Registered User
Join date: Jan 2005
26 IQ
Apologies in advance if this thread has been done a million times before. I did a bit of a search before I wrote this but still ended up unsure about a few things.

I've been playing for about 11 months now. In the last 4 months or so I've began to dabble in the world of lead guitar. I had a teacher for 3 months but had to end the lessons for the moment due to study commitments. As the months have progressed I noticed my guitar playing ability was increasing, but now i feel as if i have hit a bit of a stump, and I think it may be due to my utter confusion as to what to do with my THUMB!

I am playing a Epiphone Les Paul Custom Plus, which I love. To all the experts out there, what is the best thumb technique? I have seen some professional lead players play their entire lead work with their thumb gripping the top of the neck (Slash from Guns N Roses comes to mind), however instructional books and the like seem to say the only way to do it is with the thumb behind the neck. Please give me the answer! I feel once i have sorted out this simple but solid foundation to my playing, the world of guitar will seem a lot clearer
Adbot Sympathiser
Join date: May 2005
21 IQ
Do whichever you're more comfortable with, if you try n have it on the back of the neck and you feel you cant play like that, dont put it there, Or if you try and keep it right over the top, and cant, again, dont put it like that.
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UG's only Canadian
Join date: Oct 2005
36 IQ
I tend to switch back and forth depending on what feels most comfortable with what im doing. I never thought about it too much, I just do it. For most lead guitar work I keep my thumb in the middle of the back of the neck. Just do what feels comfortable.

Registered User
Join date: Sep 2005
132 IQ
I have always felt that the music your playing dictates the thumb position. If you are playing a solo in only about 2 or 3 frets then you can usually wrap that thumb pretty good and dig in. if you are moving aroung a lot I favor the clamp style, and also for playing higher strings I clamp the thumb in the middle of the neck
Join date: Apr 2005
200 IQ
I never wrap my thumb around the neck because I've found that doing so increases hand tension and a definite reduction in mobility.
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
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UG Newbie
Join date: Sep 2003
401 IQ
what i have noticed is that most of the old lead guitarists as you've mentioned play with the thumb on top, but shred masters like satch and vai play with the thumb just parallel to the neck. playing with the thumb over the neck helps especially for bends and playing on the 1st and 2nd strings. in the end its what you find comfortable.
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UG God
Join date: Jul 2003
1,732 IQ
Actually you should be able to bend just as well with the thumb behind the neck.

I find that keeping your hand off the neck (save for fingertips and thumb tip) is the best way to go.