Beginner troubles

Hello all I just recently got an acoustic guitar and started watching Justin’s lessons. The biggest thing I am struggling with so far is muting the thinner E string. Obviously as a beginner I am struggling with a lot but the other issues I am able to little by little fix it, but I continuously run into this problem more than anything else. I am a bigger guy with some chubby hands and was wondering if anyone has tips for this as I feel like as the days go I am starting to understand a little more but I can’t seem to get around this issue.

Hi Zach,

It would help to know what trouble you have - fingers when doing a particular chord, hand touching the string, whatever. If you can give an example or two, it will help you get good answers. Pictures are good too.

And of course: Welcome to the forums!! You should find a lot of useful stuff here.

welcome to the forum Zach.

Just starting out your fingers will still be soft and spread out when you press on the strings. Plus most beginners press to hard. You only need enough pressure to make the strings ring out. So try pressing a little lighter and see if that helps.

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Stitch, you da man! As always, appreciate your insight.

Of course. Right now I’m practicing the D Chord and a C Chord. Those chords are causing me the main issues where on the C chord my palm is touching the E string, and on the D chord my 3rd finger is touching the E string. When I try to move my 3rd finger up a little I end up moving my 2nd finger. So I fix one issue to where my 3rd finger isn’t touching anymore but now my 2nd finger has moved from where it needs to be to execute on that bottom string.

Will absolutely give that a try thank you!

Hi Zach,

for your palm touching, I have that trouble as well. A good correction for that is to get your thumb better centered on the back of the neck. It will force your hand down and out of the way.

For the chords and finger touching, I HAD that trouble. :slight_smile: I just needed to work at it and also let my finger tips toughen up a bit. The elements are:

  1. lighten up on the pressure so you are not mashing your finger quite as flat
  2. press near the fret, not back too far
  3. make tiny adjustments and see where you need to set your fingers to avoid muting. try moving your palm near and far from the bottom of the neck and try rotating your forearm a little to see if you find a place your finger to miss adjacent strings. this part is about experimenting for the location you can get results. Try to avoid any extreme positions - this is just small adjustments.
  4. practice until your finger tips toughen up a bit more - several weeks is not unreasonable

I thought I’d never get the D to work, but it eventually came along. just be patient!

one last thing - I had to keep my finger nails quite short. If they were bottoming out on the fretboard, I wasn’t making the string press well enough, so pressing harder, so flattening out my fingertip, expanding it into adjacent strings. It isn’t as critical now that I have harder finger tips that don’t flatten so much.

Hello Zach & welcome!
What Grade/Module are you working on? Do you get the “D” to ring out sometimes but not others or is it more like every time?
If you can post a pic or two of your hand while fretting the chords, it could help us to diagnose the issue…
Good luck with this!

Tod

It took (seemingly) forever to figure out how not to touch the high e with my palm. It comes with time and ongoing fiddling. Thumb position, guitar position and hand position all matter.

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as a beginner, i wouldn’t worry too much about string muting. i dont think justin gets into that until grade 3

Hi Zach,
All the things that have been said above - little adjustments, finger pressure, placement etc.
Have another look at the Chord Perfect lesson. When you get the chord wrong tell yourself off “arghhh”. Just as important, when you get it right give yourself some praise “Yesss”. If you do this a lot, over time, your mind will guide your fingers to the “Yesss” and avoid the “arghhh”.
Another little tip - when you are consistently getting it good, ease off the finger pressure slightly until the strings start to buzz and then put a little bit of pressure back on to make the chord ring. This will lead to playing with a lighter touch.

Thanks to all for the tips. Some I’m definitely trying or will try out in the near future. One thing I have found over the last few days. I found a random video of a women teaching Free Fallin. Forgive me for not knowing the name of the chord, but she was playing a D with a capo on the 3rd fret. When I saw this I thought I’d try it. Turns out I’m able to play it better on the 5th fret than on the 2nd. I’ll have some videos and pictures later. Again thank you to everyone responding.

The tip the @sequences mentions about thumb position is crucial - getting your thumb in the right spot helps your fingers curve around the bottom (closest to the floor) edge.

I read a tip about pointing your thumb towards your middle finger to find the right spot. Doesn’t always feel right to me, but the tiniest change can fix some issues.

How you hold your guitar can make a difference too. If you are tipping it backwards to get a view of the fretboard you might be making it harder to get your fretting hand fingers to clear the high e string. Or if the neck is too low that can also make it more difficult.

Thought I’d come back to this thread after a couple of weeks. Am working currently on switching between D,C,Em, and G. Finally have D ringing out better and I think the biggest thing I’m seeing now is I was so worried about my ring finger at the time but now I realize I wasn’t pressing the with my middle finger hard enough on the high E. Just pressing a little harder with the middle finger helps get that string out of the way more so the ring finger doesn’t have to do as much. Again appreciate all the help from this thread!

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Good to hear you are making progress, Zach. You may also get got mileage in terms of preparing for songs in the key of G by adding Am into the mix of chord switching practice.

For what it is worth, I really only got rid of the problems you speak of when I learned to play at the tip of the finger where it tends to hurt the most because it’s tender there. Any amount of pressing there feels like a lot of pressing at first.

I suggest an exercise like holding your hand flat with all your fingers extended out and then folding the fingers at the first and second knuckle to try and touch the pads on the base of the fingers where they meet the palm. In that bent position move every finger independently back and forth. Also try curling your hand to move the 4th and 5th finger around. There’s a combination of things that can move things around. You can imagine making chord shapes while doing that. For a C chord it really is a lot about forming a straight line with the tips by tweaking the hand and reaching with the fingers.

It’s a lot more than finger movement when you are playing chords on the guitar. I used to find that my fingers would not consistently come down where I wanted them to; even though I was aiming for the same finger movements. This is because hand positioning on your grip can change things ever so slightly. You have to become aware of it. With the D chord I got myself to a place where I could just know my hand position for the ring finger to just drop straight down (no more hunting). You can position it purely by hand adjustment. The hand orientation is slightly different in almost every chord and with awareness of what it is you can move fingers around by just tweaking the hand position and less reach than you first think.

Being able to play with the finger bent at the top knuckles will force you to adopt a very arched finger position.