Proper wrist/hand position for minor pentatonic licks?

So, I just started my journey into to playing some lead guitar and had a question about wrist/hand positioning for doing minor pentatonic licks. Specifically, when playing licks in position 1 with the A minor pentatonic scale.

My first instinct is to play them with my thumb behind the neck, but I noticed that despite trying my best to dampen the strings I still get some noise (This is really my first week trying lead so it could just be lack of practice). I also noticed some really talented players (including justin) play licks in this position with their thumb over the neck to dampen the low E string and their fingers close together (I assume to help dampen as well.)

I made a video to illustrate this, but please excuse my overall bad technique, I’m just trying to show what I’m talking about if anyone is confused. I do 2 licks in the video, the first time I do them with my thumb behind the neck (though I almost do the second lick with thumb over by mistake lol). The second time I do it with my thumb over the neck and with my fingers closer together.

I guess my question is which is the more proper technique? Is either? How do you do A minor pentatonic licks in this position? I just don’t want to gain any bad habits this early on with my lead playing. Thanks in advance for the help!



A couple of things.

You won’t bend effectively without your thumb over the neck. You need to squeeze the thumb down, while pivoting your fingers via the knuckle joint of the pinkie at the edge of the hand ie a rotational movement - not pushing up with the fingers alone.

What is more important is what your picking hand is doing. The palm should be used to mute the strings above (the thicker ones) the string you are picking. The fretting hand should mute the strings (the thinner ones) below the string you are picking.

Once doing the above you will likely find your thumb is up around, if not over the neck but the key to muting the thicker strings is in the picking palm.

Hope that helps.



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Hi Alex,
What Toby says,…here’s a lesson to illustrate :smiley:



Thanks so much for your advice, Toby! I’ll start using my picking hand to try and mute. A quick test and it’s muting too many strings, but that just means I need to practice more!

Any advice when doing licks in the octave position, I have a hard time getting my thumb over the neck of my LP there. Here’s the same licks there to show you what I mean:

Thanks! I’ll definitely check this out. I feel like I’m sometimes scared to look at things in the intermediate course cause technically I’m on grade 3, but I shouldn’t be. I’m at the end of grade 3 anyway.

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I would highly recommend having a look around here

…and if only there were some kind of new and shiny blues/lead structured course heading this way :thinking:

As Toby suggested, Justin hits home a lot about palm /(side of hand) muting. It is tricky, it’s like trying to use a big joint of ham to delicately mute a string 4mm from the one you’re picking. But it’s fairly essential for this.

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Thanks Dave! Buying the course day 1! Yeah, I definitely have been neglecting the pick hand mute, it’ll be in my practice routine starting today. :slight_smile:

For those bends up the dusty end, you won’t get thumb to hook but you can set it on top of the neck as close to the body as possible. I can get up to the 20th fret like that on my Studios but its a stretch and hurts like heck where the dust is or at least to start with :rofl:


Not the best technique for a quick snap as the fingers should be in line on the e string to support the bend.

Its all a matter of practice and patience,


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Yeah, me too. Looking forward to it, could be good craic if a few of us sign up. Feels like it’s all been for the beginners for a while now. Justin’s herding us all back in :grinning:


Indeed, thanks so much for your nuggets of wisdom Toby. Haven’t even looked through Justin’s blues lead course yet and I’ve already gotten a lot out of this thread.

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