So, I’ve got my first gig coming up on the 20th and have been rehearsing like crazy, a good four or five hours at a time. A few days ago I noticed my left hand was getting shocks off my guitar strings, albeit intermittently. Great!!! That’s all I need!!!
I tested the guitar through a couple of different amps and it still gave little shocks so must be the guitar. I use a brilliant (not to mention cheap) Luthier in Peterhead for repairs, the only drawback is that he works offshore on a rig for weeks at a time. I called his house to be told that he’s not back until the 22nd, so emailed him asking for advice. He told me how I could do a temporary repair by basically sticking a bit of wire through the ball end of one of the strings, and wrapping the other end around the long ‘sticky-outy’ bit (my technical term, not his) of the jack plug, which should sort out any grounding problems. I tried this to no avail. Actually, I misread the email and unscrewed the guitar jack socket, stripped off the insulation, THEN checked the email to see where I should stick the wire. OK, so I put it all back together again. Still shocking (the guitar, not my stupidity).
A quick test for guitar ground problems
I then played the guitar without anything plugged in and it STILL gave me shocks. It then dawned on me that the problem was with me rather than any equipment. I Googled “electric shocks in fingers” and other terms, and most pointed to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Fuck me, I haven’t even gigged yet and I’m stopped in my tracks. Later that night whilst sitting watching “The Inavaders” (pretty good film, based on Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers) I noticed that my left hand was tingling a lot and didn’t so much feel numb, but just weird. My right hand had occasional tingling too. After much consideration I decided it was either CTS or a trapped nerve (and I have to admit that MS cropped up a lot in the search terms but I didn’t dwell on that).
Now, my girlfriend (the lovely Rags) had a severe back problem at the start of the year, and couldn’t move without screaming. A friend of hers said she should try a local man that practises Bowen. We’d never heard of it, but the friend wasn’t one for messing about with hippy stuff, and said it really improved her back pain, so we gave it a try. Now, considering that she could hardly walk when she went into the guy’s house, it is pretty impressive to say the least that she walked out of there after an hour of treatment. It was still sore, but very much improved. After one more session, she hasn’t been bothered with any pain since. The Bowen man is actually a farmer, so there’s no Whale noises or scented candles.
I managed to get an appointment for the afternoon, thankfully. I explained the problem and he said it sounded like a trapped nerve and set about untrapping it. After about an hour, and after being manipulated and pulled about, I felt much better. All for £20; can’t be bad. It will ache for a few day afterwards, sometimes more than it did originally, but the muscles have a good workout. He gave me some easy stretching exercises to do and sent me on my way. That was yesterday, my back feels uncomfortable, but only like your legs would from running after a period of inactivity. Nothing to worry about and my hand doesn’t feel tingly anymore.
I haven’t attempted to play guitar yet, feeling it better to rest for a couple of days, but will get back to it tomorrow. I’ll just have to take breaks regularly instead of playing for 4 or 5 hours without a break, tensed up and standing in a awkward position for far too long.
Interestingly, the Bowen man spoke about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and he said that it starts a lot further up the body than the wrist/forearm and although inflammation occurs there, there’s something wrong elsewhere that needs correcting and that the last resort operation sometimes won’t actually cure the problem, just alleviate it for a bit.