By Jamie Andreas

October 21, 2022 minutes read

4 comments

guitar left hand technique


The 2 Left Hand Positions You Need To Know On Guitar:

There is more than one "correct" guitar left hand position.

Regardless of whether you play classical guitar, acoustic or electric…

There are actually two basic left hand positions you need to know for guitar. 

However:

You should learn one of them before the other, or important muscles in the hand will not develop properly.

Let’s dive in!

1) The Straight Position

2) The Slanted Position

correct left hand position
left arm position

Guitar Left Hand Position 1: The Straight Position

The straight position is used for acoustic-type playing, such as classical guitar. It gives full reach to all fingers, especially the little finger. You should learn it first because by doing the exercises necessary to develop this position, we fully develop the stretch and strength of the hand. 

If we learn the straight position first, the slanted position is much easier to learn, not the other way around.


Guitar Left Hand Position 2: The Slanted Position

The slanted position is necessary for all playing based on the pentatonic scale (i.e., all blues/rock-based playing). Using the straight position while playing rock lead guitar is a mistake, yet often guitar students will do that.

Using the straight position for blues/rock lead playing makes bending strings correctly impossible. As a result, you won't sound good and will hurt yourself by putting extra strain on the wrong places.  


Get The Straight Position First

The best thing any guitar player can do is to get the straight position for the fretting hand into the fingers first for good left hand technique. The best way to do that is to use "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar." The unique set of exercises it contains will train your fingers and left thumb for perfect action on the guitar and will teach you how to avoid injury to the left wrist.

TIP! Get The Straight Position First

As we develop the straight left hand position with the Foundation Exercises from "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar," the muscles of the hand and forearm develop more thoroughly than if we were to learn the slanted position in our early development.

Unless the straight position is developed at some point (as it must be for major scale-based playing), the student will experience many left hand problems with various musical passages. 

However, if the straight position is developed first, the slanted position is easily learned. This is especially true if you use the detailed guidance in the Guitar Principles "Rock & Blues Foundation Course."


What Does "Getting The Straight Position" Look Like For The Left Hand Fingers?

This video will show you what it looks like as you do the Foundation Exercises from "The Principles." Watch Nate, Kaori, and Chris as they transform their fingers, and develop a high level of skill in their fingers. Notice where their left hand thumb is placed on the guitar neck.

These students had the extra advantage of being taught correct guitar left hand technique directly by me in my online guitar class.

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Jamie Andreas

About the author

Jamie Andreas has one goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to learn guitar is successful. After her first 25 years of teaching, she wrote the world acclaimed method for guitar "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". She put everything into this method that was essential for success on guitar.
Called "The Holy Grail" of guitar books, the Principles has enabled thousands of students who tried and failed to play guitar for years or even decades, to become real guitar players.



In 2012 Jamie was profiled in "Guitar Zero" (Penguin Press 2012), a study of how adults learn to play guitar. Jamie was interviewed along with some of the worlds leading guitarist/teachers, including jazz legend Pat Martino and Tom Morello ("Rage Against The Machine").

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    1. Absolutely, yes, either way, right or left. I couldn’t say what you should do without seeing you. It doesn’t matter much what guitar you get, it matter what lessons you get.

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