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playing with thumb over the neck!

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(@rhcpfan)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 36
Topic starter  

Hey, is it okay to play with the thumb over the neck? I have noticeds I have always played that way. Most people suggest you should play with the thumb behind the neck but I find the feeling unnatural and my hand feel kind of tense when playing that way. So what should I do? just play as I do now or change it?


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

If your hand feels tense, it's possible it isn't in a good position. The recommended way to hold a guitar is thumb behind the neck, headstock angled up. However, this doesn't work for everyone - in my case, because of a hand injury, I can't play barre chords for long because of the strain it puts on the back of my hand. So I play part barre chords, with my thumb on the 5th and 6th strings - that's a comfortable position for me. However, I do have large hands.

Try adjusting the angle at which the neck and headstock are pointing - with the thumb behind the neck. With a little experimentation, you'll probably find a position that does feel correct for YOU.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@blueline)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1704
 

I don't play like that naturally BUT there are certain times that I do. For instance, When I want to add a root note to an open chord, I will use my thumb. Also, I have to ask, do you use your thumb when playing barre chords? I've seen people play like that and it has always amazed me! I guess my answer is this. No, it is not the traditional way of playing but I believe it is a skill that players should have. I think I read that in one of David Hodge's articles. (Will need to look it up)

Should you change it? Well, that depends on how advanced you are at the moment. If you are comfortable in playing in that style and can play songs in their entirety, I don't see why not. But, if you are a beginner and you "find the feeling unnatural", I would tell you that all guitarist go though that feeling initially. It's uncomfortable at first but with practice, it will feel like second nature to you. You would not even notice it. I guess that is why most guitarists find that using their thumb for root notes is difficult.

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


   
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(@kevin72790)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 837
 

It's not that much of a problem at all.

I play with my thumb over the neck. My fingers are more free that way, and when my thumb is behind the neck, they feel discombobulated. Just go with whatever works better. Obviously, for some chords my thumb will naturally move behind the neck.


   
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(@rahul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

Brilliant Advice, Blueline. That goes for anything that we begin to learn.


   
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(@kevinbatchelor77)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 75
 

Hendrix played with his thumb wrapped over the neck all of the time. He would fret the root note quite often that way. I know he used his thumb for Foxy Lady and Hey Joe. I am sure he did for others as well. I haven't learnt any SRV but I have heard that he uses his thumb frequently. You can also use to mute the bottom two strings if you do not want them to sound. It will give you more freedom with your strumming hand. I do this quite frequently.


   
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(@elecktrablue)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4338
 

IMHO, it all boils down to hand size. If your fingers are long enough to allow you to clear all the strings without deadening one (or two) when your thumb is hanging over the neck and it's more comfortable for you, then go for it. But, if hanging your thumb over the neck causes you to deaden strings, figure out how to hold it in the center of the back, even if this means making something that now feels "unnatural", feel natural through practice. Each guitarist is different, each will tell you something different, figure out what works best for you and your hand size. IMHO.

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


   
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(@biker_jim_uk)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 536
 

Lots of guitarists play with there thumb over instead of round. You can check out vids on Youtube.
I was watching the Barenaked Ladies bathroom sessions and they do it. He uses his thumb to mute the top string whilst playing C for eg


   
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(@causnorign)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 554
 

If it works for you, then its alright. Some folks seem to think that everyone has to do things the same way, but in my opinion theres more than one way to do anything.


   
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(@riff-raff)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 371
 

I use my thumb over the top to mute the low E string when playing some chords. DMajor and CMajor for instance. My hands aren't very large, but I don't have any trouble. It helps especially when strumming hard and/or fast.


   
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(@denny)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 452
 

There are times when it's necessary to wrap the thumb around. A lot of fingerstyle calls for it. IMHO, you don't have to do it one way or the other all the time. Depending on what the song calls for at the moment, I'll sometimes have my thumb behind the neck or wrapped around. One big advantage in having it behind the neck is the ability to stretch the fingers farther. As said in previous posts, it always feels funny when we're trying something new. IMHO, the more ways we can do things, the better we'll eventually become. Good luck.

Denny


   
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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

Hey, is it okay to play with the thumb over the neck?
Like this?

that's what the others are talking about, using the thumb to fret a low note.

or more like this?

Either way, it doesn't seem to have hurt these guys' careers much.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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(@rhcpfan)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 36
Topic starter  

More like the second picture only a bit lower.


   
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(@rmorash)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 108
 

When I was first starting out on guitar, playing with the thumb over the top was considered bad form. However I started to get into ragtime guitar and the tabs all showed using the thumb over the top - especially Rev. Gary Davis although I had read somewhere that he had broken his thumb as a kid and it set at an odd angle (not sure if this is part of the mystic or not...).

For "thumb" players check out videos of BB King and Eric Clapton


   
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(@kevin72790)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 837
 

^^^To expand on that, a great example of a "thumb over the top" song is Little Wing.

The original, Jimi's version- http://youtube.com/watch?v=NT86jjGz60k

Here's footage of Clapton's version- http://youtube.com/watch?v=l6F2qExLsic

SRV's version- http://youtube.com/watch?v=zAG-kX_IlUw


   
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