The Best Fretting Hand and Thumb Position on Guitar


Great Guitar Technique Avoids Injury

During my time at Berklee College of Music, in my last 2 semesters, I practiced 14-15 hours a day, 7 days a week, without missing a day.
These 14-15 hours of course included my class meetings, time I worked on projects, studying, ear training, and so on.

In other words: it wasn’t 15 hours of non-stop guitar playing.
Of these 15 hours of daily music study and practice, I think that about 10-12 of these hours were guitar practice.

However: that was still more hours of guitar practice than many of my peer students, who on average practiced 5-8 hours a day.
If none of my time had been taken up by projects, class assignments or study, I would have practiced guitar non stop.

You can’t pull this off without injury unless you have solid guitar technique.

The first thoughts of a guitar player who hears the word “technique”, tend to drift towards “speed”, “dexterity” or “technical facility” on the instrument.
“Technique” however, is also how you hold the guitar, how you carry yourself, how relaxed you are, how hard you press on the strings, and so much more.

Play It Safe!

I pride myself in the fact, that in past 17 years of teaching, having taught thousands of students, only 2 students of mine ever got injured.

From their very first lesson with me, all our focus was first on fixing their posture and bad habits that were going to lead to injury.
Unfortunately: the damage had already begun when they started with me and they didn’t immediately use the corrected positioning consistently enough in their practice to reverse the damage already done.
Probably not coincidentally: both these students professionally also spent a lot of time at their computer.

Upon my advice, these students took a break from guitar for a couple of months till wrists were healed, and never got injured again after they restarted their lessons.

That guitar player’s wrist injury, is usually tendinitis.
Tendinitis is an irritation of inflammation of the tendons around the wrist joint.
This causes the tendon sheath to swell, constricting the gliding motion of the tendons, which makes the movements of the tendon painful.

In a later stage, this can possibly lead to the feared “carpal tunnel syndrome”.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand.
The tendons and the median nerve reside in that tunnel.
When the tendons get inflamed and start swelling as a result of the inflammation, the median nerve gets pressed or squeezed.
The friction of the swollen tendons on the nerve, can over time also lead to nerve damage in the wrist.

Click HERE to learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Hold Your Hands As if You Were Watching TV.

All that being said: this blog brings good news.

As proven with all my students in so many years of teaching: it is possible to learn guitar (or even practice non-stop) without ever getting injured.
All it takes is an awareness of how you hold your fretting hand, and then correcting your hand positioning till the corrected way becomes a natural habit.

Even better: the ONE fretting hand principle I teach, is simple and easy to understand or to apply.
It comes down to following: hold your hands the same way as you would if you were sitting in your couch watching TV.

Following video explains and showcases this in greater detail.

If you apply this simple principle, you will be able to enjoy a life time of guitar playing without practice-related injuries.

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

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