Technique: Proper Thumb Positioning

A question that always comes up is where should my thumb be? Over the neck or behind it? The answer depends on what you are playing. If you are playing scales, there is a great benefit to having your thumb behind the neck as it allows you a much greater stretch. Conversely, having the thumb over the neck is the only way to play some chords and a great help when bending strings.

Have a look at the following 3 pictures for an example of where your thumb should be when playing scales.



In the following picture, I am playing an inversion of the A Major 7 chord. For me, thumb up is much easier for this and many other types of chords.


The following picture is a different inversion of the A Major 7 chord. Try playing this chord and then move your thumb up over the neck to see the impact it has on your stretch and overall hand position. Again, for me, I much prefer thumb behind the neck for this type of chord.


In this last example, I am bending a G string at the 7th fret. String bends are more easily executed with the thumb over the neck as it gives you more leverage.


P.S. IKEDA REALLY should pay me a royalty .. don’t you think? LOL

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  1. Christina Johnson says

    Thank you for this. I have very small hands and short fingers. Everything is a stretch-no pun intended. I like trying to do things right and put everything where it goes. Guitar, like much in life, seems to depend upon modification. We modify the right to work with us individually. Will try your suggestions and am appreiative of your posts to help the rest of us out. So truly thankful.

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