Thumb position - Acoustic vs Electric


paulcavaliere
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Joined: 11/05/20
Posts: 118

For context I'm on Acoustic 1, still learning to play the Acoustic with aspirations of getting an electric and taking Rock 1 & 2. Anders just taught me about wrapping the thumb around to mute the low E. (I can't mute the A with my thumb as my hands are too small, but I get by with muting A using the fretted finger on the D).

I've held a few of my friends electric guitars and the necks feel way different. Is it still advisable to place thumb pressure behind the neck for fretting on an electric? It feels weird. I would guess its different depending on what you are playing - muting, soloing, rythm.

What are your experiences?


# 1
Guitar Tricks Admin
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Different necks will have different profiles and sizes. Sometimes electric necks are smaller than acoustic ones. But typically you will use your thumb to use pressure behind the neck to fret chords no matter what guitar you use.


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# 2
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,936
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Is it still advisable to place thumb pressure behind the neck for fretting on an electric?

Yes. You are correct that it is sometimes necessary to adjust depending on the technique required. For example, sometimes you need you thumb to anchor on the top edge of the neck as a means of getting leverage when you are bending the upper strings.

But in general, the thumb is for opposable pressure.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=12188&s_id=605

See here for an example of using your thumb as leverage to bend.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=20406

Good question!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 3
paulcavaliere
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Joined: 11/05/20
Posts: 118
Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Is it still advisable to place thumb pressure behind the neck for fretting on an electric?

Yes. You are correct that it is sometimes necessary to adjust depending on the technique required. For example, sometimes you need you thumb to anchor on the top edge of the neck as a means of getting leverage when you are bending the upper strings.

But in general, the thumb is for opposable pressure.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=12188&s_id=605

See here for an example of using your thumb as leverage to bend.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=20406

Good question!

Thanks Christopher. Watched the tutorials and get it now. It seems there is never a time where one would palm the neck then.


# 4
Carl King
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Joined: 10/08/07
Posts: 466

If you watch videos of pretty much any high-level guitarist, you'll see their thumb position changes constantly, depending on what they are playing. Chords, leads, different places on the neck -- these all call for different thumb placement.

-Carl.


Carl King[br]GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
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You're welcome!

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereWatched the tutorials and get it now. It seems there is never a time where one would palm the neck then.

I tell beginners to avoiding palming the neck because they sometimes have a tendency to then attempt to use the palm for opposing pressure instead of their thumb.

Having said that, you will notice many accomplished guitarists do have their palm in contact with the neck. Which is fine as long it doesn't hinder your hand motion. Typically when you play blues leads with a lot of bending on the high strings you place your thumb on the bass side of the neck for leverage. And that naturally leads to your at least part of your palm resting on the neck.

But you want to avoid using it for opposing pressure. That's ineffective mechanics & can lead to problems.


Christopher Schlegel
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# 6
paulcavaliere
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Joined: 11/05/20
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Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

You're welcome!

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereWatched the tutorials and get it now. It seems there is never a time where one would palm the neck then.

I tell beginners to avoiding palming the neck because they sometimes have a tendency to then attempt to use the palm for opposing pressure instead of their thumb.

Having said that, you will notice many accomplished guitarists do have their palm in contact with the neck. Which is fine as long it doesn't hinder your hand motion. Typically when you play blues leads with a lot of bending on the high strings you place your thumb on the bass side of the neck for leverage. And that naturally leads to your at least part of your palm resting on the neck.

But you want to avoid using it for opposing pressure. That's ineffective mechanics & can lead to problems.

Thanks for the detailed response.

I only have an acoustic now amd shopping for an electric. As mentioned above there are many neck profiles. How do I determine which would best suit me if I have never played electric. Do I go with what feels comfortable on acoustic and hope it translates?


# 7
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,936
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereHow do I determine which would best suit me if I have never played electric. Do I go with what feels comfortable on acoustic and hope it translates?

It depends on what feels good in your hands, against your arms & torso. This is why it's very important to try before you buy.

After physical fit & comfort, the next consideration is what kind of music or style/genre do you want to play?


Christopher Schlegel
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# 8