Left thumb relaxation, how?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by Luis_Br » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:58 pm

Nick Cutroneo wrote:
Luis_Br wrote:...But it is not the final solution to the overall technical and health problem, IMO.
Keeping a straight wrist is a structural aspect, where controlling to muscular tension in the arm/hand/wrist is a muscular issue. The two are neither independent of one another or dependent.
I agree. What I mean is that the straight wrist should not be used so tightly as a constraint and should not be treated as an easy short-term solution without working the mobility and other issues. I am sure you certainly know to address this issues in a correct way. I say this to beginners and others who haven't thought deeper in the problem, because I find several with straight wrist, but still with lot of internal tightening and below average final result.

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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by meouzer » Sat May 13, 2017 7:09 pm

Hold your left hand horizontally flat, palm side up. Move the thumb to your first, second, or third finger. Notice how the thumb lies on its left side, which is the position the thumb can/should take in playing. Continue with the demonstration by moving the right wrist in-between the left hand thumb and fingers as though you were taking your pulse with your left thumb. Notice that the thumb is still lying on its left side - good. Now press and notice that the thumb moves from its left side to the power position where it is lying flat with full pad contact - bad. The power position is the position where one reflexively presses too hard. Simply don't go into the power position, which you have to unnaturally force by the way, by keeping the thumb straight, relaxed, and at least somewhat on its left side. This thumb position is recommended by no less than Charles Duncan in part because it encourages light pressure with the thumb.

Jack Douglas
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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by Jack Douglas » Sat May 13, 2017 7:44 pm

Hi Jason, CY,

I have arthritis in my left thumb and have to be careful about too much left thumb pressure. I've been re-working technique of late and in my lessons (I'm a hobbyist player) we've talked about left hand movements from one position to the next as sort of a ballet movement. I've started using the fretting finger for the lead note of the upcoming arpeggio as my initial weight for the notes rather than planting my thumb first and then my fingers. By concentrating on that lead note finger it seems to help with a more relaxed thumb plus it helps with legato playing. The only time it doesn't seem to work is when the first note of the upcoming arpeggio is say an f on the bass e string.
It's continuing work to keep the thumb relaxed.
Hauser III 2014 spruce

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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by Henny » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:03 am

i also noticed when plucking hard with the right hand it requires attention to keep the left hand relaxed.
there is a tendency that left and right hand both wants to put tension while only the right hand need to plug the strings
and the left hand should remain relaxed, this is more so when the right hand wants to play loud.

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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by mainterm » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:51 pm

CY - there are many good replies with good information to this question. I am curious about one point: does the tip joint of your thumbs hyperextend? E.g. are you able to form an "L" shape with the last joint extending away from the palm?

I ask about this as my thumbs are quite double-jointed as they say. This creates challenges for both hands in different ways, but it could certainly contribute a great deal to excess pressure in the left thumb as it becomes very difficult to use the tip pad of the thumb for support and remain relatively relaxed in the proximal thumb joint and ultimately the wrist.

If you don't posses this ....um physical feature, then nevermind :)

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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by Luis_Br » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:35 am

I think the whole thumb must be relaxed and thumb pad (or base) relaxation is more important than tip, or you will hinder other fingers muscles. My thumb is more or less straight, sometimes even a bit flexed. I extend thumb away only when it is very low for bars or weird extensions.

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Re: Left thumb relaxation, how?

Post by dtoh » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:09 am

Just my $0.02 but I don't think it has much to do with the thumb..... it's mostly about dexterity, strength, independence and flexibility of your other 4 LH fingers. If those fingers aren't developed so they can get onto the frets by themselves you'll need to use your thumb to lever them into position. Once the other fingers are properly developed, the LH thumb will take care of itself and just gently rest against the neck of the guitar.

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