Video lessons and technique reference photos for the right hand position and technique for classical guitar. This is for my students of classical guitar to help supplement their lessons. 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 (within the guidelines). However, as a basic reference these photos should guide you in the right direction. Thanks to my student Sofia for helping with the photography. Find more articles at the Lesson Archive Page. For free lessons, sheet music, and pro videos join the Email Newsletter. Like these lessons? Please consider supporting the site.
The below videos discuss the position of the right hand thumb which should also give you some good ideas on hand position as well. Here’s the HD Youtube Video Link.
I also cover a left hand exercise near the end of the video. The book I mention can be found on Amazon: The Bible of Classical Guitar Technique by Hubert Käppel which is an amazing 245 pages of exercises and text. When adjusting your hand and thumb position remember to also consider your guitar position, footstool height, and all the other variables.
Also see the below video by Gohar Vardanyan giving a lesson on right hand thumb position and movement. Brought to you by Strings By Mail and their excellent YouTube channel. This is a great lesson for beginners and review for intermediates. As she outlines, make sure to start with posture and position first because there is not much you can do if your position is off.
Photos & Tips: Basic Right Hand Position
- 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
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.
Basic Right Hand Position
Same as above, although I’m male and a bit shorter than Sofia so there are some minor alterations.
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.
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 Arch
Generally the same as above but a slightly different camera angle and my shorter arm.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
More Free Lessons:
- Posture and Sitting Position for Classical Guitar – Video, Photos, Tips, Diagrams
- Left Hand Position for Classical Guitar – Video, Photos, Tips, Diagrams
Books to consider:
- Classical Guitar Method – Vol I (Werner), Notation, Video Lessons, 100 pages [free]
- Classical Guitar Method Vol II (Werner), Notation, Video Lessons, 89 pages
- 20 Favorite Exercises (Werner) Gr.1-6, Notation + TAB, Video lessons
- The Bible of Classical Guitar Technique (Käppel), 245 pages of exercises and excellent text advice, photos, explanations, and tons of exercises. Kinda big though…
- Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant (new 2nd edition) – Physical workouts to train those muscles and gain finger independence and dexterity. Very popular book and good memorable exercises for warm ups. It’s kind of the perfect size book for students to simply get to work.
- Pumping Nylon in TAB by Scott Tennant – for you tab junkies out there.
Happy Practicing. Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this or have advice to share.