Whether you’re playing barre chords, simple open chords – or blazing fast riffs as you race through a lead solo in front of your adoring (and maybe even topless ;) ) fans – perfecting your finger positioning is key to getting the best possible sound. A lot of the tips here might seem a bit remedial for intermediate/advanced players but it’s still worth a good read! :) If you’re a beginner having trouble, hopefully these tips will get you sorted out in no time! :)


Let’s look at the most common mistakes that beginners make with their fretting hand.


(1) Check to see if your fretting hand fingers are lying across the strings too much. Ideally, your fingers should be at something resembling a right angle to the strings they’re assigned to and touching the appropriate strings with fingertips only! The rest of each finger should be “lifted” off the fretboard – so to speak – thus creating the right angle (at the joint before the fingertip) that I refer to above. Nothing deadens guitar chords faster than improper finger positioning and accidentally muted strings all over the place. See the diagram below.


good finger position example


That’s how your fingers should be positioned – not lying across the strings(with the obvious exception of barre chords!). :)


(2) Check the position of your fingertips relative to the fret they’re in. You’ll get the best sound if you put them just before the adjacent fret wire of the next fret (going up the neck). For example, if you index finger is supposed to be in the 2nd fret, you want to position your index finger tip just behind the wire adjoining the 2nd fret to the 3rd. This creates the cleanest sound possible with the least effort! :)


(3) Finally, a good way to check (and tweak) your finger positioning is a bit of advice that I’ve given before in the context of barre chords. Fret any chord that’s giving you trouble and pick the strings individually to see which notes create problems. Once your discover a problem string, make little adjustments until the string behaves itself. :P You should check, especially, for wayward fingers deadening strings that they shouldn’t be touching. Remember, the only part of your fingers that should be touching the fretboard is the fingertips (other than barre chords obviously).


4) Oops…I almost forgot…your thumb should NEVER be used to “grip” the guitar neck while you’re still learning to play. Rock stars can do it (and you can too once you improve) but it will make the learning process much harder because it restricts finger movement so much and promote the other errors I talked about earlier. It should lie comfortable against the back of the neck at all times! :)


Good guitar chord finger positioning is very important in getting a clear sound as you play – instead of the irritating buzz of dead strings. Follow the tips here and you should be well on your way to perfecting your technique! :)


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P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!