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Home Alt Forums General Questions 2nd Hand Thumb gets tired/hurts while playing Tenor

  • This topic has 7 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Anonymous.
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    Joseph Pizzoferrato

      Hi all, anyone ever experience this? Currently I play on a Yamaha YTS62 Tenor and as I have learned altissimo more and more over the past year I have noticed that my thumb gets sore from all the alternate fingers for the higher register. Basically more pressure, load is put on the joint of my thumb from all the work in the high registers. Does anyone have experience working out this issue? I have tried moving the thumb support side to side and up/down and even removing it completely. Removing it completely is a little strange but I could still play and would take time getting use to it for sure. Currently I have the thumb support back on. I really like playing the saxophone upright and more in front of me like an alto and I think that is were it stems from too. I have recently switched to have it slightly to my side and slightly bent over body position. This helps a bit.

      I got back into playing now for the last year and have been learning new things so 1)I may not be use to all the playing and 2)altissimo forces my hands into awkward positions. Thank you guys.

      Musically, Joe 🙂


        i’ve read about another sax player that played tenor professionally all his life, and he wore his right hand thumb joints out just from holding the sax up in the air. He has to play with a leather support on his wrist to hold his thumb in place.

        When i first started learning altissimo, there was that many different key positions, the first thing i noticed was that easiest key positions to blow were the worst ones on the fingers if you wanted to move round the notes in altissimo – they tired the hands very quickly and were clumsy to jump from note to note.

        I went through all the various key positions, found the ones with the least number of fingers to use, and more importantly i found the key positions of neighbouring notes in the altissimo chromatic register that allowed me to flow naturally from note to note and not clumsily have to rearrange my fingers in a lot of awkward positions..

        i’ve played guitar chords, and the same problem occurs on the guitar some chord positions are impossible to jump around without using an alternative chord fingering position. Also some chord positions can give your hand cramp.


          The best thing to do, if you are new to altissimo, and you want every altissimo fingering position that you can find on the internet to work, which they will do, with a few exceptions limited by your sax.

          Then you need to be able to play all 7 overtones on Low Bb, WITHOUT altering your embouchure – ie you have to use the exact same embouchure that you blow on normal sax keys.

          The only way to make sure that you are not altering your embouchure while jumping into altissimo notes, is to do a simple exercise where you blow a normal note, and then blow the equivalent overtone note on Low Bb.

          ie blow a normal middle Bb then blow a middle Bb overtone using the Low Bb key postion,
          repeat this for all 7 overtones on Low Bb.

          If you can do that without altering your embouchure when moving from normal keys to Low Bb overtones, then you will find that 99% of all the altissimo fingering positions found on the internet will start working – this opens the possibility of using easier fingering positions ex like playing altissimo G just using one key etc..


            Hi Joe, sounds like a terrible problem and i hope you can come to grips with it soon, say!
            What a great sax, your YTS 62!
            Cheers, Mark

            Good advice sx poet, as ever, thank you, James
            i’m sure John will have some insight and research to share in this regard with us too thanks

            In years gone by it transpired i had a bad problem with tennis elbow from windsurfing repetive strain injuries
            Found that myofacial therapy worked for me (touch for health meridian massage with alternating hot / cold; viz ice cream paddle pop and later a hot water bottle applied to afflicted area being combined with deep tissue manipulation with a wooden dowel, that is in between applications of hot / cold)
            You may wish to try that?

            Read on the internet that some peoples are more comfortable playing with their right thumb on the support screw that holds the thumb strap, rather than in the hook, recently i somehow have adopted that system in my playing and that kinda feels ok to me

            Anywayz, have seen somethang to help us all on the net earler, specifically see ~


              ‘n yo Joe just to say i favour and do use a thickly padded neck strap with chest harness straps, same as below

              i find the Jazzlab strap hopeless when sitting down jammin’ with Youtube – it just won’t stay put!

              ya i play with my sax on my hip too, looking down the sax from the mp i adjust the crook about 30 degrees to the left and my mp about 45 degrees to the right to get best fit and articulation

              My top teeth clamped down and and right thumb pushing out on hook screw hold sax in place,
              i breathe mainly by dropping bottom lip i try not to open top lip,
              somtimes in long tone excercise i only breath through my nose for stamina

              i’m not much a player though with a limited repetoire and don’t do any flamboyant stuff with the sax like holding it above my head etc and i can only rarely hit altissimo g and as yet can’t rely on it reguraly in my limited songs

              Hope this helps or gets ya thinkin’ for alternatives, stay well safe ‘k

              All the best, mate



                saxomonica you’re trying to run when you can hardly walk, master the overtones 1st, 10 mins a day – 6 months from now you’ll be able play all the overtones – then start altissimo. i do a 5 min warm up every day playing all 7 overtones on Low Bb, does wonders for my altissimo and knocks spots off my tone. woodshedding pal – don’t cheat yourself



                  Thanking you, sx poet

                  sometimes i wish i had never even started playing the saxophone ya
                  if i had put the same efforts into my guitar, say, (playing over 40 yrs now) i’d be a virtuoso by now lol
                  my main instrument is blues harmonica, having played in pub bands earlier days, and taught 5 yrs at music shop
                  yet, sax playing has really developed my vocal work all the while!

                  i have a band thang happenning soon with regular gigs where my main intrument is button accordion
                  Fella i am playing with just sold his music studio (Wave House Yalingup WA) to ex manager of Lady GaGa (Kevin Parker) recently returned from States (vocalist of band Tame Impala)
                  We do varied thangs, lotsa sea shanties ‘n stuff

                  But, most importantly, on topic letz hope Joe can get his thumb together!

                  Again, thanking you


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