Scales With Thumb Tip on Neck Tiring

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by TheNewSteveH, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. TheNewSteveH

    TheNewSteveH Tele-Holic

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    A while back I started going through the lessons at Justinguitar.com. Right now I have a question about scales.

    The first scale he teaches you is a G scale with the root on the 3rd fret of the 6th string.

    My first stringed instrument was the banjo, and I learned to play with my thumb hooked over the top of the neck. A banjo neck is very small, so it didn't cause me any problems. I carried that habit over to the guitar, so now I have to fix it.

    I am trying to practice the scale with the tip of my thumb against the neck, about 3/4 of the way up the back (toward the low E string). Holding my thumb this way, combined with the stretch from the 2nd fret to the 5th fret, is really tiring. I can practice the scale for maybe a minute before I have to stop and rest. I've been doing it for several days, but it still sucks.

    My question: is it really correct to do it this way, or am I pushing myself to do something no one actually does in real life?

    Link to scale page:

    http://www.justinguitar.com/en/IM-113-MajorScalePattern1.php
     
  2. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    When somebody is teaching you as in this video, take what they're showing you and view it as a base, or starting point.(if we all held our fingers in the exact same manner we'd play like clones) Devour the meat of the lesson but everyone will make small adjustments to thumb placement etc. according to the size and shape of their hands/fingers. It's only natural. Imagine all the great painters holding their brushes and making their strokes in the same manner.

    I totally agree with him saying to go as slow as needed until you can play it clean! Music should make people feel. Hold your thumb where what you're playing makes you feel good. Good luck with your scales.
     
  3. LeeVegas

    LeeVegas Tele-Meister

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    I have also been trying to get into the habit of keeping my thumb on the back of the neck (instead of curled around, as I taught myself...) I agree with the tweaking of the thumb position. In addition to adjusting up (towards low E) and down, try sliding towards (or away) from the headstock.

    You could also try sliding to root up to the 8th fret (C major) to start where the frets are closer together.
     
  4. jaybones

    jaybones Friend of Leo's

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    When I teach a beginner, I always insist that they play in classical position when they start off. The thumb should be as close to the middle of the neck (covering the skunk stripe if there is one) and the fingers arched over the board so only the tips are touching the strings. If you hold the neck like a baseball bat, you shorten your fingers and ability to access the frets.

    It should be a little sore at first as your muscles stretch out. Play as long as you can, and try to play until it starts to hurt some. Don't play to the point that the pain is significant and you shouldn't go to the point of not being able to use that hand within a short time.

    If its noticeably painful, you can always keep your hand in a bowl of ice water afterward. Like any injury (you're actually injuring the muscles, just like when you lift weights, you tear fibers so that new stronger fibers grow in) ice when needed for the first 24 hours then heat afterward.

    But lets face it, you're going to have to endure some discomfort to relearn the right way.

    And good for you on being able to play the banjo. I tried one early on when I started playing, had done some classical and thought I'd be able to pick it up pretty easily. Boy, was I wrong. Probably could do better now that I know more about theory and guitar.
     
  5. BartS

    BartS Friend of Leo's

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    Classical position is with your thumb pretty close to the middle of the neck. The guitar resting on your inner thigh with the neck a bit over 45 degrees toward your head.

    The reality of that is if it's too uncomfortable find another way to play it. Infact play it every way you can. You should be able to play it with the guitar sitting on either knee relaxed on a couch. Any way you feel comfortable.

    I have drilled the classical position and favorite it these days. I have also favored playing with my thumb hooked. A ton of different positions. When I first started off I learned to play with my pinky up against the pick guard because my hand wasn't strong enough to play it any other way. I have no idea how I played like that these days. I use to sound good like that too. Honestly its horrible technique though. Even if your not learning it the exact right way your learning something and everything helps

    The thing that is going to most effect how you play is how your fingers fret the notes which has everything to do with tone. The right way to do is would be the way you think sounds the best to you because music and tone is a personal thing. Worry about that the most. I spent hours just teaching myself to fret notes the way i liked the sound. The second most important thing is how your plectrum, fingers, pick grace the string or strings on your other hand. it also has everything to do with tone. You wouldn't believe the countless hours I have spent working out how I think sounds the best doing that type of stuff. Basically learning the instrument over and over again till I hopefully finally one day will get it right.

    Like one of the other poster said. If we all played it the same way we would all sound like clones.
     
  6. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The 'Classical Position' also means sitting down, resting the body of the guitar against the right thigh, holding the neck up very close to the left ear, etc. This all makes the thumb position the OP is trying to imitate possible. Trying to adopt one aspect of the technique (thumb placement) without paying attention to the rest of the posture is going to be uncomfortable, if not impossible. If he's holding the neck nearly horizontal, as is the usual Rock God fashion, it's putting a lot of body parts in awkward positions. That's why he's having trouble.
     
  7. TheNewSteveH

    TheNewSteveH Tele-Holic

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    I hate to encourage anyone to play the banjo, but I can probably be useful to you.

    I know a very easy way to get into it. I started in around 1976, at a place in Hollywood, Florida, called The Banjo Shop. It was owned by a guy named Lee Eliot, and he had his own banjo method. He made students start with a very short book he wrote. I think it's called 5-String Banjo Method.

    The book is very simple. You learn the tuning, plus a few picking patterns (independent of fretting) called "rolls." To create songs, you play the rolls in various orders while forming appropriate chords with your left hand.

    Really, it's like musical LEGO.

    If you learn the stuff in the book, which should be very easy, you won't be an accomplished banjo player, but you will be totally ready to go to better books and learn more material, much of which is not dependent on rolls.

    To get away from the simple versions in the book, just stick with the chords and play whatever notes make you happy.

    Books that were classics when I was playing:

    Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo
    Melodic Banjo
    Bill Keith Banjo
    Hot Licks and Fiddle Tunes
    Bluegrass Banjo (Peter Wernick)

    Janet Davis also wrote a good book.

    Ordinarily I don't recommend stealing copyrighted material, but Eliot's book is out of print, so you might as well download it. There is a PDF out there somewhere.

    You will need a plastic thumb pick and 2 metal finger picks. Start out with a white Dunlop thumb pick. They're pretty long, so you may want to file it down. Dunlop steel fingerpicks in .0225" thickness (I think) are a good start.

    Sooner or later you will want a capo and a couple of "railroad spikes" in your fretboard.
     
  8. ColonelPanic

    ColonelPanic Tele-Meister

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    It's very, very unusual to see a guitarist playing a scale with their thumb. I'd personally try and refrain from doing that otherwise it'll start doing funny things to your wrist. I know the tired feeling when playing scales though, it happens to me when moving from my Tele, over to my acoustic guitar (from 009s to 013s).

    Try practising the same scale position further up the neck and see if it helps? Then gradually move down to the G position in Justin's tutorial. The best thing is to just let the thumb do what happens naturally, and build up your muscle strength from there.
     
  9. TheNewSteveH

    TheNewSteveH Tele-Holic

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    I went over his thumb video, and it looks like my position is okay. I think the real problem is the location on the neck. It's just not easy doing scales with your index finger at the second fret.

    Your suggestion on starting higher seems like the right move.
     
  10. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Why. To some extent the thumb dictates what you can do on the fingerboard. But I recommend not paying too much attention to it. Let it go where it wants. The only time I really pay attention is making certain types of lateral (lengthwise on the neck) moves. For example, anchoring the thumb and not moving it while sliding single notes or small chord voicings. But resting it on the back of the neck, letting it hang over, it goes where it wants, pretty much.

    I'd be wary of anyone teaching absolutes in this area. If a couple extra thousandths of wood on a neck makes it feel totally different in my hand, imagine someone else's hand. Only one person knows what's best.
     
  11. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    One thing about getting advice in a forum like this, is that some people don't want to change their own technique for who knows how many reasons. I've seen guys here advise others to do whatever feels right. This permits the advisor to justify using inefficient technique in his/her own playing.

    As far as encouraging beginners to ignore the recommendations of people who have been around for a while, and have known a number of people throughout their journey to musical technique, I'd say wait a minute. The beginner has no idea how a certain technique or fingering that may seem insurmountable now, may evolve into a more efficient technique down the road.
     
    MilwMark likes this.
  12. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I agree with Larry - first learn the "right" way. It will give you the best habits and base. It will allow you to play relaxed and efficiently. From there you can deviate for a reason. And you'll maintain the habits of relaxation and precision in doing so.
     
  13. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    [​IMG]
    I had to look. I don't think about it. When playing single notes I have my thumb just inside the back.

    It's over the side playing first position chords.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
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