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  #1  
Old 11-18-2021, 06:26 PM
BarChord BarChord is offline
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Default Fat & Frustrated with Fret Hand Position

I just purchased a new Gibson J-45 after not playing for 30+ years. I just decided that I wanted to play again, and treated myself to what I thought would be a very nice acoustic guitar for me.

My problem is that my big belly is not allowing me to find a comfortable playing position. I know that this J-45 is has a little shorter neck than other dreadnoughts. My fret hand just cannot seem to get under the neck with my thumb in back. I have tried raising my strap and playing higher. Nothing is comfortable. I'm muting strings and I am really frustrated. And, this is only day one of my new adventure in guitar playing.

Sitting down is not working for me, even with a strap. So, I am standing and hoping to find a playing position that will help my fret hand. Every position so far feels like excessive hand bending to make chords with my thumb in back. It hurts and I am muting strings like crazy!

Any advice, short of losing weight is appreciated!
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:50 PM
Rogerblair Rogerblair is offline
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Day one? Give it two to three weeks. It WILL get easier, just don’t push yourself into a painful state. Back off if it starts hurting, then ease back in.

Rb
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Old 11-18-2021, 07:10 PM
JonWer JonWer is offline
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Have you tried a classical guitar position?
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:23 PM
ssynhorst ssynhorst is offline
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There are two very fine guitarists that are very burly: Scott Tennant and Richard Smith. You could check their positions on You Tube.

But I observe that they both place the guitar sloping upward about 30 degrees and with the upper bout close to the chin. The right bicep rests on the lower bout which requires the guitar neck to extend well to the left.

They sometimes use an aid to hold the instrument in position, but not always. I find a strap to the head stock to allow most any position.

But I predict that some positions that are painful now will in six month's time be easy peasy. Or maybe a year later. - Stevo
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Old 11-19-2021, 06:21 AM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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See JP Cormier's videos. Quite the gut on that chap and he plays like a monster in any position!
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Old 11-19-2021, 07:41 AM
DownUpDave DownUpDave is offline
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As others have said the very long lay off is the main culprit. Give it time, lots of time and patient practice. Keep at it and it will come, that Gibson is a beaut, congratulations

Try standing with the guitar neck up at a 45* angle, classical guitar position. This takes away the need to bend the wrist so much.
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Old 11-19-2021, 08:53 AM
PaulVA PaulVA is offline
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Another person's playing position you may check out is Uwe Kruger of the Kruger Brothers. He is a big guy who has adapted his style to accommodate, his playing is great as well.
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:48 AM
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I'm a little on the chunky side ( ) and I wear a strap, play seated. I have the guitar centered on my body with the neck up. Not sky high up, but up there.
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogerblair View Post
Day one? Give it two to three weeks. It WILL get easier, just don’t push yourself into a painful state. Back off if it starts hurting, then ease back in.

Rb
I agree with this. When I was large I faced the same issues - but with a little time invested, it became comfortable.
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:33 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarChord View Post
I just purchased a new Gibson J-45 after not playing for 30+ years. I just decided that I wanted to play again, and treated myself to what I thought would be a very nice acoustic guitar for me.

My problem is that my big belly is not allowing me to find a comfortable playing position. I know that this J-45 is has a little shorter neck than other dreadnoughts. My fret hand just cannot seem to get under the neck with my thumb in back. I have tried raising my strap and playing higher. Nothing is comfortable. I'm muting strings and I am really frustrated. And, this is only day one of my new adventure in guitar playing.

Sitting down is not working for me, even with a strap. So, I am standing and hoping to find a playing position that will help my fret hand. Every position so far feels like excessive hand bending to make chords with my thumb in back. It hurts and I am muting strings like crazy!

Any advice, short of losing weight is appreciated!
What are you sitting on? Does it effect how the lower bout sits? Is the height adjustable? Try putting a foot riser under your foot. (the guitar case will do)
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:54 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarChord View Post
I just purchased a new Gibson J-45 after not playing for 30+ years. I just decided that I wanted to play again, and treated myself to what I thought would be a very nice acoustic guitar for me.

My fret hand just cannot seem to get under the neck with my thumb in back. I have tried raising my strap and playing higher. Nothing is comfortable. I'm muting strings and I am really frustrated. And, this is only day one of my new adventure in guitar playing.

Every position so far feels like excessive hand bending to make chords with my thumb in back. It hurts and I am muting strings like crazy!

Any advice, short of losing weight is appreciated!

Here's a crazy idea - don't insist on positioning your thumb on the back of the neck! Many of us play with the fretting hand thumb along the side of the neck. Some people even wrap their thumb to grab the low G note.

I have long fingers and thumbs. My thumb doesn't go on the back of the neck on fiddle, ukulele, mandolin, banjo or guitar. Sits opposite my index finger tip so my hand makes a U that the neck fits in - but I keep the palm and thumb web clear of the neck. As my first violin teacher taught me, there should be enough space for a chubby mouse to run through the gap between the back of the neck and the U shape.

Last edited by Mandobart; 11-19-2021 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 11-19-2021, 11:22 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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First question: Was the guitar setup?

Gibson Acoustics don't come factory fresh with a very exact setup.

The action is almost always too high for the average player.

I'd seriously get it looked at, as soon as you can.

this shouldn't be a Cage Death Match between you and that guitar.

I also agree with some of the other comments where you're not giving yourself very little room time wise to feel like you can get going again. 30 years is a long time away from it.

1: Get a setup
2: Take it one day at a time
3: Come back and tell us how it's going this time next month.
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Old 11-19-2021, 11:37 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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I play fingerstyle in seated posture as I first learned on classical guitar.

My growing belly came to cause some problems, particularly when I came
to bigger folk guitars : I can now say that playing classical style on a fourteen
fret dreadnough seated on a big belly was not a good idea.

I took personal lessons to improve my fingerstyle technique and the first thing
I was coached to change was the thigh my guitar would lye on : right thigh for
a right hander.

Now, what about fretting?
Do you also have big hands ? How is the string spacing at nut ?
This is purely a geometry matter.

Now, is the action ?
If it is too high, you will mute strings: Again, it is just a matter of geometry.

Finally, it seems I had developed some limitation at turning my hands upward
horizontally. I guess It came with age and inward twisting at golf ! It took me
some three months to come to put my hands horizontally with palms up again.

As I came to understand what was better for me, I left the dreadnough aside.
I now play orchestra bodies with 1 3/4" nut width (2" on classical guitars),
twelve fretters in classical posture, fourteen fretters on the other thigh.

My technical skill improved over months, so one has to be patient.
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  #14  
Old 11-23-2021, 02:35 PM
BarChord BarChord is offline
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The Gibson Dealer told me that the J-45 was setup at the factory before it was delivered to them.
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:48 PM
Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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BarChord, welcome to the AGF. There's something called a "NeckUp Guitar Support" that sits on your lap and you put the guitar on it. I wonder if that would help?

https://www.neckup.com/Products/NeckUp/GS-1.html
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