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Old 01-29-2021, 11:46 AM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Default Recalcitrant thumb

Friends, I have started learning some basic finger style technique. One of the early challenges is keeping my thumb “ahead” of my other fingers so that the fingers can pick “under” the thumb.
Thanks for any suggestions to train the digit.
David
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Old 01-29-2021, 11:58 AM
PeterM PeterM is offline
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Yep, me too. In that hand position, there is no way to palm mute and I end up plucking the strings too much. A real bad habit I am working on.

A thumb pick helps tremendously, I just cannot seem to find one that fits my fat thumb properly.
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Old 01-29-2021, 12:02 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Referring back to https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=544591

Is that still an issue?

Generally (some exceptions) don't use your thumb to play scales.

Keep right hand thumb to the left of the fingers by how you angle your wrist. No doubt several videos on youtube you could watch concerning this topic.
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Old 01-29-2021, 12:58 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Referring back to https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=544591

Is that still an issue?

Generally (some exceptions) don't use your thumb to play scales.

Keep right hand thumb to the left of the fingers by how you angle your wrist. No doubt several videos on youtube you could watch concerning this topic.
Derek, thanks for that blast from the past. I posted that in a different world nearly two years ago. It does not specifically address the thumb position issue, but was good to revisit.
David
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Old 01-29-2021, 01:51 PM
NormanKliman NormanKliman is offline
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Keep your thumb to one side, play some bass notes and play something else with your other fingers on the other strings. That’s all there is to it. The alternating index-middle technique in Derek’s video is a good starting place and just one thing you could try. This exercise is a little harder, as it combines thumb, index and middle, which might be what you’re looking for.

You can use just about any exercise or simple arrangement for practice, or just make up a pattern that you can commit to memory. Spend 10 hours a week playing that and it won’t be long before it feels more natural.

One of my favorite guitarists kept his thumb behind the other fingers, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to play that way.
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Old 01-29-2021, 02:15 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Thanks, Norman. I will spend some time with those exudes. They will help my reading as well.
Cheers
David
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Old 03-18-2021, 05:53 AM
Backyarder Backyarder is offline
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Newbie here so apologies if this is answered elsewhere (please direct me if so!). I have this same problem. I have picked up the acoustic guitar again in lockdown after many years and really practised in earnest on fingerpicking. To my ears I have improved a lot! What I didn't do though was watch videos or study any practical guides on literal right hand position, just fingerpicked my way through music and by sound. This week, I went on youtube to see if I could find a tutorial to improve speed and accuracy and to my dismay I see the first lesson almost everywhere is "get your right hand in the correct position" (i.e. fingers should not be in front of thumb and thumb shouldn't tuck under, or bend as I do). Even watching my guitar heroes in detail fingerpicking I see them all adopt the proper method, and it's brought back memories of revisiting the piano a few years ago when a tutor told me I basically could plod on playing the piano like the drums (!) or 'unlearn and start again', and to a lesser extent the same being said to me by a golf instructor regarding my swing! I need to start again :-(

The reason I'm posting though is to understand something I can't find online anywhere!

What is it exactly I am going to be missing out on by NOT changing my right hand and fingers to the 'correct' position? My assumption is it must be one of, if not all of: speed, tone and accuracy that I am compromising? is there also a comfort/risk of injury factor?

I am reminded on other threads that there is nothing wrong with having your own style and arguably the 'greats' in almost everything you can think of are unconventional in some way in how they do things (I am not saying I am in any way great at guitar ) but I don't want to not go through the process without understanding the consequences and how I'm potentially limiting my playing.

Looking forward to any thoughts or words of wisdom! Thank you.
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Old 03-18-2021, 06:19 AM
NormanKliman NormanKliman is offline
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For most beginners, playing’s easier when they hold their hands in “wrong” ways. When your hands are stronger, playing’s easier with the “right” positions, but it takes a while to get there, maybe a few years, and you know what they say about old habits.

In this case, it’s been made very clear upthread that if your thumb is behind or under your fingers, it’s going to bump into them. Your thumb doesn’t have to “stick out” much. In my case, it’s more or less the part with the nail that sticks out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backyarder View Post
...arguably the 'greats' in almost everything you can think of are unconventional in some way in how they do things
I don't think that's true. It's going to depend on what we're talking about exactly. (For starters, an image of your right hand in action would help a lot.) Typically, when hands and fingers are flailing around in the air, they're being used inefficiently. Maybe the guitarist is just going to strum some simple chords and can get away with it, but if you want to go further you'll have to avoid the flailing and wasted effort.

Compare it to martial arts. What do you think will happen if you invent your own way of doing things?
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:33 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backyarder View Post
What is it exactly I am going to be missing out on by NOT changing my right hand and fingers to the 'correct' position? My assumption is it must be one of, if not all of: speed, tone and accuracy that I am compromising? is there also a comfort/risk of injury factor?
The issue with thumb inside the fingers - i.e., thumb picking inward towards the palm instead of fingers doing that - is the risk of collision between thumb and fingers, because they pick in opposite directions, sometimes on neigbouring strings at the same time.
If the fingers pick inward toward the palm, with the thumb outside the index, that can't happen.

If your thumb and fingers all manage to pick past each other in your position without touching - whatever it is you're playing - then stay with your method. I have seen amateurs play in (what I assume is) your position. They are never very good, but within the limits they have it seems to work.

I don't think there is any risk of physical pain or injury - although the picking angle may not be the most efficient one.
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Old 03-19-2021, 05:49 AM
JERZEY JERZEY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
Friends, I have started learning some basic finger style technique. One of the early challenges is keeping my thumb “ahead” of my other fingers so that the fingers can pick “under” the thumb.
Thanks for any suggestions to train the digit.
David
Position is everything. Is your neck level with the floor? Lift that neck. Even if you wrap your thumb. As you raise the neck away from your fret hand leg the natural attack angle of both your hands will allow you to keep both wrists straight and the result is your thumb will naturally move out away from your palm in the direction of the sound hole. Secondly dont be afraid to experiment with arm rests. We all naturally tend to lay our picking arms on our guitars. Arm rests are a great way to elevate your elbow. Once you train your brain on that angle of attack you will see yourself lifting your picking elbow off the guitar more and more.
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Old 03-19-2021, 04:56 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JERZEY View Post
Position is everything. Is your neck level with the floor? Lift that neck. Even if you wrap your thumb. As you raise the neck away from your fret hand leg the natural attack angle of both your hands will allow you to keep both wrists straight and the result is your thumb will naturally move out away from your palm in the direction of the sound hole. Secondly dont be afraid to experiment with arm rests. We all naturally tend to lay our picking arms on our guitars. Arm rests are a great way to elevate your elbow. Once you train your brain on that angle of attack you will see yourself lifting your picking elbow off the guitar more and more.
OP here. Obliged for the practical advise. I will def incorporate your suggestions.
David
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Old 03-20-2021, 10:37 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JERZEY View Post
We all naturally tend to lay our picking arms on our guitars.
If it's good enough for Segovia, and any other virtuoso I care to mention...

I will thoroughly support your other advice though. Raising the neck, in particular, can fix all kinds of issues with either hand.

Other devices to fix the guitar's position may well be advisable, of course - from the classical player's footstool, to the jazz player's shoulder strap, to that NeckUp thing you set on your thigh to raise the guitar, to actual floor stands to hold the guitar while you stand behind it.
Pretty much all of them are designed to hold the guitar higher than the "lazy" position on your leg (either leg) while sitting on a normal chair.

But the arm resting on top of the guitar is (IMO) a really important element in keeping the guitar in place, stopping it moving around accidentally while playing. I.e, in classical position the guitar is wedged between both legs and the right arm, as well as held back against the body. The right arm is essential there. The left hand can't be required to support the guitar because that will inhibit its movement on the fretboard.

If the right arm is going to rest on an arm rest (and I do understand how that might improve right hand angle) - and not touch the guitar - then something else needs to fix the guitar in position. Maybe you could show an image of what you mean?
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Old 03-22-2021, 05:03 AM
Backyarder Backyarder is offline
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Thanks for the comments back on the initial thread question and on my question. Very helpful. I've been trying to switch to the more standard finger/thumb position. As Norman pointed out, it's hard (old habits!) One thing I can definitely notice straight away is the difference in power you get from the fingers playing into the palm compared to more outstretched, and in turn this definitely lends itself to more expression. The point on raising the neck intuitively forces that finger movement too which is helpful too!
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Old 03-22-2021, 07:09 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backyarder View Post
One thing I can definitely notice straight away is the difference in power you get from the fingers playing into the palm compared to more outstretched
There you go!

The most power comes from the fingers (and thumb) picking at right angles to the strings, although it doesn't have be exactly 90 degrees. In older classical technique, as well as the guitar neck being up at 45 degrees, the right wrist would be bent a little to get the fingers at exact right angles to the strings. In modern classical technique it's regarded as more important to have a straight, relaxed wrist, even if it puts the fingers at a slight angle.

Good detailed demo of classical position here:
https://youtu.be/H1R1y0Aahls?t=89
(He mentions the old right hand method at 4:00)

Obviously you can be a bit more liberal with that for folk and blues! But the principles are worth bearing in mind.
So, if you hold the guitar on the right leg, the neck will naturally be at a lower angle, but the angles of both right and left hands relative to the strings will be very similar.
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Old 03-23-2021, 06:01 AM
JERZEY JERZEY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
If the right arm is going to rest on an arm rest (and I do understand how that might improve right hand angle) - and not touch the guitar - then something else needs to fix the guitar in position. Maybe you could show an image of what you mean?
Relating to positioning Im sure some mix of new and old may be the answer for most of us.

Relating to arm rests. I have tried just about every type I can find online. You are still laying your arm on the armrest and by proxy still holding the guitar in the same way. Most arm rests do little more then smooth out the area your arm contacts the guitar. The ones I enjoy offer at least one inch of elevation. That seamed to be what I needed. So holding the guitar was never a problem.
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