Playing Thumb Chords

For many guitar players, using the fret-hand thumb to play notes of the 6th string while completing the rest of a chord with the other fingers can be quite the challenge.

These types of chord voicings are used in many different styles of guitar including rock, jazz and blues. The length and flexibility of your thumb will definitely be a factor in how easy these chords are for you to play, but they are not the only factor.

Those of us (myself included), who are not born with very long thumbs can still overcome it with proper training. This video will give a you a simple chord progression using common chord voicings that use this technique. It will require your thumb to play all the notes on the 6th string descending chromatically.

The main thing I hope you get out of this lesson is an understanding of how the position of your wrist has a huge impact on how playable these chords will be for you. I will demonstrate in the video how just lightly raising the inside of your wrist towards your face greatly facilitates your thumb. It will also have the benefit of angling your other fingers so they can play the rest of the chord.

The reason we use this technique is generally because it allows us to have an extra finger available where we would usually have to play a bar chord. That extra finger allows us to do musical embellishments to the chord that would otherwise be impossible. Of course, the most note-worthy player that used this chord style is Jimi Hendrix. Most rock players you see using this technique are doing it from the direct influence of Hendrix.

However, don't forget about the many great players even before Hendrix's time, mainly jazz players, that were liberally using this technique to do chord work that would otherwise be impossible.

Don't forget to "Grab The TAB" for this lesson here:

Playing Thumb Chords TAB PDF Download

I hope this lesson helps any players out there that have struggled with this technique!


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Playing Thumb Chords On The Guitar


  1. Manolito Sy on March 29, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Very helpful

  2. Manolito Sy on March 29, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Is there a fingerstYle solo tutorial for WAVE?

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