I really struggle to get my left hand's fingers in the right shape when I play a power chord. On the picture below I try to put my first finger on the second fret and my third finger on the fourth fret :

enter image description here

You can see that it's very far from the "ideal" shape :

enter image description here

But I just can't move my fingers in that position. My third finger is too far from the fret and thus it doesn't sound very good. Any advice or tips on how I could fix that ?

  • Use 3rd and 4th fingers on the higher fret..
    – Tim
    Sep 12, 2020 at 13:26
  • 2
    Your hand/wrist is in a position that's suitable for playing open chords such as C or Am, but bad for playing barre chords or power chords. In the "correct" example picture, the player's thumb is completely behind the neck and probably pointing up. I've seen beginner guitarists do the same mistake - they first learn open chord shapes, and then they try to do barre chords with the same wrist shape, which is impossible as you've found out. Sep 12, 2020 at 15:03
  • 2
    Moving your elbow away from your body will sort out the problem.
    – Tim
    Sep 12, 2020 at 17:37
  • +1 for the question! It was well prepared, with good pictures and everything. People upvote too little around here. Sep 12, 2020 at 20:11
  • Hi, friend. I had the same question 3 years ago: music.stackexchange.com/questions/52788/… Hope it helps. Don't give up. I did it and you can do it too!
    – arminb
    Oct 13, 2020 at 14:15

4 Answers 4


I agree with Tim. In addition when you are playing guitar your thumb must be behind the neck.This relaxes muscles and allows you to reach upper strings more comfortably.

It might be diffcult at the beginningg but If you practice this way you will be more comfortable when playing other difficult chords/notes.

Also here are some examples

This one might help too

What you need is to strenghten your finger muscles. You can do this with more practice. I suggest this one It will strenghten your finger and elbow muscles so that you can put your fingers peripendicular to guitars keyboard which will eventually solve your problem. Do not get exhausted by practice. 20 minutes everyday will solve your problem eventually! This is a very common problem for beginngers.

Also I suggest you to follow a method book. Those tutorials on youtube are not graded well. (I only suggest Justin guitar on youtube that one is graded very well from beginning to advanced,I believe!) So to track your progress it is better to follow a method book.

Keep practicing!

  • 1
    I wouldn't say that you always have to play with the thumb behind the neck like a classical guitarist ... the OP's grip does have its uses. :) But good answer, +1 Sep 12, 2020 at 20:13
  • Yes you are right rock and country players use thumb to mute upper strings but I tried to be more general. Since he is a beginner and possibly will not do any muting :) Thanks for upvote.
    – Nabla
    Sep 12, 2020 at 20:22
  • 2
    I often find, particularly during soloing, that my thumb is actually on the same side of the neck as my fingers..! Good for certain vibrati. Or is it vibratoes. Or vibratos...
    – Tim
    Sep 13, 2020 at 8:46

Yes, I agree with what others have said above: the thumb is the culprit!!! Might try putting it near the center of the back of the neck, and in-between your two fingers, which should allow you to get that ring finger up to the fret, and stay on the fingertips too. And most importantly, like Nabla said: keep practicing! This will get that finger strength up to bottle-opener status.


A couple of ideas. On a well set-up guitar, you don't actually need to use your thumb at all - by using your whole arm (l.h.) to pull in, and your right arm to pull in, in the opposite direction (your body is the fulcrum), there's enough leverage and strength to take your thumb off. In fact, I'd say the majority of players squeeze too hard.

Using your thumb - the higher up the back of the neck it goes, the less pressure your fingers can exert on the strings. So move the thumb down, towards the floor, and place it lower than the half-way point, but also closer to the head of the guitar.

We're all built slightly differently, so you will have to experiment to findd an optimum position - which will change subtly depending on what chord shape you're using. And also how far up or down the neck you're playing.And where you wear your guitar. The lower it's slung, the more problems you'll have!


It seems to me that you left-hand thumb curls too heavily over the finger-board. Making it so that your finger curl too heavily inwards. Try keeping your left hand thumb reasonably parallel with the width of the finger-board, giving your fretting fingers more freedom to move like you want them to.

Whether you use 2nd, 3rd or pinky for the power-chord is largely a personal preference. What I would say is that using the less intelligent-fretting-fingers for the power chord is a really useful dexterity exercise. If you do use the dumber fingers you may find it easier to transition into John Frusciante octave strumming effect.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.