Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > Instruments > Guitar Techniques
User Name  

Old 04-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2012
Question Proper Thumb Use (When and How?)

Hey everyone.

So I am a HUGE RHCP fan, my favorite band definitely. I've decided to start watching videos to learn their songs and the last one was "Can't Stop " and in the video I watched Marty Schwartz said that John Frusciante uses his thumb (he was showing the part in the beginning where you hit the 7th on the 6th then the 7th / 9th part.. or whichever it was, you all know what I might be taking about, it then slide a half step with the 6th string . I found that part easy to use the thumb, and he said Jimi Hendrix also utilized the thumb and that made me start to think it is a very very powerful tool to learn and master .

But, as I was playing , I realized that you can't have your thumb just there the whole time and have that thumb grip/hold or you can't play certain notes because it isn't possible really.

Though when the part came where you hit the 6th string, then the Dun-dun, then 6th string again, the thumb was very very useful and easy , especially when sliding up the half step.

My question is , is there a certain grip and way of holding the guitar when using this thumb technique ? Should I start to practice holding the guitar in a different way? The other question is WHEN do I use it and how do I know when ? I wasn't sure at all when to use it other than when I was going through it slowly and realizing I couldn't have my thumb their and play the notes, is it something you learn when to do it and when not and what you can do and can't do when your thumb is there ? OR if you utilize the thumb technique and grip are you usually always supposed to have that grip and have your thumb up there ready to mute the E and A or hold them?

Thank you very much for as much feedback on this and advice/discussion as possible
BoobsVanderbilt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 01:50 PM   #2
Registered User
StreetLight3989's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Jersey
The only song I've ever learned that I've had to use my thumb for is "Can't Stop". I only use it for the 7 and the 8 on the E string and I bring it back down when I'm not playing those notes.

It would be practically impossible to do the muting that John uses without using your thumb. I don't see much purpose of using your thumb other than muting, but I could be wrong.
StreetLight3989 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 02:44 PM   #3
Tab Contributor
supersac's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2009
i use my thumb quite a bit and its hardly ever stuck in the same position
there are some chords that i dont think id be able to play without using my thumd such as
if i play a ichord ilke that i usulaly just put it there for when it needs to be and put it behind the neck when im done to let the fingers be as free as possible

also im pretty sure classical guitar frowns upon this so careful with that
a youtube link?
maybe you should click on it

Originally Posted by whoomit
You sound like an amazing friend
i sound like one...im secretly a huge dick

my bands soundcloud
supersac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 03:06 PM   #4
FoxHound Elite
Vypor's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Little Rock, AR
Paul Gilbert talks about using his thumb to mute the top strings or to help play certain chords, he talks about it pretty extensively in a lot of his online lessons.

You may want to check some of those out, Mr. Gilbert has a way of explaining things in lamens terms and using good visual examples.
Treble>Epiphone Prophecy EX - MXR micro Amp - MXR Blue Box - MXR Fullbore - MXR Noise Clamp - Vox AD30VT
Bass>Ibanez BTB505 - MXR Blowtorch - MXR D.I. - Peavey MaxBass 700 - Peavey TVX410
Vypor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
Artemis Entreri
Artemis Entreri's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2006
If your hands are big enough and it's comfortable for you, that's the time to use it. If they aren't, there's no real point in doing it. You can play the same things a different way. Sometimes I'll play pieces (including can't stop) with my thumb and sometimes I won't. Sounds the same either way.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712

Last edited by Artemis Entreri : 04-10-2013 at 03:10 PM.
Artemis Entreri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 07:19 PM   #6
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2012
Thanks for the input .

I just figured that being able to use your thumb to not only mute the E, but play it would be very useful to do.

Such as Jimi Hendrix type chords .. I don't kno what the chord is called but it's an F shape but I believe a whole step up with your pinking on the 5th e and your thumb on the 4th E.. or 3rd E. Im not by my guitar now so I don't remember but if I have it i can remember is a second and do it. But I think yu all know what I'm trying to say with that
BoobsVanderbilt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2013, 10:26 AM   #7
Registered User
wyldelife's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
John Mayer, SRV, Hendrix and John Fruscieanwhatthehell all use this quite a lot! A very nicew tool for playing interesting variations of barre chords and for using a little soloing between chords(think "Little Wing" by Hendrix, "Slow dancing in a burning room" by Mayer etc.)

After I learned it often use it in my own songs, and I find it very useful to spice things up.
2011 Fender American Standard Stratocaster
2012 Tanglewood TW170

Marshall MG 250DFX
Line 6 HD500
wyldelife is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

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

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:57 AM.

Forum Archives / About / TOS / Advertise with us / Customer Support / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2016
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.