Lesson Series: “0 To 60, An Introduction to Alternate Picking” - Lesson 47

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Todd Simpson
Todd Simpson

LESSON #47 - (Learning to Play The Impossible) - Working Your Stretch and Playing Without Your Thumb!

Lesson Series by Todd Simpson

It has come to my attention that several students are struggling with hand position and in order to help work through it, we are going to work on our stretch and (get this) learn to play WITHOUT YOUR THUMB!

First, let's warm up and work our stretch. So do our usual warm up stretches and wrist rolls. Once you are warm, take a look at this tablature. Let’s alternate pick this as it’s only on one string so no traverse is involved and it will be good practice.


We will work our way up on this. At it’s toughest point, this involves an 8 Fret Stretch. That is a serious, killer, massive, stretch and you may not be able to do it at first. Don’t worry, it will come.

Let’s now do a bit more of a “Hammer On” thing, this will push up our speed while using the stretch we just worked on. So strike only once on the open string, and hammer on the other two notes per section.


Now let’s work on our left thumb. Thumb placement on the neck is critical. And if you already have bad habits on thumb placement, it can really get in your way and stop you from getting better. So let’s take the thumb out of the equation. Once you can generate enough finger strength to not need your thumb on the neck, you can essentially re-learn your thumb placement as you can essentially play without it, so adding it back becomes easier.

Let’s revisit LESSON 4 from our notes page and try it simply play it while your left thumb floats free and doesn't touch the guitar neck.


Now let’s add a bit of complexity in, here is our first “Back and Forth” lesson, LESSON 5. Again, let’s try it without the thumb.