How to place your thumb on the guitar


There aren't many guitar techniques that beginners, intermediate players and advanced guitar players are all talking about. You'd imagine an advanced player learning sweep picking for example, whereas a beginner might be trying to learn simple chords and an intermediate player trying to perfect scales. One thing that comes up in lessons time and time again though is thumb positioning, and this is important no matter where you are on the spectrum of learning. In this video and post, I discuss the importance of correct thumb positioning for lead and rhythm guitar playing. 


When you play lead guitar, your thumb position needs to change when you are playing scalar lines or bending strings. This is an interesting yet often overlooked element of guitar technique. When playing scalar passages, your thumb needs to be in the middle of the back of the neck, pointing upwards. When playing fast, intricate runs, you might find it is more appropriate to lower your thumb further down the neck, as shown in the video. When you are bending strings, things need to change.

To get a good grip on the guitar neck for string bending, you need to move the thumb to the top of the guitar neck so that your wrist and fingers can push the string skywards. Your thumb position on bending will make the difference between your bends reaching pitch or sounding out of key. Again, there is a description of this in the video. Finally, your thumb position can have quite a serious effect on your ability to play chords, especially barre chords, where your thumb must be in the middle of the back of the neck, as shown above.

Thumb positioning is a vital element in a clean guitar technique, so pay close attention to what yours is doing and adjust it if necessary.   


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