Experiencing annoying buzzes and rattles as you play? It’s highly likely you aren’t fretting notes correctly. There’s one simple trick to getting clean notes to sound out on your guitar. It all depends on where you’re pressing on the string.
To fret a note, follow these two steps…
- Press on the string directly behind the fret wire.
- Press gently!
Maybe a bit easier said than done if you just picked up a guitar for the first time. Here’s some trouble shooting tips:
Where to Fret Notes
Press on the string directly behind the fret wire: if it buzzes, move back a little more until you find the “sweet spot” that gives you a nice, clean note!
Press gently: you might get in the bad habit of pressing down too hard either out of frustration or because you’ve been told that’s how you make notes sound nice. Either way, you’re doing it wrong! You should only use minimal pressure when fretting notes.
Only use the tips of your fingers to fret notes.
Hard Fretting Makes Notes Go Sharp
Not only can pressing too hard cause tension issues (which can lead to aches, pains, and even carpal tunnel), but it also makes notes “go sharp” (i.e. you’re pressing so hard, adding so much tension to the string, you’re essential playing out of tune!).
You’ll hear it a lot in your lessons: stay relaxed! When you play guitar, that advice is some of the best you can follow. Your strumming hand should be relaxed, your shoulders should be relaxed, and especially your fretting hand (and all the fingers) should stay relaxed.
Make sure your fretting hand’s thumb is placed on the back of the neck. Some players bring their thumb up so it peeks over the top of the fretboard, but you should at least have it in the middle somewhere (if you place it too low, you’ll experience tension issues). If you grab a pencil, you should be able to see where your thumb should be at (typically between your ring and middle finger).
Whenever you grab your guitar to practice, do a triple check to make sure that…
- Your elbows are relaxed and not hugged to your sides
- Your strumming arm is loose, and you aren’t putting a death grip on the pick
- Your fretting hand is loose, and you’re gently pressing notes
Master those three things and your playing will be 10x better and potentially faster! And not only that, you’ll also find playing more comfortable.
Just Got Your Guitar?
Check out our beginner mini series that covers the essential chords, basics of chord theory, building progressions, and creating strumming patterns here!