3.5 Playing Posture

Andy | August 24, 2015 | 18 Comments

Andy gives you a few essential tips: Here they are below in a tad more detail, but remember one thing, you need to fee comfortably and relaxed when playing.


You can either sit or stand while playing the guitar, although most people prefer to sit while practicing but stand while performing, especially if in a band.

However, beware of large beer guts because if you don’t get your posture right you are gonna need long arms!

To hold the guitar in a sitting position, rest the waist of the guitar on your right leg and place your feet slightly apart. Balance the guitar by lightly resting your right forearm on the high curved end of the guitar (known as a bout), If you take your left hand off the fretboard, the guitar should remain in position and not dip towards the floor.

Playing whilst standing.
You will need a strap and ensure it is securely attached to the guitar, using the strap pins or tying it to the machine head. Stand in a natural position and see how it feels and adjust the strap length accordingly so it is a comfortable playing height. When you start playing whilst standing make sure your reaction to catching a falling guitar is a it’speak, as this may well happen before you really get used to it.

Watch your guitar heroes – well most of them anyway – and you will notice they all sit, stand, jump and pose differently. If you want to achieve such legendary status it is important that you start off with the basics.

By that, we mean, you have to learn by posturing yourself correctly. You need to sit and/or with a guitar that compliments you i.e. not too small and not too big, so you feel comfortable. Just think of your first dance with your loved one!!!

Having said that, our teaching style is to start with the basics, learn with aplomb and that will give you the freedom to eventually develop your own “style.”

What really enables you to do this, is understanding what you should do (only as a beginner) and then reaching out to ensure you can play your own style in the way you were taught. For example, Mark Knopfler keeps his guitar quite high, which probably reflects the way he was taught or learned the guitar,

Hendrix played in the “classic” mid body position (as did Eric Clapton) whereas some of the modern day punk bands’ guitarists had it positioned at hip. Just have a look at Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day…..or even Dr. Feelgood’s legendary guitarist, Wilko Johnson, who could play unbelievable rhythm and lead guitar in a position none of us would think possible. You could barely see his knees!!!! A bit like Slash as well. This means your ideal can be achieved, but make sure you master the basics first before posing in the mirror to check your rating on the cool dude scale. Hence this video series.

We will also show you how to hold a pick so you can strum and strike your strings to the maximum effect. Believe you me, it is better being demonstrated in a video rather than as a picture or text.

It is also essential that the guitar “fits your body.” Do not buy a jumbo acoustic with a wide neck and massive body if you have small hands and a “compact” body like Andy. The video explains it all.

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Comments (18)

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  1. jim crossland says:

    Sound advise as to posture and position

  2. Gary Stout says:

    3.5 Playing Posture: Might mention that guitar isn’t exactly parallel to the body, the head stock points a little out from the body. It’s obvious in the photos, but a beginner might not “see” it and try to keep the stock in tight. Also, height of the headstock might be worth a mention – sure it all comes down to personal preference, but if they start with headstock a little elevated, it might help them keep their wrist loose. You also don’t mention keeping knuckles in line (parallel) with the neck with one finger per fret, maybe that’s in a later section, and not gripping the neck in your fist – proper hand position.

  3. Jack Runnels says:

    a little to much info here but good advice

  4. Ronnie Holderfield says:

    The only place I have used a guitar player stool is on stage but they are made for the player. I’ve never used the classical position in any of my practice sessions, I just sit on my couch or bed and I play just fine.

  5. Brian Armstrong says:

    I purchased a higher stool with a foot rest on as I am a tall person and found an ordinary chair was too low. I must admit that I do still get a bit of a back ache if I sit for long periods.

  6. Richard Darby says:

    Someone mentioned the “classical guitar way” of holding the guitar. It actually is much easier to play that way. It take less pressure to press down the strings, it puts your hand in a better position for chording, etc. I play both classical and steel string guitars and I find myself using the classical way (although a bit harder to learn)much better for posture and for the reasons mentioned above, more and more for both types of guitars.

  7. Marcus Hunt says:

    Foot stools aren’t to be recommended in my opinion as they twist the spine and can lead to back problems. I suffer from a bad back but find that since I started using a proper stool designed for guitarists much of the pain caused by certain chairs has disappeared. It straightens the spine and tilts the pelvis slightly but something I find is that the guitar naturally wants to rest on the leg at a diagonal angle. If I try to bring the guitar straight across the body I can feel it pulling my back. My physiotherapist told me that part of the reason I suffer from a bad back was a) playing the guitar whilst sitting on the wrong sort of chair (e.g. those found in a pub), and b) the unnatural twist caused by not allowing the guitar to go to the position it naturally wants to be it. I must admit though, it feels very strange playing the guitar at an angle rather than across the body and I’m still guilty of playing with the guitar in this position.

  8. Colin Rothery says:

    How about mentioning the option to use a foot stool and rest the guitar waist on your raised left leg ? I know this is predominately seen as a ‘classical guitar’ stance but I was taught this way for plectrum guitar and find it extremely comfortable and easier to fret with my left hand than if I had the guitar positioned on my right leg in the normal stance.

  9. Marcus Hunt says:

    Typo: “you need to sit and/or with a guitar that compliments you….” It should read “you need to sit with a guitar….” or “you need to sit and/or stand with a guitar…”

  10. JL Brunet says:

    “Believe you me” – you have to choose 🙂 Make sure text is proof read…

    • Andy says:

      Thanks – if you spot any more spelling or grammatical do let me know 🙂

      • Charles Butler says:

        I just noticed your lack of capitalization of God in “god forbid” back in the anatomy lesson. Not to be nit-picky, but most high Church Christians (i.e. Church of England/Anglican, Methodists, Lutherans, etc) can take objection/exception to not capitalizing God while most less formal Christians won’t mind either way. Why not go for the most acceptable usage.

  11. JL Brunet says:

    Loved the Wilko Johnson comment 🙂 Awesome guitarist – hope he’s getting well.

  12. JL Brunet says:

    “When you start playing whilst standing make sure your reaction to catching a falling guitar is a it’speak” – typo?

    Guitar stools are great too. They usually keep your legs up enough for a very comfortable position. And some rotate, which is very nice.

  13. Anthony Gable says:

    I unfortunately do have a beer gut, (I AM working on that tho), and I have a tendency to lean forward to see where my hands are in reference to the strings. This is something I KNOW I MUST overcome the leaning and letting the guitar slip down my lap as far as correct posture.

    • Andy says:

      Hi Anthony, don’t worry about looking at your hands and fingers. Once you’ve started to build your muscle memory, your fingers will start to automatically know where they should be!

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