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Old 03-09-2013, 04:06 AM   #1
DaysofGrace
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Do you ever fret with your thumb?

I was just curious. I was playing with a buddy the other day and he was ripping on me for how I often use my thumb to fret bass notes (most often on the acoustic, but sometimes with my electric).

After being more vigilant about it, I noticed I tend to do it when I jump from doing something on the higher strings to a bass note.

It works (pretty well for that matter), but I was just curious as to what your guys' opinions are.
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:30 AM   #2
GaryBillington
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Your mate is an idiot. It's an extremely common technique which most people do. How are you going to play D/F# (200232) without your thumb?
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:39 AM   #3
DaysofGrace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Your mate is an idiot. It's an extremely common technique which most people do. How are you going to play D/F# (200232) without your thumb?


Solid point. I guess it comes up more when it's not completely necessary (e.g. The bass note slide in the opening for "Total Revenge" by Say Anything).

I do enjoy hearing (well, reading) someone call him an idiot.
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:44 AM   #4
StuartBahn
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In the classical world it's frowned on to use the thumb but there are many situations where it's very useful in popular music (jazz, rock, pop, etc). It's not a bad idea to try fretting it with fingers as well just so you've tried both options. If you're doing something with a bass line then fretting bass notes with fingers is more flexible than thumb. Definitely not a rule though!
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Your mate is an idiot. It's an extremely common technique which most people do. How are you going to play D/F# (200232) without your thumb?

Just because it's common doesn't mean that it's right. Your thumb should be behind the neck 90% of the time. Only put it over the neck for more control with bends and vibrato, and specific chords that require it. And FYI, D/F# is not one of those chords. It's not really that hard to play with just your fingers.
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:24 PM   #6
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I never did it before, but after learning some songs that need it, (hendrix, RHCP etc) I like that it frees up your fingers to play melodies while playing full chords unlike barring them. I'm way more of a behind the neck player though so it felt pretty uncomfortable at first.
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:46 PM   #7
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What do you want to play? If you want to play Hendrix, and Jazz rhythm and whatever else, then play however's most comfortable, however if you're wanting to be the next John Petrucci, or if you want to be a decent lead player, he's right. Personally, I'd never use it, and I would tell players that they're using poor technique if I saw them do it, however, the players I work with aren't blues players, so I may be biased.

One piece of advice I will give you is to learn both ways if you're into acoustic, or blues or whatever, I've seen so many players try to play more technical pieces with 'blues position', and wonder why they make no progress, so be wary of that.
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Junior#1
Just because it's common doesn't mean that it's right. Your thumb should be behind the neck 90% of the time. Only put it over the neck for more control with bends and vibrato, and specific chords that require it. And FYI, D/F# is not one of those chords. It's not really that hard to play with just your fingers.

In over 25 years I've never seen that chord played without use of the thumb. Teachers, professionals, amateurs, everyone I've seen does it. Whether it's right for you or not is a personal thing, it doesn't mean it isn't a valid technique.

At the end of the day, it was only an example to demonstrate that there's nothing wrong with using your thumb, don't get all worked up because you do something different.
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Old 03-09-2013, 02:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaysofGrace
I was just curious. I was playing with a buddy the other day and he was ripping on me for how I often use my thumb to fret bass notes (most often on the acoustic, but sometimes with my electric).

After being more vigilant about it, I noticed I tend to do it when I jump from doing something on the higher strings to a bass note.

It works (pretty well for that matter), but I was just curious as to what your guys' opinions are.


You can use it and i have seen it -and personally use it- for muting purposes more than playing ones but its a possibility.The whole point though is to be flexible and to be able to move your thumb freely depending on the situation....

For example if you want to play funk style guitar and especially skank style where you hit all the string but sound only one,then your thumb is a good solution to mute the two lower strings, but if you playing something faster the thumb must change position again behind the neck.For playing and actually fretting notes i would consider it as the last resort but never rule it out....dont forget also that the size of your hands matter...if you have huge hands then its certainly very comfortable,if you dont-like me- then you have to try it and see if it works for the situation at hand.
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:43 PM   #10
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I see no problem with it at all if it works fine and doesn't screw up your range etc

I don't fret with my thumb, I do however mute E and A a lot with it (when playing open chords with gain and every string goes to ring like ****) so I should probably start using it for fretting since it's already there a lot. I think it can be really useful to use your thumb, even more so if you can do stuff with and without it.
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:23 PM   #11
Sickz
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I prefer keeping my thumb behind the neck, but i will occasionally use it when it's needed for chord voicings where i need more fingers/to do chord grips more closer to eachother so i don't have to move around as much.

And of course when bending and doing vibrato.
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Old 03-09-2013, 07:29 PM   #12
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sometimes yea, but weird thing is it's not intentional, this happens to me when i do a unison bend and want to fret a chord after it, lets say F i thumb that,it works though
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:40 PM   #13
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chords are for dumb grandpa music
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:49 PM   #14
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For ages i kept my thumb over the neck, and it wasn't until about three years ago that i got out of it. I do still use the thumb when playing bluesy kind of stuff, but try to keep it down for the rest of the time.

So yeah, fretting notes with the thumb is fine, but don't become too reliant on the thumb over technique.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:25 PM   #15
dkunick
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Try playing Hey Joe or Yellow Ledbetter without this technique for starters...good luck.
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