Lesson: Right Hand Technique for Classical Guitar

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This is a visual reference guide for my students studying classical guitar. This set is focused on basic right hand technique for classical guitar. Just remember that this is a reference for guitar and not necessarily how you will position your arm. Everyone’s body is different so you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you. However, as a basic reference these photos should guide you in the right direction. Sofia is one of my students. She posed but also helped with the photography and concepts. – Bradford

More free lessons: Lesson Archive for Classical Guitar
Books by Bradford: Visit the Sheet Music Page
Recommend eBook: 20 Favorite Exercises, Notation + TAB, Video lessons
More Books? My review of classical guitar technique and exercise books.

A video from a previous post:

Before looking at all the photos, here’s a video I made previously which might give you some starting points.


Video Link: https://youtu.be/fbGm89Jrh9M

Basic Right Hand Position for Classical Guitar

Tips for the right hand:

  • Your right arm contacts the guitar below the elbow but well before the wrist
    • this will vary based on your size and the guitar size
  • Your right hand should be somewhere near the rosette (especially beginners)
  • Your right wrist is straight, that is, in-line with your forearm

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

Again, the align your spine and head with the Y axis and your shoulders with the X axis. If you didn’t see it before check out the other article on basic sitting posture for classical guitar: Basic Posture and Sitting Position.

Line R shows how your right wrist is straight, that is, in-line with your forearm.

Right Hand Position Diagram- Classical Guitar

Basic Right Hand Position

Same as above, although I’m male and a bit shorter than Sofia so there are some minor alterations.

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position Diagram- Classical Guitar

The Right Hand Arch

You can see in this photo that the right wrist has a natural and relaxed arch. This is very important. Don’t force the arch or over-do-it just let it naturally arch.

Right Hand Position (Arch) - Classical Guitar

Line A refers to the contact point below of the arm on the guitar. It contacts below the elbow but well before the wrist. Line B indicates the natural and relaxed arch.

Right Hand Position (Arch Diagram) - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Arch

Generally the same as above but a slightly different camera angle and my shorter arm.

Right Hand Position (Arch) - Classical Guitar

Line A is the contact point of the arm on the guitar. Line B is the natural and relaxed arch to the wrist. Line P shows the thumb extended naturally away from the fingers (more on this when we get to the right hand article). Line I is the direction that the I finger will move (in toward the palm). Again, I’ll cover this in a separate article.

Right Hand Position (Arch Diagram) - Classical Guitar

A Closer Look at the Right Hand:

The next three photos hows my hand in three different places: ponticello (near the bridge, bright sound), by the rosette (balanced sound), and tasto (near the fingerboard, warm sound). You can also make changes to the sound by changing the angle at which the fingers approach the strings but that will be in a later video.

Right Hand Position (Ponticello) - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position (Rosette) - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position (Tasto) - Classical Guitar

Here’s Sofia’s hand, you can notice that her thumb nail is very different than mine. You might want to check out my article: Fingernails for Classical Guitar: How I Shape My Nails, everyone is a bit different.

Right Hand Position (Thumb Angle) - Classical Guitar

The next two photos show how the fingers move in toward the palm and inside the thumb. This is from the player’s perspective so you should be able to imitate the motion (also see the above video for a more clear explanation).

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

I’ve included two more photos here just for your reference. You should notice the curvature in the fingers. Every joint and knuckle create a new angle.

Right Hand Position (Finger Position) - Classical Guitar

Right Hand Position - Classical Guitar

More free lessons: Lesson Archive for Classical Guitar
Books by Bradford: Visit the Sheet Music Page
Recommend eBook: 20 Favorite Exercises, Notation + TAB, Video lessons

Happy Practicing. Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this or have advice to share.

 



3 Comments

  1. Hello Bradford,
    thank you for your very informative and useful site. My question is about how to correct this right hand bad habit in a young learner.

    My 13 year old daughter has been learning guitar for a year now, taking a weekly lesson with a classical guitar teacher, and practicing. She has made decent progress.

    However, her right hand position seems terrible to me (I am a very amateurish amateur). There is hardly any distance between her wrist and the strings, so the thumb is completely parallel to the string it plays, and the base of the thumb is almost touching the string. This results in a thumb movement that has to go outwards from the string, making a very long trip before it returns. I don’t even understand how she can manage to play that way. I keep telling her to arch the hand by separating the wrist from the strings so the thumb meets the string at an angle, not parallel to it etc. She does it for two seconds and immediately goes back to her old ways. I am afraid this may become a habit impossible to correct.
    If you have any suggestions as to how to go about correcting this, I’d appreciate it.
    thank you.

  2. Have her constantly demonstrate to you and her teacher the correct AND incorrect hand position so she clearly understands what to do and not do. Constantly have her correct her hand after every singe phrase in the music. If it has to be said 100 times do it. You can make a funny joke or saying to keep it fun. If they are young, I call the flat wrist and hand “the crab” and every time I see I simply say the word CRAB!

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