Right Hand Guitar Position

Enhancing guitar technique with right hand position

Everyone tends to focus on the left hand when they talk about guitar technique. But in reality, the right hand is just as important.

This page is dedicated to teaching you the correct right hand guitar technique when it comes to position. It’s not just the right hand attack that is key. Look below and see how how you can make your right hand guitar technique better.

right hand guitar technique

shoulder and elbow

  • Forearm draped over the lower bout of the guitar, shoulder should be unflexed. Not rotated forward or backward.
  • Elbow should be aligned with your shoulder to the side and not gravitating forward or pulling backward.
  • Your shoulder shouldn’t be higher or lower than the other.

forearm and hand

  • Forearm placed on the lower bout of the guitar, hand over the sound hole.
  • Depending on the size and shape of your arm, you may need to adjust. And you’ll find that you get different tone in different areas of the sound hole, whether you move forward or backward.
  • The important thing is that you’re comfortable and you can move freely and not awkwardly.

right wrist, hand and fingers

Good Right Hand Guitar Techniqueright hand guitar technique top view

  • Most appropriate position for your wrist and hand is completely straight.
  • Stay aware of your wrist because it may have a tendency to start to angle downwards as in the photo the right.
Poor Right Hand Guitar Techniqueright hand guitar technique
right hand guitar technique
side view

  • Distance between your wrist and the sound board should be about as the picture shows.
  • Again the straight line is the best.
  • Realize, however, that all of these positions are dynamic. They change constantly. These are just the base positions that you should always return to.
right hand guitar technique
right hand guitar technique fingers

  • The stroke: When you stroke the strings, try to emulate the picture on the left, moving through the strings from the big knuckle joint.
  • Try to avoid the claw as shown in the right picture.

FINGERS for fingerpicking

Take a look at the fingers. You have 3 joints in each, 2 of which perform independently of each other, all of which can move forward and backward, and even one of which can move in a circular motion. Together this offers us an incredible range of movement for fingerpicking. And you have 4 of these! Think about that. Each of your fingers can behave as independent little soldiers. That means 4 fingers in 8 directions. All you need to do is train them to move like that. No problem right?

THUMB for fingerpicking

Your thumb is the most versatile of all the fingers. It has the biggest range of motion. Consequently there is a debate as to what type of attack one should use: the circular motion or the direct, downward motion. To be honest with you I don’t think either is incorrect. I’ve use both techniques depending on what the situation calls for or what kind of mood I’m in. Take a look at what to practice and what to avoid:


  • attacking the string in both directions: up and down trying to gradually increase speed
  • Using different parts of your fingernail to attack the string to affect different tone
  • With every finger on open strings:
    • Up down up down up down, etc…
    • Once you try these, try to mix them up. Use the index and the middle, then the middle and ring, etc… This will help get your fingers used to the correct movement: moving from the knuckle (hand) joint and not the finger joint.

Avoid when fingerpicking

Bending the thumb or fingers at the second joint. This will be inevitable to some degree but try to use the muscle in the hand to strike as opposed to the joint.

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