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#1
Sup UG.
well I made this thread just to ask the following,
lately when I start to play power chords progressions my left hand starts to hurt
in my palm(lower section area) and the pain gets worse as I keep playing so I have to stop,
this only happens with chords, this problem doesn't present itself when i'm playing lead sections(solos, melodies, whatever doesn't involve leaving my hand in a fixed position)
so I was wondering if i'm either developing tendinitis(which would incredibly suck) or if I'm just messing up with my fretting hand technique for chords(since the pain only comes when I leave the hand in a fixed position) unfortunately I don't have access to a camera so I can't actually show you guys how i'm holding it but it is basically thumb behind neck position ALWAYS. I never got the habit of playing with my thumb over neck, so the question is, Is this a sign of tendonitis or am I just using an awkward position? if that's the case, what's the proper left hand position to play powerchords/chords in general.
#2
It could be your technique. I use the thumb over neck technique and i don't have any problems at all.

Edit: I'd recommend switching to thumb over neck anyway. I feel that it gives you more control over the guitar, but that is just my humble opinion
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Last edited by slash4114 at Dec 27, 2009,
#3
I usually always play with my thumb over the neck for power chords....and behind the neck for solos etc etc
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#4
That's not tendinitis. I'm guessing your hand is just cramping up. Adjust your hand position and thumb position and see if that helps. You may also just have to build up some strength in that hand.

Stop the second you feel pain. Only play until your muscles are fatigued.
#5
Quote by slash4114
It could be your technique. I use the thumb over neck technique and i don't have any problems at all.

Edit: I'd recommend switching to thumb over neck anyway. I feel that it gives you more control over the guitar, but that is just my humble opinion



+1

This is just yet another case of the thumb behind the neck technique screwing everything up. To the OP, obviously stop doing whatever's hurting you.
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#6
well then I guess it is time to relearn and kill an habit that's been developed during 4 years of playing...shouldn't be too hard

Thanks for all the replies so far people.
#7
What I would suggest is to simply experiment and figure out what works naturally for your hand size, neck profile and playing style. You will find there are time when having your thumb behind the neck makes sense. But there are other times when it just doesn't work very well. And if it's hurting you, you're doing something wrong.
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#8
know of any guide towards chord playing?
some guide to learn how to play with thumb over neck, since my teacher always taught me thumb behind it.
#9
I'm not aware of a guide. Just give it a go.
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#10
Quote by Even Bigger D
+1

This is just yet another case of the thumb behind the neck technique screwing everything up. To the OP, obviously stop doing whatever's hurting you.

I'm genuinely surprised to see such a woefully misinformed comment coming from you.

TS, there's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your thumb behind the neck, strictly speaking that's "correct" technique, especially for power chords which are in essence just barre chords with the tops lopped off. More importantly a lot of us simply don't have long enough fingers to play E string powerchords with the thumb over the neck. However doing something else wrong can cause you problems - for starters are you sitting or standing, how high/low is the guitar on your body, how angled is the neck and what kind of guitar is it?
Actually called Mark!

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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 28, 2009,
#11
Quote by steven seagull
for starters are you sitting or standing, how high/low is the guitar on your body, how angled is the neck and what kind of guitar is it?


Yo, I usually play sitting, I position the guitar on my left leg, i'm a right handed player, I try to hold the neck in a neutral position, not lifting it or anything, and my guitar is a Dean Razorback.
The pain usually comes when playing in the 1-5 fret section, and crazy chord stretches(4 note stretches like from 6 to 10. anything above that is fine. also I notice that while initially my thumb is exactly behind the beck, after a few chord progressions it ends up pointing towards the headstock for some stretches and that's where it mainly starts to hurt.

This image is not me but this is how I play powerchords pretty much. but like I said for some chords where I have to stretch my hand my thumb ends up pointing towards the headstock, the red circle shows the area where I get the pain.

http://img121.imageshack.us/i/frethand.jpg/
#12
There's your problem then...if your wrist is like that wrist then it's way too bent, you need to angle the guitar neck upwards a bit so it straightens out a bit. However you may be better off standing, guitars like the Razorback aren't desgned for playing sitting down and they tend not to sit in a comfortable position.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 28, 2009,
#13
I get that cramp too. It used to come on really fast...but I'm building strength. When the cramp comes, try to relax your hand, while still playing (try to use the lightest touch possible to still get the chords clean). Sometimes I even take my thumb off the neck, and just play a few bars with my fingers. It's hard to get the sound clean, but it gives my hand a chance to relax the cramp while still playing.
#14
There's your problem then...if your wrist is like that wrist then it's way too bent, you need to angle the guitar neck upwards a bit so it straightens out a bit. However you may be better off standing, guitars like the Razorback aren't desgned for playing sitting down and they tend not to sit in a comfortable position.

Oh alright I'll try that. I'll try to get a hold of a camera today and take a picture of my actual hand. by the way is my thumb is supposed to be always straight behind the back? or am I doing the wrong thing by twisting it a bit to the left during some stretches?



I get that cramp too. It used to come on really fast...but I'm building strength. When the cramp comes, try to relax your hand, while still playing (try to use the lightest touch possible to still get the chords clean). Sometimes I even take my thumb off the neck, and just play a few bars with my fingers. It's hard to get the sound clean, but it gives my hand a chance to relax the cramp while still playing.

Ah I see. I believe I end up applying too much pressure when I bend my hand like that and I suppose that's probably what's causing the pain.
#15
My thumb ends up pointing towards the headstock when I do power chords and stretches from frets 1-5. I dunno if that's bad or good, but it seems to happen on its own.
#16
Quote by steven seagull
I'm genuinely surprised to see such a woefully misinformed comment coming from you.


That's nice. I'm hardly misinformed. Fact is, the VAST majority of successful electrical guitar players put their thumb behind the neck only when they need to do so for reach reasons. The rest of the time, it's over the top for ergonomic and strength reasons. Wrapping your thumb over the top IS correct technique, as shown by decades of the best electric guitarists the world has ever seen. Bedroom shredders on message boards don't really get a say compared to that.
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#17
My problem with the thumb over the fretboard is that I can't reach all the strings with my fingers then...and I have long fingers.
#18
Quote by Commodor 64
My problem with the thumb over the fretboard is that I can't reach all the strings with my fingers then...and I have long fingers.


That's funny - when I put my fingers on a low string power chord, and wrap my hand around the neck, my thumb sticks over well past the knuckle. And I don't have particularly big hands. I wouldn't actually play a power chord that way - it's kind of awkward. But hand size shouldn't be an issue, at least for men.
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#20
Quote by Even Bigger D
That's nice. I'm hardly misinformed. Fact is, the VAST majority of successful electrical guitar players put their thumb behind the neck only when they need to do so for reach reasons. The rest of the time, it's over the top for ergonomic and strength reasons. Wrapping your thumb over the top IS correct technique, as shown by decades of the best electric guitarists the world has ever seen. Bedroom shredders on message boards don't really get a say compared to that.

It's not "correct" technique at all - it's a perfectly valid and acceptable thing to do, but strictly speaking playing with the thumb behind the neck is correct. However, to seemingly imply that playing with the thumb behind the neck causes problems is nonsense - and for anything involving barres or part barres I wouldn't recommend doing anything else.

Quote by Even Bigger D
That's funny - when I put my fingers on a low string power chord, and wrap my hand around the neck, my thumb sticks over well past the knuckle. And I don't have particularly big hands. I wouldn't actually play a power chord that way - it's kind of awkward. But hand size shouldn't be an issue, at least for men.

That's funny, there's no way in hell I can comfortably fret a powerchord along the low E with my thumb over the fretboard.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 28, 2009,
#21
Quote by steven seagull
It's not "correct" technique at all - it's a perfectly valid and acceptable thing to do, but strictly speaking playing with the thumb behind the neck is correct.


Nope. This is nonsense taken from classical guitar (which is totally different ergonomics wise) and bedroom shredders who have never tried to put their theories into practice. Correct is determined by what actually works, and decades of the best players have proven that to be thumb over the top.
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#22
Quote by Even Bigger D
Nope. This is nonsense taken from classical guitar (which is totally different ergonomics wise) and bedroom shredders who have never tried to put their theories into practice. Correct is determined by what actually works, and decades of the best players have proven that to be thumb over the top.

Would you like some salt and vinegar to go with that chip on your shoulder?
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#23
Quote by steven seagull
Would you like some salt and vinegar to go with that chip on your shoulder?

I'm just pointing out the truth. If you don't like it, that's your problem.
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#24
if you want to remain in the correct technique category while doing the chords, try the horizontal thumb pointing towards the headstock or angle your neck higher.

you need to get your wrist straighter(neck angle will fix this) or may be alleviate the tension in your wrist by relaxing your grip by point your thumb towards the headstock.

the over the thumb thing fixes the pain for me, but it messes everything else for me because im not used to it. but fyi, i am still having wrist pains cause i am trying to break my habit of low neck angle
#25
alright guys I managed to get my camera back so here's the pics of how im power chording.
This is the position I use for all my power/barred chords(though the thumb varies as it could be lower or inclined, but never above the neck).



This is the same chord(F#5) but from the back:

and finally same chord but from above:


anyone see anything wrong?
#26
It's more a matter of how it feels and sounds than how it looks. But I certainly wouldn't want to try to get my thumb that far down.
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#27
To be honest you probably just need to build up some strength in those hands, and stretch properly before you get to playing. I use to get a Loy of cramping when I first began utilizing power chords, now I can play for a solid two hours and still not get cramped up. Listen to the Seagull and keep with the thumb behind the neck.

I have to agree with Mark, trying to wrap my thumb around the neck during anything but for muting the low e during regular chords is absolutely dreadful - really bugs.
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#28
The important thing is not the thumb position but the angle of the wrist - you need to try lifting the neck or slightly repositioning the guitar until you can get your wrist straighter. It doesn't have to be absolutely straight and you'll always get some bend on the lower strings and lowest frets but it'll help.

D, in what ways would you say classical guitar is ergonomically different to electric? I can offer up string bends and the frequency of barre techniques, but I'd be curious as to what else...
#29
Quote by Freepower

D, in what ways would you say classical guitar is ergonomically different to electric? I can offer up string bends and the frequency of barre techniques, but I'd be curious as to what else...


First off, a 2" neck width (vs. 1-11/16 or 1-5/8 for electric) means that putting your thumb over the top is harder. Second, the neck is very thick front to back, again changing the way you hold it. Third, the neck is much shorter - most classicals have a 12th fret neck joint. Fourth, the neck is farther out from your body due to the body thickness. Fifth, and most importantly, classical is always played sitting down, typically with a stool, whereas electric is almost always played standing up, at least for performance.
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#30
Aye, can't argue with that. I've never really been too troubled by differences in guitars except real extremes so I never really adjust my technique all that much. (to the frustration of both my classical teacher and to you old school rockers. )
#31
Quote by CL/\SH
To be honest you probably just need to build up some strength in those hands, and stretch properly before you get to playing. I use to get a Loy of cramping when I first began utilizing power chords, now I can play for a solid two hours and still not get cramped up. Listen to the Seagull and keep with the thumb behind the neck.

I have to agree with Mark, trying to wrap my thumb around the neck during anything but for muting the low e during regular chords is absolutely dreadful - really bugs.


know of any illustrative vids for hand warm up stretching?
I recall seein ga very good one posted here a while ago, it had a thrash metal guitarist showing what he did before playing but I can't seem to find it anymore lol.
#32
How does your hand position change for proper bending technique? I have read that to do bends, the pivot should be between the pointer/thumb where a "V" shape is. If your thumb is pressed against the neck(not grabbing the neck like a grip) vertically or horizontally with the neck, does one just switch hand positions during bends?
#34
Quote by Freepower
Yeah, basically you switch to thumb over the neck for bends.



Yeah, if it's not already over the neck, it will have to be for any bend that requires any strength. If you play music with a lot of bends (say, faux pedal steel licks in country) you're pretty much going to have to have it over the top 100% of the time.
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#35
As an aside, I'd like to point out that most of those who D has quoted as being "the vast majority of successful electric guitar players" are rock/blues/country players who obviously have adapted a more "folk" style. The "correct" technique is classical technique, thumb behind the neck, simply because the only people who have any say in "correct" technique are the classical musicians who've been doing it much longer.

If you'll notice, while the thumb over the top musicians have grand and illustrious careers, it's the ones that either predominately use behind the neck grip or switch to it often that play the more technical, demanding music. For nearly all fast or technical solos guitarists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, etc switch from above the neck to behind, which should just prove that it is the more efficient and economical technique.

It's similar to saying that "a lot of successful punk and grunge acts only downpicked, alternate picking's just asking for trouble." While downpicking is a successful tool in certain scenarios, it fails to alternate picking at any speed above dotted-eighth or so at moderate tempo :lol:
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#37
Quote by Freepower
Funny you should say that after I just watched the "Massacre Riff" section of the Berzerker DVD where they're downpicking powerchords at 140 in 16ths.


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#39
Could be your action is a little high or your neck's not setup great? I still get pain like that doing power chords all night if I'm using a crappy setup guitar.
About the thumb, I'm always changing where my thumb is because it depends on a lot of things. I was just learning some Malmsteen 3 string sweep down the neck and can play it both ways but still can't decide the better way for me, behind seems cleaner but then it's a pain to change position for the bends he does so I'm keeping it over for now, as he does on this lick to. Lots of great players keep it over most of the time for leads and it seems to give more emotion to your leads, but behind is more agile and better reach and possibly better overall speed and accuracy. I can't really think of any guitarists that keep it over for power chords, that seems kinda awkward to me.
#40
It looks like you're putting way too much strain on your hand in the first pic. If that is a "power chord," try barring the 5th and 4th strings with one finger. It should make it easier on the hands.
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