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Thread: Using thumb to fret

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Default Using thumb to fret

    Hi everyone,

    Is using the left thumb to fret OK or is it frown upon? Eg. changing from Em to Am chord, I found myself naturally using the my left thumb for the Am. Is that bad form? Am I starting a bad habit?

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    There is nothing wrong with using your thumb to fret. You don't have to do it all the time, just when it is needed.
    If you are learning a style and a teacher or book says not to use it, obviously you need to follow the guidance of the teacher to learn the lesson, but it is not a life sentence. After you finish the lessons or when you do something else, you can use your thumb if it works for you.
    Thanks, that makes me feel less guilty.
    Tenor:
    Mya Moe Classic Koa #2052 (Low G)

    Concert:
    Loprinzi Nova MS-C Mahogany/Spruce, , Knaile'a KPA C Premium Koa (CGDA), Kiwaya KMC-K Koa, Pono RC-C-PC Cedar/Rosewood (Low G), Kala Waterman KA CWB Green

    Long Neck Soprano:
    KoAloha KSM-02 Koa

    Soprano:
    Lanikai LU-21 Laminate Mahogany (My Very First Uke!), Kamaka Pineapple 100th Anniversary Koa (Low G), Maui Music SK-41 "Pre-Fire" Koa, Ohana SK 50G Cedar/Rosewood, Kala KA ASAC-S Acacia

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    I frown upon it and would never teach it, because thumb wrapping makes you grip the neck and change hand position drastically, both of which affect the speed and accuracy of chord changing and position shifting. On an instrument like the uke, where you have a finger for every string, thumb-wrapping is entirely unnecesssary—you're using an expedient which may help in the short term, but which will impede you later, rather than developing the flexibility you'll need for yet harder chords and faster changes/shifts.
    Balalaikas.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    I frown upon it and would never teach it, because thumb wrapping makes you grip the neck and change hand position drastically, both of which affect the speed and accuracy of chord changing and position shifting. On an instrument like the uke, where you have a finger for every string, thumb-wrapping is entirely unnecesssary—you're using an expedient which may help in the short term, but which will impede you later, rather than developing the flexibility you'll need for yet harder chords and faster changes/shifts.
    Ditto. Don't panic, but definitely something to move away from. ...Unless you're Benny Chong (look him up). But he actually frets with his thumb on the front of the neck!
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  5. #5
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    Default

    It isn't something I do, and not something I see very many other ukulele players do. It always looked awkward, the few ukulele players that I've seen trying to do it. But what the heck, I say go for it. I saw a video of a gal with no arms playing a guitar with her feet. It looked awkward, but she was doing pretty well. So I guess you can teach yourself to do anything if you want to bad enough.
    Last edited by Rllink; 10-27-2017 at 10:42 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Default

    Hi, Lapyang!

    I think your Em and Am are like these below.



    In similar case, thumb for Am is natural.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zztush View Post
    Hi, Lapyang!

    I think your Em and Am are like these below.



    In similar case, thumb for Am is natural.
    This is exactly the way it happened!!!
    Thanks for the special pictures!

  8. #8
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    Wow thanks everybody, all these comments really help. I am glad to be a member of UU.
    Tenor:
    Mya Moe Classic Koa #2052 (Low G)

    Concert:
    Loprinzi Nova MS-C Mahogany/Spruce, , Knaile'a KPA C Premium Koa (CGDA), Kiwaya KMC-K Koa, Pono RC-C-PC Cedar/Rosewood (Low G), Kala Waterman KA CWB Green

    Long Neck Soprano:
    KoAloha KSM-02 Koa

    Soprano:
    Lanikai LU-21 Laminate Mahogany (My Very First Uke!), Kamaka Pineapple 100th Anniversary Koa (Low G), Maui Music SK-41 "Pre-Fire" Koa, Ohana SK 50G Cedar/Rosewood, Kala KA ASAC-S Acacia

  9. #9
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    Default

    When I started playing guitar in 1965, I was told that using the thumb is poor technique. The best leverage for the fingers is to keep the thumb on the back of the neck. Once I started doing that, my playing got better and easier, and it works even better for me on the ukulele.


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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    When I started playing guitar in 1965, I was told that using the thumb is poor technique. The best leverage for the fingers is to keep the thumb on the back of the neck. Once I started doing that, my playing got better and easier, and it works even better for me on the ukulele.
    Maybe, but I am not at all so sure about that.
    I saw a guy make videos for beginners telling exactly that: Thumb always behind the neck you keep!
    It looked like he is a fingerpicker mostly. Things like slamming uke body for effects, might make him drop the neck. It looks also so darn unsupported, like some circus trick. Makes even less relaxed to see that kind of hold for me.

    Classical guitar is not in anyways supported with left hand. It is kept between the legs for just that hold. And steel string acoustic guitar players certainly use their thumb to mute the 6th string. It is considered a poor technique if some pick player don't use that.

    Myself I don't use thumb to fret any strings, but Am chord is possible yes and I don't consider it really a bad fingering. What I am against is use thumb to fret a D chord, 2220 lol. If the fingers can't make that with space given, then a really good alternative is x220. With a thumb mute
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 10-28-2017 at 01:33 AM.

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