Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #29166  by OhioBuckeye
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 2:42 pm
ok so as I'm learning chords I've come to realize that I play best with my thumb up and a little to the left of my fretting fingers when playing chords. so basically my thumb peaks over very similar to most of the picutures of Jerry playing with his guitars.

But everything I read says this is not good. In most cases they say it limits mobility. Which I believe is true.

I've noticed when I do the thumb in the middle it's not comfortable and also my wrist is bent. Just doesn't seem like it's healthy. The other way my wrist, forearm, hand all straight.

How do you play? I'm just starting so I want to get this right from the beginning. As of now I'm staying with it unless you guys talk me into doing it differently :) I figure it was good enough for Jerry well then you know.

Do you think Jerry would play scales with his thumb up like that as well?



 #29171  by OhioBuckeye
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 2:54 pm
Ok I hate to reply to my own post but I just found a good site that I think covers this and explains my issue: ... /index.php

They say for open chords having the thumb up makes sense but for other functions there is the "home" position(scales,notes playing) and a "pentatonic" position for the pentatonic scale and bends.

This has become my new best site because what they just descibed I did not find anywhere else I think it makes sense.

 #29172  by BlobWeird
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 2:57 pm
Eh I checked it out and thats not the way I play. I rarely ever use my thumb up mainly I think because my hands are small. As for the pentatonic position seems kinda dumb to have another position just to play off that scale. The way I play my hand stays pretty much the same except for maybe during barre chords.

 #29195  by HansDerTans
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:18 pm
I haven't really thought about thumb position since I was just starting out, learning chords. And I remember making a point to have my thumb right on the center of the back of the neck to maximize leverage or whatever that does.

Now when I play my thumb is all over the place. It moves just as much as all the other fingers, and trying to keep it in any specific position would be too distracting. It just ends up whatever way it ends up, never a problem.

After a few years of playing things feel natural enough that any sort of thumb position you might exhibit isn't going to limit mobility.

Let the fretboard become your concern, in the meantime use any technique that stops you from muting strings when you don't want to mute strings.

 #29208  by strumminsix
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:19 pm
You are doing the right thing. The site shows proper placement.

Disregarding your body's ergonomics will only lead to something bad down the road.

 #29637  by old man down
 Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:58 pm
I play just acoustic guitar. My thumb is always close to the edge of the fingerboard, and I never use it to hold down the E string.

When I play barre chords, it heads toward the center of the back of the neck.

When I play high note leads, my thumb comes out from under the neck and stays right alongside my finger high-arches.

I have beautiful hands for playing guitar. Very large hands, but definitely not a catcher's mitt, and long fingers that are not very thick. Just right.

But you know what, I cannot play a partial barre chord. I have to do full barre chords so that, for the E shape, the part of my index finger just before my palm holds down the E and B strings. But I cannot hold down the E and B strings with the tip of my index finger while getting the other chord notes held down.

So, you work with what you have and before you know it, you stop thinking about it.

Work on your right hand technique. That's where the talent is.