Closed and Open Grips

A guitar can be played in either a Closed Grip, an Open Grip, or an In-Between Grip.

Closed Grip

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If you take your hand and grab hold of the guitar neck, and then bring your thumb so that you’re able to gently touch the low E string, you’ll find yourself in a Closed grip.

The Closed Grip is a natural and strong way of grabbing something. It’s the way you’ll generally grab things in everyday life. 

I call it a Closed Grip because the fingers can’t open up like they can in an Open Grip.

Open Grip

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Grab the guitar neck again, but this time bring your thumb down behind the middle area of the guitar neck. You’ll now be in what I call an Open Grip. 

In this position, your fingers will be able to open up much more. However, the Open Grip won’t feel as strong as the Closed Grip because your wrist, hand and fingers take on a more unnatural posture. 

Somewhere In-Between Grip

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There’s also an in-between grip, where your thumb is not quite up in a Closed Grip, yet not far enough down in an Open Grip. It’s somewhere in between.

Which Grip is Best?

There is no “best” grip. Different types of playing require a different type of grip. Barre chords for example are always played with an open grip, string-bending with a closed grip etc.

The most important thing right now is just to understand the different types of grips used when playing the guitar. When you do, you can then apply the appropriate grip for the appropriate technique as and when it arrises.