I've read so many articles and watched many a video telling me my thumb needs to be placed on the back of the neck, ideally as vertical as possible. I'm not doubting this is wrong. It's even backed up when I watch accomplished guitarists by the fact it's only the tip of their thumb I can see. It's said this will help alleviate pain and strain and allow more reach.
But, and you knew there was a but coming, I find the opposite is true. When I lift my hand to the neck, to shape the chord I'm practising at the time, my thumb wants to naturally go into one of two positions (depending on the chord). It either want to go come way up so that the joint sits level with the top of the neck. Or it wants to lie almost horizontally along the length of the neck (pointing to the head stock, of course).
What's more, when I use the 'wrong' thumb position, I can get much closer to shaping the chord than I can if I force my thumb into the correct position. The only downside to having my thumb incorrectly placed is that my palm often mutes the high E string, but that said a small adjustment will prevent this.
The images below show my feeble efforts to shape an A chord. One shows a bad thumb position, the other a slightly better one (it's about as low as I can get my thumb down the back without causing pain). They might both look fairly relaxed, but the second felt very awkward and caused a lot of strain (yes, I do try to relax as best I can when playing).
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