Fretting Hand Position

As I said in the previous article, the fretting hand is your left hand (unless you're playing left-handed guitar. In this case it'll be your right hand).

The thumb is placed behind the neck and commonly do not participate directly in playing. The fingers press the strings against the frets.

guitar left hand position – the fingers    guitar left hand position – the thumb

Keep the fingers in roundish form like you would hold a lemon.
The taps of the fingers are used to press the strings.

guitar fretting hand position

Do not bend the finger like in the picture below.

       little barre example

The exception can be if you need to play a couple of nearby strings at the same fret, in this case you can lay down and press the phalanx of the finger across these strings. This method of fretting is called Little Barre and it's often used in guitar chords.

The fingers on the fretting hand are identified as:

  • the index finger is the 1st finger
  • the middle finger is the 2nd finger
  • the ring finger is the 3rd finger
  • and the pinky finger is the 4th finger.

Note that in guitar anatomy word fret means a metal stripe located across the fingerboard.
However when talking about guitar playing, the word fret means the space between two metal frets and not the metal fret itself.

For an instance, if you see a note at the third fret on a guitar tab, it actually means you need to press the string between the second and the third metal fret to get that note.

3rd fret in guitar tab

3rd fret on guitar fingerboard

It's better to press the strings close to the right metal fret instead of the center because you'll need to apply less pressure to get clean sound and your fingers will navigate easier around the fingerboard.

Watch and eliminate any unnecessary tension in your hands and arms that can often take place while you're in the beginning stage.
The tension is like a rust, it makes playing clumsy, abruptly and hard.

I play guitar myself for more than a few years and sometimes the same problem occurs with me as well, especially when I need to play something fast and forget to warm up the fingers by practicing first in the slow tempo.


Note: you might encounter "0" figure on guitar tab lines.
The "0" stays for an open string. In order to play a note on an open string, avoid touching this string with your fretting hand and just pick it with your picking hand. It is the easiest note to play.


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Related Articles:

  How to Hold a Guitar

• Fretting Hand Positioning

  How to Hold a Guitar Pick