Proper Way to Hold Guitar Frets & Strings

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Beginning guitarists must pay close attention to fundamental positioning as they learn how to hold a guitar. Take time to understand the proper way to hold guitar frets and strings as you are learning the guitar. Once you learn the basics, you can begin to make beautiful music with your acoustic or electric guitar.

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Hold the guitar so your dominant hand is in the strumming position and your non-dominant hand is at the guitar's neck.

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Position your non-dominant hand (the “fret hand”) so your four fingers are curling around the front of the guitar over the strings and frets. Position your thumb along the backside of the guitar's neck. Depending on the size of your hand, your thumb may rest along the top edge of the neck or it may rest along the midpoint of the back of the guitar neck.

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Keep your wrist straight while you hold the guitar neck.

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Press the fingers of your fret hand firmly onto the guitar strings--between the frets--to play notes. You must press the tips of your fingers firmly down onto the guitar strings to play each note cleanly. You may press one string at a time to play one note, or more than one string with more than one finger to play chords.

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Press the larger, lower (bass) strings harder to create notes. Press the thinner, higher strings more lightly with your fingers. If a note does not sound clean and clear as you press the guitar strings, adjust your fingers to ensure they are straight down on the strings and they are not touching other strings.


  • Frets are the raised wires crossing the neck of the guitar running perpendicular to the guitar strings. Electric guitars usually have 24 frets and acoustic guitars usually have 20 frets. The fret closest to the end of the guitar neck is number one. The frets continue in numerical order along the entire neck of the guitar. Fret numbers actually refer to the spaces between the frets, which is where you place your fingers on the guitar strings. Guitar strings range from high to low in pitch. The smaller diameter strings are higher strings and larger diameter strings are the lower, bass strings. A six-string guitar has strings labeled--from low to high--E, A, D, G, B and E again (the last E is higher than the first E). The index finger of the fret hand is finger one, middle finger is finger two, ring finger is finger three and little finger is finger four.


  • Pressing your fingers over the guitar strings may feel uncomfortable at first until you develop calluses on your fingertips.


About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

  • Zane DuMont/Demand Media