How To Properly Hold A Guitar: A Quick Tip

The way you hold your guitar can make or break your playing experience. Many issues that beginning guitarists have with executing certain chords are caused entirely by bad posture alone. By holding your guitar the right way, you will be more comfortable, sound better, and play longer. If you are experiencing pain and frustration, you won’t be for long. This article will teach you how to properly hold a guitar.

How To Properly Hold A Guitar

Why Does It Matter How I Hold My Guitar?

Posture and technique are often overlooked by guitarists because they go straight to learning their favorite songs, however it is incredibly important that beginners perfect their posture before learning bad habits that will need to be fixed later.

Many guitarists experience stress and pain when playing with bad posture and technique for long periods of time. Common issues experienced include:

These issues will disturb your playing experience and will even make you sound bad. When left unresolved, many associate pain and stress with learning the guitar and may even quit altogether. This is why knowing how to properly hold a guitar is so important.

Learning to hold the guitar the right way will make playing fun and effortless. You will be able to knock out longer practice sessions and really kindle your passion for learning the guitar. When we take care of our comfort, we can really focus on what is important, like learning our scales, chords, and our favorite songs.

The Anatomy of the Guitar

For the purpose of this tutorial we will briefly mention the parts of the guitar. For the full breakdown & anatomy of an electric guitar, check out this article.

The Neck

The neck is the long wooden part of your guitar. It also has a nice pretty fretboard that identifies each note.

the guitar neck

The Headstock

The headstock is located at the tip top of the guitar’s neck. It is also where your tuning pegs are located.

guitar headstock

The Body

The body of your guitar is the big round wooden part of the guitar when the sound resonates. The body of your guitar should be aligned with your torso.

the body of the guitar

How To Properly Hold A Guitar While Sitting

The main way guitarists like to practice is sitting down. When sitting and playing, either both feel should be plated on the ground, or your right leg crossed over your left. The guitar should be placed on your right thigh and your posture should be nice and straight.

Finding The Right Chair

Where you decide to sit is the first thing you can make changes to make your practice more comfortable. Before you go out and buy an expensive guitar chair, look around the house and see what you have available to you.

Good chairs for practicing guitar:

  • Armless chair – You should be able to scratch out and be free to make necessary movements. Armless chairs offer you a lot of space.
  • Low stool – Low stools are okay because you can plant your feet on the ground which is great for your posture.

No-no’s for practicing guitar:

  • Bar stools – These are too high and you will surely slouch!
  • Arm chairs – Good luck playing guitar with your arms restricted by an armchair!
  • The couch – Don’t be lazy! Slouching and falling into your couch cushions is no way to get good practice!
  • The floor – I am guilty of practicing on the floor, while this position is not so bad, these  practice sessions never last too long because my legs always fall asleep!

Right Arm Position

  • Rest your right elbow on the edge of the guitar body
  • Use your elbow as a pivot point for strumming your guitar.
  • Your right wrist should be parallel to the fretboard. That means it should be straight.

Left Arm Position

  • Your forearm should be straight
  • Let your elbow dangle a bit.
  • The wrist should also be as straight as possible.
  • Small hands might need to bend their wrist a bit to reach the top strings.
  • Lighten up! If your finger tips are turning white, you are gripping the neck too hard.

Give yourself enough room to move around a bit, reaching certain spots on the guitar require micro movements in our arms, position, and shoulders.

proper guitar posture

How To Properly Hold A Guitar While Standing

When standing up, comfort and playability should always come before looking cool.

  • Use a guitar strap
  • Tighten up so you can play comfortably and your wrist is not bent.
  • You should be able to stand up straight and the guitar should be supported at your level.

And most importantly

NO SLOUCHING!

guitar standing posture

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three ways to hold a guitar? 

The 3 common ways to hold a guitar are casual, classical, and standing.Casual is the way most of us sit down with our guitars. The guitar rests on our right knee.Classical is when the guitar sits on the left knee and the headstock is tilted at about eye level.

Standing is when we use a strap to keep the guitar propped up.

The important thing to know about all of these positions is that they do require a straight posture for proper execution.

Should You Wear A Guitar Strap While Sitting?

Wearing a strap while sitting might help you prop the guitar up if slouching or a slipping guitar is an issue for you. If you don’t find that you need it, don’t worry about it.

Is It Better To Play Guitar Sitting Or Standing?

It is better to play however you are comfortable. Practicing standing up is a good idea if you intend on performing live. If you find yourself exclusively sitting while playing guitar, standing might be a good change of pace.

Do The Strings Go From Thickest (bottom) To Thinnest (top)?

The thickest strings are placed at the top of the neck from the floor. The thinnest strings are closest to the floor. However, when we assign numbers to the strings the highest pitched string (E) is string 1. The low E at the top is string 6.

Does It Matter How You Hold Your Guitar?

The way you hold your guitar really impacts the sound you make, your comfort, and especially your endurance on the guitar. So yes, I would say it does matter.

If your wrist is bent in an uncomfortable way, you are going to feel tension in your hand, you will not be able to play your chords properly, and you might get frustrated and quit because the guitar is too hard. Don’t be one of those people! 

Playing the guitar is not supposed to hurt! It should feel effortless.

posture for practicing guitar

Conclusion

Proper guitar posture is the first thing beginning guitarists need to understand, because you can’t focus on learning guitar if you are uncomfortable and inefficient with your technique. Bent wrists, slouching, and gripping the guitar too hard are mistakes all beginners make, and they inevitably lead to frustration and oftentimes, quitting.

Sitting up straight, using a strap, and having the proper seating will make playing the guitar much easier for you. Once you learn how to properly hold a guitar, you will kindle your passion for playing!

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