Closed and Open Grips

You can play the guitar using either a Closed Grip or an Open Grip.

The Open Grip

Grab the guitar and place your thumb down behind the middle area of the guitar neck and bring your fingers up onto the fretboard. This is what I call an Open Grip. 

In the Open Grip, your fingers will be able to open up on the fretboard. It’s not the strongest grip because it’s not the most natural grip. Although it is needed for certain types of playing.

The Closed Grip

Grab hold of the guitar neck again and this time bring your thumb up over the top of the guitar neck where it’s able to gently touch the low E string. This is what I call a Closed Grip.

In the Closed Grip, your fingers won’t be able to open up like they can in the Open Grip. The Closed Grip is a very natural way of gripping the guitar. Your hands and fingers generally feel stronger and more secure when using this grip.

Which Grip is Best?

There is no “best” overall grip!

The type of grip you use will depend on the shape of your hand and what it is you’re actually playing.

Use the General Rules below as a guide for what type of grip is normally used for what type of playing. Then experiment to see what works best for you as an individual.

Open Chords

Generally played using a Closed Grip. You might use more of an open grip if you’re a beginner or someone who has chunkier, smaller fingers.

Barre Chords

Always played using an Open Grip. Although, barre chords can be played using a Closed Grip with the thumb over the top (Hendrix style).

Pentatonic Lead Guitar Playing

Generally played using a Closed grip, especially Blues and Classic Rock. More modern styles such as Neo Soul might use an Open Grip.

7 Note Lead Guitar Playing

Played using both Closed Grip and Open Grips. This one really does all depend on the individual’s hand shape, playing style, and personal preference.

Stretchy Chords

Any chord in which you need to stretch the fingers apart will need an Open Grip.