Left Hand Technique
for Classical Guitar

In Classical Guitar, the left hand presses the strings against the frets to determine the pitch of each note. Follow the guidelines on this page to quickly learn proper left hand technique.

Left Hand Position

Rest Thumb Lightly on the Guitar Neck

Take your left thumb and rest it lightly behind the guitar neck. Your thumb should tilt slightly on its side and point straight across the guitar neck. Your thumb should be somewhere underneath your first and second fingers.

When your thumb is in this position, it provides a reference point when you play and acts as a counterbalance to your fingers.

Keep Wrist Straight

Your wrist should be completely straight - so straight that you should be able to put a ruler across the top of your forearm and hand.

Keeping your wrist straight helps to prevent tension when you play, and gives you maximum range of motion with your left hand fingers.

Keep Hand Close to Guitar Neck

Your hand should be very close to the guitar neck. Although your hand can move around slightly when you play, the palm of your hand should never extend more than an a few centimeters away from the fingerboard.

Keeping your hand in this position helps your fingers to easily reach all the strings when you play.

Curl Fingers Naturally over Fretboard

Curl your fingers naturally so that the fingertips are pointing straight down to the strings. A curled finger is the most stable shape to press the string with.

Align Fingertips with the Strings

In general, your fingers should align in the same direction as the strings. Keeping your fingers in this position helps you easily reach all the strings when you play.

Keep Fingertips Close to Strings at all Times

Keep your fingertips close to the strings. This position helps your fingers find the strings quickly and effeciently.

Many people let their 3rd and 4th fingers drift away from the fretboard when they have too much tension in their hand. Make sure to avoid this problem.

Placing the Fingers

Place Fingers Directly Behind Fret

When you place your fingers, they should land directly behind the fret. This position gives you the best sound with the least amount of effort.

Move Fingers Independently of Each Other

Each finger should move independently of all the other fingers. For instance, if you place the 2nd finger, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th fingers should hold in the same place directly above the fretboard.

At first, this is an unnatural feeling, especially for the 3rd and 4th fingers. Don't worry. Just keep practicing and this movement will feel more comfortable over time.

Place Fingers Straight onto the Strings

Each finger should press straight down onto the strings, roughly perpendicular to the fretboard. If you push down at an angle, you will bend the strings out of tune.

If it is more comfortable, you can let your 1st finger lean slightly to the left, and your first finger lean slightly to the right, but not too much.

Use Minimal Pressure

Press the string with just enough pressure to avoid a buzzing sound. You really don't need very much pressure to play.

Most guitarists press the strings way too hard. This creates excess tension in your hand and makes certain techniques very difficult to perform.

Use Arm Weight to Press the String. Don't Squeeze with Thumb.

Use your arm weight to naturally let your fingers falls into the strings. Try to avoid squeezing with the thumb. This way, gravity does all the work for you, and you can play with the least amount of energy possible.

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