The left hand thumb:

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Joey Bowie » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:52 am

Roger Hardin wrote:
Roger Pratt wrote:Joey......I have small hands and can get the 5 & 6 strings when i need to. It takes practice like anything else you do. I've seen pickers use barre chords and still play great Travis and Chet style. Practice Practice Practice!!


Roger that Roger. I have small hands and stretching the thumb to choke a few strings is one of the easier moves. I have more trouble stretching the 4th finger of my LH. I also like to stay away from Bars. This prevents my notes from sounding slurred.

Roger,
I think it really boils down to the width of the neck or the size of a person's hands. I could probably be able to thumb chords with a little practice on my Gibson LG-0 but when I switch to my Harmony or my Gretsch 5120 all that practice would be for naught.
I have no trouble stretching my LH 4th finger to make chords so I guess I should be thankful of that.

Years ago, I learned "Villa" off Chet's album and I was always able to make the last chord in the song which is a D 6/9 at the 10th fret using my thumb to bar the 6th string along with my first and third LH fingers to make the chord. Today for some reason I can't make that chord using my thumb unless I use my 2nd and 3rd LH fingers with my thumb. I don't know but maybe it's old age setting in. :D
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Roger Hardin » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:08 am

Myth Buster

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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Art Sims » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:37 pm

Roger,
That's an amazing thing to see. Those little fingers are absolutely astonishing to watch. I sure can't play like that. I wonder how she might finger a song like Cascade?
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby albertgen » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:51 pm

I really find it interesting to watch Chet in his early years using the thumb over the neck. He really used it a lot back then. Al
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Roger Hardin » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:10 am

Hi Art, I always enjoy your videos. This little girl is playing a full size guitar with those tiny hands. If she decided to play Cascade, I would not put it past her to figure out a way to do it. Hand size can be an advantage, but I would argue that those who play Chet's style (or any other style) well, are dedicated and spend a lot of time practicing.

I have no problem with a thumb extender or any other innovative idea that will help anyone play better, but having big hands will not make a guitar player and, small hands is no excuse. Flexibility and playing with relaxed hands are far more important than hand size. I guess the age thing is legitimate excuse but unicycle.com told me they had a 90 year old man learn to ride a unicycle.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Art Sims » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:11 am

Hi Roger,
I followed the link to your website. Wow! What a fabulous player you are. I particularly liked your rendition of “If I Had You.” That’s my kind of music. I see that most of your playing, especially the fast playing, is way beyond me but it sure is fun to hear. I really admire what you’re able to do with your hands.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Joey Bowie » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:56 pm

Art Sims wrote:Roger,
That's an amazing thing to see. Those little fingers are absolutely astonishing to watch. I sure can't play like that. I wonder how she might finger a song like Cascade?

It's funny that you should mention "Cascade" Art. I knew a guy years ago who played pretty good Chet style and he was learning to play Cascade. The only way he could finger that stretch chord was over the neck and this is the way he played that particular part of the song when he got to that chord.

Tal Farlow had large hands and he was able to fret more strings in a chord than he had fingers, by using the edge of his first finger to hit a certain note on the first string for instance while using the same finger to fret another note on the second string. I'm pretty sure that Merle Travis did this also according to Thom Bresh.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Art Sims » Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:49 pm

Hi Joey,
I can't quite picture how the thumb would help with the Cascade stretch. Must be that I'm just not seeing something that you evidently did see your friend do.
I think Roger is right about the little girl and Cascade but acutally makes the point about substitute fingering.
Roger, I think you're indeed right about that being a full size guitar. I doubt, however, that you nor anyone else thinks her little hands could reach from fret 1 to 5 and hold those notes, and as you say, she could probably "figure out a way," which of course, would be a substitute fingering.
Joey, I've seen that there is in fact a fingering for Cascade at the 10th fret that can get all the notes, sustain them, and involves no stretch. It requires an unusual roll for the right hand but is quite doable. So I agree with Roger, she could probably figure something out, but surely this would be a substitute fingering.
I have no criticism of players with powerful, fast, long stretching fingers; I'm in awe of them and I enjoy seeing and hearing them. But what I've tried to say is that when I play I have to work with the hands I have, and for me, this involves discovering the easiest fingerings I can.
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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Roger Hardin » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:33 pm

I guess the Bench Mark stretch for Chet style players is in Cascade. To me that has never been a problem. Plant the 4th finger and stretch the others. Out of all the songs I play Mayan Dance has a stretch that I have always had trouble with so I changed one note, It's an E minor with the 3rd (G 6th string 3rd fret) in the bass followed by a C note on 1st string 8th fret with 4th finger. I changed the G to open E 6th string. Nobody has ever called me out on it. On my arrangement of "If I Had You" there is a "choke Chord I could not play when I first arranged the tune. After a few days of practice I could hit it every time. It's at 117 of my youtube video below. Eb9th while playing the melody note G on 1st string 3rd fret. The Eb and Bb bass notes are played with the thumb. To make this happen I bring my Wrist/palm area of the LH behind the 7th fret bass note area for additional leverage. This could be called a palm/choke chord since I am palming the neck. When I show other players that they seem to be amazed but it is actually not difficult at all. At first my hand was just not conditioned to move like that but now I never miss it.

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Re: The left hand thumb:

Postby Art Sims » Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:10 am

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.
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