View Poll Results: Thumb over neck?

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147. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yeah, why not?

    94 63.95%
  • No, it stays behind the neck

    53 36.05%
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  1. #51

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    As a general rule I don't put my thumb over the neck. For players with huge hands it is not even an issue. But my hands are small and it makes for difficulty to reach over the neck. But sometimes I do it if there is a bass note I want an I can reach it without straining.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    Yeah. Hendrix had huge hands.

  4. #53

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    I put my thumb wherever seems appropriate at the moment.

  5. #54

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    Re Thumb over neck,

    yes loads do it, but there is a subtle difference, in WTF you do with it.

    Jimi & Tal ( others too ) had large paws.

    Barney Kessel who not only played thumb over but did some unusual stuff,

    eg sliding chords up and down but the thumb remains fretting the same bass note etc

    looks easy try it, BK was a master of chords with thumb ( i will have a look to find in a video and exact spots etc)

    Ps meant to say all done at a high speed on the fly

  6. #55

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    There are some exceptions. However, ideal guitar posture and hold suggest your thumb should stay on the back.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by p1p
    I've been told it's not ideal technique, but it's what I'm used to and is most comfortable for me. It's also allowed me to play a lot of chords that I might not be able to otherwise.
    I think the idea that it's not "ideal technique" is total hogwash. George Benson, Rodney Jones, Miles Okazaki, and about a million other jazz guitarists with amazing time feel and technique play with their thumb hooked over the top of the neck. This quote by Miles Okazaki says it all:

    In certain circles of guitar playing, tucking away the fourth finger and putting the thumb over the top of the neck is considered improper technique. I would side with the contrary view, that this is an absolutely natural way to approach the guitar when the goal is strong articulation, groove, and rhythm. Using primarily three fingers does not at all limit speed or harmonic options — look at all the stuff drummers can play with two sticks! And the third finger easily spans four frets when the hand is angled towards the guitar’s body.

  8. #57

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    Yeah this is irrelevant influence of classical guitar pedagogy.

    Classical guitarists have a technique that is optimised for certain things - such as playing polyphonic solo music.

    Jazz guitarists have different priorities most of the time.

    But people like to boil it down to 'right' and 'wrong' simplistically. Perhaps it is to do with a respected teacher they had when younger - and young people do often need to be taught something simple and consistent. However, adult music making is much more complex and grey.

    Anyway, FWIW, I feel it's worth going one way or the other. One thing I dislike about my left hand is that it's too pronated with thumb behind and not pronated enough with thumb over lol

  9. #58

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    I find that I fret the stings with a lighter touch than when I wrap my thumb around the fret board. I do find that I cannot get a clean fret of A Bar chords without wrapping my thumb around the neck.

    Well, this didn't make any sense. What I ment to say: I find that I fret the stings with a lighter touch when I keep my thumb on the back of the neck.
    Last edited by tonedeaf; 08-07-2018 at 10:52 PM.

  10. #59

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    It's not either/or, it's what works.

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    if you thought richie havens was idiosyncratic (he was!)

    what about the legendary thumbs carllile!



    haha

    cheers
    Jeff Healey, too. I wonder if being blind meant he stumbled upon this technique. (I don't mean to be insulting, it's cool!)


  12. #61

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    If you play with any vibrato or bending in classical position there is a big risk that you'll end busting your left wrist. For me it was all fun and games, but once I nearned 40 I had to switch technique from classical to thumb over neck as I had constant wrist pains.

    Luckily that made them go away

  13. #62

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    I’m in the habit of using the thumb to add a bass note, but I think it’s led to arthritis in the thumb joint. I’m trying to retrain, but it’s not easy. When I want to hear that note the thumb has its own mind. Fortunately, that’s the only joint that’s a problem for me.

  14. #63

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    I don't let my thumb touch the neck at all.

  15. #64

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    If you want to get funky
    You've got to git yor thum over
    and damp that mother

    <sorry>

  16. #65

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  17. #66

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    There are no absolutes.

    You use whatever tool does the job.

  18. #67

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    Tommy Emmanuel has used the thumb over move for so long that it’s changed the bone structure in his left hand. He’s happy about that.


  19. #68

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    My rule of thumb is it stays behind the neck unless I'm bending a note or playing that open D chord with the F# in the bass or other thumb based chords. The thumb is a perfect anchor that when well placed always a wide range of movement of the fretting hand. But I can't take the poll because it demands either or.

  20. #69

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    It stays behind unless I need it for moving bass notes. In my tuning have a fifth between the 5th and 6th strings (my 'A' is a 'B'), so minors are just barred with no need to mute the fifth, but if I want a moving bass line (or or the chord requires it), then my thumb goes over and does that.

  21. #70
    Not typing that either is wrong, but I don’t. I took lessons for a couple of years 45+ years ago and one of the first things my instructor told me was never to use your thumb over the neck to play a lower register note.

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    Not typing that either is wrong, but I don’t. I took lessons for a couple of years 45+ years ago and one of the first things my instructor told me was never to use your thumb over the neck to play a lower register note.
    Yeah instructors say that sort of thing don't they? I say stuff like that.

    It's good advice when you are a beginner... You have to make instructions clear and consistent. No ambiguity. You need that early on...

    Problem is... people hang onto these rules for far too long.

    And then students come to me to learn gypsy jazz, and I tell them to thumb fret the bottom note on 5 7 7 6 5 x or it won't sound right, can't use a barre, and they are like 'waaaaaaa?????'

  23. #72

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    Anything is permissible, according to George Van Eps:

    Thumb over guitar neck to play bass notes?-90c9475a-95f7-4bb2-99a0-90e4574f0075-jpg

  24. #73

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    The thumb-over-neck question comes up from new players.

    Here's the answer:

    You put your thumb over the neck when it's appropriate such as when you are doing string bends or making certain chords or it is convenient.

    You put your thumb behind the neck when it's appropriate such as when you make other types of chord grips or whenever it is convenient.

    Anyone who tells you there is only one "right" way is full of carp.

    Thumb over guitar neck to play bass notes?-jay-zimmerman-fly-fishing-carp-colorado-backstabber-may-19-2011-jpg

  25. #74

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    I’d characterize it as thumb over the top and palm against the back of the neck. This would cause an injury for me with the more modern fingering techniques I’m working on. I’ve decreased the scale length while increasing the nut width, fingerboard radius, front to back depth and fret size.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    I seriously believe that virtually all issues, problems, deficiencies, inabilities, and general "can't playness" stem from ignoring the last few hundred years of development and cultivation of proper form.
    I could not, would not, on a boat.
    I will not, will not, with a goat.
    I will not thumb over guitar neck in the rain.
    I will not thumb over guitar neck on a train.
    Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! You let me be!
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck in a box.
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck with a fox.
    I will not thumb over guitar neck in a house.
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck with a mouse.
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck here or there.
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck anywhere!
    I do not like thumb over guitar neck!
    I do not like it, p1p-I-am.

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    I use the thumb a lot but for muting rather than fretting
    I use it for sounding bass notes but since I switched from an archtop to a Tele and have a brighter attack overall, I use the thumb for muting too. It's a big help.

  28. #77

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    Good enough for Barney Kessel, good enough for me.

  29. #78

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    why do we never talk about using the thumb on the high strings? My teacher Pierre Cullaz did. See Advices for guitarists, p.70


  30. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler
    The thumb-over-neck question comes up from new players.

    Here's the answer:

    You put your thumb over the neck when it's appropriate such as when you are doing string bends or making certain chords or it is convenient.

    You put your thumb behind the neck when it's appropriate such as when you make other types of chord grips or whenever it is convenient.

    Anyone who tells you there is only one "right" way is full of carp.

    Thumb over guitar neck to play bass notes?-jay-zimmerman-fly-fishing-carp-colorado-backstabber-may-19-2011-jpg
    plus it's difficult to get your thumb over a carp
    guitar not so much .....

  31. #80

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    Carpe diem
    (Catch the carp)

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat
    Carpe diem
    (Catch the carp)
    Carpe diem
    Seize the fish !

  33. #82

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  34. #83

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    There are players, like Guinga, who use thumb all the way in front of the neck -- any string. You see it, but you can't hear anything unusual. Perfectly executed.

    He plays chords that can't be played another way in standard tuning.

    He does it on nylon. I can't recall seeing anybody do it on steel strings.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    ...who use thumb all the way in front of the neck -- any string.
    You mean like classical cello and double bass technique?
    The classicists may use the thumb brought under around and above onto the fingerboard like a capo, beyond which to figure lines (including "open strings" with respect to the thumb acting as "nut") when playing way up above where the neck joins the body...

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    You mean like classical cello and double bass technique?
    The classicists may use the thumb brought under around and above onto the fingerboard like a capo, beyond which to figure lines (including "open strings" with respect to the thumb acting as "nut") when playing way up above where the neck joins the body...
    Yes. That's a good description of what Guinga does. Also Marcus Tardelli and Ian Faquini.

    Here's a video of Sr. Tardelli. Check out :10 to :25 (meaning skip the first 10 seconds). If you check out the rest of it, you'll find an astonishing combination of musicality and technique.

    Rhythms from Brazil: Guinga. Marcus Tardelli - Canal March

  37. #86

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    Amazing and beautiful... curious, classical guitar and form but on the right leg rather than the left... you think maybe because it facilitates the special thumb technique?

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Amazing and beautiful... curious, classical guitar and form but on the right leg rather than the left... you think maybe because it facilitates the special thumb technique?
    I don't know. I hadn't noticed it. The only thing I can offer is that I heard that he is self-taught. I also heard that his ears and fretboard knowledge are so strong that he can hear a classical piece and immediately find the chord, which is why he developed the thumb technique to begin with -- because he knew the exact notes he wanted.

    One of the principles I've heard is that they say that "no chord is too hard, remember how hard it was to play a barre F major at first?" And, they just find a way.

    I once called Here's that Rainy Day in a workshop with Guinga. He said he loved the tune and played an incredible chord melody version of it. Using his wild open string voicings and sounding like he wrote the tune. Then, a singer said she wanted to sing the tune and began in a different key. Whereupon Guinga played it immediately, with just as rich a harmony, including a different set of wild open string chords, and sounded, again, like he wrote the tune. Guinga doesn't read music and isn't a jazz player. His conception is, arguably, more classically influenced, but some of his tunes work well for jazz.

  39. #88

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    Some chords I wouldn't know how to play sans thumb


  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by strumcat
    I put my thumb wherever seems appropriate at the moment.
    Yep, same here!

  41. #90

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    To echo Christian in post #57 above; "Technique" is not a board approved numbered set of rules that defines correct from incorrect. Technique is what you need to do in order to express your interpretation of a piece of notated music or your own musical idea. No person who's opinion is of any significance cares one bit about HOW you played something well. If it sounds good that is evidence that you employed "correct" technique. Using standard Classical guitar technique and applying it while trying to emulate SRV, Pat Martino or Ritchie Havens is not something I'd want to listen to.
    I don't thumb notes with my thumb because I never developed it. When I watch Metheny play acoustic I wish I had.

  42. #91

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    I was self taught up until I went to study at the Conservatorium so I developed lots of bad technique/habits. Benefits were that I had a great ear from years and years of ear training (basically learned to play from listening to recordings of the greats), but my reading was very much sub-par. I use my thumb a lot. I also don't use my 4th finger nearly as much as I should.

    I'm trying to improve my technique as there are times where I think it limits my options as to what I play. This applies predominately to the 4th finger not being used enough. The thumb however I find really useful. For many years I played in guitar duo, it was really useful for walking bass while comping chords.

    I'm also interested to make my technique more efficient and hopefully ensure I can keep playing with minimal issues when as I get older. I'm only 27 now, but I know many players are struggling with age related issues (some are only in the 50s) that have affected their guitar playing. I hope to be out there gigging still when I'm in my 90s if all goes to plan!

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758
    I only use thumb as needed... once per solo guitar arrangment or so
    ditto for me.
    It's not an ideal technique, but in some cases necesarry to play 5 notes. if i can avoid the thumb, i do.

  44. #93

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    For me it is an absolutely integral "technique" when comping - I quickly adapted this when I realized that it's a very good method to save sheer muscle strength on a long night.
    No hand-position, left or right etc. is less acceptable, not "less ideal" or whatever if it makes one play better, saves energy and brings the music forward. Dogmas of any kind are always questionable. What would Hendrix say to this ? .....

  45. #94

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    People often learn their technique as beginners without understanding the why and the trade offs. This leads to people being dogmatic about technique because they don’t actually understand it.

    classical guitar technique has trade offs appropriate to the music classical guitarists are expected to play. It is by no means the ideal technique for all music although it can be surprisingly versatile.

    Furthermore the exact design and dimensions of the classical instrument are designed in sympathy with that technique.

  46. #95

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    I'm not much of a player but if there's a moment when thumb over the neck makes sense (and that includes not hindering what comes immediately before or after) then I'll employ it. But I don't generally court that as an approach and if in the future I learn why and how to avoid it then I'm cool with that too.

  47. #96

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    The thumb is huge for me, I use it all the time.

    The pinky...I was lazy coming up...I don't use it much in single note lines.

    But oddly enough, a lot of my favorite players don't either.

  48. #97

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    I voted for thumb over neck. But I have problems doing it. For instance, this A7 chord.



    I can play the 6th string with my thumb, but depending on the guitar, the 5th string will ring out. It's easier for me to rearrange, and play the 6th string with my first finger. Even easier is to mute the 1st and 2nd strings, and play the C# on the 4th fret, 5th string. Same shape as a 5th string based 7#9 chord, just on the 6th string.

  49. #98

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    Heindrix is alive

  50. #99

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    I used to, but after years of serious classical study it just doesn't feel right. I see the use for it (Metheny comes to mind) and have no problem with it. Just uncomfortable for me.

  51. #100

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    There is no "wrong" way when it comes to finger technique. Anything that gets the job done is fair game.