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Guitar - Thumb position

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Terry K 01 Dec 01 - 05:29 AM
John MacKenzie 01 Dec 01 - 06:06 AM
Cappuccino 01 Dec 01 - 07:34 AM
Tweed 01 Dec 01 - 07:39 AM
DonMeixner 01 Dec 01 - 08:23 AM
John MacKenzie 01 Dec 01 - 12:03 PM
WyoWoman 01 Dec 01 - 12:12 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 01 - 01:15 PM
Eric the Viking 01 Dec 01 - 01:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM
Les B 01 Dec 01 - 01:57 PM
Mark Clark 01 Dec 01 - 02:13 PM
Don Firth 01 Dec 01 - 02:20 PM
catspaw49 01 Dec 01 - 02:41 PM
Don Firth 01 Dec 01 - 03:53 PM
catspaw49 01 Dec 01 - 03:59 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Dec 01 - 05:34 PM
WyoWoman 01 Dec 01 - 07:34 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 01 - 08:40 PM
Oversoul 01 Dec 01 - 08:46 PM
catspaw49 01 Dec 01 - 08:47 PM
Mark Clark 01 Dec 01 - 08:49 PM
Benjamin 01 Dec 01 - 09:19 PM
Benjamin 01 Dec 01 - 09:22 PM
Jeri 01 Dec 01 - 09:32 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 01 - 10:45 PM
Benjamin 02 Dec 01 - 01:08 AM
Steve in Idaho 02 Dec 01 - 01:23 AM
53 02 Dec 01 - 07:49 PM
WyoWoman 02 Dec 01 - 08:09 PM
Deckman 02 Dec 01 - 08:25 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 01 - 08:58 PM
catspaw49 02 Dec 01 - 09:00 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 01 - 09:34 PM
Benjamin 03 Dec 01 - 12:18 AM
Deckman 03 Dec 01 - 12:30 AM
Kaleea 03 Dec 01 - 01:17 AM
Terry K 03 Dec 01 - 02:09 AM
Don Firth 03 Dec 01 - 03:13 AM
Tweed 03 Dec 01 - 08:41 AM
53 03 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 03 Dec 01 - 03:19 PM
Benjamin 03 Dec 01 - 03:51 PM
Don Firth 03 Dec 01 - 08:49 PM
Coyote Breath 03 Dec 01 - 09:15 PM
Benjamin 03 Dec 01 - 09:57 PM
WyoWoman 03 Dec 01 - 10:10 PM
catspaw49 03 Dec 01 - 10:13 PM
53 04 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,Frank 05 Dec 01 - 11:59 AM
Pseudolus 05 Dec 01 - 12:13 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Dec 01 - 12:26 PM
53 05 Dec 01 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,Misato 13 Dec 11 - 04:52 AM
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The Sandman 13 Dec 11 - 07:58 AM
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Subject: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Terry K
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 05:29 AM

In the Faggggeddaboudit thread, Rick said

"I'm a real stickler .....thumb placement on guitar for instance"

which struck a nerve with me, as my guitar teacher tells me thumb position is not too important as long as I am comfortable.

I secretly have never believed him. It would seem to me that there must be a "best" position at least to strive for and that the naturally comfortable position can't possibly be it - on the principal that every other aspect of guitar involves suffering. (Not least of which is listening to recordings of my playing).

So has anyone got views/recommendations for thumb position?

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 06:06 AM

I am self taught (and it shows!), and I tend to wrap my hand right round the neck, but when watching a friend who is a classical player, I notice that he puts the ball of his thumb in the middle of the back of the neck. I have tried this but it feels uncomfortable, and makes my wrist ache, so I guess it's back to the "whatever feels comfortable" school of thought.
Jock


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Cappuccino
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 07:34 AM

Yes, the 'approved' position doesn't do me any good either... but on the other hand I've never understood how some people can wrap their thumb round and use it to finish off the F chord on the sixth string!

Mine, I fear, just sort of pokes out above the fingerboard... as if it's looking to see what the other fingers are doing.

- IanB


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Tweed
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 07:39 AM

The thumb's a good extra finger don't waste its abilities by keeping it plastered on the back of the neck as a brace. Use it to make those crunchy blues and jazz chords if it's long enough to make the wrap. (I got a feeling Rick's a damnsite better player than I am, but the thumb's a good addition in many styles of playing)


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: DonMeixner
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:23 AM

I like to keep my thumb mid way to the top of the back of the guitar neck. But I'm not opposed to a better suggestion.

Don


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:03 PM

It's that opposed thumb that's made us what we are to-day!Failte....Jock *BG*


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:12 PM

I actually have made some progress with my playing since I started placing my thumb in the middle of the neck. It does feel awkward still, but it's getting better, and it gives my fingers more power so I'm not damping the strings all the time now.

I still don't have strong enough fingers to do barre chords, but I'm working on it. And my hands aren't big enough to do that thumb over the sixth string thing, but I admire those of you who can. I actually think I could be a better player with a little baby guitar, but ... I'm going with what I've got. I don't see Emmylou playing no mini-guitar and we're about the same size, so I shall muddle through.

My problem is that I still rotate the neck of my guitar back so I can see where I"m placing my fingers. Bad girl! Bad, bad!!!

ww


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 01:15 PM

Yeah, Terry. I guess my point was that there IS no proper place for the thumb, but quite a few teachers INSIST that it be in a certain place.

Just suppose you're interested in playing a kind of Chet Atkins/Lenny Breau/Andres Segovia, hybrid style. That thumb has to be ready for EVERYTHING!

Back in olden times, I think many folks stuck to one style...and often, teachers might denigrate other styles as "lesser, or not worth even acknowledging".

The first "Pro" teacher I went to (after I'd been playing for about five years) absolutely freaked at my right and left-handed technique, and insisted that if I wanted to be a "real" player, I'd get my thumb back under the guitar neck. When I asked how I could possibly play anything by Big Bill Broonzy with my thumb in that position, he laughed, as if I'd made up some 'comic' name as a joke.

Imagine his reaction if I'd mentioned "Blind Lemon"!

I DID manage to ask how would I be able to play a bass line, chords and lead at the same time without several different 'thumb' positions, and his reaction was "Why would you want to? Leave something for the 'band' to play. That's when I knew I was on the right track with my 'real' teachers....the ones on vinyl.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 01:37 PM

I often keep mine hanging over the top, I can just reach the A and with a stretch reach the D, to make an extra finger. Jimmi Hendrix could aparently reach the 3rd string, I've seen Al Stewart play with his thumb underhanging the neck completely and his fingers fretting without anything hooking them onto the neck. Sometimes my thumb is in the midle of the neck especially when playing barre chords. Take your choice Terry, put it where it's best for you.

Cheers

Eric


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM

If you are playing a classical guitar you'd need to have hands like a gorilla to be able to wrap the thumb round to hold down the bass string - so I suppose it makes sense to keep the thumb right pressing on the back of the neck in the approved classical technique.

The same would go with a folk guitar with a narrower neck, if you have small hands and even so can't reach round the neck.

But if you are able to reach round with the thumb and hold down that bass string, then if you don't feel free to do that, and practice it so that you can do it, you are throwing away a valuable digit if you are just using it as a clamp all the time.

Obviously when you are playing full barre chords, you have to have it in the classical position, but for an F shape I find it far easier to have the thumb fretting the bass string, and the same when I slide up so that it becomes a G or an A or a C chord up the neck. And the same goes for using the thumb in a D chord to give an extra bass note in standard tuning.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Les B
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 01:57 PM

My theory is: If the thumb isn't in your mouth, or your nether orifice, it's probably OK!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 02:13 PM

Many “Catters” have posted a lot of tips and techniques on placement of the thumb and ways in which it can be used. Try reading the PermaThreads™, you'll find a lot of the discussion that way. The bottom line is, learn to take advantage of all useful thumb positions.

Rick has posted his thoughts on thumb placement in quite a few threads. Some of them are referenced—in no particular order—below.

Our Friend the movable B7 chord.
RE: ritchie havens chords
RE: Ouch!
RE: Questions about G, D, E7, and A7
RE: BS: I've Got A Sharp Axe To Grind
RE: MUDCAT VOW.
RE: MUDCAT VOW.
RE: Help: Learning to finger pick
Eeeee! Flat breads are delicious!
Does Mudcat Seem to Be flat Right Now?
What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
RE: chord inversions. rick needs help!

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 02:20 PM

I played steel-string guitar for a couple of years, then switched to a classic and started taking lessons. I keep the ball of my thumb on the midline of the back of the neck. The whole idea is to position the hand so you arch the fingers over the strings and not, say, dampen the second string while you're fretting the third. I've been using essentially classic technique since the mid-Fifties and I can't say that I've ever had occasion to fret a string with my thumb. With the thumb where it is, full bar chords don't present a problem.

What causes problems with the left wrist when using this position is the overall position of the guitar. If you hold the guitar with the neck angled up about 30 to 45 degrees, the wrist should be comfortable. If you angle the neck down (typical of rock guitarists and some C & W guitarists), it may look "cool" (definition of cool: not so hot), but you're flirting with carpal tunnel syndrome, even with the thumb wrapped around in front.

But -- if I have occasion to need my thumb to fret a string, I'll use it. Whatever works. But then I'd return my thumb to the back of the neck, because it's ergonomically sound, and for me it's just more comfortable.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 02:41 PM

Don, you bring up a point that's been bothering me for a long time. What does an Ergonom sound like anyway?

I really hate to admit my utter and complete ignorance in this matter, but the simple fact is that I have never heard one, at least to my knowledge, and even worse, I don't even know what one looks like! I've heard the term a lot over the years and it's apllied to everything from this to car seats and to secretarial chairs. From this I gather that this thing really gets around and it seems to be highly prized. It's really an embarassment to be of such limited knowledge on this subject when it seems so many other are quite familiar with the Ergonom.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 03:53 PM

Ergonom is not a physical entity, it is a state something like Nirvana (no relationship to the late Curt Cobain).

Ergonom is a state of grace characterized by "achievement without effort." The major saints of Ergonom are those who invent things: some decades ago, the TV dinner. Then the microwave oven. Then the combination of the TV dinner and the microwave oven. one of the greater inventions was the TV remote. Anything that aids the quest for effortlessness could be said to be "Ergonomically sound.

A symbol of one of the greatest seekers and practitioners of Ergonom can be seen in the British comedy (often shown on PBS affiliates) "Keeping Up Appearances." It is the character Onslow. He sits in front of the TV in his undershirt and yells, "Hey, Daisy, bring me a beer!" (That, actually, would be the sound of Ergonom.) Onslow is a fine example for us all to follow.

The principle is "You only go around once in life, so you gotta get all the rest you can."

(Typing this wore me out! Gotta go lay down now.)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 03:59 PM

Hey GREAT!!! I've heard Ergonoms!!!! Geez...that's great! Thanks Don.......a super job!

Hmmmm.......I think I might BE an Ergonom......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 05:34 PM

Cogito ergomon sum


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 07:34 PM

Your lovely wife says you are, Catspaw ...

ww


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:40 PM

Geez Mark, some of those thread titles are ATROCIOUS! Guess I'll do anything to hook folks into 'pickin' threads.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Oversoul
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:46 PM

This is classic Mudcat-box filler! Jesus!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:47 PM

Ya know WW, I'm not real sure how that plays when she tells people about it.........."Yeah, I love Pat. He's soooo Ergonomic!" Hmmm........

And Rick, don't gimmee that crap....ALL of your thread titles are atrocious, including the current one. Several times I almost passed them by as being too ridiculous even for me. Now when I see anything completely whacked, I figure it's yours. Reg, Reg, and Reg, send their love.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:49 PM

Yeah Rick... we know!

Actually I think we call that dedication and committment. You actually want to teach people as many skills as they can reasonably master. You don't just flop some theory out in public to prove you know it. You spend the necessary time to explain it carefully and logically so anyone with the desire to learn can follow it and make it work for themselves.

Thanks for that.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 09:19 PM

I mostly play classical guitar and always leave my thumb behind the neck when I do. If you show your thumb (over the top of the fret board) you be able to make some of the longer stretches you need too.
However, it doesn't work for blues (at least not any that I've played). There's that F chord as well as a D(7) chord. Could you imagine Rev. Gary Davis leaving his thumb behind the neck? Also, when bending the strings, you usually subconciously wrap your thumb as it's much easier to get full bend that way.
Neither one is better. It's all a matter of what your trying to play

Benjamin™


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 09:22 PM

Sorry, that last sentence in the first paragraph should "you won't be able to make some of the longer streches you need too."


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 09:32 PM

So how about the placement of the thumb on the right hand? It's attached, by means of the hand, to the rest of the fingers. If those fingers happen to be picking, should one of them be braced on the guitar? I started out with everything hangin' in the breeze, then I had to brace my ring finger on the guitar so I would have a reasonable hope of hitting the correct strings. I had to eventually quit doing that, because it seemed to limit my mobility. So do I brace or not? Or should I quit thinkin' about it and just play the thing?


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:45 PM

Jeri. Some brace. Some don't. I do sometimes....and then sometimes I don't.

Merle does. Guy Van Duser doesn't.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 01:08 AM

I don't brace and can't see any real advantages to it. The exception is when I'm using a 2 finger technique. That's how African Fingerstyle players did and do it. Like Mwenda Jean Bosco.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 01:23 AM

You can pick your nose

and you can pick your friends

But it is extremely difficult to pick your friend's nose.

And what, you ask, does this have to do with thumb position? Not a thing.

My left thumb hangs out around the back of the neck wherever it dang well feels like it - my right thumb hangs out on the top of my d**k when I'm peeing.

I think that kiss from Spaw whacked me - can you imagine? Kissing spaw while in a commandeered Piper Cub attempting to ram a garage in Mountain Home, Idaho?

I did hear about some swedish guys that hijacked an airship - last we heard they had bounced off of three buildings and were still at large - -

Janet says to say goodnight

Nite folks

Steve


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: 53
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 07:49 PM

to me it varies and depends on what i'm playing and whether what type of guitar it is ,electric you play differently than the acoustic, and for a classical i'm just a peon on that and acoustic i do alright but i try really hard and i have a great time playing. BOB


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: WyoWoman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 08:09 PM

Jeri-- I was just going to ask that question. I hadn't even considered bracing, but then a friend said he never attempts to fingerpick without bracing his pinkie against the guitar, so I gave it a shot. I was just sitting here, pickin' and a'scowlin', waiting for the Mudcat to load wondering if I had done a good thing or a bad thing.

With the amazing clarity given to us by the Mudcat Mentors, I now believe, IT DEPENDS ...

Whew.

WW


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 08:25 PM

I grew up, on classical guitar technique, using the Carcassi method, which taught one to brace the RIGHT hand using the little finger as the brace. I still revert to it occasionally. Bob


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 08:58 PM

The Carcassi Method contains a lot of great exercises and studies, but the technique he advocated is pretty archaic. Many lute players used to brace the little finger, but only one of the modern lute players I've seen does, the rest play with a free right hand like modern classic guitarists. I think Fernando Sor may have braced his pinky, but Francisco Tarrega was the one who developed the basis of the techniques that are used today, and he kept his right hand free. It allows you to use your ring finger a lot more easily. Give a listen to Requerdos de la Alhambra Tarrega's tremolo study. Can't do that with an anchored little finger. I think Tarrega was also the one who got Antonio Torres to standardize the size and shape of the modern classic guitar.

If you haven't tried it, try varying where your right hand plays on the strings. Lots of different tone qualities. Hard and glassy down near the bridge, soft and soupy up over the fingerboard, all kinds of stuff in between. Can't do that very easily if you anchor your little finger.

I've always been able to fingerpick without anchoring the pinky. If you've never done it, give it a try. It just takes a little getting used to, and you're hand is a lot freer.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 09:00 PM

The Carcassi Method......anchor the pinky and then use fingers one and two in a brushing stroke.........

Sounds like a training manual fro ass wiping............

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 09:34 PM

Yup. It's all part of that Ergonom thing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 12:18 AM

Don, I think Segovia actually developed the basis for modern right hand technique. Neither Tarrega nor any of his pupils used nails. Plucking a string with nails is done differently then without. Neither planted though. I would agree that in classical, planting is outdated.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 12:30 AM

Whatcha mean ... "Planting is outdated?" Heck ... I'm outdated! Oh well. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Kaleea
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 01:17 AM

Where your thumb goes depends upon what chord you are playing, the kind of guitar you are playing and the length & shape of your thumb. I have had students who were big men with quite long fingers for whom I have had to assist in finding just the right spot for placement of the fingers. Some have an extremely curved thumb which requires allowances for comfort as well as technique. If you are playing an open D chord, you may wrap your thumb around the neck & hold down the 6th string in the 3rd fret. If you are playing an open C chord, your thumb will be behind the neck. If you are playing bar chords, your thumb will be behind the neck, perhaps a bit closer to the spot behind the 5th or 6th string, and pressing against the back of the neck, while your other fingers are pressing downward on the strings. Your instructor who told you to be comfortable was correct in many ways. Everyone has different hands & fingers, therefore, my short thumb will rest in a slightly different spot than the thumb of a person with long fingers. If you are playing an electric with a skinny neck, you do not need quite as much support from the thumb on the back side of the neck. Your fingers will also rest in a slightly different position due to the fact that the fingerboard of an electric, such as a Stratocaster, has a thinner & more narrow neck. Also, different styles of playing will require different fingering techniques. If you play lead, you will be chording less and be less likely to have specific spots where you keep your thumb. If you play jazz, you will most likely be using lots of bar chords, and need the support of the thumb behind the neck. If you play mostly bluegrass, open chords will allow you more leeway in use of the thumb. Thus, there is no ONE spot where one places the thumb.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Terry K
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 02:09 AM

You know what all this tells me? It tells a learner like me I can go ahead and NOT WORRY about trying to be "exact" in my approach.

I think the main thing that holds a beginner back is the fear of doing it wrong. I'm always loth to stray too far from the generally recognised and accepted methods in anything (the guy with the "different" golf swing is almost never a good player) so it's a treat to have all this from the horse's mouth. No matter how good a teacher or instruction book is, they can only give one view. Here I can get the whole world to help. I'll never cease to be amazed or grateful. Thanks guys.

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 03:13 AM

Yeah, Benjamin, you may be right about the nails, but I'm pretty sure it was Tarrega who advocated freeing the right hand -- not anchoring the finger. At least that's what I recall (can't remember the source right now, but I'll see if I can find it). I attended a master-class with Pepe Romero some years back, and he talked quite extensively about Tarrega and right-hand technique, and I may have heard it from him. He was also quite emphatic that his father and his brothers were essentially "descendents" of Tarrega directly, not by way of Segovia, as were Bream, Williams, Parkinson, et al. He was not putting Segovia down, he was just pointing out that Segovia didn't invent everything, as many guitarists seem to think.

Segovia himself said that when he was young, he played with his nails and was criticized for it. Then he heard a concert given by Emilio Pujol, who played without nails, and he said that although Pujol's general technique was very good, he couldn't be heard beyond the third row and he couldn't draw any range of tone colors from the guitar, so Segovia decided to ignore the critics and continue playing with his nails.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Tweed
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 08:41 AM

Right On Terry,
Do whatever works for you and you'll probably be able to teach yourself faster. There's a pile of different methods and everybody's found certain techniques that work better than others for them. Also, there's the little serendipitous moments that occur where you go, "Damnit! THAT'S IT, and it was right there all the time!!" I like those the best and they keep me going back for more. I'm a slow learner and have been after this for thirty five years or so. There's nothing quite compares to that feeling of picking up a new trick for the bag, whether it's a huge style altering one or a little nuance that you've heard somewhere and it suddenly comes out in the open while foolin' around.
Re Pinky Bracing: I gave up on that one and plant the heel of my picking hand right on the guitar for a foundation, but I'm not much of finger picker. Works good for me for flat picking melodies and rhythm.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: 53
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM

i sometimes use my thumb to catch the f chord and so on up the neck, cause that gives your wrist a break from barre chords and sometimes it is more beneficial to use the thumb, you can also use your thumb for the minor inversion of the f chord also, and move that up the neck for different positions. i just love guitar. BOB


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 03:19 PM

When I was an active guitar teacher, I told my students to look to the position to determine where the thumb had to be. Barre chords are "thumb-behind" chords, while most other chords are "thumb-on-top" chords. That D chord (with the thumb on the 2d string, not the third, BTW) or even the "thumb G," the first chord my uncle ever taught me (3X0003, 6th to 1st). I have even made the movable B7 chord with the thumb over the top on both 5th & 6th, and the index finger available for the 2d string (so c7 would be:

T3
T3
M2
R3
I1
P3

I hope that's legible.

So when I play, I use the thumb on the edge of the neck most of the time, but slide it around to the back of the neck for barre chords. By the way, when doing these chords, it helps to move the thumb bridge-wards from the barring finger, so it's behind the 2d or 3d finger. This rolls the index finger slightly over onto its edge, which is better-equipped to fret strings. The fleshy pads on the "front" of the finger aren't so good at fretting as the edge of the finger.

As for anchoring the right hand, for most steel-string players, it's necessary, simply to get enough "oomph" in the picking motion. You don't get much volume with free-strokes (classical players will probably agree that loud rest strokes are easier than loud free strokes), and the anchor helps with volume. I usually anchor with my ring finger, because using the pinky means putting the hand at a funny angle, and also means restricting the reach of the index and middle fingers.

As a steel-string player, in fact, I have trouble with some of the classical-derived "parlor guitar" patterns that can sound so "right" on old 19th-Century songs. All those old patterns from the Jerry Silverman books ("Folksingers' Guitar Guide" et al) are harder for me because of the anchoring habit, which is why I mostly stick to John Hurt or Merle Travis for my models.

Which brings up the subject of how technique guides style, but that's another thread, for sure.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 03:51 PM

I had no idea that the Romero's were 'decendants' of Tarrega directly. Do you know how (was Celendonio a student of his)? Pujol was a student of Tarrega and wouldn't of used nails.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 08:49 PM

Benjamin, I don't know what "descendants" means exactly, I'm just quoting what I remember Pepe Romero saying. Celedonio Romero couldn't have studied with Tarrega because Tarrega died in 1909 and Celedonio wasn't born until 1913. But Tarrega taught at the Conservatory of Madrid and Celedonio studied there, so it's certainly conceivable that he could have studied with a student of Tarrega's.

I think what Pepe Romero may have been trying to put across was that, although most of the prominent classic guitarists extant were products of Segovia's teaching, his father and brothers were not. They had followed their own path. It was as if Pepe felt that Segovia was getting all the credit, and he felt his father deserved some of it. But I don't want to put words in his mouth.

As I recall reading somewhere (in the late Fifties, The Guitar Review printed excerpts from Segovia's autobiography, and it may have been here), by the time Segovia got into the act as a teen-ager in Madrid, there were two schools of thought: the purists insisted on playing without nails, but there was a small contingent, to which the young Segovia belonged, who felt that using the nails produced more volume and allow greater control of the tone. Obviously, they eventually prevailed.

Picture of Francisco Tarrega here, with a brief bio. Take a good look at his hands (looks like a C#m chord)! Beautiful!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 09:15 PM

In writing about his early works, Tarragon Ergonomia who is best known for "Prelude for a Quail" (or was that quaalude for a ...)states clearly: Using the carcass method, one places the road kill BEHIND the running board and thumbs home. (vehicle in ditch, wailing at pitch)

trust me

CB

ahh Monday!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Benjamin
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 09:57 PM

The Romero's seem to feel very strongly that Celedonio deserves much more credit than given. I personally feel that Angel is extremely over looked by the guitar world. It all my be to a "different school of thought" though I don't entirely understand what I've just said. Thank's for that site. I've seen that picture many times. That's probably how I knew he didn't plant fingers. However, it looks to me that he strikes the strings with his tips perpendicular. Guitarists with nails usually use an angle. I've been meaning to pick up recordings of Llobet as I've heard his playing was very close to Tarrega's (he was his student).

Just out of curiosity Don, you mentioned being a member of the Seattle Classic Guitar Society when it started (I'm a current member). What's happened there? Still a member? Left? It sounded like you have lots of great stories. PM me if you'd like, I'd like to hear them.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: WyoWoman
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 10:10 PM

This website is utterly amazing.

ww


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 10:13 PM

Thank you CB.......Finally a statement of fact instead of opinion. Excellent use of outside resources.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: 53
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM

great bio and great p[icture. BOB


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 11:59 AM

There are some chords in jazz that can't be made without the thumb.

A full sounding ninth chord for example:

T3 M5 M5 I4 P6 R5

Oddly enough, barre chords are rarely used in jazz. Most of the chords are four and five notes which rely on muting strings with the fingers that are not wanted in the chord.

But the left hand thumb is used quite a bit.

Also, when playing ragtime type songs on a steel stringed accoutic guitar, holding down the F (on an F chord) on the sixth string with the thumb enables you to bend the second string on the third fret with the little finger. Can't do that with the thumb under the neck of the guitar easilly if at all.

However, sometimes for a clean single-string run it helps to put the pad of the left hand thumb under the guitar neck to free up the fingers.

I see the thumb being placed as being fluid depending on what is being executed.

I notice also that rock and blues guitarists tend to use the thumb as a leverage when bending notes by placing the neck of the guitar in the palm of the left hand.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Pseudolus
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 12:13 PM

I tried playing my guitar with my thumb behind my neck but all of the chords sounded the same....you all are amazing!!! *BG*

Frank


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 12:26 PM

"it's a treat to have all this from the horse's mouth" - this would be the horse that Big Bill Broonzy said he'd never heard sing...


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: 53
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 08:59 PM

you have to move your thumb according to the chords or the lead that you areplaying. BOB


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: GUEST,Misato
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 04:52 AM

This is a great topic about playing the Guitar. I sort of believe the 'whatever feels comfortable' school of thought. I am just now trying to learn to play the guitar, and my instructor is one of those 'we have to go by the book' people.

The thing is, placing the thumb on the middle of the back of the neck feels very uncomfortable. I still can't place my thumb in the so called 'proper' way.

Something I have noticed about the famous guitar players when I watch their thumb placement, is that a whole lot of them wrap their thumb around the neck, or hook it along the top of the neck, and a few other bad positions that would really through my instructor for a loop.

He insist that there is only one way to place the thumb, and it has to be the most uncortable placement there is, and says you have to place the thumb that way if you want to be good at playing the guitar.

Well, I'm sorry, but that just doesn't wash. There are a lot of well known guitar players that are better than me and my instuctor put together, who don't place their thumn anywhere near the back of the neck.

This leads me to believe that the thumb placement myth was debunked a long time ago, and instructors who are like mine need to quit spreading this old wives tale about thumb placement.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 06:36 AM

It depends on the guitar position also. With a classical hold the thumb in the middle of the back of the neck is easy. With a dreadnaught held on the right knee it's virtually impossible.


Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: Tunesmith
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 07:55 AM

Well, the bottom line is that you need to develop a technique that will best serve the music that you want to play.
Placing your thumb behind the neck does allow free - economic - movement of the left hand fingers.
Older rock guitarist ( think Clapton) rarely use their left hand pinky when soloing, but modern players ( think Steve Vai ) are four finger players.
A complete guitarist should train themselves to adopt whatever position best serves the music that are playing.
I've no doubt that -theoretically - placing the left hand thumb behind the neck would make for faster, more fluent playing of fiddle tunes, for example.
Some great, great players ( Charlie Christian, for example) didn't use their left hand pinky when soloing but managed just fine; well, he managed a lot better than fine. He was fantastic!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Thumb position
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 07:58 AM

the thumb should be able to move as you change chords , end of story


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