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Thumb Thing

I am a beginner with an Ariette and working my way through Powell's tapes. Before you slap me, my Bon Cajun is being made. Question: Is getting the thumb position in the strap a rite of passage or what? I lengthened the strap on the Ariette where my thumb rests on the side and positioned it where my index finger rests on #5. However, when I play, if I have my thumb exactly resting on the side, I have trouble reaching the higher buttons and it seems too cramped to play properly, and my thumb will ache. I have a regular straight thumb, not a hitch-hikers thumb. I find it more relaxed and easier to play by resting my thumb on the edge of the back of the keyboard instead of on the side, but the edge is sharp and not that comfortable after a while. Should I round the back edge a little or am I just a whiner? I want to spend more time playing and less worrying about the thumb thing.

Re: Thumb Thing

Welcome to the Thumb Thang Whiners Club. We don't offer discounts like AARP though.

You will not be able to reach the buttons on the low end of the scale with the thumb locked to the edge of the board. You have to dislodge to get those.

I too started out playing with my thumb behind the keyboard, and no one at the time seemed to be able to give me a good reason for putting it on the edge. It hurt. And all people could say was "That's the way you're suppposed to play it."

I did find, that as I began playing in a more complicated style, and jumping around the keyboard more, I needed that anchor in order to gauge my jumps.

As my playing is getting even more complicated, I'm starting to see the wisdom of putting a rubberband around the thumb strap. Its just one more positional feedback cue for gauging my hand position on the board.

But, using that ****ed strap hurts, I know. Once you kill off the nerves in your hand, things should be just fine.

Seriously, it doesn't keep hurting, at least not to the same degree, and you also don't notice it as much after a while.

And, pretty soon, you'll have that quality pain from a La. hand-made box. Expensive pain is always easier to handle. It glitters too.


Re: Re: Thumb Thing

Thanks Dwight. I think I found a solution. I normally play standing up. If I tilt the box forward 45 degrees, instead of the normal 30 degrees, and lengthen the shoulder strap, I can twist lock my thumb in as you suggested and it will be on the side of the box with tip pointing forward. This is much easier and confortable and allows me to move and reach everything.

Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

How many inches (estimated) are your fingers? You don't have to answer that if you don't want to!

Re: Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

Little one is 2 1/4", index is 2 5/8", middle is 3", ring is 2 7/8, thumb is 2 1/2". All measured from point of initiation on palm. I think I am normal, but opinions vary.

Re: Thumb Thing

Yes! This is perfect! Enjoy the pain while it lasts. Know that it means you are getting better every day!
Eventually the side off your thumb will start to look and feel like the bottom of your foot. THEN you'll be a real accordion player!

Re: Re: Thumb Thing

This is why I sound like I"m playing the accordion with my foot? Wonders never cease.

Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

That's why two-steps are so prevalent in cajun music.


Thank you ladies and germs. Don't forget to tip your waitress and please...try the shrimp.

Steps....Foot.... Hello? Is this thing on?

Re: Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

Herve Villechaise is on trial?

Re: Thumb Thing

Hey Alexander,
Oh yeah the thumb thing, something we all wrestle with at the start. When I start playing I had that same problem. I wanted to stick that thumb behind the board, I thought I would never reach them top keys. Well the good folks on this board said, put that thumb on the side. So I did, it took awhile to train that hand. But in time you be surprise how all of a sudden those fingers reached all the buttons. It just a matter of patience and training that hand. It will take time, but you will get there. Pivot your hand slighty when trying to reach the top or bottom buttons, it does not take much. Your going to work muscles you have not work before in your hand, so it may be sore for awhile.
Have fun learning.
Mark from Arkansas

Re: Re: Thumb Thing

Thanks Mark. It is heartfelt to hear encouragement from someone who feels my pain. I will keep plugging with thumb on the side. Hopefully it will click someday.
Alexander, South Padre Island

Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

I find it's helpful to tilt the top of the accordion outward so that the alignment of one's right arm from elbow all the way through the wrist is a straight line. Guitar players develop callouses on their fingertips - most accordion players I know have a big one on the left side of their right thumb.

I think developing a comfortable and proper technique when learning will really help one progress as a player.

Keep plugging, and bon chance.

Re: Re: Re: Thumb Thing

if it helps, go to www.stupid.com (real website). They have band-aids that look like strips of bacon. Protect your thumb and start a conversation. Or end one. Not sure which.

Don't know why, but I've never had any pain.

I have always been surprised hearing people talk about thumb pain and getting callouses on the thumb. I have never experienced any of that, but I can't say why.

One thing that was an issue on my very first accordion, an HA-114B, was the plastic thumbstrap was uncomfortable. The problem was that the edge of the plastic was rather sharp, and cut into the skin a bit. But I soon replaced it with a softer leather strap, and that was the end of that problem.

Are people experiencing pain because the thumb strap is too tight? I hate an excessively loose strap, but I don't crank it down either. I find that I do like to use a rubber band, but again, it is adjusted to be comfortably snug but not overly tight.


Re: Don't know why, but I've never had any pain.

Me too...don't ever have thumb pain or numbness...or
callouses. Not sure what I'm doing different. I play most
days for an hour or more and sometimes on the weekend for
a few hours at a time.


Re: Thumb Thing

The right position should help you (i.e. 45%, etc.).
By the way, you never have use the #1 top button. This is a redondant note that in the past would be used as a frame of reference to tune the accordion. #2 button is much easier to reach.

first button

I've seen Steve Riley and Dexter Ardoin use the 1st button... let's say 99 % of us never use it!


Re: first button

i use it
but i had it changed on my bflat accordion
to a 'g' note
[key of c equivalent would be 'a'. so you can
do pull octaves with the other a..]


Re: Re: first button

I use the first button only to end a song, once in a while, to make a fat pull chord ending.

I've seen Wilson Savoy use that button in tons of songs with the melody, I don't know how he does it. I should look into using it more often


Re: Re: Re: first button

the thing about using it for a big pull ending is,
you have the bass button for that..

and the bass chord button.

i guess having yet one more source for a low 'g'
adds a little but i would rather have a low 'a'


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