left hand thumb position

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
fralexis

left hand thumb position

Post by fralexis » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:56 pm

I have been studying with an instructor for about a year. Things are going well, but I have a continual problem with my left hand thumb position. My instructor has pointed this out to me. I tend to let my thumb slip up the neck toward the nut (on the back of the neck of course). Therefore my fingers are lower on the fretboard than the thumb. Is this a common problem and are there any tricks to fix this? It seems that keeping my thumb in the correct position is very awkward, and even sometimes uncomfortable.

Alexis

Cao Nguyen

Re: left hand thumb position

Post by Cao Nguyen » Sat Dec 12, 2015 2:08 pm

I've read that the newer school thinks what you're doing is more correct and natural, especially if you use the arm to pull the strings to the fretboard instead of just the fingers. Just don't let it interfere with your hand balancing and other technique development. I'm sure someone on this forum with more knowledge than me will be able to clarify it for you.

walfordr

Re: left hand thumb position

Post by walfordr » Sat Dec 12, 2015 2:29 pm

I have never worried for a second about the left thumb. If I focus on the correct position, angle and pressure of the fingers, the thumb just takes care of itself naturally.

I am of the view that there is far too much fussing about the different aspects of technique. Many of the current fads contradict the previous fads and will in turn be contradicted by the future fads.

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BugDog
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Re: left hand thumb position

Post by BugDog » Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:04 pm

walfordr wrote:I have never worried for a second about the left thumb. If I focus on the correct position, angle and pressure of the fingers, the thumb just takes care of itself naturally.

I am of the view that there is far too much fussing about the different aspects of technique. Many of the current fads contradict the previous fads and will in turn be contradicted by the future fads.
Well said!

Something to try. Try fretting without using the thumb at all. This usually takes a bit of counter balance from the right arm but you probably already know that. While fretting with the fingers just relax the thumb and let it take its most natural and relaxed position on the neck. this is where you put the thumb. Please note that this position might change a bit when fretting with different LH fingers. My thumb tends to move toward the nut when using 1 or 2 and toward the sound hole when using 3 or 4. It also changes some when moving the hand up and down the neck. It's a dynamic process.

The trick is, as walfordf said, get the fingers right and let the thumb relax and take care of itself.
BugDog
There's one in every crowd.

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twang
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Re: left hand thumb position

Post by twang » Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:31 pm

BugDog wrote: Something to try. Try fretting without using the thumb at all.
+10

With a minimum of practice you can play many pieces without the thumb. You come to find:
- the fingers assume a better position,
- you the fingers need to assert much less pressure than you thought,
- you feel different muscles in use,
- you need almost no pressure on the thumb-- it's just there for stability,
- the natural position for the thumb is generally at the centroid-of-pressure asserted by the fingers,
- each time the fingers change position the thumb may need to move too,
- it's easy to get into the habit of using the leaving the thumb stationary, as a navigation aid, when the fingers change position thus throwing the left-hand into a poor position.

For me, any time I'm having trouble in the left-hand, the first thing I do is take the thumb away and see what the fingers want to do without it; solves lots of issues.
"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

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