5 - Hand Positioning

Beginners Guitar Lessons Part 5 – Hand Positioning

It’s very cool to have you back for part five of Beginners Guitar Lessons. Before we advance into other lessons, it will be necessary for you to work on proper hand, fret-hand positioning.

You may think that this is a bit trivial, but wait until you try it. The position of your fretting hand is the key to speed, finger stretching, position and dexterity

Fret Hand Positioning

Think of a ball with a stick attached to it. If you place the stick and one side of the ball on the ground, and move it around in that position, you have only one range of motion- which is to move it around in a circle. Now picture yourself with the stick on the ground with the ball directly above. Not only can you easily duplicate the previous movement, but now you can move it in arches and radiuses, using the stick as a central pivoting anchor point.
Your hand is the ball, and your thumb is the stick. Grab your guitar as you would a broom handle, with the back of the neck against the crook of your thumb and forefinger. Swivel your hand back and forth, noticing the limited range of motion. Now place the tip of your thumb to the middle of the back of the neck, allowing your hand no contact with the fretboard. Swivel your hand again, back and forth, and notice how much more fluid movement you’ve got.
Fret Hand PositioningThis is the proper hand positioning for playing the guitar. Although it may seem awkward and unsteady at first, you will be amazed at how this will help your guitar playing in so many ways when you get used to it.
This thumb and finger position can be likened to holding the guitar neck and fingerboard as though you were pinching it. Your fingers are now free to do the work while your thumb acts as a pivot anchor.
The rest of your hand should be somewhat relaxed. Sometimes it is small things such as this, that make all the difference in making it easier to learn the guitar. Since your hand is relaxed, and your finger muscles and joints are working smarter, not harder, you will have more playing stamina.

Get Comfortable With Your Guitar

How about that fret-hand arm – is it pressed up against your side? Well, let it relax, and try this other demonstration exercise. “Pinch” the guitar neck again with your thumb on the back, and your fingers over the frets and strings. Bring your arm close to your body, and pivot your hand as before, noticing the range of motion. Leaving your hand where it is, allow your arm to relax and hang freely.
With the thumb firmly anchored the back of the neck, move your elbow away from your body, then back to the side several times, and notice how the angle of your hand changes. Once again, we see that a very simple change in our posture can drastically increase the range of motion, and create economy of movement.
Playing guitar doesn’t have to be taxing for the body, and following these simple suggestions will make learning and playing the guitar much more pleasant… and loads more fun!