Author Topic: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...  (Read 5404 times)

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Offline Silly Boy Blue

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Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« on: December 19, 2010, 04:41:26 pm »
Hi Justin and others,
These DVDs are great and helping me a lot. Thanks a lot. Here's a request for another detail relating to barre chords. I find I'm pressing pretty hard with my thumb on the back of the guitar neck to keep all the notes ringing out. My thumb hurts a lot after a while. Am I supposed to be pressing so hard? I find my thumb is a bit further up the neck than the forefinger. It that bad technique, or is it normal? I think this forces me to press harder with the thumb. Here I'm referring to an acoustic steel string. I have a different problem with my electric guitar, which I just bought recently. With the electric I find I press so hard on barre chords that the strings bend and go out of tune. Any advice about exactly what to do with the thumb?

Offline flyhead

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 04:56:38 pm »
The pad of your thumb should be in the middle of the neck (at the apex of the curve) and opposing your middle finger.
After getting your hand in the correct position, don't feel that you need to clamp as hard as possible to get the notes ringing out clearly. Find out exactly where the notes are buzzing and focus on applying only sufficient pressure at these points alone.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2010, 06:11:10 pm »
I can't quite understand what you mean about your thumb but you need to change something such that your hand is much more relaxed.

On a typical chord my thumb will just about one fret lower than the index finger. So if I'm playing a B at 7th fret for instance my thumb will be under the 6th fret. That will vary though for instance when playing an F at fret 1 my thumb is under fret 1 as well.

As to where the thumb presses. for me it is almost always above the center line of the neck. The only way I can describe this is that if your guitar has a skunk stripe neck, just imagine another stripe just above that one towards the low E string. I would be pressing on that one and not on the center one. That too varies but basically anywhere on the neck above the center line. Or under the A string I guess.

Now if the top edge of the neck were aligned to 9(bridge end) ------ 3(peghead end) on a clock face. My thumb tip points to about the 2 Oclock region or again a variance of 1:30 to 2:30.

If you look at your thumb with palm facing you. All the pressure is on the right hand side of the thumb tip ( side of thumb on same side as web of hand ) in that area between the joint bone and where finger nail starts.

I -think- maybe you need to concentrate more on what your index finger and other fingers are doing. All the thumb really does is offset the pressure they apply.

You might try this. Place only your index finger down. Your thumb counteracts with some mild pressure. Now add your ring finger like a power chord you should feel the thumb press a bit more as you now have two fingers pressing against it.

The whole deal is about getting your hand to relax.



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Offline flyhead

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2010, 06:33:59 pm »
On a typical chord my thumb will just about one fret lower than the index finger. So if I'm playing a B at 7th fret for instance my thumb will be under the 6th fret.


Offline Silly Boy Blue

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2010, 06:55:09 pm »
Thanks guys. Both comments useful.
I'm going to see how it goes with keeping the thumb behind the middle finger, for stability I suppose, and and not pressing so much with the thumb. Feels more comfortable with the thumb pad pressing on the apex if the curve, I think. Cheers.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2010, 08:00:33 pm »
@Fly.... does that not make sense?

@SBB.... I honestly can't imagine playing the way you mention with thumb under middle finger and in center of neck.

Here is pretty much what I was trying to describe....

Post #18 by River
and some in post #22 by Mudfinger

http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/guitar-lessons/90530-hand-precautions-avoiding-bad-playing-habbits.html

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Offline flyhead

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2010, 08:15:42 pm »
It makes sense in regard to syntax, but not anatomy.
I can play a barre chord as you describe, but I'd never have been able to learn to play one that way (unless it's on a ukulele).

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2010, 11:01:46 pm »
I think both of you should review CH-006 Part 2 starting at about 5:15.

If you are doing what I think you are describing, you are doing exactly what Justin warns against.

Notice ( with rear of neck camera view ) as he demonstrates the correct and incorrect methods his thumb moves up above the center line and the pressure point of his thumb is roughly under the index finger fret. Again this varies with respect to where you are up and down the neck but I can't say I've ever seen anyone place their thumb as far back as the middle finger and as low as the center line. Especially not as a standard procedure.
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Offline flyhead

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2010, 11:30:32 pm »
Please post a photo of your green, scaly thumb in the position you described, TB.  :o
When playing a barre at the (3-4) wider frets, the lower part of my thumb's pad is on the skunk-line, the joint between the distal and middle phalange being slightly below it. My thumb pad is placed vis-à-vis my middle finger.
As I work my way up the fretboard my thumb works its way gradually more towards my index finger, so that by the 7th fret, my thumb and index finger are in opposition.
My wrist is straight in both planes.

I don't know if you have been involved in some bizarre moped accident, TB, but getting your thumb an entire fret away from your barring finger, playing an F# perhaps, sounds like a congenital defect of the kind usually only found in the more remote areas of the Appalacians  :P

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2010, 11:37:25 pm »
Do it like this.... ( except not the index finger )


or this.....



``````````````````````
-------------------------

Not like this......


and not like this....


nor like this....
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2010, 11:49:41 pm »
Quote
I don't know if you have been involved in some bizarre moped accident, TB, but getting your thumb an entire fret away from your barring finger, playing an F# perhaps, sounds like a congenital defect of the kind usually only found in the more remote areas of the Appalacians

Either that or you are still not clear what a fret is. Frets are those silver wire things not the fretboard between them.  ;)



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Offline flyhead

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2010, 11:50:24 pm »
Not like this, then?

I see no thumb in this image, and I would see it if the unknown player in the image was playing it like your images suggest. I also notice that your images depict fingers at all sorts of weird angles towards the fretboard. I'd have a word with the chap in the photo if I were you, TB, he needs a good talking to.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2010, 12:00:46 am »
Flyhead, in that photo of Justin he is demonstrating the finger positions.

I don't believe I have ever seen him play his guitar with the 12th fret in front of his Adams apple. Have you?

Not sure why you think you would see his thumb either.

If I play a B7 you can't see my thumb but the pressure point is under the 6th fret above the skunk stripe.



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Offline Bootstrap

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2010, 01:16:41 am »
I'm with TB - that top pic is exactly the thumb posi I use.

Your hand design isn't optimal for pinching things between the thumb and the fingers, it is more designed for gripping things (like a tree branch). Try gripping a vertical (or horizontal) bar, you will notice the optimal strenth position for your thumb is slightly higher than where your index finger is. Guess that is why they call them chord grips not chord pinches :)
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Barre chords, thumb position, etc...
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2010, 01:28:06 am »
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