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View Full Version : Holding the neck: have I developed a bad habit?



Vladim
11-05-2011, 06:00 AM
Practising chords I get accustomed to put the neck between the thumb and the pointer so that it rests on the hand. Like that:

29676
29677

This position seemed most natural to me though some textbooks said it was wrong.

I decided to follow my way then, because if I place the thumb behind the neck it sways a little while switching chords.

All was fine till I came to chords like D and Bb where one has to press several strings by one finger. My old neck holding position doesn't work with these chords any more and I was obliged to use a "textbook" position. Like that:

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29679

And now when I go from F, for instance, to D I feel very awkward.

What I'm supposed to do? To give up completely my way of holding and stick to the "right" one or keep trying to play like I'm playing and with practise that problem will disappear?

Manalishi
11-05-2011, 06:23 AM
Use whatever method WORKS and is COMFORTABLE
for you when playing.I played guitar 'wrong' for almost
50 years before my first uke,and you know what? It
still sounded okay and I have recordings to prove it!

Tor
11-05-2011, 06:34 AM
When I learned guitar I first learned to hold the thumb behind the neck, after I'd learned that properly I then felt free to use whatever works best in every situation. That's the general rule: Learn the rules, only then can you start to break them.

However, on ukulele there are many standard first-position chords that you simply can't do with the thumb behind the neck (your thumb ends up at the back of the headstock) at least not with the smaller ukuleles. So I would say the thumb-behind-the-neck rule doesn't really apply to ukulele. Use what feels comfortable. Bar chords are chords that usually work better if you put the thumb behind the neck though.

If you feel pain or strain in the thumb while bar'ing chords then try to ease up a bit, and vary with other hand positions so that you don't keep muscles in a static position for too long at the time.

I'll finish by quoting the first line in the previous post, it sums it up well:


Use whatever method WORKS and is COMFORTABLE


-Tor

Vladim
11-05-2011, 07:52 AM
standard first-position chords


I'm sorry, what kind of chords those are?

Markr1
11-05-2011, 09:46 AM
I'm sorry, what kind of chords those are? those are chords on the first 3 frets also known as open chords. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Lalz
11-05-2011, 10:25 AM
I hold my ukes exactly the same way as you do and see nothing wrong with it. On the contrary I find these to be the optimal positions!

Blrfl
11-05-2011, 10:29 AM
And now when I go from F, for instance, to D I feel very awkward. ... What I'm supposed to do? To give up completely my way of holding and stick to the "right" one or keep trying to play like I'm playing and with practise that problem will disappear?

In the position you're using right now, there's a whole set of chords built up in muscle memory as "feeling" a certain way and the muscles you use to play are toned up and don't complain anymore. The awkwardness you're feeling in the new position is going to be very similar to what you felt when you started playing. As you practice, the muscles you're using will get toned, the positions for everything get put into muscle memory and it will all start to feel as natural as what you were doing before.

In general, if you're playing with your thumb on the back of the neck, it should be parallel to the frets and placed in the middle of the neck just a bit closer to the peghead than your index finger. In other words, if you're playing an A (2100), it would be lined up with the nut and behind the first fret for a G (0232).

I'm not going to pass judgment on whether one position or the other is "right," because I use both. I can tell you from my own experience that getting your thumb behind the neck does solve a couple of problems. First, Playing the first four frets on the first string in the "hooked" position tends to require squishing your index finger into position to hit the first fret, and I frequently find my pinky dragging past my ring finger on its way to the fourth fret. I don't have that problem In the "textbook" position. As an added bonus, each finger comes straight down on the string instead of at an angle that increases as you progress from your index finger to your little finger and results in much cleaner fretting that makes for better sound.

--Mark

mm stan
11-05-2011, 10:47 AM
I'm sorry, what kind of chords those are?
http://www.ukulelestrummers.com/Firstpositionchords.html#FIFTH PAGE

Lori
11-05-2011, 02:44 PM
Have you considered a strap? I find all that worry about holding the uke very distracting. I don't have to think about it at all with a strap. If you don't have a strap button, consider my Uke Leash. It really improved my accuracy and tone, because the neck stays in place now.
Just my two cents..

–Lori

itsme
11-05-2011, 03:09 PM
In the position you're using right now, there's a whole set of chords built up in muscle memory as "feeling" a certain way and the muscles you use to play are toned up and don't complain anymore. The awkwardness you're feeling in the new position is going to be very similar to what you felt when you started playing. As you practice, the muscles you're using will get toned, the positions for everything get put into muscle memory and it will all start to feel as natural as what you were doing before.

In general, if you're playing with your thumb on the back of the neck, it should be parallel to the frets and placed in the middle of the neck just a bit closer to the peghead than your index finger. In other words, if you're playing an A (2100), it would be lined up with the nut and behind the first fret for a G (0232).

I'm not going to pass judgment on whether one position or the other is "right," because I use both. I can tell you from my own experience that getting your thumb behind the neck does solve a couple of problems. First, Playing the first four frets on the first string in the "hooked" position tends to require squishing your index finger into position to hit the first fret, and I frequently find my pinky dragging past my ring finger on its way to the fourth fret. I don't have that problem In the "textbook" position. As an added bonus, each finger comes straight down on the string instead of at an angle that increases as you progress from your index finger to your little finger and results in much cleaner fretting that makes for better sound.

--Mark
Good insight, Mark! :)

As a classical guitarist who learned the "proper" CG way, I can tell you it actually gives me better range for finger stretches and more economy of movement overall on uke, especially for fingerpicking.

I just tried to hold an uke in the crook between my thumb and index finger and it felt very awkward and sloppy.

YMMV.

And like Lori said, a strap would really help stabilize the neck for left hand fret changes. The uke leash she sells is an excellent alternative if you don't want to drill a hole for a strap button. :)