Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it. - Jemsite
Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! Covers everything from discussing musicians, bands, music, albums, videos, local jams & sharing multimedia links (no illegal file sharing please).

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-26-2008, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 26
Exclamation Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

Ok so I dont know any theory, no scales ect I just think of the fret numbers as I read tabs.

So to begin when I started out not at all serious about the guitar I held by thumb paralel with the neck instead of verticle it seemed to be more comfortable. I put the guitar down(acoutistic) as soon as highschool was done with maybe a year before that. Later when I picked the guitar up again I noticed that wasnt right and it took a long while to train my hand into just getting my thumb verticle but I could see I could reach further and use all four fingers this way. I could also see that if I put my thumb more central of my palm I could stretch wider(or atleast it seems that way) so I went for as central as possible, the problem is my thumb isnt centre of the neck that way and trying to lower it to that position puts a bend in the wrist so much its slightly painfull/achey which is limiting as it impacts speed and mobility. For me even a seemingly slight change in the position of my thumb seems to affect the whole balance of my fretting hand, if its wrong my fingers will slip or my wrist is bent to much.

To find out more information I looked at some guides but you never see the right angle in the examples, then I looked at some of my favourite guitarists to see how they do it, Im guessing the text book way is right between the index and middle finger?

Ive started thinking more about exactly what Im doing with my hands now, Ive read things I never knew about, like keeping a bend in your fingers, keeping your wrist straight and also vague comments about trying to make the force come from the weight of your hand or arm which I found confusing(isnt the thumb against the neck supposted to generate the majority of force by leverage?) but tried to see if I could do it. Its really hard to keep track of if you are doing things correctly or not and at all times.

I also noticed that many guitarists have their fingers slope downwards on the neck steeper than the angle the frets are faced( fingers / frets |) which they never tell you about. So Im guessing a slight twist of the wrist is okay despite what the text books examples say? I also noticed theres another grip with the thumb slightly hooked over, but I dont understand fully why thats done Im guessing its easier to bend on the first three strings(high E, B, G) that way for one. I dunno but I find it frustrating I watch others play and they seem to switch their thumb position about effortlessly without losing any balance and Ive seen some shredders high up the neck put their thumb on the bottom edge of the neck for fast parts.

Any advice here would be appreciated after starting again once I dont want to have to start unlearning new bad/incorrect habbits again down the road.

Last edited by Metalartin; 03-03-2008 at 07:29 AM.
Metalartin is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2008, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 25
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

Thinking about technique and building a good foundation is a great step in the right direction. I played for about 6 years with cramped and contorted fingers (don't flame no lie). It wasn't until I read about playing with a relaxed light touch that I began to see tremendous improvements in my playing. The key for me is to take it super slow and evaluate every muscle I use. Just reach for the neck and consiously make an effort to relax every muscle in your hand, arm, shoulders etc. Remember to always play with the tips of your fingers and keep them curved. There is no rule of thumb for thumb position other than let it go where ever it natuarally goes. As long as you are super relaxed it will find the right place to be.

This article and the others on the site helped me alot.
Paper_Shredder is offline  
post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2008, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Teesside UK
Posts: 973
Reviews: 10
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

technically yeah the thumb is anchored at the back of the neck inline with the middle finger, giving you the best stretch from index to pinky and you can use your thumb as a seesaw to go through scales and legato runs and such. This technique also aligns the wrist to be straight with the hand. As mentiond fretting fingers to just use finger tips.

Although thats the ideal shape, some chords and other shapes depending on peoples finger lengths and comfort then its ok to stray from that and youll often see thumbs change to all sorts of positions, same with playing high up on the neck, the body may get in the way to do the ideal method.

But i think as a rule scale/legato runs for the majority of the neck to use the proper method. But its ok to stray from this for other things like certain chords (obviously not bar chords though).

I hope this helps.

Last edited by richard1973; 02-27-2008 at 04:07 PM.
richard1973 is offline  
post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2008, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 5,711
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

You will feel a "little discomfort" because you are using muscles and stretching tendons that have never been used this way before. You should not have a pain more than a 1 or 1 1/2 on a scale of 10, if you do relax your hand and stretch it out. You might even feel a little strain in your forearm and even up the tri-cep, bi-cep and sometimes up in the shoulder. The discomfort should go away the more stretched out your hands/wrists get.

Technique is very important, to me it is like a ceiling for fullfilling your full physical potential of playing. It will hold you back if you have bad technique. You need to stretch out and practice warm-ups the same as a runner would warm up and stretch their hamstrings and what not.

Having the thumb in the center of the back of the neck allows you to reach the low E string with all four of your fingers and have you fingers extended giving you more strength and control as opposed to having them crunched up and loosing dexterity and strength. Imagine the physics of a lever, the longer the board (fingers) the more strength it has so having the fingers stretched out rather than "folded" gives you more strength and control.

I see alot of students with their fingers crunched up at the bottom of the fretboard and their palm on the bottom of the neck mostly due to thumb position and not having a relaxed hand. If you aren't relaxed then players tend to "push" on the back of the neck with the thumb which also makes the hand have a tendency to "hold" the neck with the side of the 1st finger or knuckle. This is BAD. The thumb is only there for resistance against the pressure of your fingers and NOT pushing towards the fingers, which is what the hand actually naturally wants to do, just like when you pick something up the thumb and fingers close together but the thumb needs to stay in place and not push forward. There should be a "tunnel" between the crook of the hand (space between thumb and first finger) and the bottom of the fretboard rather than the neck resting in that part of the hand.

Hope this helps.

These techniques are for SINGLE NOTE playing only and not for chords. Put your thumb wherever you need to for chords
screamndemon69 is offline  
post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2008, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,525
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

solution to pain = stretch before after u play for 10 min
shogun is offline  
post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-03-2008, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 26
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

Thanks to all who replied here, some pretty interesting tips and comments.
Metalartin is offline  
post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 11:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 1,391
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

cool! i wanted to know about the thumb thing!
callen3615 is offline  
post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2008, 02:13 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Newcastle, Australia
Posts: 1,271
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

Thinking about your technique and visualising what you want to achieve goes along way towards getting as much you can from every moment of practice.

Imho, it's not the ammount of practice that you do, but the quality, and it sounds like you are on the right path to me. Stick with it and you will be surprising yourself in no time.

Good luck and enjoy your playing.

Rock on!
HeavyMetal4Ever is offline  
post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2008, 04:11 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: AUS
Posts: 338
Re: Fretting hand... cant stop thinking about it.

im going to go against the grain here and say just to play however is most comfortable for YOU, everyone's hands are different so dont go copying pablo if you dont have his fingers know what i mean?

I really dont think you can give yourself rules in playing guitar, (thumb centered in middle of neck, fingers parallel to frets)

Some things you will want to play will require a bent wrist, some straight fingers, pressing not on the fingertips, so dont limit yourself and get anoyyed when "perfect technique" hinders you or hurts you.
superhairycamel is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Jemsite forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address

IMPORTANT: You will be required to activate your account so please ensure that your email address is correct.

If you do not receive your activation check your spam folder before using the CONTACT US form (at the bottom right of each page).

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
I was thinking of changing my guitar from H-S-H to H-H-H... Please give your thoughts Avenite Tech: Setup, Repairs and Mods 12 12-18-2007 05:26 AM
Thinking of buying a Zoom G2.1u Mike239 Gear, Equipment, Recording & Off Topic 0 12-28-2006 02:15 AM
Thinking about a rack rig Kontalonis Gear, Equipment, Recording & Off Topic 3 07-23-2006 06:15 PM
Ibanez Back Stop Tremsetter and Edge Pro Trems miker Ibanez JEM, UV, JS & Other Signature Models 6 04-14-2005 08:04 PM
Wishing to swap Lo-Trs for a Stop Tailpiece, advice, help? - ericbrowning Tech: Setup, Repairs and Mods 19 01-27-2001 02:04 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome