a break and then come back at it, but no cramping.
Maybe it was just the position I was in yesterday.

See if that link works for one of my videos. I reduced the speed to 60% to maybe help you guys analyze. Let me know any suggestions. Thanks.

It looks like you are using elbow motion. Which there is nothing wrong with. It does look like you are getting a bit stuck with the pick.
It should feel smooth, if one of the strokes is getting stuck, you may need to adjust your grip to add some edge picking. You can try with flat thumb, slightly wrapped thumb, or slightly pressed. It needs to match the direction you are moving the pick.
Have a look at “setting the pickslant” in the primer, this talks about it in more detail and shows what happens when you wrap or press the thumb.

Thanks for the reply/advice. I watched the clip you suggested. It did help and reinforced some ideas. Today picking was noticeably smoother than yesterday. Still working to get it more consistent so I can get in the right position immediately when picking up the guitar…… One question, I’m getting pretty steady around 160 BPM. Should I keep working to make that as steady as possible, then speed it up?..… or should I go ahead and speed up and try to work out the roughness?..… 160 is almost comfortable now, faster is slightly uncomfortable at the moment.
Thanks again!

I think if you are able to reach 160bpm with a motion that’s fast and smooth, it passes the litmus test and I would start applying it to licks and phrases that match. So that would be dsx phrases for your motion.

This is just how I would approach it though, others may approach it differently?

You could start applying it to licks etc while setting aside a bit of time to get it going faster on the one string.

I think the most important question is has the cramping pain gone? That’s something I’d be more concerned about first.

Yessir then cramping has not been back. After a couple minutes I get a little fatigued and I feel my upper arm begin to tighten up. I’ve been taking a break for a minute and then going back at it. I assume that’s halfway normal.
Any suggestions for starting hand synchronization?
I can play southern rock style music(skynyrd, 38 special, ZZ Top) fluidly, but this speed playing has always gave me trouble…… however, I just learned Thru this program about wrist, elbow and forearm motion. That was like the unspoken idea that I was missing. No one in 20 years had mentioned that to me…… anyways, my right hand can go much faster than my left can at the moment. I feel like hand synchronization is where I need to start working.

My upper arm can get tense too when I’m trying something fast. If I take a break, it seems to help or if I focus on trying to relax it as much as possible that can also help.

For two hand sync I tend to pick a pattern I can already do medium fast with the left hand and practice in chunks. So maybe start on one string, or two if it’s easy enough. I wouldn’t necessarily start at your fastest picking speed, but not too much slower, it’s hard to put an exact measurement on that!, but you want to be using the same picking motion you know you can already do fast.

Another thing I try if the left hand can’t keep up is practice left hand only. I do this to a metronome but I don’t do hammer ons and pull offs. Just fretting the notes and targeting the beats. I sometimes do this right hand only too. Muting the strings with the left hand and just practicing the picking pattern with the right hand.
I find it’s easier to combine at speed then.

Im no expert on two hand sync! I think it’s a case of trying a few different things depending on where the issue is.

You can always post videos in the technique critique section if you are struggling with something

Sounds good! Thanks for the reply. I’ll keep working at it. :+1: