Difficulties with index finger positioning on fret

Guitar Tricks Forum > Guitar Basics > Difficulties with index finger positioning on fret

eugen.pfleiderer

Registered User

Joined: 04/30/18

Posts: 8

Hi,

I find it very difficult to place my index finger perpendicular to the fretboard as is suggested in the beginner's course videos. (If I understood correctly.) This is especially evident on the low E and the A strings. It gets better on the higher strings. Is this something that is likely to rectify itself with more practice? Or is the way my index finger presses against the string in the below picture acceptable too?

Here are two pictures to illustrate what I mean.

uploaded image

This is how I understand that the index finger should be placed correctly. On its own it's easier but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

uploaded image

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

Thanks!

Gear: Standard Telecaster Brown Sunburst

Personal Guitar Hero: Pat Metheny

Next Guitar on my To-Buy-List: Ibanez Artcore Expressionist Vintage

#1

Hi,

I find it very difficult to place my index finger perpendicular to the fretboard as is suggested in the beginner's course videos. (If I understood correctly.) This is especially evident on the low E and the A strings. It gets better on the higher strings. Is this something that is likely to rectify itself with more practice? Or is the way my index finger presses against the string in the below picture acceptable too?

Here are two pictures to illustrate what I mean.

uploaded image

This is how I understand that the index finger should be placed correctly. On its own it's easier but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

uploaded image

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

Thanks!

Gear: Standard Telecaster Brown Sunburst

Personal Guitar Hero: Pat Metheny

Next Guitar on my To-Buy-List: Ibanez Artcore Expressionist Vintage

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 5624

Hey, there! Thanks for the pictures. That helps a lot!

In general what you've described & what I see look like decent finger positioning. Every individual has slightly different finger lengths, strengths & dexterity. And there is a wide variety of guitar necks, shapes, lengths, profiles.

So, in general, beginner guitar learners should just play the notes & chords any way they can to get some sound happening! :) Then as your finger strength & dexterity increase & you need to do more complex things, you can gradually refine your technique to improve on little things like positioning.

With all that in mind, here are direct answers to you concerns & questions.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

I find it very difficult to place my index finger perpendicular to the fretboard as is suggested in the beginner's course videos.(If I understood correctly.) This is especially evident on the low E and the A strings. It gets better on the higher strings.

I can see on your first picture that you've got decent position. But one potential problem that might hinder you playing is that your thumb is pretty high on the back of the neck. If it works for you, then fine. If it's hindering your motion & playing, then you might consider adjusting it down further.

Visualize an "axis of power" that runs from the tip of your fretting fingers to your thumb. In general they should move in opposite directions in order to get the most clamping power & leverage. If you are playing on the lower strings, then move your thumb slightly down. When you playing on the higher strings, move your thumb higher. When playing in the middle or a lot of strings, then you'll need to find the most advantageous place near the middle.

I cover this concept along with other mechanics of fretting hand here.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=605

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

Is this something that is likely to rectify itself with more practice? Or is the way my index finger presses against the string in the below picture acceptable too?

It will get better with practice. But you might adjust your thumb down a bit to see if that helps. Also, consider that you might be clamping too hard! Just enough pressure is all you need.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

...but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

That's not necessarily a problem unless it's uncomfortable or hindering your ability to play certain notes.

However, once you have another finger higher on the same string you don't need to keep everything perfectly perpendicular or even right on the note.

Also, you might need to move your hand up the neck a bit as you add fingers. Your thumb could be a bit lower as well to help get all those fingers on the lower strings.

Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#2

Hey, there! Thanks for the pictures. That helps a lot!

In general what you've described & what I see look like decent finger positioning. Every individual has slightly different finger lengths, strengths & dexterity. And there is a wide variety of guitar necks, shapes, lengths, profiles.

So, in general, beginner guitar learners should just play the notes & chords any way they can to get some sound happening! :) Then as your finger strength & dexterity increase & you need to do more complex things, you can gradually refine your technique to improve on little things like positioning.

With all that in mind, here are direct answers to you concerns & questions.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

I find it very difficult to place my index finger perpendicular to the fretboard as is suggested in the beginner's course videos.(If I understood correctly.) This is especially evident on the low E and the A strings. It gets better on the higher strings.

I can see on your first picture that you've got decent position. But one potential problem that might hinder you playing is that your thumb is pretty high on the back of the neck. If it works for you, then fine. If it's hindering your motion & playing, then you might consider adjusting it down further.

Visualize an "axis of power" that runs from the tip of your fretting fingers to your thumb. In general they should move in opposite directions in order to get the most clamping power & leverage. If you are playing on the lower strings, then move your thumb slightly down. When you playing on the higher strings, move your thumb higher. When playing in the middle or a lot of strings, then you'll need to find the most advantageous place near the middle.

I cover this concept along with other mechanics of fretting hand here.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=605

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

Is this something that is likely to rectify itself with more practice? Or is the way my index finger presses against the string in the below picture acceptable too?

It will get better with practice. But you might adjust your thumb down a bit to see if that helps. Also, consider that you might be clamping too hard! Just enough pressure is all you need.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

...but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

That's not necessarily a problem unless it's uncomfortable or hindering your ability to play certain notes.

However, once you have another finger higher on the same string you don't need to keep everything perfectly perpendicular or even right on the note.

Also, you might need to move your hand up the neck a bit as you add fingers. Your thumb could be a bit lower as well to help get all those fingers on the lower strings.

Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

eugen.pfleiderer

Registered User

Joined: 04/30/18

Posts: 8

Hi Christopher and thanks for this great input!

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

I can see on your first picture that you've got decent position. But one potential problem that might hinder you playing is that your thumb is pretty high on the back of the neck. If it works for you, then fine. If it's hindering your motion & playing, then you might consider adjusting it down further.



This makes perfect sense, even more so after watching your fretting tutorial. Somehow this didn't occur to me, but having given it a shot it does feel much more natural if I let my thumb move gradually up and down in the opposite direction of my fingers. Simple stuff but great effect!
Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Visualize an "axis of power" that runs from the tip of your fretting fingers to your thumb. In general they should move in opposite directions in order to get the most clamping power & leverage. If you are playing on the lower strings, then move your thumb slightly down. When you playing on the higher strings, move your thumb higher. When playing in the middle or a lot of strings, then you'll need to find the most advantageous place near the middle.[/p]

I cover this concept along with other mechanics of fretting hand here.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=605

I watched the four videos of the tutorial and found the instructions very useful. Thank you!

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

It will get better with practice. But you might adjust your thumb down a bit to see if that helps. Also, consider that you might be clamping too hard! Just enough pressure is all you need.

Something else for me to improve. I clamped the neck of my guitar as if my life depended on it. ;-)

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

...but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

That's not necessarily a problem unless it's uncomfortable or hindering your ability to play certain notes.

However, once you have another finger higher on the same string you don't need to keep everything perfectly perpendicular or even right on the note.

Also, you might need to move your hand up the neck a bit as you add fingers. Your thumb could be a bit lower as well to help get all those fingers on the lower strings.

Things to take away for me:
* Let my thumb move up and down the back of the guitar's neck to maintain the "axis of power" in relation to my fretting fingers.
* Take the pressure out of my hand. Just provide enough pressure to get the job done.
* I don't need to worry about keeping my fingers perfectly perpendicular to the fretboard as long as I can play the notes cleanly.
* Dexterity will improve with practice.

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!


It does and I will! Thank you! :-)[/p]

Gear: Standard Telecaster Brown Sunburst

Personal Guitar Hero: Pat Metheny

Next Guitar on my To-Buy-List: Ibanez Artcore Expressionist Vintage

#3

Hi Christopher and thanks for this great input!

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

I can see on your first picture that you've got decent position. But one potential problem that might hinder you playing is that your thumb is pretty high on the back of the neck. If it works for you, then fine. If it's hindering your motion & playing, then you might consider adjusting it down further.



This makes perfect sense, even more so after watching your fretting tutorial. Somehow this didn't occur to me, but having given it a shot it does feel much more natural if I let my thumb move gradually up and down in the opposite direction of my fingers. Simple stuff but great effect!
Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Visualize an "axis of power" that runs from the tip of your fretting fingers to your thumb. In general they should move in opposite directions in order to get the most clamping power & leverage. If you are playing on the lower strings, then move your thumb slightly down. When you playing on the higher strings, move your thumb higher. When playing in the middle or a lot of strings, then you'll need to find the most advantageous place near the middle.[/p]

I cover this concept along with other mechanics of fretting hand here.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=605

I watched the four videos of the tutorial and found the instructions very useful. Thank you!

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

It will get better with practice. But you might adjust your thumb down a bit to see if that helps. Also, consider that you might be clamping too hard! Just enough pressure is all you need.

Something else for me to improve. I clamped the neck of my guitar as if my life depended on it. ;-)

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

...but as I place the other fingers on the next frets it is almost impossible for me:

Do you have any hints or suggestions?

That's not necessarily a problem unless it's uncomfortable or hindering your ability to play certain notes.

However, once you have another finger higher on the same string you don't need to keep everything perfectly perpendicular or even right on the note.

Also, you might need to move your hand up the neck a bit as you add fingers. Your thumb could be a bit lower as well to help get all those fingers on the lower strings.

Things to take away for me:
* Let my thumb move up and down the back of the guitar's neck to maintain the "axis of power" in relation to my fretting fingers.
* Take the pressure out of my hand. Just provide enough pressure to get the job done.
* I don't need to worry about keeping my fingers perfectly perpendicular to the fretboard as long as I can play the notes cleanly.
* Dexterity will improve with practice.

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!


It does and I will! Thank you! :-)[/p]

Gear: Standard Telecaster Brown Sunburst

Personal Guitar Hero: Pat Metheny

Next Guitar on my To-Buy-List: Ibanez Artcore Expressionist Vintage

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 5624

You're welcome! Glad it helped.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

... having given it a shot it does feel much more natural if I let my thumb move gradually up and down in the opposite direction of my fingers. Simple stuff but great effect!


Good deal.[/p]
Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

Something else for me to improve. I clamped the neck of my guitar as if my life depended on it. ;-)

Ha! :) Yes, that happens to beginners a lot. And that's okay when you start. You don't have a lot of experience or skill. So it is sometimes necessary to get the notes to happen at first. But as you gradually gain strength & dexterity, you want to ease off the pressure until you find that just enough spot.

Intermediate & advanced players sometimes have the same problem when trying to learn some new lick or technique. It's a constant process of refinement.

Your list of "take aways" was accurate & organized! Let us know how it goes! Have fun :)

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#4

You're welcome! Glad it helped.

Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

... having given it a shot it does feel much more natural if I let my thumb move gradually up and down in the opposite direction of my fingers. Simple stuff but great effect!


Good deal.[/p]
Originally Posted by: eugen.pfleiderer

Something else for me to improve. I clamped the neck of my guitar as if my life depended on it. ;-)

Ha! :) Yes, that happens to beginners a lot. And that's okay when you start. You don't have a lot of experience or skill. So it is sometimes necessary to get the notes to happen at first. But as you gradually gain strength & dexterity, you want to ease off the pressure until you find that just enough spot.

Intermediate & advanced players sometimes have the same problem when trying to learn some new lick or technique. It's a constant process of refinement.

Your list of "take aways" was accurate & organized! Let us know how it goes! Have fun :)

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

kosgex

Registered User

Joined: 04/08/19

Posts: 1

The proper placement of your thumb should be at the back of the neck, opposite your index finger. Sometimes your thumb will be around your middle finger, but that's fine too. The key thing to remember is that your thumb should generally be pointed upwards, almost perpendicular to the neck of the guitar Viva Video.

#5

The proper placement of your thumb should be at the back of the neck, opposite your index finger. Sometimes your thumb will be around your middle finger, but that's fine too. The key thing to remember is that your thumb should generally be pointed upwards, almost perpendicular to the neck of the guitar Viva Video.

snojones

Registered User

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 90

One last thing that might help. Looking at your pictures, it looks to me like you could also benifit by moving your elbow away from your body so your forearm is more perpindicular to the guitar neck. It requires that you think about moving that elbow with you move your fingerings up and down the neck. This involves using your shoulder to move the elbow not just moving your hand. Hope that makes sense. Just concentrate on keeping the forearm perpindicular to the neck.

I had to work on that one quite a bit since I had a lazy habit of not keeping the correct forearm position. My PT got me to work on that and it really helped reduce the pain I experience when I played for more than 30 minutes.

#6

One last thing that might help. Looking at your pictures, it looks to me like you could also benifit by moving your elbow away from your body so your forearm is more perpindicular to the guitar neck. It requires that you think about moving that elbow with you move your fingerings up and down the neck. This involves using your shoulder to move the elbow not just moving your hand. Hope that makes sense. Just concentrate on keeping the forearm perpindicular to the neck.

I had to work on that one quite a bit since I had a lazy habit of not keeping the correct forearm position. My PT got me to work on that and it really helped reduce the pain I experience when I played for more than 30 minutes.