How To Play The C Chord

I am struggling to play the C chord (and quickly change between it and other chords like G) without part of the palm of my hand touching the side of the guitar neck.

Specifically only the upper left of my (left-hand) palm touches the side of the neck for support, around where the knuckle of my index finger is (but on palm-side).

Is this considered bad technique? I am not sure if it is just the anatomy of my hand, but it feels almost impossible to play quickly otherwise.

(I have this same issue with other chords like playing G with just fingers 3 and 4. It almost feels like without that little bit of palm support, I am straining my wrist)

Hello Maddie and welcome to the community!
Not sure if I understand correctly, but if you are asking if it must only be your thumb touching the back of the neck and not the palm/fleshy, soft part below the thumb (like in having air between your palm vs. touching the back of the neck with more than just one point of contact) I can say the following:

In most traditional and even classical methods of teaching it is considered a bad habit to have anything other then the thumb touching the neck (at least when playing open chords or individual notes) and in fact it helps to maintain the fingertips only touching the string on the other side, as well as it helps not laying fingers flat on the strings to avoid touching other strings when playing open chords.

In more „Pop“ oriented ways of playing and modern approaches of teaching there are looser rules in this regard. If you manage to get a clean chord (strum-pick-strum) with all the stings which need to do so ringing out and it feels comfortable it should be ok. As you will get better, play more expensive chords :slight_smile: and start to mute strings you are not playing, you will automatically grab the neck more confident and increase the surface that touches the neck.

It is more important to focus on playing the right notes clean as well as placing the tips of your fingers on the string (domed fingers) and right next to the corresponding fret.

Justin also mentions this in one of his lessons (maybe someone can back me up in which) and refers to he is not so strict either but wants you to know the facts so you can decide and reflect consciously about your way of doing.

To be 100 % sure I‘d encourage you to post a picture of you playing a C your mentioned way so we can give you better feedback by knowing exactly what it looks like you are wondering about.

Hope this helps!

Something to check is whether you are rotating the wrist (forearm) when you change to and from a C.
I have issues changing to and from C, but I have noted that it is actually the wrist position.
Just hold your forearm at right angles to your upper arm (without the guitar!) and rotate your hand until it is palm up and then rotate back down so it is palm facing downwards.
This is wrist movement - I know everyone thinks of the wrist as a tiny little flappy up and down bit, but the whole forearm is the wrist.
PLaying a G means your wrist is rotated about half-way. Playing a D means it is rotated further - it needs to go almost to the end of rotation in order to comfortably put the hand and fingers in position to play a C.
Just try it, THEN relax the arm so that you can play the notes and changes comfortably - I’ve caused different pains in the hand and wrist trying to find the right place, but am getting there.

When I am using my thumb to mute the 6th string a tiny part of my palm just below my index finger does gently touch the guitar neck. This seems pretty unavoidable with the C and D chords. When playing regularly with the thumb on the back of the neck no contact occurs. Maybe your thumb is riding too high at the back?

I find myself gravitating to a position where I have reall very solid contact between palm and neck when playing the C and also to a degree the D minor.
When I spot it I try and conciously correct it, but then i consider what justin says about finding a position that is comfortable and relaxed. Maybe Im stroing up trouble for the future.

But you’re not alone OP.

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I don’t believe it’s a major issue. The main reason Justin is teaching a good thumb position on the neck is to improve the strength in the thumb muscle to cope with barre chords later on. After that there are things like thumb muting where it all goes out the window lol.

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Thank you, all, for the excellent discussion and feedback! Lots of good food for thought.

  • Martin, so far my thumb or fleshy lower palm hasn’t been touching the neck–just the part of my hand where my index finger meets the palm. I have reflected on your reply and suspect that my fingertips are part of the issue. They may lack some strength, causing me to support myself using the neck. So far I have just been attempting pop playing and my chords are clean (at least for a beginner!) so I am reassured to hear that there is some leeway!
  • Andy, your comment was very enlightening, as well. I bet that my lack of wrist motion has something to do with it as well and is contributing to some of the straining that I mentioned.
  • Soggy and Dave, glad to hear that I am not alone and that staying relaxed is the key!

Wish I had come to this forum for advice earlier–I bet I would be loads better at guitar by now!

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