I am physically unable to bend my thumb. not because of an injury--it's just the way it is. In order to compensate for the extra distance between my palm and the neck of the guitar, I am more prone to put extra pressure on the lower joint that connects the thumb to your palm.

My hand:

My hand

I noticed all guitar players can bend their thumbs, am I out of luck when it comes to playing the guitar?

Guitar players' hand: Guitar players' hand


You haven't said what sort of guitar or playing you hope to do, but it doesn't have to be a problem. People with far greater disabilities than this have become great players.

There's really no great necessity to squeeze with the thumb on the back of the neck. It would appear so, and an awful lot of guitarists do it without realising, but with careful thinking and positioning of the instrument, it's just not needed.

That's obviously a classical guitar in the pic., but if you use an electric with a well sorted out action, the thumb pressure is even less. And it doesn't have to bend backwards anyway. Just enough tension to hold down the strings is good, most of which can be exerted through the two arms/hands.


It is not extremely common to be able to bend your thumb backwards. I can't at all and have absolutely no issues.


Virtually no physical limitation will stop a determined player from getting good. (Case in point:


A player's unique limitations contribute to their unique style.

Don't worry about it too much. Hold the guitar however feels comfortable and right to you. There is no single correct way to play.

  • Dude. Wow. How does he make his feet into those shapes? – General Nuisance Dec 14 '16 at 18:05
  • Hard work and determination – vofa Dec 14 '16 at 18:07

My thumb bends less than yours and I've been playing string instruments for 37 years or so. My current band seems to have been successful gigging and touring for the last 7 years. I play everything from classical to heavy metal, via blues and rock.

Actually, I have never met a guitarist whose thumb bends like that in your picture.

I'm not sure why you think it would even be needed. Having a broad hand span is actually far more useful.

  • Right. My thumb does bend like that in certain positions... and in fact I occasionally worry if I should do something against that. – leftaroundabout Dec 14 '16 at 22:43

It is not clear exactly how much movement you have, but I will say my daughter has had thumbs that do not bend at the last (Interphalangeal) joint since birth. She plays violin and ukulele just fine.

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