The Left Hand


Pick up your guitar and get into playing position. It is time to learn to use you left hand. Gently gradle the neck of your guitar in your left hand. Slide your hand up until it is just below the tuning pins but still on the fretboard.When holding the guitar, do not “wrap” your thumb around the neck.  Keep your thumb behind the neck.   This will allow you to reach more notes.  Try to keep the palm of your hand from touching the guitar.


Now, check out the chart on your left. It shows symbol names for your left hand fingers.  “T” stands for your thumb, “1” for your first or pointer finger, “2” for you middle finger, “3” for your ring finger, and “5” for your little finger. Just remember that you have a Thumb and 4 fingers.

OK, do you have everything in position?  Now, curl finger number 1 until you can touch a string with your fingertip. If your nails are too long you will need to cut them.  Most guitarists keep the nails of their left hand extremely short.

Press down on string number 1 with your fingertip. Now play the string using a downstroke. Does it sound muffled or does your string vibrate against the fretboard? That is because there are special places you should press down on the string to make the sound bright and pure You need to press right behind the fret.  Frets are the small raised lines that cross your fingerboard.


In the diagram to your right, the frets are the black lines crossing the red ones. If you slide you finger gently up and down the fretboard you can feel the frets.

Can you find the frets on the electric guitar below?


Now try pressing the string right behind the fret. The diagram to the left shows you where to press.  If the string rattles or buzzes, push harder. Your fingers may get sore when you first start playing the guitar.  Don’t worry, this will go away as soon as you fingers develope small calluses.

If the string sounds muffled check to see if your finger or hand is touching the string somewhere else. Only your fingertip should touch the string.

Practice placing your first finger behind different frets on different strings until you can get a bright clear sound. Don’t give up! This can be difficult at first. 

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