Rock/Blues Lead Guitar Hand Position

In this lesson we are going to look at a left hand guitar position used when playing rock and blues lead guitar solos. This is a little different than the proper hand position guitar teachers focus on most of the time. But this is not about the “proper” Classical left hand position on guitar, it’s about the real world left hand position guitar greats use when soloing in a rock/blues style.

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(Video Guitar Lesson 1 of 2)


Traditional Classical Left Hand Guitar Position

Before we get into the Rock/Blues lead guitar hand position, I first want to contrast it with the traditional guitar hand position that’s taught most often. And that’s where your left hand thumb is in the middle of the back of the neck so that all 4 of your finger have good access to the fretboard. This is a very important position, and is a tool you should have in your toolbox.

Traditional Classical Left Hand Guitar Position - Above  Traditional Classical Left Hand Guitar Position - Front

Rock/Blues Lead Guitar Hand Position

Guitar solos in a rock and blues style involve a lot of string bends. And when you bend strings on the guitar you need to keep your thumb up higher to give you the leverage you need.

Rock/Blues Lead Guitar Hand Position - Above  Rock/Blues Lead Guitar Hand Position - Front

With your thumb higher, and sometimes wrapped over the neck the use of your 4th finger becomes much more limited. So you will often not see rock/blues players using much of their 4th finger. And no it’s not because they don’t know any better, or they are lazy. Or they are just “uneducated”. Yes there are a group of misinformed guitar players out there who might say something like that.

And while the Classical, thumb low on the back of the neck hand position is important for a lot of different playing situations…it does not fit the rock/blues soloing style as well. Don’t buy into the myth that some guitar teachers preach. That your thumb should “always” be on the back of the neck. If you are a Classical guitar player, this is true…if you are playing blues rock guitar solos. It’s FALSE!

Each hand position has it’s place, and there are shades of gray in-between the 2 I have labeled here. But when playing rock/blues lead guitar solos that involve bends, here are some things to think about for your left hand position.

  1. Keep your thumb high, or even wrapped over the neck of the guitar.
  2. Have your fingers angled a little to the left side.
  3. For the most part you are going to make fingering choices that do not involve your 4th finger. You definitely can shift the position of your left hand for different parts of your solo. So this “no 4th finger” idea is only when you are in this rock/blues lead guitar hand position that I’m talking about here.

Of course the video guitar lesson at the top of this page is worth a thousand words that I can type here to describe this hand position. So if you are just reading this, be sure and watch the video when you can.

On the next page of this lesson you will find a video that I put together of 14 different rock and blues guitar players were you will see this hand position being used in the real world. Great guitar players like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan and other use this left hand guitar position in their lead guitar solos.

Rock/Blues Greats Using this Hand Position

In the video below you will watch 14 great rock and blues players use this left hand guitar position. Sometimes the solos are chopped up a little, I wanted the focus to be on the hand position. So if the camera person strayed away from the guitar player’s hands, for the most part I edited that part out.

Here are the 14 guitar player in this video.

Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Warren Haynes, Ritchie Blackmore, Billy Gibbons, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, and Johnny Winter.

Disclaimer: This video is strictly for educational purposes, whole songs or even complete solos are not included.

(Video Guitar Lesson 2 of 2)