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Possible bad habit question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MarshallNole, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    I seem to have a habit of pushing against the back of the fretboard with my thumb, basically extending the fretboard away from my palm. Basically just the tip of my thumb is touching the back of the fretboard. I think I do it to get more pressure on the strings (possibly because my fingers are still weak).

    I assume this is a bad habit because it really make the muscle under your thumb on the palm tired/cramped.

    Should I focus on keeping my whole thumb flat against the back of the guitar neck? Not sure how I started this, it is sort of an unconscious thing.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I would first and foremost look at your setup. If the action is off the charts, no amount of technique will make things easier unless you grit your teeth and muscle through, only to find yourself having to deal with health issues later on.

    So, make sure your string height is reasonable, if you have 4mm at the 12th it'd be no wonder you're struggling!
  3. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    The action has been adjusted and all is well. I don't have issues really with pressing down on the strings and not getting rattle unless I am doing some hand technique like th spider walk or if I get tired.

    Again this seems to be a habit I've developed.

    Can someone just tell me what they do with their thumb?
  4. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Medway, MA
    I try to align mine with the neck, with the tip of my thumb pointing at the headstock. The form you describe may be slowing you down.
  5. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    If it's not the setup, at least that rules out the worst ;)

    My thumb is opposite of index and middle finger with only the left side of the tip touching the back of the neck (not at a 90 degree angle, more like if you were holding a cup).
  6. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    The tip of your thumb is supposed to touch the center of the back of the neck, isn't it? What am I missing?
  7. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    If you're getting hand fatigue because of exerting too much thumb pressure, it's wrong for you. Relax while playing a bit more. You may need to try letting the neck rest more in your palm. Some players are comfy with the thumb over the neck approach. I use both, but mostly thumb on skunk stripe.
  8. Steveman


    Jun 25, 2010
    When I first started playing bass, my teacher put scotch tape on the back of the neck so that I would always keep my thumb there. I do the same thing to my students today because I stress that your thumb is the pivot to your left hand. Your thumb position is extremely crucial when it comes to efficient playing.
  9. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    Well his thumb is all over the place and sometimes pushing the neck away from his palm depending on position.

    I think mine pretty much goes at a 90 degree angle sometimes and I put too much pressure on the neck with my thumb.

    I'll work on keeping it pointed toward the headstock.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Sounds like you are squeezing too hard, the "death grip" and yes it's bad habit. You really shouldn't need much pressure at all to fret. Gary Willis has an exercise for this.

    ( I have posted this you tube link more than any other on this forum...)
  11. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    Thanks! Will check it when I get home.
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    The thumb is just there as a guide and to support a littl bit.

    When I play only the tip of the pad touch, no need for more and during shifting it doesn't even touch the bass.
  13. volerium


    May 21, 2012
    Wichita, KS
    Just wanted to say i have this problem too. I have terrible technique. When i started i really just got some equipment and started playing with my friends just rocking out. I was pretty much attacking my bass, playing real hard and fast with a pick and squeezing these EB power slinkies to death. Years later i have these horrible habits that are hard to break and my thumbs and hands can ache quite a bit sometimes.
    Hind sight is 20/20 right?
    Proper technique is the most inportant thing. Take it from someone who has none :p
  14. My left-hand technique is:

    Place left hand on the desk in front of me, relaxed and palm down.

    Keeping left hand relaxed, rotate wrist so hand is now palm up.

    This is my most comfortable left-hand position. Note my thumb does NOT cross over my first finger, and my fingers are not stretched/spread/strained.

    I highly recommend NOT performing one-finger-per-fret stretching exercises (like the spider). Better to keep the left hand relaxed and unstretched (I use 1-2-4 fingering personally, YMMV) and make frequent small shifts vs. keeping the hand constantly spread in an attempt to avoid shifting.