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Thumbs- where does yours go?



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IZ:

 

I don't take much stock in size, or even number of fingers. Playing guitar and chording anything is asking to make our fingers do a contortionist act in the first place. They DON'T want to do it, but we TEACH our fingers to do it.

 

I got big hands, and I am actually very good at using them in daily life....but I still had to learn how to 'thumb' a string over the neck even though I usually play with my thumb over and not behind. And it wasn't easy.

 

If you do it now, I wouldn't be surprised if you were much better at it.

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IZ:

 

I don't take much stock in size, or even number of fingers. Playing guitar and chording anything is asking to make our fingers do a contortionist act in the first place. They DON'T want to do it, but we TEACH our fingers to do it.

 

I got big hands, and I am actually very good at using them in daily life....but I still had to learn how to 'thumb' a string over the neck even though I usually play with my thumb over and not behind. And it wasn't easy.

 

If you do it now, I wouldn't be surprised if you were much better at it.

 

Hehe, thanks stein. Point taken. So...you got big hands? [flapper]

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It really does come down to what works.....one of my fav players is Leslie west, he stated in an interview once that he dosen't " shred" and only plays using 2 or 3 fingers.....in this sample you'll notice he plays using 3 fingers only and thumb around......

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIPqDpdupy0&feature=colike

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Here's my take...

 

I think if you've been playing for ages and want a new "take" on what you've been doing to break through to a higher level, it's likely not a bad idea to make a major change in the physical side of what you've been doing.

 

For me... a lot depends on what I'm playing.

 

Doing kinda a chord/melody of "Satin Doll" or something classical like "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" or even solo or with a band how I'd do "Stormy Monday," the thumb is pretty much behind the neck opposite the center of effort of my fingers in combination. That makes good ergonomic sense, if nothing else.

 

OTOH, I do a bunch of "cowboy" stuff with different sorts of fingerings and timing, and my left thumb is fretting quite a bit and my fingers are doing single string or double stops - which require little effort/leverage.

 

Again...

 

While I hope your guitar teacher is in line with whatever your playing goals might be, I hope most of all that it'll help your head find new ways of playing that will keep you interested, growing and having fun.

 

m

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BTW, Izzy...

 

One of Segovia's recorded master classes has a comment on hand size for playing difficult stuff... Listen in especially at 12 minutes where he tells the young lady that his wife's hands are yet smaller, but she plays it... etc.

 

All...

 

This is a good one to watch even a classical guitarist's thumb relax when doing a vibrato - and not nailed into a specific position on the back of the neck...

 

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Thanx for chipping in everyone..liked that last post Milod.... It seems the thumbs where you please has won the day...

 

Now I got to get to grips with my homework...the solo on the Kinks You really got me.....must say it doesn't excite me greatly. Sounds just too random to me and not easy to remember...I guess that's why he chose it?

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D28boy...

 

That's not quite how I'd put it. I'd see it more as a "thing" to figure geometry of the hand so that functionally the thumb is opposite the center of effort of the fingering. Kinda a deal of figuring leverage. The vibrato is putting effort elsewhere than directly into the fingerboard and the right arm has the guitar balanced against the pressure of the finger.

 

I think it's really kinda complex and has to do with how one is playing what stuff.

 

I probably play too many full 5-6 string chords from a barre - but I can manage to barre and play a "C" or "G" chord shape above it and work around that which probably isn't that great a thing to do in some ways - but it's almost impossible without the thumb behind the neck. Then doing other stuff, I'll thumb the bottom G string and flip fingers on the G, B and E strings from open up to the 5th fret which wouldn't work for "fingerpickin'" that well otherwise.

 

m

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To me, this all just comes with time practice, and patience.

 

the more time you spend with your hands on the neck, the more naturally these phases will become,

 

the less you need to think about where you're putting your thumb,, the better! [thumbup]

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Well I have short stuby fat fingers, they suck for guitar but I make them work... I have a very hard time getting my thumb over the top, I wish I could it adds more depth to your playing, IMX....That being said I say that use your thumb as it feels good for YOU... Try not over think it to much and go with the FEEL!!! And ROCK ON!!!

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Voxman...

 

One of the old-time radio pickers I met and jammed with a cupla times had fingers that were shorter than mine and bigger around than my thumbs. He could play guitar and 5-string about as well as anybody I've ever met for country/bluegrass sorts of music. Those fingers just sorta were beamed over the fingerboard as if Scotty were moving them with a teleporter. I think in retrospect it was just plain relaxation and knowing where they were going and went there.

 

m

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...Well I have short stuby fat fingers, they suck for guitar but I make them work...

You are in good company.

 

Andres Segovia had 1/2 lb of sausages for fingers and he, as I'm sure you know, is one of the very greatest guitarists ever to have drawn breath...

 

P.

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Interesting question.

 

Why are most people so against proper technique?

You can always make music your own AFTER you learn how to do it right.

 

From a guy whose childhood teacher slapped his fingers with a ruler if the the thumb ever moved off the back of the neck I say,, unless you already play like Jimi,, you should learn proper technique.

 

First and foremost learn how to play properly. You are not going to re-invent much on guitar. It's all been done. So do yourself a favor and try and focus on technique.

Do I still have my thumb on the back of the neck? No.

But I do accredit much of my ability to first leaning proper technique.

 

I just don't buy into the whole,, "Jimi plays it this way" or "theory is overrated" or "do what feels good".. Most of the changes I made in my playing didn't feel good because I was doing it wrong in the first place and change always feel strange.

More often than not, those changes in the long run pay off.

 

After I started doing it right, it felt good,, and, I played better.

I'm not trying to say I'm a great player, I'm not. But I can say ,pretty much all my improvements in playing have come from some form of learning the proper technique.

 

It's like theory, learn it, then forget it, and just play.

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I think one thing maybe being overlooked is that when one is "re"-positioning the thumb all over, that might mean he is proficient doing it different ways, as opposed to just doing it one way.

 

So, IF you are good at doing chords with your thumb behind the neck "proper", it means when you come across that situation, you automatically can move you're thumb there without thinking of it. If you are good at doing other things with your thumb over the neck, then you don't think of moving it there either. Therefore, it moves back and forth without having to think about it.

 

I don't think seeing other players at times, OR usually, play without having the thumb on the back of the neck means that you shouldn't be preficient at it if you aren't.

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I think Stein pretty well nailed it. I know that in my own playing, I don't even think about where my thumb is going unless I'm trying to figure fingering for an arrangement of something I wanna play on solo guitar that's normally played with a band of some sort. Because I've learned both ways... I don't even think about it 99 percent of the time.

 

I really think being forced into using the more "classical" approach is to your advantage long term. It may not answer what you perceive as current needs, but in another 5-10-25 years... who knows? That was the perspective I took in doing lots of different stuff even when I was a kid, and I'm glad I did.

 

But then any change in perspective of how and what one plays will by necessity require a change both in your head and in what your fingers do...

 

m

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Teachers generally stress the thumb in the center of the neck becaue they mostly encounter the opposite - self taught players who keep their thumb on the side of the neck. The position works great for some things, as other posters have pointed out. However it does tend to restrict the span of your hand. Teachers are big on hand span becaues it very helpful if you are a sight reader, as most teachers are.

 

My bass teacher told me to do this when confronted with an unfamiliar piece to sight read - "scan the whole piece and see if there's a note above B If there's not, you can play the whole piece in first position, and it will be easiest if you stay there." However to do this, you must have the thumb in the back of the neck, because most people (on bass) canntot reach from first to fourth fret with the thumb on the side of the neck.

 

I dont read guitar, but I assume the same thing holds true ( but with a greater stretch) i certainly belive that, by keeping the thumb on the side, many players deny themselves the ability to play ceratin scale shapes thet they could play with the thumb in the center, which tends to encourage "blues box" playing. The best skilll to lean is to know when each position works best, and to switch between them without concious thought.

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