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Thread: Using thumb to fret

  1. #1
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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.
    Baritone: LoPrinzi SP/RS-B Custom
    Tenor: Mya Moe Classic #2052, Mya Moe Classic #2356
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  2. #2
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    Default

    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.
    Baritone: LoPrinzi SP/RS-B Custom
    Tenor: Mya Moe Classic #2052, Mya Moe Classic #2356
    Concert: Hoffmann ML Style, Oceana Slothead Cutaway, LoPrinzi Nova MS-C, Kanile'a KPA C, Kiwaya KMC-K, Pono RC-C-PC, Kala Waterman KA CWB Green
    Soprano: Lanikai LU-21 (My Starter Uke!), Kamaka Pineapple 100th Anniversary, Maui Music SK-41 "Pre-Fire", Romero Creations XS, Ohana SK 50G, Zimnicki #20, Makayla Dolphin Light Blue Burst (Work Uke), Fred Shield Oval, KoAloha KSM-02 (Long Neck)
    Mini: iUke Piccolo

  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!
    Brad Bordessa
    Webmaster of Live 'Ukulele.com
    Admin for The Ukulele Way
    Author of 'Ukulele Chord Shapes


    My answers to some FAQs: How to figure out a song - High-g/Low-G - What uke should I get? - Pickups

  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.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

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  6. #6
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    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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    Default

    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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    Default

    Wow thanks everybody, all these comments really help. I am glad to be a member of UU.
    Baritone: LoPrinzi SP/RS-B Custom
    Tenor: Mya Moe Classic #2052, Mya Moe Classic #2356
    Concert: Hoffmann ML Style, Oceana Slothead Cutaway, LoPrinzi Nova MS-C, Kanile'a KPA C, Kiwaya KMC-K, Pono RC-C-PC, Kala Waterman KA CWB Green
    Soprano: Lanikai LU-21 (My Starter Uke!), Kamaka Pineapple 100th Anniversary, Maui Music SK-41 "Pre-Fire", Romero Creations XS, Ohana SK 50G, Zimnicki #20, Makayla Dolphin Light Blue Burst (Work Uke), Fred Shield Oval, KoAloha KSM-02 (Long Neck)
    Mini: iUke Piccolo

  9. #9
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    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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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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