Finger Placement For Guitar Chords: Eliminate String Buzz!


When you are first learning guitar chords, it sure can be hard to get your fingers to do what you want them to do.  That’s okay.  It takes time and practice to build up the necessary strength and dexterity in your hands and fingers to be able play guitar chords well.  When you are first learning a new guitar chord, one of the big problems often is that dreadful string buzz.  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.  Bzzzt.  

Like I said, time and practice can help with this, but there is a common mistake that I’m always seeing. From what I’ve noticed, this mistake accounts for a lot of string buzz, and it’s all because of poor finger placement.  I want to show you correct finger placement for guitar chords.  This will help you out tremendously so you can play clean, no buzz, guitar chords.  Let’s take a look.

Correct finger placement

I think the common understanding when learning guitar chords is that as long as your fingers are in between the frets you are in the clear.  You look at a chord diagram and you see that the dots are situated exactly right in between two frets.  However, this not the most efficient way to play a guitar chord.  In fact, finger placement for guitar chords should be not in the middle or away from the fret, but rather, your finger placement should be “hugging” or practically resting right on the fret.  

Here’s an example of the wrong way:

In that example, I’m playing a ‘C’ chord, but look at my fingers.  They are way behind the frets.  If my fingers are positioned in this way, I’m not able to apply the maximum amount of pressure needed to the string to prevent string buzz.  

Here’s an example of the right way:

As you can see from this example, my fingers are practically on top of the frets.  They are just barely behind the fret.  By doing this, this allows me to put maximum pressure much more easily on the string being pressed to the fret.  This eliminates a lot of string buzz.

Go ahead and try it out!  You’ll be amazed at how much clearer your chords ring out!

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my reviews on professional online guitar lessons. These are really nice, if you want to learn from the best, and take your playing to the next level. 

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip! But whadd’ya do with finger placement on bar chords when you can get up that far? I still get string buzz on my bar chords. Bums me out…

  2. Bar chords can be a real pain! What do you mean by “you can get up that far”?

    The same principle can be applied to bar chords in that you want to make sure you are pressing down close to the fret with a good amount of pressure. Bar chords do take more strength in your wrist, but again, make sure even with your bar chords you are getting close to those frets like demonstrated above!

  3. John,
    Your guitar’s neck may not be straight if you are getting buzz high up on the neck.

  4. Mario Martinez

    I am trying to play the A chord an i get the buzz, I am pressing hard and still get the buzz, i checked the guitar at guitar center and everything is ok. am i using the fingers errouneously any tips.

    thanks.

    • Chance Hammond

      mine was doing the same thing when i got it. did you check the neck and make sure it was strait enough? if its too loose its going to hit the bars and make that buzzing sound you probably heard

  5. ritchan

    turoan mo ako!

  6. Joel

    Mario, hopefully you might have mastered the A chord by now, but in case you haven’t, and for other budding guitarists, THUMB placement is crucial for strengthening the chord. If the thumb is placed lazily behind the neck instead of using the “ball” of the thumb pressed to the back of the neck when possible (note: in the picture when playing ‘C’ it naturally requires you to grip around the neck which is NOT the ideal place for your thumb on most chords–especially bar chords, but that’s how I play ‘C’ too because it’s so spread out), the chord tends to be a lot harder to hold. Hope that helps. Please disregard my post if you are thumbless and if you are, props to you for making the effort to play! It can be hard enough with all your fingers.

  7. Luke

    Thanks for the tip! Very helpful as nobody had let me know about this and the buzzing was really bringing me down!

  8. bimola qumaine

    i’m having problems with the right fingering,which is in turn, limting ma progress on playing solo. pls what is the right fingr placement for solo guitar?

  9. sue

    I am a begginer and have just started to dive into chords. My biggest problem is not knowing what part of my finger tips to use to press on the strings with. I have somewhat short stubby fingers and am having a really hard time pressing the right strings down without hitting the wrong ones or reaching the strings.

  10. Haleigh

    but what if say i have really short fingers and really long nails?

  11. Haleigh,

    Long fingernails for your fretting hand can definitely pose a challenge. I know when my fingernails get too long sometimes it prevents me from being able to fully press down on the strings.

    You might want consider giving them a little trim :)

    Brett

  12. amanuel nigussie

    i love to play guitar

  13. John H. Blauw

    Yeah: But look how long you’re fingers are. LOL

  14. John H. Blauw

    Could you show any examples of when it it is easier to use your thumb for the sixth string?

  15. Hannah Banna

    Hey.. I am haveing trouble big time lol. I have short fingers..any tipps for me? I want to play bad but its really hard for me to reach the position lol if u have any tips plz tell me! =) thanks!

  16. Dan Dwyer

    Brett, Thanks for the tip. As you know the C chord is a common chord and I was getting frustrated by the buzzing I was creating, due to poor finger placement, and I knew it was not my new Seagull S6.

  17. im having some troubles with the buzz. am i pressig too hard or should i press harder? what do yuo think??

  18. im having troubles with the buzz. am i pressing to hard or not hard enough?

  19. sakshi

    i m really having a grt problm while playing chords..its trublsum to put the fingers on d c chord frets ..n if in case i do it..few of the strings dont get played…wot to do?

  20. Amol

    Was having trouble pressing the chords ..
    This tip proved very useful…
    Thank you..

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The height between the strings and the fretboard refers to the action of the guitar. Guitars that have strings that are high off the fretboard are said to have a high action. Guitars that have strings that lay closer to the fretboard are said to have a low action. Typically, guitars that have a low action are easier to play because the strings are easier to press down on to the frets since they are closer to the fretboard. However, low action might also give you more string or fret buzz. Guitar players who tend to strum harder (e.g. bluegrass players) might raise their action to prevent any string buzz. A lot of fret buzz can also depend on your finger position on the frets. [...]

  2. [...] Common Mistake: Finger Placement for Guitar Chords – One thing I hear asked by beginning guitar players is how to eliminate string buzz. A lot of this [...]

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