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left hand thumb position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by hell_awaits, Oct 2, 2000.

  1. hell_awaits


    May 2, 2000
    I know there are many advantages to playing with your thumb behind the neck; I've been playing like this since I started. My question is, do you play with you thumb parallel to the neck(above your freting fingers), or at a right angle position(in the middle of you fretting fingers)?

    Personally, I play with my thumb at a parallel position. I'm just looking for more insight on the technique.
  2. I'm not completely sure I'm following your question, but here goes...

    I keep my thumb approximately even with my 2nd finger, pointing up, centered in my palm so to speak. This lets my fingers on the left hand relax and spread easily, and keeps me from bending my wrist too much.

    If I understand you correctly, you're kind of pointing at the headstock with your thumb. That's not the best choice, technique-wise. When you do that, you tend to force your fingers to "bunch" together. Also, you may tend to let your wrist get a bend in it that may eventually lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (I've got it in my right hand, from a non-playing source, trust me avoiding it is a GOOD IDEA). Try moving your thumb into the position I described above, and see if that relaxes your fingers a bit more.
  3. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    It depends on where I'm fretting as I will pivot on my thumb. So as I'm on the 5th fret my thumb will be parallel but moving up to the 2nd fret for the next note it will be perpendicular. When sliding or making large position shift changes it is usually parallel.
  4. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    I play pretty much with the ole' thumb over neck routine. However, when I have to slide up the neck or play a lick, I tend to use the proper technique of having my thumb planted on the back of the neck and perpendiculiar to it. It acually kind of floats around. Works good for me and seems to be comfortable that way..
  5. hell_awaits


    May 2, 2000
    Thanks Gard, I tried that position you mentioned and it feels pretty funny, but I guess that's only natural since it's new. On my normal position, my thumb is only slighty higher(sometimes even) than my index finger, and I pivot on the tip of it, so I feel like I have plenty of room to maneuver around the fingerboard without stress on my wrist.
  6. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    DFW, TX
    I personally play with my thumb perpendicular to the neck (like I'm holding a baseball bat kinda). I was told and have heard that if you put it parallel (the thumb pointing tword the headstock) it can create bad carpul tunnel syndrom. I personally coulden't even see playing like that because personally that is very unconfortable, but I've seen many beginners (and even some advanced) people play like that... but they always complain about their wrist always hurting... go figure.
  7. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Wowsers! Ouch! Lots of bad technique here! Be careful or you'll get carpal tunnel syndrome. Wanna be FORCED to quit playing somewhere down the road because of constant pain?

    Well, it's not the easiest to learn proper technique, but anything short of it is just asking for serious medical problems, not to mention limiting your playing ability tremendously!!!

    ALWAYS keep your thumb behind the neck, in-line with your middle finger. Your thumb should not cross over the imaginary line drawn behind the "E" string (or whatever your lowest string is). The only time that your thumb shouldn't be directly behind your middle finger is if you pivot for a quick slide up and back.

    Also, your fingers should be pointing straight up. Don't play at an angle, as it forces the tendons in your hand to work less efficiently.
  8. hell_awaits


    May 2, 2000
    Okay, I'm sold on this technique. Now it's just a matter of getting used to the position. Thanks for the replies.
  9. Jennifer


    Jul 31, 2000
    Erie, Illinois
    I try really hard to play properly with my thumb on the back of the neck. The thing that drives me nuts sometimes is my husband plays his guitar with his thumb pretty much covering his index finger and when we're working on a new song, I can't see what he's playing! I guess it's good for me though, teaches me to use my ears more!

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