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Real Secret To Playing Chords Effortlessly Without Muting Strings


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Finger Placement


In this week’s video I talk mostly about the mental aspect of learning guitar because from my experience that really is the biggest issue. However let me describe what you’re trying to do with your fingers to get them not to mute the other strings when you make a chord.

When playing guitar chords you want to angle your fingers so they go up and then down again on the string. The idea is that as much as possible the tip your finger is pressing straight down into the fretboard. To be even more accurate it’s not exactly the very tip but just lightly behind the tip. You really do have to feel it in that comes from practice and making little changes over time.


guitar left hand


The pad of your thumb should be behind the guitar neck. One way to look at it is that the tip your finger in the pad of your thumb would press together except the guitar neck is between them. This will give you the most amount of leverage with the least amount of strain.

Your elbow should be hanging straight down and your shoulder and arm relaxed. So relaxed that if you were to release the pressure between your thumb and finger your hand would fall down.

This said the only way to get this right if they just practice it and keep making small adjustments. Over time you will develop a habit that will support you for years and years to come.





I have enjoyed your videos so much.  I am a very beginner player and am having trouble holding my fingers correctly on the strings.  It always seems that I will mute the next string too easily.

Do you have any advice on holding the fingers without muting the adjunct string?


Terry Tillman




Terry, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying my lessons. You’re on the right track.

The issue you’re struggling with is a very common one. I won’t pretend to have a magic bullet that will solve this issue and I don’t think there actually is one. I will share with you some ideas that have helped me and my students over the years. Please feel free to take what works for you and ignore anything that doesn’t make sense.

Keep in mind that everyone in the beginning cannot do it correctly. Yes some people are more naturally coordinated than others and seem to pick up physical things faster than some. But there really is no right or wrong. Where ever you are right now is just where you are supposed to be for you. Paradoxically accepting what you are right now will ask you help you progress bother and faster.

When your first learning guitar go slow and take your time putting your finger on the strings. Many adults try to go faster than the ready to go. It’s better in the beginning to be patient and get it right. Your mind and body are recording your movements. Unfortunately if you spend too much time doing it incorrectly it takes longer to get it right.

I’m not telling you this just to make you feel better, though I’m hoping you feel better also. The struggling in your mind actually holds you back. If you can let go of some of the judgments and just put in the practice time it’s very likely it will just take care of itself.




Probably the most important thing to tell you, though certainly not the most popular. My experience with both learning guitar and other similar physical things like dance and martial arts is it just takes time and repetition. The best thing you can do is just make peace with that, practice every day and stick with it.

I happen to be struggling with learning a new technique right now. I’m basically impatient. My mind wants me to go find more instruction or some way to do it that it will magically work. Kinda sucks, but I’ve been here before. I have enough instruction on how to do this technique. Now I need to just stick with it long enough until I get the results I want. There… I’ve just given myself a guitar coaching.

Now don’t get me wrong. A good teacher can be a great help. The two things they can do is help you make little changes to speed up progress,  and secondly keep telling you “you can do this”. It really helps. As an experienced guitarist with a good solid foundation I can usually do this for myself. I know the fundamentals of finger movement and I can usually auto-correct.

A beginner especially needs instruction early on to know what to do and what order to do it in. But nothing takes the place of practice, patience and persistence.



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    1. Hello Stephen,

      You’re welcome. Tomas Michaud is always happy to be of help to all his budding guitarist.
      Thanks for appreciating his advise.

      Warm Regards,

      Starland Guitar
      Customer Support

    1. Hello Joe,

      For Tomas Michaud, people like you who do appreciate his work is already such a great reward.
      It takes a lot of his personal experience before he developed wonderful, doable guitar lessons
      and to be appreciated is for him – an honor 🙂

      Thank you.

      Starland Guitar
      Customer Support

  1. Hello Tomas: Came upon your web accidentally searching guitar sites. I am 68, and have just taken up the guitar seriously as a beginner. I am sending some CD’s back to other “teachers” due to what I perceive as an inability to teach. I was impressed with the fact you make things very clear, and your ability to “teach” is evident.
    My interest in guitar style of playing is that akin to Dave Monk (Guitarmonkey). I grew up in NZ during the early days of the Shadows, and in fact have recently purchased an echo processor designed by sound engineers in Australia and used by the Shadows in their 2010 concerts (am waiting for it to arrive, it is called the TVS3). I also enjoy Blues. I am learning mostly for my own benefit but of course would enjoy playing for others. Practice, practice right! Any direct guidance you can provide knowing of my goals would be helpful. Meanwhile, I will continue with your course materials.


  2. Hello Thomas,
    regards from India
    i watched your video its really encourage myself to play guitar.
    today learned that a good position of holding guitar.
    thanks for the good guidance.

  3. Dear Thomas I have played music since 1958 and made 17 records
    I play keyboards but have never picked up a guitar. however I truly
    want to learn to play. This is for my own entertainment. I found you on the internet and was so impress by the way you teach so I will continue with your method. The problem I have is muting the wrong strings. I hope you will help me with this
    Thank You, Phil Cay,btw Iam now 80 years old is that too old to start?

  4. free play (no songs, just instrumental what I feel). ear training. play the music that i hear in my head. find the right chords to this music in my head. thats it really.

  5. Same problem here. I have to arrange my fingers with my other hand to get them just perfect. If they lean even just a tad…they’re muting the next string. Or, if I lift a finger, I don’t have the control to put it back in exactly the right position. If I try I’ll get a wrist/hand cramp. Some people are just given the gift I guess. Even here it says that Tomas was born a guitarist, “Tomas Michaud is an American born guitarist and music educator with a French Canadian heritage.”

    It’s always good to be born with a skill or talent, just like some people can paint or draw…or sing or dance. Tomas was born able to play the guitar. 🙂

    1. Hi Scott… Sorry to hear you’re having pain when you practice. That’s no fun. That said… I think you’re likely just as much of a natural as I am. I just have a few more years of practice on you. -Tomas

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