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I recently started playing the ukulele, but after some time practicing, my left hand starts to hurt from rubbing against the nut. It only starts to hurt after playing for some time, but it still is keeping me from playing as much as I would like to.

The edge of the nut is hurting my hand: enter image description here

The part of my hand that hurts is in the red circle: enter image description here

Me, playing a G7 chord. When I switch chord, my hand is going to brush against the edge of the nut.

enter image description here

When I play a D or an Eb6 chord, my hand is even directly against the (pointy-ish) edge of the nut, and if my hand is already irritated from before it hurts a bit too.

What can I do to avoid this pain? Am I holding my left hand wrong? Should I file down the edge of the nut (or have a professional file it down for me)?

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  • Sandpaper it, but also adjust your hand position so the thumb is pointing straight up the neck and is right in the middle of the back of it. This brings your fingers parallel to the frets and makes everything easier, as well as not abrading with the hardware..
    – user207421
    Nov 6 '20 at 4:31
  • Your fingers look like they're more "collapsed" towards that neck than John Belzaguy's. Like Marquis of Lorne said, thumb position, and try moving it so it's closer to the fretting fingers. Nov 6 '20 at 8:13
  • Your first finger in particular looks as though it is bending backwards at the first joint. The other fingers have a better curve. I suspect if you fix that, the problem will go away. Nov 6 '20 at 18:45
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I agree with the other two answers, knocking that corner down a bit with either sandpaper or a fine file will help but I would like to also offer two tips on your technique.

There isn’t a reason for your hand to make contact with the neck in that spot. It looks like your thumb is in a pretty good spot but try placing it just a hair lower, more towards the center of the neck. This will add a little bit of inward curve to your palm and wrist which will in turn will move the base of the index finger away from the neck.

It is hard to see in the photo but it looks like the first joint of your index finger (closest to the tip) might be flat and the first joint on the other fingers have a curve. Unless you’re playing a barre it should also have a little curve to it. This will help add a bit of distance from the nut too.

Here are a few pics that show my suggestions. This is a soprano Ukelele so it’s very small but I think you can get the idea.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • Yes; press with your fingertips, not with the pad. Nov 6 '20 at 3:49
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Sandpaper. It sounds like a joke, but the nut is there to hold the string, and the sharp edges are not necessary. Round it down for comfort.

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You could round off that edge of the nut, preferrably with a file. As long as the slot for the top string is still integral, there's no problem. And/or, you could try a fingerless glove. You won't be the first to play fretted instruments using a gloved hand - even a full glove.

EDIT: it also might help if you moved your elbow away from your body.That in itself will have two results: using the thumb as a fulcrum, there's no need to press as hard with your hand itself, and, it'll move the hurty bit away from thee nut.

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Please don't think about sandpapering or chiseling your instrument. This is simply a technique issue that you need to work on. You problem is with your first knuckle of the first finger in your left hand. You need to keep your fingers in a rounded configuration, similar to what it would be if you were holding something with your left hand. At the present time, your first finger is flattened against the neck and this is affecting the position of your hand. @John's answer is correct.

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    The nut is removable. In the photo, the ends are very square. It would make no difference to the playability of the instrument to round off the nut as long as you don't go near the slot. I personally would take the strings off and remove the nut before reshaping. Having said all of that, I agree that a good left hand position will make a big difference. Nov 6 '20 at 18:41
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Your thumb isn't along the middle of the neck. You're gripping/choking the neck.

Attempt playing any stringed instrument without the use of your thumb at all, at least in short bursts of scale practice. This can help ease you out of bad form.

Try to keep your thumb vertical and along the 'skunk line' that is on most stringed instruments.

That part of your hand should float away from the fretboard if the thumb is placed appropriately. Also, it's hard, but keep the tips of your fingers on the strings, so that force is being applied downward and not diagonally.

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    While a skunk line may be added for aesthetic purposes only, it originates from guitars and basses which use a truss rod inside the neck. To place the rod, the instrument manufacturer cuts a nut into the wood, places the rod, and then seals up the slit with a different wood to create the skunk stripe. This is purely a requirement for instruments with a very long neck in relation to string tension. An ukulele has a very short neck by definition, and it uses only 4 strings instead of 6 as guitars do. As such, I guess you won't find an ukulele with a truss rod, and very few with skunk stripes. Nov 6 '20 at 16:44

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