How to Hold the Guitar

Knowledge is power.

And not only that; your ability to work with that knowledge and do… is power.

So today I’m going to show what proper mobility for the guitar looks like!

and answer the questions: “how do I hold the guitar”, “how do I sit with the guitar?” and “how do I stand with the guitar.”

As a bonus, I’m also going to show you how to hold a guitar pick, how to pick the strings of the guitar, how to strum a guitar; as well as how to put on a guitar strap (how to attach a guitar strap), and how to wear a guitar strap (how to adjust your strap to the right height)!!

This will give you a great starting place to feel out these things, like how you’re sitting or standing with the guitar, what’s the right wrist position when playing guitar, where should my thumb go when playing power chords, etc.

Proper Guitar Mobility

I’m going to describe guitar posture when sitting for right-handed guitarists (if you play left-handed guitar, simply reverse it).  This will hold true for electric guitar posture and acoustic guitar posture.

You actually have to organize yourself from the ground-up.

So often, if your wrist seems like it’s in a bad position, you can trace it back up the arm, into the shoulders, to the back, to how you are sitting.

Find yourself a good chair or seat that you can sit on with your feet on the floor, where your thighs are flat (not tilted up or down).  No sitting back in the couch or on your bed (I use a yoga ball when I teach).

Sit forward, so that your weight is on your feet (not on your butt, like it is if you sit back on your couch).

Your feet should be in front of your hips, facing forward.

Now, take a half step with your left foot (if you are right handed, opposite foot if you are left handed) forward and out at a 45 degree angle.  If you draw a line from the toes of your right foot straight over to your left foot, they should be to the halfway point of your left foot.

Proper Guitar Posture

We have organized everything from your feet up to your trunk.  Now it’s time to organize everything sitting on top of that; your upper body.

Sit with your back straight.

To organize your shoulders, take them up, back, and then let them drop down.  This puts your shoulders in place.

Your shoulders should be square with your hips (not turned to either side).

How to Hold the Guitar

If you hold the guitar flat against your body, you would then have to rotate your shoulders to the left to get your arms in place.  However, this would over-extend your left shoulder, and compress your right shoulder (not very comfortable or optimal).

Remember that we want to keep our shoulders square with our hips.  (I don’t use classical guitar posture because it has you rotating your shoulders out of alignment with your hips).

So let the neck of the guitar swing forward at about a 45 degree angle.  This will have the body of the guitar angling out from your hip.

And let the neck of the guitar be angled upward just a little (not downward).

I tell my students: move the guitar to YOU… don’t fold your self over to the guitar.

If you have followed my instructions properly you will be sitting comfortably with the guitar in an optimal position where you can easily reach all of your frets, with your pick hand in a comfortable position as well.

Take this as your starting point and feel it out.

One of the common guitar posture mistakes is, it’s common for people starting to play the guitar to complain of their shoulder of their pick hand side starting to ache (guitar posture shoulder pain).  That’s because they aren’t using correct guitar posture sitting, and are usually slouching, or folding over their guitar (breaking at the lumbar).

All of this is covered in the video above…

Correct Standing Guitar Posture

How to stand with the guitar properly, how to play guitar standing:

Standing with the guitar is literally the same thing…

Stand upright with your feet facing forward.  Take your half step forward at a 45 degree angle outward.

Make sure your back is straight.

Organize your shoulders (up, back, and down).

Rock out!!!

How to Hold the Guitar Pick

How to hold the pick: Hold your pick with your thumb and pointer finger.

Notice that if my thumb is horizontal, the pick is pointing straight down at the floor, at a 90 degree angle.

It’s like holding a key when you’re going to put it in a lock to unlock the door.

It’s the same how to hold the pick when playing fast

Picking begins in the wrist…

How to strum a guitar: Strumming also begins in the wrist, but is a larger movement, so the elbow follows (it’s a whole arm movement).  Feel it out

How to Wear a Guitar Strap

When it comes to how to adjust your guitar strap to the right height, it often takes years of adjusting your strap high, adjusting it low, before you finally figure out what is comfortable for you.

You want a position where you can easily reach all areas of the fretboard without having to strain or throw your leg up on the monitor speaker and tilt it up just to reach (while trying to look cool doing it).

The thought process that finally led me to the optimal position is this:

What is the most comfortable position to play in?

It’s sitting!

So I adjusted the strap the height it’s at while sitting and playing and voilà!  There it is!!!

This means that when you stand the guitar will be at the same height it is while sitting.  Try it!

What I find is that I can reach all the frets with ease now!

This is just a starting point… Figure out what works for you!

How to Attach a Guitar Strap

Attaching a guitar strap is easy.  It has two holes; one on either end.  There are two pegs on your guitar to attach them to: one at the back of the body of the guitar, and one on the top side of the body, near the fretboard.

If you have an acoustic guitar without the second metal peg, simply tie it at the neck of the guitar, just beyond the fretboard.  You can use shoe laces to tie it.

When I get a new guitar strap, I put it on and never take it off; because doing so will the loosen the guitar strap hole, and you might find it coming off while wearing your guitar.

You can also get some guitar strap locks to help hold your strap in place (some have a guitar strap button).

If you play bass guitar, you can also get a bass guitar strap.

Online Guitar Lessons

Feel free to reach out for virtual online guitar lessons!

-Coren Smith