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Hand position for fretting


EmptinesOf Youth

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k guys, some of you may know i take lessons for a college class. While its mainly music theory combined with guitar, one of the areas we focus on is my technique. Its apparently gotten better since we started almost a month ago, but i still have a big problem keeping my thumb behind the neck. I like to bring it over alot. He says if i do that i can never be as fast as i could if i kept the thumb behind. This is a huge thing for me to change, after five years it is really hard to do. I have so much trouble concentrating on doing that, that i cant play right.

 

Anyways ive been watching alot of players lately and notice that they dont exactly keep their thumbs behind it either. this VIDEO which was posted in a couple other threads, is pretty much the position i keep my hand in now. I certainly dont see anything wrong with his playing or a lack of speed for that matter.

 

heres some pics i pulled off of this SITE :

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/images/5.jpg

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/images/4.jpg

 

this is to show again, how i basically hold the guitar, which is what ive seen in a lot of videos of artists.

 

 

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/images/1.jpg

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/images/2.jpg

 

 

this is how my teacher wants me to hold the guitar, now hes not being a huge dick about it or anything, but thats what he wants me to do which i think is nearly impossible for me.

 

so what do you guys think about this?

 

thanks

ryan

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I don't know, I think some folks get all wound around the axle about technique. For instance, I have been playing since I was 22 (13 years) and I always anchor my picking hand with my pinky. I know that is supposed to be a no-no but it works for me and I've seen guitarists a LOT better than me do it too (Michael Card for one). I for one tend to keep my thumb behind the neck, but often bring it over the top to mute the low E string. For instance, I'm on this kick where I'm playing lots of songs using the open chord concept (E5, A2, Bsus, etc.) ala Paul Baloche and many of these chords require the low E to be silent, so I bring the thumb over and rest it ever so slightly on the E string. I really couldn't care less whether some instructor somewhere says it's wrong. Of course, you should probably care, but I don't.

 

That being said, I would think it would be beneficial to play both with the thumb behind and over the top.

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Well I use both! for fast open passages I use the position that your teacher wants you to use! For riffs within the chord I use the one you are using allot. I find that because I play for allot and for long periods of time, 4 or 5 sets a night or more sometimes, utility and endurance makes the difference in how I use my chord positions. In other words, I use the positions that are the least taxing on me physically and still lets me get the job done right.
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I've been paying attention to my thumb position more lately.

 

Also, I've been paying attention to how anchored my right hand is when playing fast passages. I try to keep it loose (thanks funkjazz for the Howard Roberts material).

 

Getting back to the thumb. It tends to properly stay behind the neck when I'm playing from the low E to about the G. However, when I get to the two top strings the little critter tends to make an entrance over the low E. I don't consider this a big deal.

 

One bad habit I do have though is when my thumb is behind the neck (properly) and I'm playing a passage that shifts toward my right hand, my thumb doesn't always come along for the ride. As a result, sometimes my thumb ends up along the length of the neck (i.e. parallel to it. If I don't catch this in time and shift left, it sometimes causes problems.

 

So... I'm trying to make sure the little bugger stays with the rest of the hand.

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I also have the same problem of putting my thumb on top of the neck a majority of the time, but I alternate depending on what im doing, for solos with alot of bends, my thumb always ends up on top, metal like music ends up in the back.

 

However, I have one of the worst cases of a hitch hikers thumb, it can do a full bend backwards, making it completely L shape at an angle, maybe ill post a picture of it later. And this is something which causes my thumb joint to hurt after awhile because increases tension at the join because my thumb will not stay flat on the back of the neck.

 

Its not your average typical hitchhikers thumb that can slightly bend a little, its like a full bend... :thu: imagine me doing that, but with half my thumb bent backwards! Ultra double joint action!

 

Am I the only one with this freaky thumb? Anyone else have this probleM?

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I'm sure most of us switch back and forth. What your teacher suggests is correct for barre chording and some soloing, but I don't know anyone who plays that way all the time.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Some guys who do a lot of string bending say that having the thumb curled around the neck is very helpful for that style, because of the leverage you get.

 

Mostly I play with the thumb in the middle of the neck, but I'm not slavish about it; and sometimes you might want to grab a bass note with your thumb!

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Keep your thumb behind the neck, unless you need it for leverage to bend a string. The thumb centered on the back of the neck gives you the most flexibility for reaches and chording positions.

 

As you develop your technique, you will find that just moving your thumb slightly to the top side of the back of the neck (as opposed to really strangling the neck and wrapping your thumb over like in the pictures you posted) allows plenty of leverage for most bends.

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Originally posted by Billster:

Keep your thumb behind the neck, unless you need it for leverage to bend a string. The thumb centered on the back of the neck gives you the most flexibility for reaches and chording positions.

What he said. You want your thumb anchored over the fretboard for bends and vibratos also. But switch to your thumb behind the neck when your gonna use chord and chord melodies and such.
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