Lesson: Left Hand Thumb Position

Lesson of the Week – Left hand thumb position
This is a Q&A via email. Youtube Video Link.

A discussion and lesson about the left hand thumb position for classical guitar. This is a question from Paul who wanted to know about the left hand thumb position while playing scales. I’ve expanded on it to discuss the left thumb in general. Find more video lessons here, or check out pages for free sheet music or gear reviews. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter for pro videos, lessons, and sheet music.

Here’s the original question: “I would like to know how the left hand thumb performs on the back of the neck of the guitar while playing scales.  Does it traverse across the neck while fingers maintain their same curvature or is it static while the fingers curl more tightly & the wrist drops more so as to remain straight? All lessons that I can find only show the fingers in action from a front perspective. “


Ask a Question or Leave a Positive Comment

  1. Hello Bradford
    I have just joined your news letter and have your 20 exercise book. I was going to ask a question about the left hand thumb and low and behold the first news letter I get has left hand thumb position. I agree with the questioner that there seems very little on this. Thanks again. I am 64 and only started playing 2 years ago. but it has become my passion. Really enjoy your work.

  2. Question. I notice the tip joint of your thumb is fully extended. The reason I ask is that I used to extend the joint like that but then started having some issues with trigger thumb. Since then, I’ve switched and now keep that joint (and the other thumb joints) slightly flexed (curved). Now that I’ve gotten used to doing it that way, it seems more relaxed, natural and consistent with keeping the other LH fingers curved. (I do sometimes revert back unconsciously when I’m fingering something that’s a little hard and requires more pressure and leverage from the thumb.)

    Is there a right and wrong on this?

    • This is often more question of tension in the thumb more than anything. In general, the thumb is relaxed and not bent at the tip segment. I’ve never interacted or seen any pros that play with a bent tip. That said, everyone is different and many pros have their oddities.