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View Full Version : Bad case of the slippy thumb



jer989
11-06-2009, 02:08 AM
I'm not sure if it's just me (I've searched the forums and haven't seen any posts about this exact problem, so maybe it is just me...) - when I'm playing, I usually do a pretty good job keeping my thumb in the middle of the back of the neck. But - sometimes after playing for awhile my thumb will start to slip 'out' (i.e. towards the A string) and then I have a hard time when changing chords.

As far as I know, my thumb is in the right place when I'm playing - and I started to think maybe I need to get a strap - but I did make a quickie homemade strap and still have the problem. Has anyone else had this problem with their thumb slipping and if so - what'd you do about it?? I thought about finding some grip tape like is used on skateboard decks or like what you put on concrete stairs to stop slipping (or something similar, less coarse maybe). My uke is just a cheapie Makala concert (but I love it :love:) - so if I can modify it somehow to solve my problem, that definitely doesn't bother me.

thanks for any advice!
-jer989

bazmaz
11-06-2009, 03:27 AM
With a narrow neck like a Uke, I wouldnt worry trying to get the thumb hard on the back - i tend to put the neck in the v between my thumb and fore finger, and my thumb tends to curl round the G string top edge of the fingerboard - great control, and also handy for some muting or chords.

Its the way I play guitar too.

jer989
11-06-2009, 06:29 AM
I also did try that grip for a bit (letting the neck sit in the V between the thumb and fore finger), thinking that it would take care of the slipping thumb, but I feel like it makes it much harder to form chords correctly.

hmmmm..... maybe I just need to give that grip more of a chance.

KoPa
11-25-2009, 01:10 PM
I know how you feel bro. What the previous guy was saying is a very helpful way. And might be one of few that will help. I can tell you i was uncomfortible using that method with certin cords too. What an old pro had me do (and I hated doing it!) was to focus very hard on applying the minimum amount of pressure necessary to make the note(s) sound clean. It is very hard when you start to learn a stringed instrument. But this help me a ton....and still hate hitting a normal "E". So, try softening your grip. It sucks to force yourself, but if you stick to it you'll get the results.

Good luck bruddah man

bazmaz
11-25-2009, 01:24 PM
i'm not the best to judge - 20 years with guitar, very big hands, and strong guitar chord fingers - i just kinda make the shapes.

But i suppose that there is a lesson in my nonsense - practice - finger strength is everything. Remember - your fingertips are what is most important, not your thumb. work on those!

Uncle-Taco
11-25-2009, 01:46 PM
I don't do a damned thing about it.

I had "academically trained" guitar teachers here and there who taught me the whole notion that my thumbprint had to be smack in the middle of the spine of the neck and my wrist had to be at this or that angle and bla, bla, bla...

Then I had "practical" teachers who chewed me for NOT reaching over with my thumb to play certain chords!

When it came down to it, I went with the better teachers and freed my thumb. It was hard to "give up good technique," but really, why not; it's there, it might as well be at least comfortable if not useful.

Do what feels natural to you (thumb in classical guitar position, or thumb doing a puppet show over the fretboard) and I betcha you won't curve your spine, infect your mind, and lose the war for the allies. ;)

scottie
11-26-2009, 04:54 AM
Tommy Emanuel uses his thumb to fret chords so I kinda figure it's okay.

That said, you do get more strength for less effort if you play with your thumb behind the neck. Grip strength is greatest with a straight (or relatively so) wrist.

dhkane
11-26-2009, 05:32 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about it. My thumb sticks straight out and I've been told that it should be hidden behind the neck.

Somtimes I use it on the "G" string to play certain chord shapes and I'm told not to do that either.

I do it anyway. Your choice.

ritzer012
11-26-2009, 06:17 AM
With a narrow neck like a Uke, I wouldnt worry trying to get the thumb hard on the back - i tend to put the neck in the v between my thumb and fore finger, and my thumb tends to curl round the G string top edge of the fingerboard - great control, and also handy for some muting or chords.

Its the way I play guitar too.


ive been trying to learn to play like that but i cant for the life of me get it to work. it makes it almost impossible to fret the a string or even e string with my index finger because its curled so much :wallbash:

id like to learn because right now i play with my thumb in the back of the neck but after playing for awhile it starts to hurt the base of my thumb....but i just dont think its gonna happen!

jer989
11-26-2009, 06:22 AM
thanks for all the advice everyone. I find that my biggest problem lately is having a sore thumb on my fretting hand. I usually get that after playing hard for a bit and probably holding down the strings too hard to make sure they ring clearly, and don't buzz. To some extent I worry that the action on my uke (a Makala concert) is too high or something - I'm not sure. I don't know if maybe getting a better uke that's a bit higher quality might help too - but can't afford one now (but hopefully by next spring I'll be able to have saved up enough $$$...)

For now, I'll try to use minimal pressure on the strings to see if that'll alleviate the pain in my thumb joint. I've tried to get my thumb around the neck and cradle the neck more in my hand - but it feels SO unnatural to me.

thanks again all!
:cheers:

gotrice415510
11-26-2009, 06:58 AM
practice.... we cant really help u wit that problem, its all about practice.

ur thumb will go all over the place depending on how comfortable it is to you, u just have to find that out for yourself.