Thumb position

“The classical approach is that your thumb should always be in the middle of the back of the neck.  This means that there should be a clear space between the neck and the palm of your hand, and that your wrist will be slightly bent so that your fingers will rest comfortably on the strings.  Your thumb then act as a fulcrum, allowing you to deliver just the right amount of pressure to your fingertips in order to fret the notes clearly.  Many chord progressions are difficult unless your thumb is providing pressure from the back of the neck.  This position will give you maximum precision, flexibility and speed”

“In some modern styles, the thumb is hooked over the top of the neck to fret notes on the bottom E (6th) string.  This may be done either when extending a barre chord or when playing separate melody and bass lines.  Although condemned by classical guitarists, the technique does open up other fingering posibilities.  It is also useful for getting extra leverage for bending strings.”

(The Guitar Handbook, by Ralph Denyer)

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