I went to an event with a guitar teacher over the weekend and he was telling me that he teaches his students that the thumb should be planted on the back of the neck. I've heard others say this also. I've tried it and I can play that way, but so far, I don't see the advantage. Then I watch videos of some of the best guitarists and many, if not most of them, have their thumb hanging over the edge of the fretboard like I do.
Why is this considered bad, or incorrect, form? Or is it?
Last Edit: Feb 2, 2020 15:08:02 GMT -5 by walshb 🦒
From the time I learned to play by a great guitar coach, planted on the "back" of the neck. Helps keep steady pressure on the fingers, lends itself to "classical" playing style (which is far from what I am trying to play). In the end its just more comfortable for my hands as an anchor. Once in a great while the thumb is used to mute the low E string. But I don't use it to fret notes on the low E.
Last Edit: Feb 2, 2020 16:19:41 GMT -5 by tahitijack
The book answer is 'in the middle of the back of the neck'. I think this comes from classical guitar technique, which by extension comes from violin, viola, and stand-up bass. It works fine there because chords on those instruments are usually only two notes. Finger vibrato is also in line with the string.
But watch any number of pro guitar players who are known for being hotshots, and their thumbs are all over the place. Chords (especially thumb-over), and bending/vibrato require the thumb to be wherever it needs to be to make things as easy as possible.
Last Edit: Feb 2, 2020 16:26:38 GMT -5 by Peegoo 🏁
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Post by rickyguitar on Feb 2, 2020 22:14:41 GMT -5
Sometimes over. Prolly more often planted in ths back. Took lessons from a couple jazz guys for years and they hounded about it, but...whatever works. I do try and use my pinky a lot, fud the reach, which kind of lends itself to down low.
If anyone tells you there is only one place you should put your thumb, stop listening to their advice. MAYBE that's true if you're exclusively a classical player, but even then....
There are definitely good and bad techniques for where your thumb is, depending on what you're doing. If you're trying to play some fast and articulate single note lines, then gripping the neck in your palm and wrapping your thumb over the top is probably a bad idea. However, there are plenty of cases where a thumb over the top makes sense, as said above. For me, I almost never fret with my thumb, but I definitely will mute the 6th string with it, depending on the shape of the chord I'm playing.
Usually, my thumb is on the back of the neck at about a 45-degree angle, so I get a decent downward angle at the strings. That's what I would start teaching a beginner. I think it helps one to play more accurately. BUT, a current student of mine has hands that just don't work like mine, and he has to wrap his thumb more on certain things, because his hand won't make shapes like mine does!
In general, if you're playing how you want to play, and you're not injuring yourself, then it ultimately doesn't matter. But the thumb grip does have its limitations.
a million years ago when I was studying I was told right behind the neck. that worked fine for playing classical etudes and the like, but playing jazz it just wouldn't work for me and I didn't pursue it. I've always played w/it like gdw3, it gives me the best control of the neck and board. but if I'm working way up high my thumb might naturally fall closer to the middle of the neck.
Philly! where else? Hammond B-3 Capital of The World
Center back of the neck, learned that way, it gives my fretting fingers a more perpendicular aspect to the fretted string, important for me with the narrower nuts. On the bass not so much. The higher up the neck I go the more likely the thumb is centered on the neck.
Post by chronicinsomnia on Feb 14, 2020 14:35:07 GMT -5
i keep mine on the back of the neck the majority of the time. However, if a chord voicing requires me to reach over I very naturally do that. For soloing I would say I nearly never reach over with the thumb.
When I was young I was always trying to cop EVH and his interval stretches so the thumb was firmly planted low to accommodate for my less than spidery reach. Took me years to unseat that thumb. Now it does what it does when it does it but like I said only for chord work.
I took classical guitar lessons for a while when I was a teenager. Proper technique says you keep your thumb in the middle of the neck, behind your middle finger. You also must have one foot on a small riser and the guitar cradled between your thighs, with the neck pointing up at the correct angle. This posture gives you maximum reach on the fretboard and keep all your joints properly aligned.
Obviously, this doesn't work if you are standing up. It's a good guideline, and it makes a difference, but it only works until it doesn't. (It's also worth remembering that classical guitars have wider fingerboards than most other guitars.) So, do what you need to do to get the sounds you want—while protecting yourself from strain-related injuries.
BTW, this reminds me of the debates over music stands on stage at rock shows. Imagine the threads if bands started setting up onstage like Andre Segovia.