How to Fret a Guitar Properly in 3 Simple Steps

fretting a guitar with hands

A guitar is a stringed musical instrument, which signifies that it generates sound using vibrating strings that produce multiple pitches depending on their length. A guitarist is capable to vary the length of a string by pressing down where the guitar’s strings meet at different frets – which are tiny metal rods or bars that emerge on the neck of the guitar at definite intervals.

If you’re a beginner and want to play the guitar, the simplest but the most important technique you’ll need to know is how to fret your guitar properly. Whenever you fret on the guitar’s note, keep your finger as close to the fret as possible. If you’re not sure what fretting is or even what guitar frets are. Don’t bother about this; it’s pretty simple and easy to understand. But firstly, we just need to focus on a few basic principles of the guitar.

What Are Guitar Frets?

Frets are the steel things on the fretboard of your guitar. Each one makes a tiny box. The first box of the fret is known as the First Fret. The second box is known as the Second Fret and more of the same. You can also count the frets by the dots or ‘inlays’ found on the guitar’s neck or sometimes in the fret box.

frets on an electric guitar

Usually, except for the 12th fret, the guitar’s frets are labeled on odd numbers. The 12th fret is generally marked in a particular way to the rest of the fret. This is only as a visual indicator for us to understand where we are on the guitar’s neck. It is essential to have a mind mapping of the fret numbers because we can utilize them basically as guideposts when we’re discussing how to play the guitar with the help of the guitar’s frets.

Where to Fret on the Guitar

The perfect place on the guitar to place your finger is just behind the fret. This will provide the least amount of resistance and clearest sound quality to the guitar user. If you’re very far away from the guitar’s fret then it will take plenty of additional effort and pressure to hold the guitar’s string down to obtain a clear sound quality from the guitar.

When you fret on the guitar, you should place your fingertips on the guitar’s strings. Your hand should be in a relaxed position, and your brass knuckles should be snug around the guitar’s neck. Your thumb should be on the backside of the guitar’s neck, supporting your hand comfortably.

Now, you can practice playing different guitar notes on different types of frets and obtain a clean and clear sound quality. And as you’re identical with the names of the guitar’s frets, you’ll also be capable to listen or read something like, ‘first finger, 7th fret’, and you all know very well where to go and what they’re discussing. These are the general terminology when you’re learning the guitar.

The Basics of Fretting a Guitar

Fretting the guitar is the operation of placing the fingers on the fingerboard in such a manner that the note being played sounds clear and clean. In brief, fretting is how you place your fingers on the guitar’s strings to obtain a great and clear sound quality from your guitar. The first step to being familiar concerning the fretting is that the best place on a fret to place your fingerpads is the area of the fret directly behind the fret “wire” or “string”. That particular area in the guitar is known as the “Sweet Spot”. 

It works well for playing single-note picking, but the issue appears in playing the guitar’s harmony or chords. With multiple tunes or chord formations, it is merely impossible for every finger to be on the “Sweet Spot” and still form the chord. As a consequence, many other aspects come into operation concerning fretting. These aspects are – Finger Curl, Thumb Leverage, and Clearance. 

1. Finger Curl

finger curl while fretting guitar

When creating a tune or chord on the guitar it is essential to curl the fingers in such a manner that the tips of the fingers are capable to strike the proper fret. This permits the fingers to exert proper pressure on the guitar’s strings. There is an instinct with new players to want to keep the fingers straight when creating tone or chords from the guitar, but this will not generate enough amount of finger pressure on the fretboard and will result in the “buzzing” of the guitar’s string.

2. Thumb Leverage

To cooperate or assist with extra finger pressure on the fingerboard you may incorporate the use of Thumb Leverage. By placing the thumb on the rear side of the guitar’s neck, you can utilize that position to obtain the grip you require for extra thumb pressure. The possibility to use thumb leverage is oftentimes dependent on what chord you are playing and in which position on the guitar’s neck. The use of the thumb for extra leverage is generally a personal choice of the guitarist.

3. Clearance

You must have enough amount of clearance in the position of your hand to play clearly without touching any nearby open strings, as well as to apply finger pressure to the appropriate notes. It is mainly a matter of regulating or adjusting the Finger Curl and Thumb Leverage to accomplish this.

The objective of this fretting technique is to play the notes that create the chord or tune without buzzing any of the nearby guitar strings. It will take a minor practice for the beginner’s guitar players to get the finger placement right but it will get easier with the flow of time. Eventually, it’s all about what is most convenient for you as a guitarist so be calm and patient and it will turn out perfect.

Learning How to Play Guitar

While you’re starting your musical journey with a guitar, learning how to play the frets on a guitar and at the same time, playing the chord is one of the hardest things to master. But once you invest a significant amount of time and effort, it’ll get easier. Your hands will adapt to the shape and position of the chord, and the “muscle memory” will help you in playing your guitar perfectly.

Before starting with other sophisticated techniques like Flatpicking or tapping, you should practice your chord transitioning properly. Knowing how to transition from one chord to another without a change in the tune is what most beginner guitarists want to achieve.

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