Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

New Player - Finger Position Question...


Recommended Posts

Hey Board,


Just bought my first guitar (Fender American Strat) after working for a living - with some free time I want to learn to play.


As I had hoped, there is a forum of fantastic musicians and artists willing to "chime" in and provide some guidance....


I have been practicing my finger exercises (ouch) and am having difficulty getting my wrist and fingers in a position to avoid touching the "open" strings in a chord. While I have XL hands, I'm not a mutant giant or anything....


Consequently, the open strings sound flat since a part of my finger is touching them unintentionally...


Is this something that improves with practice, equipment changes or am I doomed from the start???



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 16
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Hey TAnthony, welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of guitar playing.


Ellwood and 's Mel give excellent advice.


I'd like to add to that.


You can't play up on your fingertips like Ellwood is saying if your nails are too long. In most playing situations the fingers have to be rounded, not just to clear the strings "next door" but to make the proper connection to the fingerboard at the finger tip. If the nail is too long you "bottom out" not on the fingertip and the bone beneath it but at the nail. Take your fingers, one at a time, and pointing them straight out, point down to and touch a table or some hard surface. Like your finger is a fence post dug straight down to the ground. If the fingertip "pad" gives and you hit bone without the finger nail being in the way then you're good. Otherwise clip the nails a little. Not too much, but you may have to get used to what the right fingernail length is. There was a recent thread about a guy that clipped his nails too short or maybe also to infrequently, you don't want that either.


Each person's hand has a different bone structure, so that what one person's hands look like on the guitar won't be many others. The knuckles in the middle of my fingers are like wider apart than my finger tips and my knuckles where my fingers meet the hand. Consquently I play on the "outside" of my pinky and the outside of my index and right in what would be the sweet spot on my middle and ring fingers. I imagine that with bigger hands you'd play more straight up on the "sweet spot" than me, but only you'll know.


Also, the guitar has to be placed right on you body-- that is either sitting or standing-- and at the right angle. I'd suggest playing sitting down and adopting a more classical looking position. A good book that shows this is "The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless Playing" by Lee F. Ryan. I'm not saying buy the book, but look at the picture if you see the book in a book store. Also Noad's method has good pictures of the proper position.


The Pumping Nylon book is good but there is a big mistake about thumb placement on the neck in it. He says to place the thumb like underneath the middle finger. This causes too much tension in most playing situations. The thumb should be fully relaxed (even when playing barres as much as possible anyway) and in the middle of the neck (not up over the neck sticking out like you're hitchhiking) most of the time, and it can trail behind the first finger a bit. The thumb may come up and over for some things (some bends, off the top of my head) but not for like playing scales or most chords.


Sorry for the long post, but these were some things I thought you should be thinking about as you find the right playing posture for yourself.

check out some comedy I've done:


My Unitarian Jihad Name: Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I was about to ask abut the nails. Thanks, Hair!


But like everyone else said, it's just a matter of practising. Bear in mind that you are asking your hands to do something completely new and like all physical things (yoga, say) it takes time to get used to it. It's definitely nothing to do with equipment, and you are certainly not doomed from the start! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What everyone else said! All excellent advise. Have fun with it and give your fingers time to gain some strength. And remember to include ALL your fingers. I have seen many beginners avoid using their pinky finger. Although harder to develop, it is just as important as the other three.


A nice choice for your first guitar! Gee, my first 2 electrics were nowhere near that nice! Take care!



Reverbnation stuff

More Reverbnation stuff

I feel happy! I feel happy!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

what helped me was a tennis ball take the ball and wrap your hand around it thumb on bottom the rest of your fingers on top roll the ball in from the tip of your thumb while rolling you fingers to their tips and stretch your fingers out feel the burn.... don't give up it only gets better have fun while you play thats the key..



all chucks children are out there playing his licks


*Bob Seger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow.... these responses are way more than I had hoped for what seems to me to be a fairly rudimentary question! I tried different positions last night and think I've gotten "closer" to one that will allow me to play more effectively - and encompassing much of what is advised - everything from the fingernail lenghth to bone structure to playing on different pieces of the each fingertip - all excellent advice and the most prevalent - practice..... which I am going off to do now in the back of my car during lunch!!


I have to go try the tennis ball thing too.... the "Gripmaster" gets a little slippery!!


Thanks again!!!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

That sure is a nice first guitar! I think that acoustics are the best to learn on. Especially if you are learning basic chords with open strings. If you don't have an acoustic,get one. Nylon strings are great and easy to play, but steel/bronze might be better. The fingerboards on most acoustics will be much wider than your Strat, so your fingering might be a little easier if you have big hands. Of course they are harder to play, but when you move to electric it will be that much easier.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...