Today I realized something that I hadn't realized in 4 years of playing guitar, when a friend pointed it out to me. I mainly play rock and blues with a Strat, and nearly all blues guitarists play with their whole hand grasping the neck, with their thumb bent over, sometimes even fretting the low E and A strings when playing higher notes. It's more of a 'claw grip' approach where the hand wraps around the neck.

All along I've been playing with my thumb squeezing the neck in between my fingers (more like holding a sandwich). Sometimes my thumb gets close to a claw grip but not each time I start to play higher notes and solos. The seemingly "correct" technique feels weird now, but it seems to make sense. If I am to adopt this playing style, will I have to undo 4 years of practice and start again? I'm feeling very frustrated now!

Are there any guitarists that use the 'sandwich' method, that do rock/blues soloing?
to be completely honest, the 'sandwich method' which you speak of is a much better way to play. you have much more reach with your fingers when your thumb is behind the neck than when it's above. the only thing you sacrifice would be your ability to bend super hard. but if you've been playing that way for 4 years im sure your muscles have already compensated for this and you can do bends and whatnot just fine.

in other words, you have an advantage playing that way.
I tend to alternate between the 2, since both positions have their advantages.

With the "correct" position i find my finger dexterity improves (by comparison). But with the thumb hooked over the fretboard you gain leverage for string bending, especially the tricky overbends that require a little strength.

This "leverage" from also gives you a good pivoting position from which to produce a powerful, wide vibrato. Watch Zakk Wylde playing and you'll see what i mean.
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I try to keep the tip of my thumb in the middle of the neck giving me counter-pressure better refference(if i extend my thumb and my pinky i cover 9 fretspaces). within those 9 spaces i get more speed(im kinda heavy-handed). having my thumb in the middle of the neck gives me more reach. i have tiny, baby, raccoon hands.
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gooooooooooooo sandwich technique! Its what most shredders use as it allows for easier stretching and having your fingers all lineup against the fretboard
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Thumb along the back of the neck is the 'correct' way. I play that way and teach my students to do so for the most part. There are certain chords that are only possible when the thumb is used and solos with extensive bending take advantage of a thumb over the top technique. My friend plays power chords on the 6th string with the thumb over the top which I think is ridiculous, it also explains why he has difficulty doing many of the things that would otherwise be easy to play.
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My friend plays power chords on the 6th string with the thumb over the top which I think is ridiculous

That IS ridiculous....surely that would be making things so much harder for himself? I cant think of any benefits in doing that.....just a whole load of drawbacks...
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the "sandwich" technique is the proper classical technique (violinists, violists, cellists etc. use it too) so no really aren't doing it wrong.

reaching the thumb over the neck to fret the low E has it's benefits for certain chords (the open D chord comes to mind) and using the claw technique helps with bends, but in general the sandwich technique is better.

I switch between them depending on what I'm doing.
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Last edited by Kid_Thorazine at May 9, 2008,
Quote by Gilmour_Wylde
I tend to alternate between the 2, since both positions have their advantages.

Me too, let's call this method the "Claw Sandwich" technique.
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i have huge hands so i can hold my guitar pretty much like a baseball bat with my thumb over the top for all sorts of things (i play bass that way too) but the sandwich thing is good for wide stretches so i switch
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