hey guys, as you can see, this is my first post, and i'm just after a little help

Having alot of spare time on my hands, i thought it should be put to good use, so i said "Hey, instead of dreaming about it, why don't you learn guitar". So i went out and got myself a second hand acoustic guitar (made sure i got something that had a bit of quality) and am now about 2 weeks in to my guitar playing life.

Teaching myself and learning everything off the net, (well, not so much the net, but this site basically!) and with the occasional help from a few mates, i am going along pretty well, and i want to make sure i begin with the correct techniques as to save me some grief in the long run.

So that (finally) brings me to my question, regarding the positioning of my left hand on the neck of the guitar. From what i've read in the lessons from this site, your thumb should be rested on the back of the guitar neck, a little bit above centre, as to give you greater reach, and in the end, greater speed going up and down the fret board.

BUT i've been making a point of watching the hands of guitarists i now see on TV and what not, and most of them seem to have there left hand in a more "baseball" grip, with their thumb resting on or hanging over the top of the fret board.

So basically i would like to know, which method is 'correct', and which should i practise and develop? Do different genres of music go better with different hand 'grips' of the neck?

Sorry if thats all a bit confusing, but i just wanna make sure i start out on the right path.

thanks guys
Last edited by smidicus at Apr 16, 2008,
You'll use several different grips depending on what you're doing. Bar chords and power chords you need to have thumb on the back of the neck to apply counter-pressure. But for open chords, you'll probably be more comfortable with the baseball grip. Soloing/single notes can be both. It really is a matter of personal preference.

Also the size of your hand is a factor. Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer have huge hands, so they almost only do the baseball grip and use their thumb to fret the top string to make power chords. To save yourself from learning any bad habits, pick up a guitar how-to book. They are surprisingly informative and can save you any embarrassment asking 'stupid questions' (thats what I thought at least)
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It's definitely to your advantage to learn to have your thumb on the back of the neck for the most part - it gives you greater reach over the fretboard. If you have your thumb in the "baseball"-type grip that you've seen, then your fingers flatten too much when you reach for the lower strings.

However, sometimes you do need to slide your thumb round to the top of the neck - it's possible to use the thumb to fret notes on the bass strings, for example in a variant of the D chord.
I think you should learn with the thumb behind the fretboard for your chords, then once you get more advanced pick up the thumb overhang technique because it really allows your fingers to do other things

e.g. sometimes you will play maybe only the bottom of a barre chord and toss in some frills, or some modal soloing

I think it really opens up the possibilities, but I learned the thumb behind the neck way first, then moved to the baseball sorta grip
Don't worry what your thumb is doing. You will naturally position your thumb where it needs to be based on what you're doing.
Guitar & Bass
thanks for the help so far guys

yeah i actually do have bigish hands, about 24cm/9.5" from the end of my thumb to the end of my pinky. I was told this would end up being an advantage in the long run

and yeah, i thought maybe i should just let my thumb do its own thing regarding what i was doing, but the first time i picked up my mates guitar and he was showing me a few tings, he kept telling me i needed to kind of bend my wrist around more, cos the way i was naturally holding it (baseball grip) made it kind of a struggle to do things properly.

So i try to keep telling myself to do that, as to develop a good habit, as opposed to doing what my hand naturally wants to, and then hitting a wall down the road when i try to take my skills (hopefully) to the next level.

thanks again guys!