By Jamie Andreas

November 6, 2022 minutes read


1- fingerpicking-right-hand-position-vs.-acoustic-guitar-right-hand-position

Two Guitar Right Hand Positions On Guitar

There is a basic position for playing with a pick and a basic position for playing fingerstyle. Although pro players may use variations of these positions, we should learn these basic positions first. 

Here are the essential characteristics of each position:


Fingerpicking Hand Position

1. The fingers are almost perpendicular to the strings, pointing down toward the floor and cupped as if holding a ball.

2. The thumb is out and away from the fingers. 

3. The wrist is slightly arched, with a space between the wrist and the guitar. 

4. The hand is bent down slightly at the wrist.

Pickstyle Hand Position

1. The arm, wrist, and hand are flat to the face of the guitar. 

2. The arm, wrist, and hand are in a straight line. 

3. The pick is held between the thumb and index finger. 

4. The fingers not holding the pick are held out. The pinky can lightly touch the face of the guitar.

How To Position The Right Arm & Hand

In this video, I show you how to position the right hand and arm for both fingerstyle (classical position) and pickstyle.

The Two Fingerstyle Positions

Similar to the two basic positions for the left hand on the guitar, two basic fingerstyle positions are commonly used on the guitar. They could go by many names, but we will call the first the "classical guitar right hand position" and the second the folk/country right hand position.

The folk/country position is used in styles where damping the bass strings is an essential characteristic of the style. It is often done with a thumb pick. 

Also, similar to the left hand on guitar, it is best to learn the classical position first. When the student first develops the classical position, total relaxation and control are built into each finger and the entire arm. This is essential for all good playing.

Classical Guitar Right Hand Position

1. The arm is placed on top of the bout of the guitar. 

2. The wrist is away from the face of the guitar, forming a downward arch.  

3. The fingers come across the strings at a mostly perpendicular angle to the strings

Fingerstyle Guitar Right Hand Position

1. The arm is placed in front of the guitar. 

2. The arm, wrist, and hand are flat to the face of the guitar. 

3. The fingers come across the strings at a more parallel angle to the strings than perpendicular.

If the student starts with the folk/country position, tension habits will likely dominate the technique. It is challenging for most students to relax in this position and still handle the left hand movements of their music

However, the student who learns the classical position first has no problem with the folk/country position. It is easy to switch back and forth during the same piece of music if desired. 

Switching The Two Fingerstyle Positions

Students always ask me: "If I learn the classical right hand position for my right hand, will I still be able to use the folk/country position and mute bass notes?"

In the above video, I provide the answer. Watch me begin with the "classical" position and switch to the "folk/country."

The Pickstyle Position

The hand and arm position for pickstyle playing differ radically from either fingerstyle position. In the pickstyle position:

1. The arm is placed in front of the guitar. 

2. The arm, wrist, and hand are flat to the face of the guitar. 

3. The arm, wrist, and hand are in a straight line.

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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. Hi Jamie,
    Indeed you’re right. The right hand is essential to play correctly.
    But I need your advise, because I had a serious accident that injured my right hand and damaged my thumb and index.
    I have been struggling for years, and so far did not find a satisfactory solution, which demotivates me.
    Would you have a specific advise for this kind of case ?

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