Right Hand Finger Curvature

As with sitting position, correct placement of the hands is an easy way to improve your guitar technique. The key word in all guitar technique is efficiency. We want to place the hands in such a way that their job is as easy as possible. Many people comment that when they see a great guitar player they make it look so easy. That is because they are ultra-efficient. The great classical guitar player Pepe Romero once said that it is very easy to play the guitar well and very difficult to play it badly. What he means is that to play the guitar well one must be very efficient and that people who play it poorly are being very inefficient.

With that in mind here are a few exercises to help us determine the correct placement of the RH. We want to find the point in our fingers were they are at total relaxation, so that no effort is required to keep them in good position.

Placement I

  1. Stick your right hand straight out.
  2. Keep your wrist straight and ball up your RH fingers very tightly.
  3. Still keep the wrist straight and relax the fingers
  4. Did you keep the wrist straight? If so this should show you the correct curvature for the RH fingers.

Placement II (Alternate Method)

  1. Stick your right hand straight out.
  2. Keep your wrist straight and ball up your RH fingers very tightly.
  3. Start to slowly uncurl your fingers, keeping all the tips of the index, middle, and ring finger together.
  4. Notice that the curvature of these fingers is the same
  5. When any one of these fingers is straighter than the others stop, and repeat the above steps. This time try to stop before any one of the fingers has a different curve.
  6. When you can open the fingers so that they are as open as possible while maintaing the same curve you have found the correct curvature.
Right Hand Above

Figure 1

Right Hand Side

Figure 2

Placing Right Hand Correctly

Now that you have determined the correct curvature of your fingers, we need to place this curve on the strings. First of all get in the correct sitting position. Get your fingers into their curve. Place them on the strings so that the index finger is on string three (third from the bottom), middle on string two, and ring on string one (the string closest to the ground). Place the thumb on the sixth string (the biggest string, closest to you). The thumb should be at about a forty-five degree angle and props up the hand like a tent (see fig 2). The right hand wrist should make a gentle arch (Avoid any extreme angling of the wrist).  Double-check that your fingers are still in the correct curvature. The palm of the hand should be more or less flat, don’t have either side tilting don into the guitar.

Look at the knuckles on the top of your right hand. Imagine a line connecting them (like connect-the-dots, fun!) We will use this line to determine the angle of the wrist (see fig. 3). To position the wrist, have this line be more or less parallel to the strings. Look at your wrist, does it look and feel uncomfortable? If so straighten in out a little but no more than ten degrees from being parallel to the strings. To sum up:

  1. Fingers in relaxed curved position
  2. Thumb propping up hand like a tent (see fig. 2)
  3. Line of knuckles parallel to the strings (see fig. 3)
  4. Wrist slightly arched to give fingers space to move.

Proper curvature and right hand placement are an easy way to improve your guitar technique. Frequently checking your positioning as you practice will ensure that your new approach becomes a life long habit.

Line of Knuckles

Figure 3