Thumb Behind or Over the Neck?


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HedBanger24/7
05-04-2006, 11:27 PM
I really didn't know where to put this but this is the forum for speed technique and stuff so.

Anytime i practice a fast lick or solo 90% of the time i have my thumb over the neck (at least slightly). But i saw a video of Dimebag Darrell playing the Domination solo and he played the entire thing with his thumb behind the neck, also i saw a video of Trivium playing Dying In Your Arms and Corey was playing the solo with his thumb behind the neck too. To me Dimebag and Corey seemed to be able to play more smoothly. On the other hand i also saw a video of Metallica playing Creeping Death and during the solo Kirk was playing with his thumb over the neck the hole time. So im basically asking if its easier to play fast licks or solos with your thumb over the neck or behind it?

Thanks.

Tenacious Me
05-04-2006, 11:28 PM
preference I guess.

crzywhiteboy
05-04-2006, 11:32 PM
which ever you like more...

Iron Priest
05-04-2006, 11:35 PM
Preference, but the proper technique is with the thumb behind the neck.

supaman_63
05-04-2006, 11:37 PM
i would have said the proper technique was with thumb over the neck, but really, it's whatever suits you best. try both and see

TheUltimateSin
05-04-2006, 11:41 PM
Whatever you feel more comfortable playing. The "right" way is with it behind the neck, but it's all up to the player. I have watched many pros play doing it either way and it doesn';t seem to affect them. I myself play both ways. I find that when playing higher notes, my thumb creeps over, but when playing lower notes it it seated behind fine.

Asthia
05-04-2006, 11:41 PM
Classical guitar never has the guitar over the neck.
I don't know what it really does but I'd say behind the neck makes fretting faster, because you can move your hand more and don't have to stretch around the neck too much.

Asthia
05-04-2006, 11:42 PM
It dosn't affect pro's because they've played that song or solo so many times that they can do it with their eyes closed and their finger muscles just go there.

Beckerism
05-04-2006, 11:43 PM
Depends on which lick I'm playing. If I'm on the 3 high strings, my thumb usually creeps to the top. If on the 3 bass strings, it's far beneath the neck.

SnowballofDoom
05-04-2006, 11:46 PM
From my experience, it depends on a couple things. The complexity of what you're playing, how long your fingers are, etc etc.

Most of the time, I have it behind the neck. But for certain bends, and situations, it sneaks over the top.

TheUltimateSin
05-05-2006, 12:00 AM
Depends on which lick I'm playing. If I'm on the 3 high strings, my thumb usually creeps to the top. If on the 3 bass strings, it's far beneath the neck.

That's exactly what I mean. Glad to see I ain't the only one doing this.

It dosn't affect pro's because they've played that song or solo so many times that they can do it with their eyes closed and their finger muscles just go there.

Although it was ignorant of me to say a word like "pro" and not define what I meant, let me clarify: I didn't specifically mean the name-brand famous band pro's. I know guitarists who play in local bands who play over-the-neck all the time, including the first time they've played a song they wrote. My future robotics teacher plays over-the-neck 99% of the time; and he is quite good mind you; and everytime he writes a song and wants me to hear it the first time he plays it, he is always playing over-the-neck . So no, what you said is not always the case. Good effort though :)

Erc
05-05-2006, 12:25 AM
thumb behind is usually the best (mostly situational though). Its impossible to do big stretches otherwise.

Boghead
05-05-2006, 06:15 AM
thumb over the neck is for the blues where you need to mute the top strings
thumb under neck is usually used for arpeggios and exception is yngwie malmsteen

Stratwizard
05-05-2006, 06:47 AM
When I do bends, I keep my thumb over the neck to give counter power to the fingers. Allthough, when I do long stretchs it's pretty essential to keep it behind the neck.

wil
05-05-2006, 07:32 AM
MAB says you cant do 90's licks with 60s fingering, he even warns you may develop tendonitis type problems.
If im bending, vibrato or playing chord double stops etc then i often wrap my thumb round--i play barre chords with my thumb as well because it frees up the pinky to play different chord inversions that are impossible with the classical style.

However, if im embarking on a fast, linear picking run or a huge stretch---ie, 5th fret to the 11th fret then i always use my thumb fixed to the back of the neck, about where the G string is.

Practising both styles will allow you to choose which one you want in any situation. :)

Chicken Chips
05-05-2006, 07:33 AM
BOTH!!!l!!

spunky_chooken
05-05-2006, 07:36 AM
I was told to keep your thumbe behind the neck to gvie your fingers support.

Stratwizard
05-05-2006, 07:50 AM
^When you bend your hand doesn't give much support, if you keep it behind the neck.

wil
05-05-2006, 07:52 AM
agreed.

Resiliance
05-05-2006, 11:37 AM
I have the impression that if you need to think about where your thumb goes, you're doing something wrong...

Freepower
05-05-2006, 02:14 PM
Well, the thumb should be behind the neck for general playing (unless you're only playing pentatonics - try playing 3nps with it over the neck down at the lower frets) - but OVER it for anything resembling fast bends and the like.

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/Guitar_Technique/Bending.htm

I've never met anyone who could get a good bend and vibrato with their thumb behind the neck, and i've never met someone who could do a decent stretch lick with their thumb over it. (but i've seen Paul "Freakhands" Gilbert do it) :)

guywithaguitar1
05-05-2006, 02:48 PM
On the lower/high note strings I have my hand over the neck but for the reason that freepower just stated I have my hand on back of the neck on the higher/low note strings.

eXor
05-05-2006, 03:12 PM
You should place your thumb behind the neck, that way you don't have to stretch your pinky

Matt_Malmsteen
05-05-2006, 04:29 PM
Well, the thumb should be behind the neck for general playing (unless you're only playing pentatonics - try playing 3nps with it over the neck down at the lower frets) - but OVER it for anything resembling fast bends and the like.

http://www.guitarprinciples.com/Guitar_Technique/Bending.htm

I've never met anyone who could get a good bend and vibrato with their thumb behind the neck, and i've never met someone who could do a decent stretch lick with their thumb over it. (but i've seen Paul "Freakhands" Gilbert do it) :)


I can bend and do vibrato without my thumb over the neck, the bends sound ok but the vibrato sounds ****.

So yeah the only time I ever have my thumb over the nekc is for vibrato...and for big bends...but for everything else my thumb is always on the back.

gtgram14
05-05-2006, 04:43 PM
I think he's just unsure of weather or not hes doing the "right" thing and wants some advice. :)

slash_620
05-05-2006, 04:58 PM
I think having your thumb in the extreme classical position is a sign of great finger strength because your digits are basicly unsupported, though you should allways bend with your thumb over the neck.

shredfan
05-06-2006, 07:46 AM
I usually keep my thumb behind the neck if I'm playing on the lower strings or on lower frets. If i'm on higher frets, then my thumb comes up a bit, often over, unless I'm doing large stretches, which I tend not to.

Thumb grabbing's really not a massive deal, though. Gilbert, Petrucci, Malmsteen, Becker and Lane all do (or did) it to some extent.

Skrewdriver
05-06-2006, 09:15 AM
For me it depends where I'm playing.

leezer
05-06-2006, 04:27 PM
i've been playing guitar for nearly 2 years now and ive been practicing my bar chords recently (barre). neway i just cant get the hang of them, any tips? im having trouble with transition to different barre chords, finger placement and i find it hard to build up the strength in my index finger. also, i know that i've been playing for nearly 2 years and different people go at different speeds in learning but is that pretty S**t progression, honestly? its just fun
therealleekingsmore@hotmail.com any help much appreciated

Freepower
05-07-2006, 06:00 AM
Gilbert, Becker and Lane...

The freakhands triplets?

PG does my STRETCH licks with the "wrong" fingering and with his thumb over the neck. Poof. :(

AngilasGuy
05-07-2006, 05:22 PM
i would have said the proper technique was with thumb over the neck, but really, it's whatever suits you best. try both and see

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v280/AngilasGuy/TechniqueNazicop2y.jpg
( My new offical flag, :p )
Here comes the technique nazi...
Playing the guitar with your thumb over the neck is hideously incorrect. We're talking in the shred forum (in a blues or jazz environment, it would be different), but for shred or metal or frankly 90% of guitar music, over the neck is awful.
You CANNOT reach all of the frets, and even if you can, it puts tremendous strain on your hands and fingers, and will limit your playing.
Shredders often adapt the classical approach to playing, this is why you see many shredders like Cooley, Romeo, Laiho, and others play their guitar in between their legs instead of on their right leg, it gives you the most freedom, and they will nearly ALWAYS have their thumb behind the neck, except for very large vibrato. If you look at Romeo and Cooley especially, you will notice that they will NEVER, ever, be limited by what they wish to play, ever.

Doubleday
05-07-2006, 07:25 PM
thumb behind is usually the best (mostly situational though). Its impossible to do big stretches otherwise.
Same here. I usually have it on the back of the neck so I can get those insane Van Halen streches in. I also need it there if I'm going to be playing high up on the neck. Sometimes I have it over the side. Sometimes I even use it if I'm playing blues or funk, a la Stevie Ray Vaghuan.

HedBanger24/7
05-07-2006, 08:07 PM
I have actually started practicing more riffs and solos with my hand behind the neck now (my thumb still moves over when im doing a wide bend or vibrato). But what about standing up and playing (like at a show)? Whenever i play a lick or solo with my hand behind the neck that would be easier sitting down its much harder standing up. If i want to play a solo like that i might as well place my foot on an amp or something and have the guitar on my knee to play the solo, witch i dont want to do for every solo.

Thanks for all the comments.

AngilasGuy
05-07-2006, 11:18 PM
I have actually started practicing more riffs and solos with my hand behind the neck now (my thumb still moves over when im doing a wide bend or vibrato). But what about standing up and playing (like at a show)? Whenever i play a lick or solo with my hand behind the neck that would be easier sitting down its much harder standing up. If i want to play a solo like that i might as well place my foot on an amp or something and have the guitar on my knee to play the solo, witch i dont want to do for every solo.

Thanks for all the comments.

Like I described, try practicing guitar between your legs, like so:
https://secure.virtualempire.com/host44/www/amy321/web/images/Guitar_Technique/elecsit2.jpg

Now imagine him standing, the guitar would almost be in the exact same position, this is SORT OF like practicing standing up, but sitting down, it also gives you SO much more room for playing.

P.S. that ugly dude is not me.

Gman400
05-07-2006, 11:22 PM
lol thank god for that PS! I was like **** no wonder some people here are so ****in good, their family locked them in the basment with a guitar!

BTW I need one those little footy thingys that supports your left leg...chair legs don't cut it. What are they called and how much are they?

AngilasGuy
05-07-2006, 11:29 PM
lol thank god for that PS! I was like **** no wonder some people here are so ****in good, their family locked them in the basment with a guitar!

BTW I need one those little footy thingys that supports your left leg...chair legs don't cut it. What are they called and how much are they?

Foot stools, I got mine for $12
But before that, I used my guitar case for like a year... Anything that can raise your foot up will do really.

Beckerism
05-07-2006, 11:38 PM
The freakhands triplets?

PG does my STRETCH licks with the "wrong" fingering and with his thumb over the neck. Poof. :(

Add Marty in there and we're all set for the Freak Circus. :haha

Erich yeung
05-08-2006, 12:39 AM
Well for normal playing I keep it behind the neck, and for bending and vibrato over the neck. Though some pros play all the time with their thumb behind the neck because they can do it comfortably. You have to take into account how big some of these guy's hands are. Same with how high you wear your guitar, I mean i try to keep it low enough where i dont look like a douche, but relatively high still cause im comfortable like that. Gilbert and Vai and them can keep their guitars lower because their hands are huge. Like my guitar teacher said when he saw gilbert live when he wasnt playing and had his hand on his guitar it stretched from like the 6th fret to the 12th, i mean its ridiculous.

GNR-4-Ever
05-08-2006, 05:21 AM
I just leave it over the neck, as did Hendrix. That thumb can be useful to play weird chords....but technically the correct way is behind the neck.

HammerForce
05-08-2006, 10:07 AM
I play with my thumb behind but, because I've never had any lessons and learned by playing the songs I liked this is a fairly new development (4 months ago). I have noticed that it makes everything a whole lot easier to play as (for me anyways) it makes it a lot easier to use all four fingers.

AngilasGuy
05-09-2006, 11:12 AM
I just leave it over the neck, as did Hendrix. That thumb can be useful to play weird chords

Just because someone did it doesn't make it technically right.
Hendrix was great at what HE did, but if he wanted to pick up another style if he was alive today, he couldn't.
By playing over the neck, you ARE making a concious decision to limit yourself, if you study proper technique, you will never be limited.

Stratwizard
05-09-2006, 11:26 AM
Besides, if you want good technqiue, Hendrix is not the best influence. :p:

Matt_Malmsteen
05-09-2006, 11:52 AM
^^Finally some people point out that Hendrix wasn't all that....:cheers:

fa'q
05-09-2006, 01:07 PM
i think it depends on the size of your hands

guywithaguitar1
05-09-2006, 02:44 PM
Thats true guys with short fingers won't be able to do certain licks the same as other players.

wil
05-09-2006, 04:06 PM
Tal 'octopus hands' Farlow used his thumb to play chords that are i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e with the 'proper' method--say what you want about Hendrix, but i defy anyone to criticise Tal's technique. The thumb behind the neck can be just as limiting as the thumb over it.

Vital remains
05-09-2006, 07:42 PM
for playing classical guitar putting the thumb behind the neck is essential but when playing lead guitar i think your susposed to so whatever the hell you want. if people from the 1800s saw us playing guitar they would say, "what the hell is that young chap doing to that instrument?" All those crazy tapping and two handed techniques were unheard of back then so i dont think having your thumb over or behind the neck really matters in todays music scene.

Doubleday
05-09-2006, 08:27 PM
The electric guitar is a very young instrument, less than 50 years old in fact. No definitive techniques have been written as law for it yet.

"what the hell is that young chap doing to that instrument?"
I heard that in a Bender voice.

Freepower
05-10-2006, 04:32 AM
^ physiology is pretty cut and dried, and the tension stuff applies to EVERY instrument. After that...well, there isnt much left in terms of technique.

Tal 'octopus hands' Farlow used his thumb to play chords that are i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e with the 'proper' method--say what you want about Hendrix, but i defy anyone to criticise Tal's technique. The thumb behind the neck can be just as limiting as the thumb over it.

Bingo.

Fat_Kid
05-10-2006, 04:44 AM
^^ i believe that you sir are wrong

wil
05-10-2006, 05:21 AM
why is he wrong?
what is he wrong about?

I cant see why this debate has divided so many people...
I can do both techniques pretty fluently so really, whats the problem?

public property
05-10-2006, 05:55 AM
Judging from his avatar, I'd say his argument is flawed simply because he as a low IQ.

wil
05-10-2006, 02:41 PM
^yeah, i was gonna comment on his avatar.
the electric guitar is a relatively recent thing, but there have been stringed and fretted instruments for centuries, and indeed, in classically trained music, the thumb goes behind the neck.
However, this doesnt mean that John Williams wouldnt be able to play Castles Made of Sand, its actually quite a natural feeling to use the thumb for chords...What im trying to say is, that although its benefitial to practise with your thumb glued to the back of the neck, that doesnt mean its the ONLY way to play.

Freepower
05-10-2006, 03:47 PM
Physically, you cant actually bend as well with your thumb behind the neck, you cant physically play certain chords, full stop. Thats pretty limiting, penis-boy.

You may like to note that wil was simply pointing out that to limit yourself to one or the other in a rock context is equally stupid.

Care to refute my point by doing a tone and half bend and vibrato using only the extensor muscles of your fingers?

Matt_Malmsteen
05-10-2006, 06:30 PM
Physically, you cant actually bend as well with your thumb behind the neck, you cant physically play certain chords, full stop. Thats pretty limiting, penis-boy.

You may like to note that wil was simply pointing out that to limit yourself to one or the other in a rock context is equally stupid.

Care to refute my point by doing a tone and half bend and vibrato using only the extensor muscles of your fingers?


"Penis boy" got pwnd :p:

Erich yeung
05-10-2006, 07:24 PM
Lmao, be nice to noobs ;)

Gman400
05-10-2006, 10:31 PM
^^ i believe that you sir are wrong

apocalypse13
05-10-2006, 10:37 PM
........

































:haha


Thumb = useful for chords and vibrato.

Nuff said...

AngilasGuy
05-11-2006, 01:33 AM
Thumb = useful for chords and vibrato.

Wait, do you mean Hendrix type chords or actual chords... Because regular orthodox chords are extremely difficult over the neck.

public property
05-11-2006, 07:16 AM
Grow another finger and freepower, I can do a 3 tone bend and vibrato without even having my thumb on the neck, with one finger, on my acoustic. I would show you but I lost my camera....sorry...*dances like a penis*

Freepower
05-11-2006, 01:56 PM
Pshh, i bet its a bit sharp, knowing you and your alledgedly huge bends...

Doubleday
05-11-2006, 02:13 PM
Like what fret are we talking? There's a big difference bewteen bending on the first and on the twelfth. and 3 whole tones? That's a 6th dude . . . . . . man I'm really far behind.

I've always done vibrato and bends with my thumb on the back of the neck. I pull from the forearm. I really only use the thumb for mashing power chords with one finger in Drop D.

Gman400
05-11-2006, 02:47 PM
He was kidding about the one finger acoustic guitar 3 tone bend thing if you didn't know.

Freepower
05-11-2006, 02:57 PM
Like what fret are we talking? There's a big difference bewteen bending on the first and on the twelfth. and 3 whole tones? That's a 6th dude .

b5, or #4. Its six SEMITONES. :)

Jakeylee111
05-11-2006, 04:10 PM
I use thumb behind the neck on nearly everything apart from arpeggio's and power chords and extreme stretching. :peace:

apocalypse13
05-11-2006, 04:12 PM
Wait, do you mean Hendrix type chords or actual chords... Because regular orthodox chords are extremely difficult over the neck.
Hendrix style.

Or fast changes using only like 2 fingers and both E strings, such as:

--0--2--3
----------
----------
----------
----------
--3--2--0

from "Dee"

wil
05-11-2006, 04:38 PM
^^thats the thing---Randy 'borrowed' that idea form Bach's bouree#9 and when i play either of those pieces, i just find it more economical to finger the low E notes with my thumb.

Oh, and bending up a 'sixth' like someone said back there would involve bending from C, to A, or from the 8th fret to the 17th(!) fret on the high E, which is, aside from being implausible in terms of string strength, physically impossible.

A three tone bend is equivalent to six frets worth--a tritone interval--which would mean bending up fromE to Bb which is slightly more realistic but not very practical.

PooKoo
05-11-2006, 05:51 PM
^I always played the bach, and rhoads, version, with my middle and ring fingers... Hmm.

Gman400
05-11-2006, 06:05 PM
Yeah me to. Thumb sounds hella hard but I've never used it for any fretting really so I dunno. Anyway specifically I ring for the 3rd fret, bar the 2nd with my middle, then ring on the high e.

apocalypse13
05-11-2006, 09:40 PM
Yeah I used to do it different, with my ring and index, but it's hella more economical to use your thumb.

wil
05-14-2006, 08:07 AM
I can play really fast, Chet Atkins style bluegrass type f/picked stuff, you the type of stuff that has like two chord changes a second and for some of it, i find it SOOOO much more economical---and ive been told, more impressive looking(which im not saying matters, but its been commented on)---to incorporate the thumb into these chord shapes---that way you can play ascending/descending basslines on the E or A using just the thumb, or quickly finger strange chord inversions quickly.

lonepilgrim
12-03-2014, 03:21 PM
it depends if you want to get good or not..if you want to get good keep your thumb behind the neck..keep your thumb behind the neck..if not it doesn't matter.
yes..I am being sarcastic.
keep your thumb behind the neck.

scsweat
12-04-2014, 12:21 PM
I had a guitar teacher (for about 2 weeks) who was ADAMANT about me keeping my thumb anchored in the center of the back of the neck so my hand could swivel around it like a hinge.

Well, I had been playing for a couple years by then and I'd already developed my own techniques, so I had to break all those old habits before reforming new ones.

Eventually, I found myself spending more time frustrated with my instrument than enjoying it, and spending more time grinding technique than actually creating music.

You've got to just play the way that feels natural. If you try and force yourself to do it somebody else's "Right Way," it's not going to be as fun or fulfilling. That's just my opinion.

lonepilgrim
12-04-2014, 01:20 PM
If you don't learn useing proper technique you will practice your mistakes which is what you have been doing..you will eventually hit a wall and not improve..it's like trying to play fast before you learn to play slow..the faster you play the more notes you will blow..you will not correct this by playing faster it will only get worse..you can compensate by using effects such as distortion.
It is possibly to play some chords using your thumb that you can't play with your thumb behind the neck but you will never get the stretches.
This is not personal..I have played the guitar over 50 years..the truth is i'm not very good but I am improving..I played with my thumb behind the neck for a long time..I still use it to mute the 6th string occasionally..it has been difficult overcoming this imperfect learned technique but the more I play with my hand out in front of the guitar instead of behind it the better I sound.
Part of the problem is many successful musicians are not that good..their music is marketed towards the general population not the artistically inclined and people who are learning try to play like them..I understand my point of view is not a popular one..it is my opinion nevertheless.

fingrpikingood
12-04-2014, 01:40 PM
I use both techniques and switch between the two. Sometimes I fret the low E with my thumb. For some kind of bluesy style stuff, I prefer the thumb wrap.

The thumb behind the neck, I prefer for barre chords, and for 3nps style play.

There are a number of chords that I play 2 different ways. I don't mean inversions, I mean the same inversion, but different grips. For example, I might play an Am7 with my index finger all across the 5th fret. Or, I might thumb the low E and index only the top 4 strings.

I can play a A7#5, Am9, Asus4, A13, whatever, a whole bunch of chord types, in both styles as well, so if I'm in one grip, I might keep that. Some chords can only really be played one way, so that might make me switch for one sort of "stance" to another, one "class" to another. For example, on an index barre, you can only add notes towards the bridge, whereas using your thumb, you can add notes that would normally be behind that, like an Am7b5.

I actually use 2 grip classes for dom7s rooted on the A string also, which have each similar advantages.

So, for me, it always depends on what I'm doing, what I just did, and what I plan to do. They are both good techniques in my book. But I think the thumb behind the neck, is the most powerful. I love the wrap also though. Wouldn't want to give that up.