6 Mistakes That You Probably Make When Playing Guitar

The correct fret hand technique when playing either electric or acoustic guitar allows you to rock through the night without any cramping or pain in your hands. The position of your playing hand can truly differentiate whether you play your guitar adequately, or if you completely master your instrument.

6 valuable tips to improve your fret hand technique immediately

Have you ever had the feeling that your playing hand tires easily? Or have you ever reached your limit because your hand cramps up? Like many other guitarists, you’re not alone when it comes to pushing your limits. The beneficial changes you allow by putting your hands in correct positioning, such as avoiding tension thereby playing faster and staying clear of extra noise, can be learned in the tips below.

1. Thumb

Principally, always position your thumb in the lower area of the neck of the guitar. Make sure that your thumb is kept straight while playing. Exceptions should only be used for techniques such as bending, vibrato, playing chord roots with your thumb, muting the lower strings with your thumb and playing different chords, or if you are sure that you can strum everything while staying relaxed.

2. Middle, ring and little finger

Keep your middle, ring, and little finger curved, but make sure you don’t bend them too excessively. Exceptions can of course be made for barre chords, in which you stretch out other fingers besides just the index finger, and also for finger rolls.

3. Index finger

You can use your index finger for more than just gripping. The index finger’s job is to dampen unplayed strings in order to suppress extra noise. Thus mute:

  • all the strings that are higher than the ones that you are currently playing. The challenge is to touch the higher strings on the neck, without actually pushing down on them. Go ahead and give it a try!
  • the adjacent lower string. For this, you need to have a good feeling for the strings on your guitar. Touch the lower adjacent string with your fingertip to prevent it from  resonating. In other words, touch the area between the string that you actually want to play and the lower adjacent string.

Free Download NOW!

Fretello helps you learn guitar faster, more effectively, and permanently. It creates individual exercise regimens that are tailored to your specific needs, detects how you play, selects your optimal practicing tempo and adapts dynamically to your progress.

Read more App Store Google Play

4. Wrist

Bend your wrist inward. In general, the amount you bend your wrist while playing on higher strings should be very moderate. Your wrist should bend with more intensity as you move on to playing deeper strings. If you bend your wrist too much, however, you risk tensing up your hand faster.

5. Finger positions

Always keep the tip of your little finger above the same string that your index finger touches. This way, you shorten the path your finger takes when it moves to the original or next position, to increase the speed of your playing. Look to it that you position your little finger above the string that you will play next. The same goes of course for your other fingers. This results in your wrist having to turn slightly away from your body.

6. Elbow

Let your elbows hang loosely at your sides, close to your body. This is called the hanging position. If you stretch your elbows too far out, you’ll end up feeling tightness and tension in your arms, and your hand will cramp up while playing.


Play any given tone on the A string. If you took the previous advice to heart, you can strum all the strings, but only hear the tone from the A string. You dampen both the sound from the low E string with your index finger, as well as all the higher strings with the surface of your index finger. Do not give up if you don’t succeed immediately:

„The most valuable practice aid is patience“

With these tips, you’re not only willing to quickly improve your guitar playing, but you’re also building a foundation to maintain constant improvement when practicing with our app “Lead”. Fretello Lead helps you integrate various practice sessions in a training plan that matches your everyday life. Jam tracks simultaneously promote fun while playing to keep practice interesting and motivate improvement!

Florian Lettner
CEO & Co-Founder