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What is Guitar Fingering?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Playing guitar requires coordination between the right and the left hand: as the right hand strums, the left hand must be coordinated enough to take care of the guitar fingering. In other words, the right hand is responsible for plucking the strings to make them vibrate, and the left hand is responsible for pressing the strings against the frets of the guitar to create different pitches or notes. The action of the left hand is called guitar fingering and requires much practice to accomplish effectively.

Guitar fingering can be difficult for a variety of reasons. The brass or nickel guitar strings themselves can be somewhat painful against the fingertips until the player develops calluses, which can hinder quick and solid movement among the strings. Seasoned guitar players maintain the calluses on their fingertips to aid in guitar fingering and beginners often seek to develop them quickly in order to aid their fingering capabilities. Seasoned guitar players also keep their fingernails as short as possible so that the nails do not interfere with guitar fingering.

Another reason guitar fingering can be quite difficult for a beginner has to do with training the muscles of the hand to stretch far enough to reach the correct positions on the fretboard. While a guitarist may simply position a single finger anywhere on the fretboard to create a musical note, a guitarist must train his hands to reach the correct position for chords, or multi-note combinations that create a tone. In this case, guitar fingering can prove to be especially difficult for individuals with short fingers or generally smaller hands.

For beginners looking to improve their guitar fingering, an electric guitar might be a better choice than an acoustic guitar. Electric guitars typically use lighter-gauge nickel strings that are easier to press, and which yield to finger pressure more easily than the bronze strings of the acoustic guitar. Once the player has developed sufficient comfort on the electric guitar, he can then move onto the acoustic guitar which can be somewhat more difficult in regards to guitar fingering.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By Markerrag — On Feb 13, 2014

Beginning guitarists also have a lot of trouble with barre chords -- essentially using the index finger as a nut so that E-shaped and A-shaped cords can be made quickly and the guitarist can play fast in about any key imaginable. If you're not familiar with the technique, this might help -- Johnny Ramone played barre chords almost exclusively and studying his technique is a great place to start.

The thing about barre chords is that it takes some time to figure out how to hold that index finger down just right so that other strings don't buzz. Also, playing them extensively can lead to a lot of wrist pain unless you practice regularly and build up some endurance.

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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