Posture (for Guitarists)

By September 28, 2016Guitar, Lessons

When you play guitar, there are some handy rules of thumb you should follow regarding posture. Good posture might feel like an annoyance when you first try to get into the habit, but it’ll really pay off in the long run if you plan to play for long periods (like at the 2 hour shows on your world tour!).

Sitting vs Standing

It’s up to you whether you want to sit down or stand up. The ideal thing to do is to practice how you will most often play. So, if you plan on joining a band and gigging, you’ll probably want to stand up and practice (as it does feel a bit different when you transition from sitting to standing).

Posture While Sitting Down

Whenever you sit down and practice, make sure you use an armless chair or stool to give you plenty of mobility. Some players choose to cross their legs to raise the guitar up a bit, or you can use a foot stool. Prop the guitar body on the leg of your dominant hand (since that’s the hand you’ll be strumming with). So if you strum with your right hand, put the guitar body on your right leg.

Don’t lean over your guitar, sit up straight. A chair back can help you get in this habit (but for other players it may get in the way).

When you sit, a strap can still come in handy. Your hands should not have to hold the guitar in place, so if how you sit doesn’t secure the guitar, a strap is the next step. Adjust the strap so that the neck is slightly elevated and the body stays resting on your leg.

Posture While Standing Up

Your guitar strap should be adjusted so that you can comfortably reach all the frets. The neck should be slightly elevated. Your hands should not have to hold the guitar in place.

It might be tempting to drop your guitar real low down, or you might find it easier to put it really high up (especially if you’ve been sitting and playing for a while), but neither of these will help you in the long run. Your guitar should sit covering your belt/belly button area. Strap height is ultimately preference, but this is a good place to start.

Adjusting Strap Height

Here’s a quick guide to get a starting position for your guitar…

  1. Sit down.
  2. Place the guitar on your strumming hand’s leg.
  3. Sit up straight.
  4. Elevate the neck to a comfortable playing position.
  5. Put on the strap and adjust it.
  6. When you stand up, the guitar should be in about this spot.

This biggest problem players face when going from sitting to standing is that they’ve gotten in the habit of leaning over and looking at the neck. When you stand up, you can’t do that too much as you’ll be at a different angle (more behind the neck). This is good, because it means you build up muscle memory and the ability to play without looking.

If you’re going to stand up and play a lot, a good strap and strap locks can be considered a smart investment (way too many great guitars have met their untimely end because strap buttons failed to do their job!).

Avoiding Tension

You’ll hear it a lot in your lessons: stay relaxed! When you play guitar, that advice is some of the best you can follow. Your strumming hand should be relaxed, your shoulders should be relaxed, and especially your fretting hand (and all the fingers) should stay relaxed.

Whenever you grab your guitar to practice, do a triple check to make sure that…

  1. Your elbows are relaxed and not hugged to your sides
  2. Your strumming arm is loose, and you aren’t putting a death grip on the pick
  3. Your fretting hand is loose, and you’re gently pressing notes

Master those three things and your playing will be 10x better and potentially faster! And not only that, you’ll also find playing more comfortable.

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