Anyone know how to get rid of thumb joint movement?

Looking for any tips on removing this bad habit. It’s somewhat minimal but it’s there and its unconscious. The only solution I’ve discovered is gripping the pick harder but this seems to result in thumb joint pain over time. Let me know what’s up. Thanks.

When is your thumb moving exactly?

I followed some of the suggestions in this video and it helped my grip out https://www.reddit.com/r/guitarplaying/comments/fgfvna/lesson_from_anton_oparin_how_to_hold_a_pick_if/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf

Basically reinforcing with your middle finger at an angle, pushing on your index so you’re getting a bit extra force from that side and also finding a sturdy spot of your thumb to push against.

Using a wider pick helped make it more stable/easier to make sure you’re bracing it against the bony parts of the index. I started using the Jazz 3 XL 1mm picks and they work pretty well for this.

I appreciate the suggestion. I’ve already seen that video and I’ve been switching over to this method of holding the pick. I also have already been using Jazz III XL 1.5mm for a long time. I’m still getting some thumb movement even with the middle finger reinforcing the pointer. I’ve also tried to join his program but due to the current sanctions it’s not possible for Americans.

What is the problem that this is causing for you?

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@RobertFlores Yeah it might be good to pinpoint this with a video of specific stuff you feel like it’s interfering with -

Since you mention crosspicking being a big hurdle - if it’s just one note per string crosspicking or crosspicking in general, and the thumb movement is really that the pick is wiggling a bit, throwing off the playing, I understand that issue, I’ve experimented a lot.

Things I’ve worked on with that lately -

First, consider if you’re digging in way too hard just because Anton does in that video. Just dig in enough that you get a little bit of twang and it’s not just sliding past the string.

Consciously work on finding an optimal pick angle, a moderate angle probably under 45 degrees, nothing too crazy, but pay attention as you toy with it to symmetry. That is - does it get caught more often playing downstroke or upstroke? If so, you need to make an adjustment. If you feel asymmetry, you need to make adjustments. Focus on just the G string. Adjust everything slightly, just keep tremolo picking until you find something that feels smooth. You might have to supinate more or less, change how you extend your wrist out or add a little slight forearm in with the wrist etc. you really just have to work on making sure your picking is symmetrical on top of having the 902 motion roughly down.

Once you have that figured out, try moving it to lower strings. Just one string at a time, see if you can avoid catching on the string while tremolo picking by finding the right amount of pick angle + supination. Work on drilling that.

Move on to string pairs. Work on the E and A string, just try to maintain form, and play some Gilbert exercises at moderate pace, not super fast just steady and clean. Work on hand sync, work on moving up and down the fretboard and work on more patterns.

Try these patterns on each pair of strings. Make that part of your daily drill. Get your hands used to how each pair of strings feel when you apply the right technique and the pick feels smooth.

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Here’s a vid, didn’t warm up at all just got back from the gym and meal prepping so this should be a good example cause it’s not me trying to make it seem better or anything. Also, I decided to use a guitar I haven’t played this week so it feels less familiar It’s sloppy and raw but I’m trying to remain relaxed while trying not to allow the thumb to get involved, which it does unconsciously. I can see it in real time in my webcam which I use a mirror. I’m also working on keeping my picking hand shoulder relaxed because I’ve noticed it has a tendency to get into a shrugged position.

I’m not the best here at pinpointing from visuals what might be off, but does it feel at all like your pick is getting caught when you’re playing that? It looks like you’re maybe digging in more than you need to or something is causing some stiffness in the wrist.

I saw you tried the “play fast to find the motion” advice, and it looked like Troy was suggesting you keep at that swipey/sloppy motion in an older thread.

I can only speak to my experience doing something similar - First, I had to bounce between that and medium or even super slow speed playing a lot for cross picking. Every single day, even within the same practice session, it felt like I had to find the motion all over again by playing that sloppy, awful sounding swipey stuff, banging into strings, but I used it as just one part of practice. To get my wrist used to feeling loose and playing at a high speed and hone in on what that “relaxed” motion should feel like.

BUT - and this is the part I don’t see mentioned elsewhere, I would switch to a meditation on the motion at a slow speed - I would take it down to moderate or even really slow speeds and close my eyes while playing and try to keep it relaxed, but what I would do is really focus on letting my wrist drop down on a down stroke, like purposely relax into it, let gravity and the weight of my hand push through the string, think about how that feels. Try just down strokes for a bit. Then also think about upstroke, and bigger picture, think about how what I need to capture is the bouncing motion I was feeling when I was going faster. This wasn’t an analytical process, trying to out-think a bad motion, it was really trying to feel through it at a slow speed and recognize that ultimately it’s the combo of letting gravity do its work with a deliberate reflex that needs to trigger at the right spot to catch the next string.

So I would consciously think about that I need to build up this reflex of letting my hand fall into the downstroke, and flick back up into the upstroke like catching myself in a fall, and try to keep alternating between that falling state and reflexive flicking motion as loose as possible. Not even playing in quick succession, no tremolo at this point, just playing arpeggios super slowly but thinking about that - dropping the hand past the note and trying to “catch” it at the bottom with a reflexive feeling “jerk” motion back up, and hit the next note. Trying to make it feel natural.

Purposely alternating between that slow, meditative approach, and the sloppy fast “find the motion” approach, and doing it every single day without skipping, has been for me, the only way that has felt like it gave me clear, definite progress over time, day after day.

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I also had a lot of bad habits I worked to break over the last year, getting back into serious playing, and I think that meditative process thinking about and feeling the motion is my way of going about breaking habits, trying to get into a trance and notice my motions, and break the meditative state when I feel it’s slipping into an old habit.

But it could just be something that works for me - I picked up the idea from Steve Vai originally I think, he talks a lot about trying to meditate on a motion or a theme etc.

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Do you have time to get on a Zoom call sometime? Perhaps we can help each other and potentially write some music or something? I will say I feel closer than I ever have to “cracking the code”

I feel relaxed for sure and able to speed it up and slow it down with out too much variation in physical technique. Now it’s just a matter of getting the small details I believe.

Lmk if you’re down to link up on Zoom. If we both can crack this than maybe we can save others a lot of frustration

Cheers :beers:

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Might be able to zoom at some point here, I have a weird schedule right now since I live on a 3 hour time zone difference from work. Lately I’ve just been trying to basically journal my progress and see where I get.

I feel like part of the problem is people have different learning styles, the mode of presentation here is super analytical, and requires a lot of shared vocabulary, and there’s a level of disorganization still because a lot of things are still being figured out over time.

There’s probably some set of people that can only learn one on one in person - shit, maybe there’s some room for like a CtC meetup system. I’ve seen way more niche groups do something like that.

All those badass 80s guys had a big group of fellow guitarists to hang out with in Cali or NYC etc and showed each other stuff.

One observation: if you lock the thumb joint and never change the anchor point, you’ll necessarily have different degrees of edge picking on different strings.

Hence, I’m not sure why we’d want to do that!

Interesting you mentioned this. I could be totally wrong or In could be right and it may not matter at all but ive begun to notice that AO and PGilbert have what sort of looks like a shrugged shoulder when they play. To clarify, idk if shrugged shoulder is the right phrase but rather their you see less of the anterior side of the forearm and more of the radial forearm line, with the elbow being abducted a bit and possibly the shoulder raised up a hair. In comparison, lots of
Other players you see their arm rest more parallel to the guitar body and more anterior forearm. Let me know if this makes sense or is confusing. Just an observation

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Yeah doing that makes supination feel more natural

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I mean you can probably get away with it if you’re not crosspicking. Seems like the best crosspickers use very little finger motion.

I think the major problem with this community is the start with speed thing. Sure I can play Tumeni Notes sloppy as hell. How is that going to clean up? I don’t think it will. I think one will just get bad habits that feel comfortable.

The thumb joint is an articulation point, it gives you extra freedom and movement, and your body has outright decided that it wants to use the thumb as you’re picking.

I honestly don’t think thumb movement its an issue.
It’s been pointed out by people like MAB that the thumb tightens up as you get faster, but that is a subconscious thing, it’s not something you should interfere with. And most people who lock the thumb have a picking technique that allows this.

With your picking Technique I think thumb movement should absolutely be used. As Tommo said, you need this articulation to get a consistent pick attack. Otherwise you will encounter different forces as you change strings. And that will slow you down.

I think it gets misinterpreted a lot, you definitely shouldn’t be playing fast and sloppy long enough to develop habits in that mode of playing (at least how I take it and what’s worked for me) it’s there to solve a couple major problems - not knowing what the motion should feel like as a baseline when you’re relaxed, and identifying whether the motion you’re using right now can actually go fast without tension even if you haul off any play sloppy. More of a “check” to come back to than something to sit there for hours doing.

You play fast for a burst of time, keeping in mind the picking motion you’re going for, to feel what your right hand is supposed to feel like when playing fast and relaxed, or figure out if you can’t do the motion without tension. If you can’t, try another motion or see if you can make some other adjustment, keep trying them out in short bursts until something feels like it clicks (hopefully, that might take a while and you might have to cycle back through all the motions a few times). Then, once you have a motion that feels like it could be developed, you clean it up by going back and playing slowly or moderate paced and clean with a metronome keeping as relaxed as possible. From there you may have to revisit the ‘fast’ motion again and again by playing fast and sloppy, then reeling it back in and cleaning it up by practicing more slowly as soon as you get the feel again.

Maybe that’s just a certain percentage of players that work that way, but it’s worked for enough that you have a lot of community reinforcement.

If you have a live teacher who knows the motion already and can pinpoint issues you’re having from experience, maybe starting slower is more fruitful, they can convey the motion to you and have experience with what pitfalls students run into.

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That might be a general rule, but there are a few extremely good crosspickers who use quite a lot of thumb and finger movement, potentially because it’s a good helper motion to escape the strings. A good example is Tony Rice.

Yngiwe uses a lot of thumb and finger movement too - can sound amazing!

Who doesn’t love Yngwie :slight_smile:

But I think @RobertFlores was interested in patterns that YJM himself does not play (alternate picked arpeggios and so on).

For what it’s worth, I think I can se a little movement in Steve Morse’s grip when he plays the famous tumeni arpeggios (watch at 0.25 slomo and keep an eye on the angle of the thumb joint). It’s not a huge amount of movement, and maybe it’s idiosyncratic and not strictly necessary. But this at least shows you that a little motion in the grip does not really impede “crosspicking”:

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