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Palm on Guitar Neck

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by bleomonkey, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. bleomonkey

    bleomonkey Member

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    I've noticed lately that I've been playing with my palm against the back of the neck and that a lot of sites say that it is wrong to do so. I play with my thumb over the neck like Hendrix, SRV, or Mayer, so should my palm be touching the neck at all? What about the skin between my thumb and first finger?

    On another note, I'm trying to figure out why my blues playing sounds so much better on a cheap classical guitar than on a strat. I'm hoping the above mentioned problem is the reason because the necks are way different in size, but does anybody have any other ideas?

    Thanks
     
  2. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Most the time I just grip the neck. Kind of a lazy feel but it mutes all the unwant noises. If you look at vids and pics of those guys you mentioned, they don't use classical left hand technique they just grab the neck.
     
  3. Tubes and Strings

    Tubes and Strings Supporting Member

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    Watch EVH, Lukather, pretty much any old blues player, etc. play and you'll realize that all that technique stuff is like the Pirate Code... more like "guidelines" than rules... :)

    It's all about devleoping your own voice... one that says something unique. Nothing else matters much.
     
  4. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Palm touching the neck inhibits finger movement. You can't stretch as far from one position as you can if the thumb pab only is on the back of the neck, with around an inch of space between the bottom of the neck and your palm. (In that position, I can stretch 12 frets - not at the same time of course! - index back, then pinky up. Without moving my thumb. Of course, that 12-fret range has little practical advantage, but it illustrates the point: holding the neck in your palm, you have little more than a 5-fret range; you need to change position more often.)
    That's the reason for the "classical" position: flexibility. In addition, the fingers can reach around the neck more with the thumb behind, making fretting of lower strings easier.

    But, of course, classical necks are wide and flat. Holding them in your palm is far more limiting than holding an electric guitar neck the same way.
    But the reason players like Hendrix, SRV, etc, hold the neck in the palm is not because that's a better position. It's because that position is easy and natural and it's possible to play most things in that position - assuming a fair amount of practice and experience. There is rarely any need for players of that ability to adopt the more flexible classical position. (But you will see them doing it at times, eg when playing a particularly demanding run.)
    In addition, there are a few important rock/blues techniques that require the thumb over, for leverage - such as bending and vibrato.
     
  5. Voodoo Blues

    Voodoo Blues Member

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    Do whatever feel right to you, there's no wrong way.
     
  6. bleomonkey

    bleomonkey Member

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    Thanks for the responses.
    I think that I am going to start playing with my palm off the back of the neck but my thumb still over because it's easier to do vibrato on the high e string and my fingers end up more arched so the strings ring better.

    By the way, when I play blues on the classical guitar, I still use the thumb over technique. I don't know if I was clear. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  7. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    It's all about what you are playing at the time. Distorted, or even loud clean electric is a totalyy different bucket of fish-heads to fingerstyle classical, which is the technique you are referencing. Watch the great players and you will see their hands are changin position constantly, depending on what they are doing at the time.
    It's all good, definitely Pirate Code !!
     
  8. liveone

    liveone Member

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    There's definitely two types of grips on the guitar and the classic blues grip with the palm on the neck with the thumb slung over the top is the kind used by hendrix and srv as well as a ton more.

    This grip paired with a rounder neck shape makes it a lot easier to do bends and vibratos with control using a strong wrist motion. You can also play with the guitar slung in a lower position. Hendrix would finger notes on the low E string with his thumb as parts of chords. This has become my grip of choice now for my playing style after making a huge effort to improve my bends and bend vibratos.

    The classical guitar "grip" is with the hand in a more open position with the thumb lower on the neck. Paired with a flat neck, great for shredding styles and long reaches. People using this grip have to wear the guitar much higher or even remain seated. Bends and vibratos have to be in the fingers. I played guitar like this for over 20 years as the correct way.

    Hope this summary is helpful and for the most part accurate. :BEER
     
  9. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Perfect.
    The point about the height of the neck is crucial. It can also help to have the neck high with the "baseball bat" grip.
    It's all about ease and flexibility, application to instrument type and the particular task in hand (literally!).
    Generally, the height of the guitar (and the neck angle) matters more than the fret hand grip. The elbow of the fret arm needs to be roughly at 90 degrees, so that the wrist can be as straight as possible.
    Look at any pic of SRV: his guitar is at waist height, and the neck angled up a little - he plays with thumb over (usually), but the wrist angle is relaxed, and his palm does not always touch the neck.

    And I always think of the various ways Slash holds the guitar.
    Here he is with the body hung fairly low, thumb over, but with the neck angle high enough to provide a good wrist alignment:
    http://www.gibson.com/email/images/042505_slash.jpg
    (The grip here looks very inflexible, but presumably he is playing a pretty basic riff or single chord.)
    And here he is using thumb behind and a rather higher neck position (!) - to enable a good reach to the lower strings, for what is presumably a more demanding lick:
    http://www.betterimage.com/betterImage/Live/images/Slash-05.jpg
    (Naturally there's an element of showmanship in such a position, but it's practical too. He is supporting the guitar on the top of his leg, btw, not holding it up with his left hand - that would be limiting.)

    Most rock players will solo using the top 3 or 4 strings only, which means thumb over offers no particular inhibition (within a reasonable fret range), and also enables leverage for bends. Thumb over can also be useful (as I'm sure we've said before) for fretting or muting the 6th string.
     
  10. Daniel-San

    Daniel-San Member

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    There's no wrong way indeed. I tend to use both grips, depending on the situation. Sometimes I use the thumb over for the low E-string too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  11. Mandoboy

    Mandoboy Member

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    There's no wrong way until you get tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

    It helps if you think about what you are doing- the fact is your body has limitations, and if you stress those limitations, you can wreck yourself for life.

    Your wrist has very narrow passageways for the tendons to move. The more the wrist is cocked (palming the neck) the more likely the stress...

    There are many good and right ways to play, there's no single 'right' way, so don't worry about dawgma-but there are hundreds of 'wrong' ways that are at the least harmful inefficient, and at the most harmful crippling.

    It's worth thinking about.
     
  12. Daniel-San

    Daniel-San Member

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    True...I see loads of players complaining about pain...myself included sometimes. I get it mostly because of low temperatures. I go to loads of jamsessions and sometimes I come in and get dragged on stage within 2 minutes, playing with too cold hands and trying to do the same as when they're warm. This gets me in trouble quite quickly and I have a sore wrist for the rest of the evening.
     

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