I'm trying to teach myself classical guitar. I've got a fair bit of experience chording and strumming. But this passage is giving me problems:

enter image description here

My problem concerns the highlighted portion. Even though my hands are of average size, I can't figure out how I'm supposed to reach the high A with my 4th finger while still holding the low E and G.

Is there some trick to being able to reach that far? The best I can manage is to strain my 4th finger to the top of the 5th fret, nowhere near the proper position necessary to get a good sound.

  • You could just use a different finger.
    – cutrightjm
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 4:31
  • @ekaj: Can you make a suggestion? Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 10:40

5 Answers 5


I can manage it in that position using the technique Dr Mayhem describes, but you could also use a different fingering with the hand in the fifth fret position from the third beat. Like this:

  • Could you give more details? Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 4:56
  • Added tab fingering, does that make sense? Your 6th string is tuned down so you still have to play the first part in the first position, but it's not too much work to shift up to the fifth. Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 20:49
  • Thanks. I'll give that a whirl. It presents a different set of problems. The first problems are related to the shift, which I need to learn to deal with anyway. The other problems are related to my no-good guitar. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:17

This one may just be a flexibility/strength thing, but you can help extend your reach by good hand positioning.

Keeping a strong arch from the thumb behind the centre of the neck to the fingertips lets me get well beyond the 5th fret for this chord.

Look at the hand and neck position Wheat demonstrates in this answer (That is you Wheat, right?):

enter image description here

The challenge will be building up the strength in your little finger to successfully finger that piece as you have to control the finger out to the side and then place it with enough force to properly fret the note.

It is a lot easier on a nylon strung guitar than a steel (have just played it on a steel one and it is uncomfortable) but unless you have a very short reach it should be possible.

  • It may be a strength/flexibility issue, or it may be due to my playing a steel string guitar (I don't have a proper classical guitar at my disposal at this time). Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 0:38
  • @ScottSeverance With a steel-string, a strap is very useful for keeping the guitar in position, sitting or standing (I prefer standing, so you're never at the mercy of some crazy chair). Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 5:02

That G you mentioned is actually a G#, so that uses up your first finger. I see no alternative to that fingering in the first position. Sorry.


Notice that the D is part of the upper voice, so it does not need to be held. Raising the ring finger should greatly increase the freedm of the pinky (since they share a tendon, don't they?).

If that still gives you difficulty I'd say go ahead and release the whole chord. The moving line is far more important than the accompaniment. So long as the melody is nicely phrased, the details of the background remain in the background. And nobody in the room but you will know different.

But a part of me is reluctant to make any decisions without first observing where that A is going to.


You could tap the note on the fifth fret using your playing hand and your pointing finger. Additionally you might need to pick this note using the index finger of your playing hand. However, this will have to be played very carefully to note make it sound like the note is doubled.

TL;DR: 1. Hammer on (or tap) the note with playing hand. 2. Gently finger the note with the playing hand and play with another finger on it.

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