When I see instructional videos of guitar playing it looks like the player is using the pads of their fingers and not the tips, yet they are stressing to me to use the tips. Sure seems a whole lot easier just laying the pads of my finger gently on the strings, the problem is I'm also touching all the other strings, the problem with using the tips of my fingers is when I hit a open string it vibrates against my finger on the fretted string. So I'm working on that, any tips on how to properly fret is greatly appreciated. Also on the subject of fingers, I find my picking hand fingers cant seems to find a home, sometimes they will curl and sometimes they will pull out and away. Its like when I'm not thinking about what my fingers are doing they seem to fall into a natural sweet spot, once I notice what they are doing and think about it my fingers start to roam around like they are lost. Anyway, just more on an observation that a question I guess. But I am certainly open for suggestions, what I'm doing is strengthening my fingers with a spring tool, stretching exercises and its working. Fingers tips are now nice and toughed up. I also seem to have several plectrum holding positions, need to find one and stick with it.

Anyway, having a super good time learning and playing.
I use my finger tips (not the nail) to press down on single notes;
I only use the pad of my fingers (or my whole finger) for those (forgot the name) 4 string chords

As for pressing down on the strings accurately, I think that just takes some practice to get...
Generally you want to be on the tips of your fingers unless you're pressing more than 1 string down. You want to have the lightest touch possible. Don't squeeze with your hand. Use the weight of your arm and let gravity do the work, directing the weight of your arm through your fingertips. If you do this, your fingers will be nimble. If you squeeze, not so much.
i tend to not use the pads of my fingers when playing, but they can come in handy when on the lower frets (frets 1-7) and when on strings 3rd to bottom where you need extra extension. using the pads is much more comfortable
Its weird though because even though I have never played guitar before, my fingers seem to know what to do in coordination with my plucking hand, when I put my mind to work and starting thinking about is when it gets difficult. I'm also kinda nit-picking on myself, just don't want to pickup any bad habits that might stick.
You should use the tips. And not everyone making instructional videos ought to be teaching.

Once you can hit single notes while keeping your hand somewhat relaxed you can start doing muting with the left hand. Your right hand will get more precise with practice, too.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 11, 2016,
Left and right hand muting. Amazing stuff to do too. I agree with graves. Just keep relaxed and try not to focus TOO much on those videos

I think there are two main ways of doing this and you need to work on both.

For fast 'shredding' type stuff you use the tips of your fingers working like little pistons.

For your rhythm stuff you may want to use your pads as you will, at times, need to right hand mute. Sometimes just left hand muting isn't enough.

That's a little simplistic but my point is that there is no one position.
The pistons point is a very good one. I need to get better at the lead work.

For the rhythm, both hands will work well for muting
I'm totally blown away at my progress, but I have been working pretty dang hard at it, and not wanting getting too overly excited because I know there will come a time when I get stumped, and frustrated. Do you guys rest your right hand or does it just float, what I mean is I noticed when I'm picking on the first couple strings my pinky and ring finger want to rest on the guitar body making it actually very clean and constant. If I'm just trying to float my hand above the strings its hard to keep the exact distance from the strings, making me go in too deep and hitting the pickup sometimes. Now if I rest my palm kind of on the bridge it also helps has a gauge to allow my finger to maintain a steady and consistent pick. Guys I really appreciate all the help and tips, you dudes rock.
I think the instructional videos are pointing out the correct fundamental way to play, but as you progress you'll find other various ways to play certain chords simply because it lends itself better to adding colorations or texture to what you play.

A good example might be an A chord. If you play it as traditionally taught you would use your three fingertips on strings 4, 3, and 2. However that chord could also be played simply using the pad of your index finger to depress those same strings and mute the 1st string. The advantage to that is that it leaves your other 3 fingers available to add colorations to that chord such as would be the case if you wanted to add a boogie-woogie or blues pattern on string 4 over the A chord.

Another example might be for convenience. A very common chord progession for songs in G is to do a walkdown playing G, followed by a D chord with a F# bass note. You could play that chord using your index finger for the F# bass and your other three fingertips for the D chord, or you could simply play the D chord in a traditional way and wrap your thumb around the neck and use the pad of your thumb to play that F# bass note which tends to be much more convenient.

But these aren't things a beginner necessarily needs to master or know at the start. But eventually they might become useful techniques.
Last edited by dunedindragon at Feb 12, 2016,
Its like being in a dark room trying to find my way, and a group of people came in and turned the lights on. I'm a sponge to this stuff.