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Whenever I see guitar players with their guitar hanging down around their knees I’m reminded that not everyone has had the luxury of learning good form and hand position for optimum playing ability. While it may “look” cool to have your guitar hanging down around your knees, it doesn’t help your playing.

I’m also reminded that every great coach (in any sport) re-visits the basics much more than most of the team would like too, but the team that is strongest in the basics is usually a winning team. This TIP may be a little less glamorous than some but probably much more important to your effectiveness as a good player than most. Guitar is not that much different in principal than the above sports example.

  • Tip No. 1:

    The guitar neck should have a little upward tilt. This is so you can get your hand under the neck and reach some of those tough stretches!

  • Tip No. 2:

    Try to use your left thumb to counter-pressure your left-hand fingers, ie., don’t use the palm of your hand! If you’re a palm-of-the-hand-on-the-back-of-the-neck player, then you can’t reach those long strech-out kind of chords. It’s impossible!

  • Tip No. 3:

    Whenever you have a long, hard-to-reach stretch, set your hand position to accomodate or support the 4th finger (smallest finger- your pinky). You can reach backwards (in the direction of the 1st fret) with your 1st finger much easier than you can reach up the neck with the 4th finger.


  • Tip No. 4:

    Practice pushing your left hand fingers down on the neck as close to the fret bar as possible. I know this seems elementary to some of you, but I’ve seen some otherwise good players who really didn’t work at this and their playing was sloppy, i.e. buzzing strings, blunted notes.

The diagram below shows the fingering for the chord shown in the pictures above. It’s the Am9 chord. If you’re not familiar with Am9, don’t worry about it. The main thing here is to give you something that forces you into good habits and good playing form.

Click here to listen to the chord. If you can’t reach this chord right at first, don’t get frustrated and quit. Be patient and it’ll happen one day when you least expect it!