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Playing with thumb over top of the neck???


sixwasnine

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After two years of battling left hand tendonitis and "overuse" of the thumb joint, I am thinking that perhaps the only way I will be able to get back to playing is to change my hand position, possibly by stopping the use of barre chords and wrapping my thumb around the neck to shape chords. Only problem is, the guitar neck (Hamer set neck) feels like a baseball bat, and I am finding even simple chords like a minor chord to be difficult to ring out cleanly.

Any suggestions for easing into this? I am guessing that my thumb should be muting the 5th string. Advantages to this style? Noted players who play this way?

It sounds really simple, but it feels like I've been unintentionally thrust into a strange new world, and I'm not sure if I should like it!

Thanks,

Steve

"And the guitar players look damaged

They've been outcasts all their lives"

-Jagger/Richards-

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Well I am sorry about your had problems! but yes there a ways to keep playing and still save your hand. I play thumb over style on somethings and in most songs I interchange between both methods (if you can call thumb over a method) I use the thumb over when I want to do a moving bass line while holding a chord position. SRV, Hendrix and really most players will use it sometimes. You could certainly learn to be very comphy with it and have it not affect your playing at all. You might want to work on half chords also, in fact because I have a very good bass player and a great keyboard player I find I used abbreviated chords all the time! You might like the difference in voicing using the half chords more than you do now. In fact I would rather not double the bass notes with my bass player in allot of cases. I don't really know anything about your particular instrument, but don't write it off too soon, the thumb over itself will take some time to get used too, your guitar neck may not be a problem at all. But remember you have to mute the A string well in doing thumb over. Have someone that plays that method show you the short cuts to getting the position to be natural ..it will happen ..and good luck you will be fine with it. EDIT: oh sorry I missed that someone told you about the A mute..ok, and another thing with your standard bar chords..just a reminder here: don't do a death grip on the neck, be sure you don't, it will creep up on you and you may be using too much pressure in your playing. Try to hold your standard barrs as lightely as you can and still make a good sounding full chord.....LEE
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I am a little confused, you have tendonitis of the thumb from guitar playing? If your technique is anywhere near conventional then this shouldn't happen. If you are gripping the guitar neck like your choking a chicken (now don't get nasty here) then you are gripping to hard. If you are twisting your hand into awkward postions and are really tense then you need to learn to play relaxed. In most forms of playing, the thumb should be behind the neck with very little pressure, it is really only used to guide the hand. If you occasionaly want to wrap your thumb around the neck to finger a bass note, thats fine, but even then it should be relaxed and natural feeling.

 

If your fat neck Hamer is causing problems, have you considered switching to a thinner necked guitar? Everyones physiology is different and you need to experiment with different guitars to find whats comfortable.

 

I still have a hard time understanding how you got tendonitis from overuse of the thumb joint. Maybe if you were a carpenter swinging a hammer 8 hours a day, but playing guitar should not cause this. Take some lessons on how to hold and play the guitar. You must be doing something seriously wrong to get this problem.

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That's good advice, Lee. I don't have huge hands, and thumb over may be a reach on fat necks, but I find it more natural and comfortable as well, plus it opens up more possibilities for inversions.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Thats a tough break mate and not the best news but I would look at another guitar with a slimmer neck, you will have to try a good few, but the size of your hand will also limit what guitars suits you, just go and do a lot of tyre kicking in the shops and see what feels good. Best of luck

Keep on going...

Love life, some twists and turns are more painful than others, but love life.....

 

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I tentatively offer that this "thumb-over" approach may not be the answer for you, and may even make things worse in time.

 

If you haven't, consult a specialist like a Doctor or physical-therapist versed in muscian- or sports-medicine. Work with them to find the best possible positioning and technique for you, and by that I mean the lowest-impact and least damaging.

 

It just may be that a full-profile, large-necked guitar is actually the best thing for you; when using proper, "classical" style positioning of the thumb near the middle of the back of the neck, a bigger, fuller neck-shape spreads out your hand's muscles and tendons so that you fret and hold chords with a more relaxed grip. I know for a fact that this works like that, I tend to have trouble with cramping in my thumb when playing a lot of barre-chords and this alleviates that tremendously.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I always rest my thumb in the most relaxed position, which is often resting on top of the neck. I tend to use very little thumb pressure at all when playing electric. It just doesn't take much.

One time I cut my thumb working in my shop so I used the heel of my palm against the back of the guitar neck. Yup, did limit the finger reach, but I could still have fun and play some.

Tendonitus can really make it tough for you, Six. The only think I can recommend is get most of the pressure off that thumb.

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult situation for someone who has been playing for 20 years to endure.

I don't think that I strangle the neck, but who knows, maybe I don't realize how much pressure I put on there. I'm going to have to try starting out gently, and paying close attention. I did go to a hand specialist, who did not find anything "wrong" but did say to try different playing positions which is what made me think of thumb over the neck.

Again, thanks!

Steven

"And the guitar players look damaged

They've been outcasts all their lives"

-Jagger/Richards-

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I rarely use my thumb for making chords, never have, I do have incredibly long fingers, don't know if that makes a difference.

I have noticed that I don't finger chords like most people I have played with do- maybe I'm just lazy, or have just adopted what is easiest for me- I've never really had formal lessons.

I guess this really doesn't help ya' does it?

"Who's gonna teach the children about Chuck Berry?"
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