How to Strum a Guitar without Hitting Other Strings?

When starting out, beginners often have a question which they ask, “How to Strum a Guitar without Hitting Other Strings?

One of the first problems I encountered when I started learning how to play guitar had to do with touching the other strings on my guitar. Hitting the wrong strings was very frustrating, but eventually, I got over it.

How?

There are a lot of different reasons why you might keep touching the other strings. In a nutshell, here is a list of a few things to fix so that you can avoid hitting other strings:

  • Improper thumb placement on the back of your guitar’s neck.
  • The string spacing of the guitar is too narrow for your fingers.
  • You have long fingernails.
  • The general holding technique of your guitar needs to be adjusted.
  • Your fingers are too big for your guitar fretboard.

In this article, we will go through each of these issues in detail and you will learn how you can fix them. We will also look at some ways you can develop your fretboard finger control and independence.


Reasons Why You Might Keep Hitting The Other Strings

As I said earlier, there are different reasons why you keep hitting the other strings too easily. Majorly, this could be as a result of your playing technique or guitar settings. Here’s a list of a few issues that can cause it:


1. Improper thumb placement on the back of your guitar’s neck.

Wrong thumb placement on the back of your guitar’s neck

The light-bulb moment to solving this issue for me was having proper thumb placement on the back of the guitar neck. You have to place your thumb in the center of the neck of the guitar. This makes your fingers to curl and forces you to play with the tips of your fingers. This way, it is easier to control your finger placement.

Correct Thumb Placement on the back of your guitar

2. The string spacing of the guitar is too narrow for your fingers.

Too narrow string spacing is also one factor that can cause this issue. You might want to look for a guitar with wider string spacing if you are having this problem. Wider string spacing allows more room between the strings, which makes it good for beginner guitar players because you don’t need so much accuracy on your fret hand fingers. There are a lot of brands that manufacture guitars with wider spacing. For example, Ibanez is known for producing wider but still comfortable neck shapes. You might want to go to your local guitar shop and ask the staff member for a guitar with wider string spacing. They will surely help you find one that suits you best.


3. You have long fingernails.

Do not play guitar with long nails
Do not play guitar with long nails

If you have long fingernails, you might want to consider cutting them a little bit. Longer fingernails might put your fingers in an angle where you will accidentally mute the neighboring string. If you don’t want to or can’t cut your fingernails shorter, I would suggest getting a guitar with a scalloped fretboard. This means that the space between the metal frets on the guitar neck has been made deeper to avoid the fingertip touching the wood while playing.

This makes your guitar fretboard easier to handle, especially with longer fingernails. This can also have some disadvantages, including changes in the sound of your guitar. If you don’t want to purchase a new guitar with a scalloped fretboard or have your guitar scalloped, you can achieve similar benefits by changing your frets to very high ones. You can have your frets changed to higher ones in most local guitar shops.


4. The general holding technique of your guitar.

Andrey Ostapenko, holding a guitar
general holding technique of a guitar

Pay attention to the angle you hold your guitar when you are playing. Are you tilting the guitar in order to see the fretboard better? This causes your fingers to tilt also in difficult angle, making it hard to play with your fingertips. Try and focus on keeping the guitar straight and close to your body so you don’t have to reach out too far to your guitar.


5. Your fingers are too big for your guitar fretboard.

 fingers are too big for your guitar

It might also be that your guitar is just not the right fit for you. Guitars come in different widths. Guitar width is measured from the nut of the guitar, so it is referred to as nut width. Acoustic guitar nut width usually varies between 41mm (1.61”) and 47mm (1.85”). If you have thicker fingers, I would generally recommend guitars with 44mm (1 ¾”) nut width. You might want to look for guitars from manufacturers like Takamine, PRS or Larrivee.


Keep Practicing

It’s perfectly normal to make mistakes likes these constantly when you are starting out. With regular, consistent practice, you will quickly get used to the fretboard and learn to control your fingers on the fretboard. You will develop muscle memory and, soon, you will not even have to think about your fret-hand fingers. Here are some additional useful exercises you can do to develop your fret-hand control. If you practice these maybe 5-10 minutes a day, you will see great improvement in your guitar playing.


The Spider Exercise

This exercise will improve your finger independence and control. This might feel very unnatural and difficult at first, but soon you will get used to it and really develop your finger control.

  1. Place your first finger on the first fret, the second finger on the second fret, the third finger on the third fret, and the fourth finger on the fourth fret of the sixth string.
  2. Move your second and fourth fingers to the fifth string without moving the first and third fingers
  3. Move your first and third fingers to the fourth string without moving your second and fourth fingers.
  4. Move your second and fourth fingers to the third string without moving the first and third fingers.
  5. Move your first and third fingers to the second string without moving the first and fourth fingers.
  6. Move your second and fourth fingers to the first string without moving the first and third fingers.

Here is a video to help you out further…

The Spider Exercise

Related Questions

How to bend a guitar without hitting the other strings?

As you bend your string toward the other strings, it’s hard not to touch them. Instead of trying to avoid touching the other strings, you should mute the strings you don’t want to make a sound. How to do this?

Here are some practical ways you can do that:

Use your right-hand palm or thumb to mute the other strings. Palm muting is done with your pick hand. Use the side of your pick hand palm and lay it on top of the strings you want to mute. This will stop the strings from vibrating.

You can also mute the strings with your thumb. This is a less common technique, but it is also useful. As you hit the strings with your pick hand, lay your thumb on top of the strings you don’t want to make a sound. This technique will take some time to learn, but it’s a very important skill to learn in the long run.

Use a string muter to mute the strings. If you’re having a hard time muting the strings and you want a quick fix for this issue, you might consider a string muter. I would not necessarily recommend relying on this. Instead, I would recommend that you spend some time and learn to mute the string without it. If you want to try this out, here is a link to one I have personally used.

How to avoid dead notes while Playing Chords?

This is a very common problem, especially when you are starting out your guitar hobby. Many times, you think that you have your fingers set up correctly on your strings, but you’re thinking, why doesn’t it sound good? Usually, the problem is that your fingers are positioned too flat on the fretboard. Try and focus on playing with your fingertips rather than the flat part of your fingers. This allows your fingers to be in a vertical position related to the string, which makes it easier to put pressure on one string and make your strings play more clearly.

Leave a Comment