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Classic fret hand position

What's the classic positioning for the fret hand on an acoustic (not electric) guitar to get really good clean fretting without touching other strings? How should the wrist, forearm and fingers be angled relative to each other and to the guitar?

I ask because I'm trying to master the standard 3 finger G Major chord and I only have short fingers, so I'm finding that with my ring finger over on string 6 its difficult to get the pinky to reach over and get string 1 cleanly without muting 5 or just hitting the edge of the remains of my nail (it's as short as it can be wihtout damage).

Some people I know can bend the 3rd joint of the pinky backwards so that it stands upright, but mine just curls inwards naturally, and bending the finger back just doesn't seem sensible to me.

Any acoustic/classical experts with perfect technique out there who can help?
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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/19/2000 10:58 AM

Lawrence Flatman (4) wrote:

Ooops - In 2nd para, I meant "without muting string2", not 5!

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/19/2000 11:08 AM

Steve Suomu (680) wrote:

There are many solutions, I'll give a few suggestions:

1. Use fingers 1,2, and 3

2. Bring the RH thumb over the neck a bit (this tends to let the fingers arch more)

3. The first knuckle (on any finger) will get stronger over time if you are aware of it, and make an effort to Correct it's natural tendency to flatten.

4. Don't worry about the fifth string, I usually play the G with my 2,3,and 4th fingers like so-

As for technique the forearm, wrist and back of hand should form a straight line (or straight as possible) a little arch in the wrist is nessesary at times.

Hope this helps. Steve

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/19/2000 12:44 PM

Chester Horton (10480) wrote:

Hi Lawrence
To simplify an answer to your question , you can use fingers 1,2 and 4 to play the G maj

Finger 1 on A(5th string 2nd fret) 2 on G(6th string 3rd fret) 4 on G(1st string 3rd fret

Proper position for your thumb is a little higher than half-way up the neck from the bottom and as nearly opposite the middle finger as possible. The lower you drop your thumb (within reason) the better your reach , so to speak, will be. To play this GMajor chord your thumb will b probably be a little lower than half way on the neck(going from bottom to top) and in line with the middle finger holding the 6(E bass) string with. The straight line principle above is a good guideline but not always possible for everyone depending on how big you are and your build. The elbow should be out away from the side and with short fingers the wrist will almost certainly be bent toward the forarm a little. The fingers should hold the strings right at the fret wires but not over the wires for good tone. Practice holding the chord and striking one string at a time from 6 to 1 to make sure of your tone, then strum all to "hear" the entire chord. I still do this exercise with difficult chords to insure good tone.
Hope this helps
Happy Holidays

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/19/2000 5:11 PM

Bradley Fair (378) wrote:

Well, if you know the proper sitting position than this will come easier, if not, support the bend in your guitar on your non-dominant leg and the end of it between your dominant and non-dominant leg. Then, this is the first step. The next thing to do is put your hand (fret hand) to your favorite chord, and when you do this, your thumb should automatically fall approximately about where the middle of the fret that your index finger is. This is the best sitting position I have used, but you might not favor it. at first, it will look very sickly, but it is the most helpful.

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/19/2000 9:00 PM

Pauline Leland (604) wrote:

Try playing with as little pressure as possible to still get a good sound. You can fret without your thumb (not as a regula thing, just to try it). Some can even barre without using their thumb. I'm no expert, and have to keep reminding myself to let up on the death grip, especially with chords.

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/20/2000 2:57 PM

Jim Capozziello (1919) wrote:

I found myself gripping the neck too tight which was causing problems changing chords and moving up and down the neck. I was also tiring too quickly. I started wearing my strap even when sitting. What a difference this seems to make. I find holding the guitar with my right arm like I'm supposed to is easier and my left hand is freer and less tired. Even barre-ing is easier, tho I still seem to have trouble at the first fret, but that's another story! Keep practicing -- it all gets easier. But remember -- if it was easy, then everyone would do it and then where would we be!!


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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/21/2000 1:15 AM

Pauline Leland (604) wrote:

Here's a post in a CG forum by a teacher that really describes how to use the weight of your hand and arm to fret, rather than squeezing with fingers and thumb. It's lengthy, but good, with vivid imagery.

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Re: Classic fret hand position

12/21/2000 7:14 AM

Bruce Maag (15581) wrote:

Thumb on back of the neck, and the wrist in an L shaped posistion. like a piano player. I took piano for a few years, and the teacher always stressed, "Keep your wrists up".

This also applies to the guitar. The fret hand is upside down.

Or right side up to us giz players. However you want to look at it.