The left hand thumb:

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby ajbremer » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:17 am

Your tune sounded great Art, thank you for posting it sir.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Roger Hardin » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:20 am

Art Sims wrote:Roger,
I'm now a fan at your Youtube channel. What a treat to see the video of you playing your arrangement of that song and what a powerful handful of notes you have in that chord! It's terrific you can do that. If I tried to practice and utilize that chord form the joints in my fingers would swell and stiffen whereas there are some fingerings that enable me to play for long periods. I see after the key change into G you use a little simpler chord at the same melody spot. For me, the arrangement would take some adapting to my lesser abilities, probably start in a different key and wind up with an Am6 at the big chord. But I just love your playing of that tune. My hat's off to you, Roger. You're not just a great guitarist but a great musician with really good skill at arranging and such a fine ear for good sounding chords.


Thanks Art for saying all of that. Ben Hall took my ideal with "If I Had You" and made it much easier to play. He plays it in E and it sounds great. That neck is an inch and 3/4 so choke chords can be made with smaller hands. I will say it would be an advantage having big hands but, you still have to do the work.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Pickin Palmer » Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:19 pm

Every time the subject of "using the thumb," or "I can't use my thumb" comes up, my first trips out to Muhlenberg County, KY always come to mind.

First, it's always great to get to see the stars perform onstage out there at Paradise Park or the new Travis Center, but it's the late night jams that inspired me to drive 6 hours one way to get there. Back 10 years or so there was this tall thin drink of water who was an electrician from up in Illinois by the name of Jim Dodson that not only had long fingers - he played a narrow necked CG.

Every now and then whilst we were jammin' that thumb of his would stick up in the air like a snake with a crick in his neck and reach over and grab at least two or three strings - and, I would get to giggling at the sight of it. One time that snake popped up so far over that I silently queried him with four of my fingers, "Did you just grab FOUR strings with your thumb?" He silently responded, without losing a beat, holding up FIVE FINGERS!!!!! Unbelievable - as at the time I was having difficulties grabbing just two.

At the same time over coffee and donuts at the Convention Center Inn in the mornings, the late Maurice Jones (Grandpa Jones' nephew) was hell bent on teaching me to "flog" that C#7 in Guitar Rag (key of E) by grabbing two strings with my thumb - AT THE FOURTH FRET!!! I'd show him how I could get the same notes by alternating my 3rd finger...but, he'd bark at me, "It just doesn't have that same Travis sound!" Which..it didn't - because Merle didn't
"alternate" those two bass notes - he whacked them both at the same time. "But, it hurts." "My hands aren't big enuff." "I'm 60 years old." You know - all the excuses us wanna be pickers who don't really wanna practice use. I said them all.

But, I did really want to be able to play that tune. Soooo, through just keeping on trying, it took me two years to be able to just reach up and grab it with confidence. Does it still hurt? Oh, yea... Shoot, I'm 71, now - everything hurts. LOL

I've got to admit, though, it was during these same couple of years that I worked on other "seemingly impossible" and "painful" jazz chord shapes that I felt compelled to add to my endless repository of "four" chords..(lol) Such as those stretchy chords Chet put in "You Do Something to Me" and "Smile." (Work on the ones in YDSTM first because they start waaay up at the 12th where the frets are a lot closer together - then, the tune brings them down in steps slowly to the fourth...where the frets are a lot larger..and, the pain a lot stronger!!!

Keep on pickin',

Palmer
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