View Full Version : Magic left thumb? Not really!

01-17-2011, 12:49 PM
On a soprano there is no way I can cover the 2nd through 4th strings in the same fret and still make the 1st string ring freely. Three fingers are too much and the barred finger lifting off the 1st string, attempting that is, at best leads to pain, but not to a useable sonic result.

But then I tried something I read about long ago and then again recently. Let the left thumb cover the 3 lowest strings in the 2nd fret. In D tuning that gives an E major chord with the 1st string being open. Oy, oy, did that E chord sound full and warm and strong. What an effect from using the thumb I thought. The epaulet holes on the Ovation Applause didnít make me suspicious.

But then I tried the same stunt on my Yamaha guitarlele, which in uke terms is tuned in C (I think guitar people call that an A tuning). The guitarlele has a normal center sound hole. The resulting D chord came very strongly into my face, and thereby revealed the reason for the thumbed chords sounding so much fuller and stronger:

To facilitate the reach of the thumb I turned the instrument so that the soundboard pointed not away from me, but more upwards in the direction of my face.

I am most used to playing wind instruments and they basically all emit their sounds away from me, so this was a new experience.