Correct left-hand positions on the guitar

There are different ways to hold the guitar with the left hand (or the right hand if using a horizontally mirrored guitar). No method is the only correct way to hold the guitar, but there are two certain style that are predominant.

left hand holding guitar neck
Classic position (left) and bat grip (right)

The classic way

The classic position that can be seen to the left on the picture above is recommended by many guitar teachers – it's somewhat of the scholar approach. This is the right way to hold the guitar according to teachers especially and it is an often preferably position for the left hand on the guitar.

This position is what most guitar teachers learn. Here the thumb is placed on the middle on the back of the guitar neck. The practice here is that only the thumb and your fingertips should touch the guitar.

In many situations, be left of the positions on the picture above is most advantageous. It has several rewards and among these are:

  • Economy – try to switch from a bar chord to an open chord or from a power chord to open, and you will have a very little movement if you are holding the thumb on the back of the neck.
  • Reach – compare different positions and you will notice that it’s best for the hand to be in a horizontal position along the fretboard, and this will happen with the explained grip.
  • Embellishment – it’s easy to use other fingers for embellishment.
  • Pressure – you don't want to press the fingers too hard against the strings.

Now try out for yourself and see what you think. It’s also important to feel comfortable when playing guitar, and not force yourself to something you don’t like.

Bat grip

Although the explained position above is great, there are other ways to hold the guitar that can bring advantages in special cases. Using the "bat grip" (se the right part of the picture above, let you hold the guitar in a firm grip. Some of the advantages are as follows:

  • Extra possibilities for bass notes – to have your thumb near the first string could come handy for playing the bass notes.
  • Muting strings – the thumb could also be used to mute the top strings that not should be played then strumming.
  • A fifth "finger" – by involving the thumb you could manage with specific chord shapes.
  • Steadiness – for some, this left-hand position make the playing more steady and stable.

Holding your guitar in this manner are especially suited then playing western guitar whereas the other alternative may be more optimal when playing classical guitar.

See all articles about guitar.