Acoustic Guitar

5 Important Tips For How to Hold a Guitar

February 24, 2021

5 Important Tips For How to Hold a Guitar

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If you are a beginner guitar player, there are a lot of fundamental things to take in, and one of those fundamental things is learning how to correctly hold your guitar. If you don’t know how to properly hold your guitar, it will make your learning experience more difficult and cause you to develop bad habits in the long run.

Knowing how to strum, how to hold your pick and where to place your hands are all extremely important when you are learning how to play, but knowing how to hold your guitar is one of the first things that you will need to learn how to do in order to become a solid player.

So, if you follow these simple tips, you will find that how to correctly hold your guitar is really not that complicated, and it’s something that you can master in a very short amount of time. It may seem a little weird at first, but over time it will become more and more comfortable.

This article will focus on how to hold an acoustic guitar in a casual, standard method. Also, I should point out that I am a right-handed guitar player, so when I talk about arms, hands, fingers and legs, I’m referring to myself being a right-handed player. If you are a left-handed guitar player, simply reverse the right to the left.

Why You Should Trust This Review

I’ve been playing guitar and making music for approximately 35 years, mostly based out of Los Angeles, CA. I’ve played in several bands, been involved with several recording projects and played countless shows all over the world.

As a band member I have been a leader, a follower and a team player, primarily playing punk and alternative styles of music. I’ve never taken a formal guitar lesson but I have learned a lot from other musicians by simply playing along with them, asking questions and picking up tips and tricks here and there.

I continue to enjoy the experiences I get from playing and touring, and a big part of that is because I’m still able to learn so much from other guitar players.

Holding Your Guitar At A Glance: What Steps To Take

  • Setting the Guitar on Your Leg

Once you are sitting, place the curved, lower, cutaway part of the guitar on your right leg and pull it close to your body until you find a comfortable balance.

  • Using Your Strumming Arm for Stability

Rest the inside of your right elbow on the body of the guitar and curve it around until your right hand is comfortably hovering over the strings.

  • Keeping Your Fretboard Hand Loose

Don’t rely too much on your left hand for balance. Use your right arm (the strumming arm) and your right leg to maintain proper balance.

  • Maintaining Good Posture

Keep your back as straight as possible, and use your strumming arm to keep your guitar close to your body and upright.

  • Avoid Leaning Forward or Backward

Learn to trust your hands and fingers, and resist the urge to lean your guitar into an uncomfortable position.

Things To Keep In Mind When Holding A Guitar

In this article, we’ll expand on some of the basics when it comes to holding your guitar. It may seem a little confusing for beginners who have never been taught how to properly do it, but it’s really not very complicated.

Guitars are designed to have an easy, steady balance from left to right when you place one on your leg, and you may have to do some experimenting to find a comfortable position that works best for you. But, the more you do it, the more comfortable it will become for you in a very short amount of time.

Placing The Guitar On Your Leg

Placing the guitar on your leg is the first step in learning how to properly hold a guitar.

First, find a comfortable place to sit with plenty of room to your left and your right, where your thighs are able to rest parallel to the floor. Then, place the guitar on your right leg and gently pull it close your body while keeping it upright.

Guitars are typically very easy to balance on your leg without having to make too many adjustments, but feel free to move your legs, waist and back around until you find a comfortable position that works well for you. You will find the correct position when the guitar can almost balance itself on your leg without very much assistance from your hands.

Holding The Guitar In Place

Use your strumming arm to help hold the guitar correctly in place.

With your guitar sitting on your leg, place your strumming arm over the body of the guitar and bend your elbow into about a 90-degree angle. Use the inside of your elbow as a guide and rest your arm in the upper-right corner of the guitar’s body.

Feel free to adjust the position of your strumming arm forward and backward, and from left to right, until your strumming hand (right hand) is comfortably hovering over the sound hole and your right hand and wrist can move freely.

Also Read: How to Clean Your Guitar in 6 Easy Steps

Holding The Guitar In Place

Don’t put too much weight or resistance on your fingering hand while playing.

Once you follow the two, previous steps, you might find that the guitar still wants to slide or tip over a little to your left. This is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t feel too much resistance on your left hand when holding the neck of your guitar.

You don’t want too much weight on your left (fingering) hand because it will make playing chords and notes more difficult. So, when you are sitting and have your guitar on your leg with your strumming arm in place, the neck of your guitar should be able to rest very gently into your left hand, allowing you to freely use the fingers on your left hand and slide up and down the neck easily.

Using Good Posture And A Straight Back

Keep your back straight and maintain good posture for a better playing experience.

It will definitely make your playing experience better, and make you more comfortable, if you maintain good posture while you play. In addition to keeping your back straight and upright, it is very important to keep your guitar straight and upright, too.

While you are in the sitting position, with your guitar resting on your right leg, try your best to keep your back and your guitar at a vertical position from the floor to the ceiling, using your right arm (strumming arm) as a guide to hold your guitar in place. The straighter you are, the better and more effortless your playing will be.

Avoid Leaning Forward Or Backward

Resist the urge to lean over your guitar or crane your neck while you play.

If you are a beginning guitar player, it’s very tempting and natural to want to look down at your hands to see what you are playing. However, this can often cause you to slide your guitar forward and backward, making it more difficult for you to play and lead to you developing bad habits down the road.

As I mentioned, maintaining good posture is a vital component to good playing, and the more you hunch your back over the body and neck of your guitar, the worse you are going to play in the long run. So, it’s very important that you learn to trust your hands and fingers and, over time, you will develop a good balance with your hand-eye coordination.

Also Read: How to Tune Your Guitar For Beginners (5 Easy Steps)

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to correctly hold a guitar is a very valuable and fundamental lesson to learn. If you don’t hold your guitar properly, it can lead to bad habits and a bad learning experience for beginners.

However, if you follow these simple tips and spend just a few moments learning how to do it every time you sit down to play, you will find that you will very quickly become a better and more comfortable player over time.

Michael Vogelsang

Michael is a musician, writer and voice actor who has played and recorded music with several bands, mostly connected to the hardcore punk scene. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his wife and their ever-growing family of animals.
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