I have a standard sized acoustic dreadnought I've been trying to learn to play the guitar on. Not trying to do anything fancy, I just want to learn how to play an instrument okay.

I've learned the basic notes of the strings easily. I'd take up learning one string and it's notes at a time.

So now I am trying to do chords (with three finger positions). The problem is with my left hand not being able to figure out how to be positioned correctly. Either one or two of the fingers will be touching the string below it (fingerprint side, not nail side) or the finger will not be pressed correctly on the string. The hand quickly becomes cramped or the strings will 'dig' into the finger.

With a chord that requires three finger positions, my hand is streched and it becomes very irritating to get it to work. I have pictures to look at, but I'm just not getting it and I want to throw the guitar through the window.

Please, bare in mind, I can play the single notes without any problems. I look at pictures of what the hand is supposed to be like. My thumb is perpendicular to the fretboard (not parallel). I'm doing everything right, but when I strum and test each string individually, one or two notes aren't clear.

I'm an adult (27) with hands in the average proportion (not fat, stubby, thin, long).. although I'm tall so I have larger than average hands. Does anyone have any advice? Am I supposed to figure this out easily? Do most people put their fingers in three positions and it works like magic?
it sounds cliche but all you really need to do is practice. your fingers will eventually get used to being in the correct positions
yeh just keep practice up because it gets easier
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All I can say is that you need to practice 2 things. 1. Strengthening your ring and pinkie fingers cos it sounds like they're not inducing enough pressure. 2. You have to find where your hand is the most comfortable.
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You just have to gain some strength on your fingers to make it work. Google it, find some exercises to practise and I bet in a week you'll be playing an F

edit: i just remembered, try and make some push ups using your fingers, like, don't let the palm of your hand touch the floor and let your 5 fingers do all the work.
Last edited by shutkski at Jun 8, 2008,
practice seems to be the answer.
practice and you will build up calluses so the string wont "dig in"
practice and you will build up the muscles so your hand dosnt cramp
and just practicemoving in and out of different chords and eventually it will become easier

and if your getting a buzzing noise then try pressing down on the strings harder
I hav only been playing for a year, and know exactly how it feels. All i can recommend is practice. It sounds very dull, but for about about a month all i could play was Em and G! I just went between the two chords for ages practicing and practicing, until i tried D and then A etc... Don't give up, once u can play a few chords u can strum out simple songs and it becomes less like practice more like having fun. Good luck!
Man the first time I ever saw a C chord, which is extremely important in music, I thought to myself that it was impossible. Everyone has been there.

The digging sensation is normal. You need to expect your fingertips to hurt quite a bit when you first start, especially on an acoustic. As far as your fingers hitting other strings, it's a matter of accuracy and the angle of attack on the string. Don't even think about learning to switch chords until you can set up your hand in the right position to play a chord cleanly. The fact that you're testing your setup by picking individual notes is good. That's what you need to be doing until you get a better hang of it.

Bottom line: learning to play the guitar requires a ton of dedication. You have to build up muscles you didn't know you had and teach your fingers to work independently. It will probably take you at least a month to get anything going that sounds like a song. That's how it is. You just have to realize it and make the commitment.
There's nothing wrong with you! You just have to practice... Can't expect to pick a guitar up and be able to play all sorts of **** the first time.

...I used to know how you feel now... but i have long since forgotten how it feels not to be able to play bar chords.

Oh, and spend time switching between a sequence of chords, but spend time getting your fingers perfect on each one, so it one rings out... fingers nice and firm. You'll get quicker etc.

Thanks for your posts so far. I just wanted to make sure I was 'on the right track'. I'm following a how-to book on playing the guitar. It's been great so far... but everything up to this point has been 'easy'. One finger, one string, one fret. Even if it takes a minute to play eight notes, I can still accomplish it and work on getting faster.

I'll definately work on those finger exercises a friend of mine taught me... and I sort of ignored... I didn't realize they'd be important in chords.
Aye, you're doing fine. I had the same problem, it came out after a month or so for me. Try extending your wrist more, and press the string higher(lower?) more towards your fingerprint side if possible. I still do it on occasion after 6 months, but again, you'll definitely get used to it.

Ah, and also yeah my first couple days of playing guitar(i practice 6 hours a day, since day 1) after the first couple days my fingers would hurt like hell They're getting chaliced(spelt right?). THey'll get rough on the tips and seem like little canyons in them for a bit. Kinda cool, fit the string right in them. The "canyons" leave your fingers after the night but what I did was get my fingers to the point that the bottom strings wouldn't be touched, and then use that indent on my finger every time I'd hit a string. It's fun to do anyway =P.

Good luck with your guitar playing! Don't give up. Just practice like hell and you can play anything. Oh, and keep a positive attitude x.x. Don't say to yourself "this is too hard! I cant do it!" Just say "I can do it, others can I can!"

It's what I did, and now.. judging by comments in my thread earlier, I guess I'm doing great for 6 months! :P
Last edited by Peow at Jun 8, 2008,