How To Hold A Guitar

Want to know how to hold a guitar? Then you’re in the right place!

how to hold a guitar

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 8 essential tips that show you how to hold a guitar.
  • The secret to sounding amazing on the guitar.
  • 2 must-know lessons which will boost your progress.
  • 2 quick and easy tricks that will help you master guitar chords.

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Learning how to hold a guitar correctly is absolutely crucial when learning how to play the guitar.

If you don’t know how to hold a guitar properly, you will NEVER become the guitarist you want to be.

When we talk about holding a guitar, we’re referring to guitar posture.

We’re going to show you 8 essential tips which will help you nail your guitar posture and become the guitarist that you want to be.

Tip #1 Choose What You Sit On Carefully

It’s important that you choose the right thing to sit on when learning how to hold a guitar.

This can be the difference to whether you’re a successful guitar player or not.

Here are a few pieces of furniture which you should avoid at ALL costs.

1) A Sofa

There’s nothing worse for your guitar posture than a sofa.

Sofa’s cause you to slump into a low position.

Sofa’s are perfect for watching TV, not for learning how to hold a guitar.

how to hold a guitar

2) A High Stool

High stool’s are awful for guitar players.

They make learning how to hold a guitar incredibly difficult.

There’s no stability in a high stool. You will feel unbalanced when you play on guitar on a high stool.

how to hold a guitar

3) An Arm Chair

Arm chairs are a big no for guitarists. They restrict your movement.

No great guitarist learned how to rock out in an arm chair.

how to hold a guitar

What should I sit on?

As a general rule, chairs without arms are perfect for guitar players.

Make sure that your back is straight, your legs are at 90 degree angle and you’ll be good to go!

It doesn’t matter what you sit on.

Just make sure that you sit up straight and can move freely.

Don’t let a piece of furniture restrict your guitar progress.

Tip #2 Make Sure Your Arms Are Unrestricted

The last thing you should do when learning how to hold a guitar is restrict your arms.

Your arms and hands help you to play guitar.

Don’t make the mistake of sitting on something which is going to make guitar playing difficult.

how to hold a guitar

Tip #3 Sit Up Straight

It’s vital that you sit up straight.

Here are two tips which will help you master your guitar posture:

  • Make sure your back is straight.
  • Keep your legs at a right angle.

If you follow these two tips you’ll learn how to hold a guitar in no time.

Why is this important?

You must be in control of the guitar, don’t let the guitar control you.

It’s important that you have as MUCH control as possible over the guitar.

You need to be as big as possible, so you can get over the instrument.

Why should I learn to how to hold a guitar correctly?

Learning how to hold a guitar correctly increases your chances of being able to:

If you don’t know how to hold a guitar correctly, you will find each of these essential guitar lessons incredibly difficult.

Everything is SO much easier when you know how to hold a guitar correctly.

Are you new to guitar? Check out this awesome guide to some of our best free guitar lessons: Learn Guitar Online: Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Lesson Programmes

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Tip #4 Choose The Size Of Your Guitar Wisely

Guitars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

From big to small, pointy to smooth.

It’s important that you pick the right guitar size.

  • If you’re smaller than the average person, try and avoid larger guitars as they are harder to play.
  • If you’re tall, it wouldn’t make sense that you have a small guitar, as it may cause tension on your back.

Make sure that you pick a guitar which is suitable for your body size.

If you’re not sure what the best guitar for your body size is, go out and try some guitars. Experiment with what feels comfortable.

There’s no rules here, trust your judgement and pick a guitar which feels best.

To learn about guitar sizes, go here: Guitar Sizes – A Guide To The 10 Sizes Of Guitar

how to hold a guitar

Tip #5 Make sure your elbow comes over the ridge of the guitar

When playing the guitar, it’s essential that your elbow sits on top of the body.

Place your elbow in front of the ridge of the guitar.

Your elbow should line up somewhere in between the guitars bridge and the strap button.

This is a perfect example of where your elbow should be:

how to hold a guitar

Don’t:

  • Place your elbow where the strap button is. This is terrible for strumming the guitar and causes tension in your back.
  • Place your elbow behind the guitar. If you do this, your strumming will be flimsy and uninspiring.

It’s important that your elbow is in the correct place, as this helps you strum correctly.

Your elbow should act as a pivot when it’s placed on the ridge of the guitar.

You should be able to move it freely back and forth over the strings.

Tip #6 Choose The Right Thigh

It’s important that you choose to play your guitar on the correct thigh.

Most guitarists place their guitar on their right thigh.

However some guitarists place their guitar on their left thigh.

This position is popular among classical guitarists.

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It doesn’t matter what thigh you place the guitar, however it is important that:

  • Your guitar goes DIRECTLY across your body.

Your guitar must be in a straight line across your body.

If your guitar’s neck is being pulled back, your elbow becomes restricted and makes strumming difficult.

If the guitar is too far forward, you end up chasing your guitar chords.

Keep the guitar’s body in a straight line and you’ll be rocking in no time!

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Tip #7 Use Your Arm When Playing Chords

So many beginner guitarists make the mistake of just using their fingers when playing guitar chords.

When we play guitar chords, we don’t just use our fingers, we use our whole arm.

This is why it’s SO important that your movement isn’t restricted when you play guitar chords.

Your arm needs plenty of movement to fret guitar chords.

Without free movement between both your arms, you’ll never be able to play the guitar properly.

Here are 3 of the most common mistakes that beginners make with their arms:

  • They sit in an arm chair.

Sitting in an arm chair, restricts BOTH of your arms. A big no when it comes to guitar playing.

  • Their fretting arm is tucked into their torso. 

By tucking your fretting arm into your torso, you’re making your fretting hand do ALL the work.

Help yourself out and use your whole arm. This will strengthen your guitar chords.

  • Their fretting arm rests on their thigh.

This is just plain lazy! Resting your fretting arm will never help your guitar chords. In actually makes them worse.

How should I position my fretting arm?

Make sure that your arm is as FREE as possible.

It shouldn’t be:

  • Tucked into your torso.

Or:

  • Resting on your lap.

Both of these are terrible for playing guitar chords.

There should be lots of free air.

A great way to ensure that there is lots of space for your fretting arm, is to purposely extend it out.

Even though this might feel strange to start with, it’s a great way of ensuring that you have as much power as possible coming from your fretting hand.

I’m struggling to reach to guitar chords, what should I do?

There’s only ever two things that you need to do if you’re struggling to play guitar chords.

Those are:

  • To lower your thumb.
  • Move your wrist your forward.

As a general rule, your thumb should sit like this behind the neck:

However, don’t be afraid to move your thumb. Your thumb should be able to move as freely as possible around the neck.

It is important that your thumb always point upwards. Never point your towards the head stock.

Moving your wrist forward

Never feel like your wrist HAS to stay in one place.

When you change guitar chords, your wrist will naturally move around.

Never restrict the movement of your wrist, allow it to move freely with the chords you are playing.

Tip #8 Use Your Finger Tips For Ultimate Chord Clarity

The best way to fret a guitar chord is to use your finger tips. Try and fret your chord as close to your finger nail as possible (Make sure it doesn’t hurt!)

One of the most common problems for beginner guitarists is that they find fretting guitar chords guitar difficult.

The best way to fret guitar chords correctly is to use your finger tips.

Ideally there should be LOTS of fresh air between your fingers and the fret board.

Let’s take a look at how a guitar chord should look like. We’re going to use an Em chord for this example.

Em Guitar Chord

Here’s the chord box:

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

.

To play this chord:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Strum ALL the strings.

This is what the Em chord should look like from your perspective.

Can you see how the tips of the fingers are being used and there’s a gap between your fingers and the fret board. That’s what your fingers should look like!

Fret board Reach

One of the most important lessons you can learn when learning how to hold a guitar is:

There is a HUGE amount of distance between the tip of your thumb and your first finger.

It’s vital that you use this to your advantage as a beginner guitarist.

Don’t just use your fingers when you fret guitar chords, use your WHOLE hand.

By exploring the range of your hand from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your first finger, you will be able to fret chords clearly and correctly.

how to hold a guitar

Bonus Tips

Here are a few bonus tips which help with learning how to hold a guitar.

1) Practice Standing Up

Although this doesn’t work for everyone, practicing standing up is great for your guitar posture.

Try and stand up for at least 5 minutes of your guitar practice, this will help your posture and make you a better guitarist.

2) Use A Guitar Strap

Using a guitar strap secures your guitar in place.

This is useful stops your guitar from slipping away.

However, before you rush and attach a guitar strap to your guitar, make sure that you know how to hold a guitar correctly.

Only use a strap if it’s going to help your guitar posture, don’t rely on a guitar strap.

3) Use Decent Strap Locks

Strap locks are the best way to secure your guitar in place.

They’re also super affordable.

There’s nothing worse than playing guitar, and suddenly your guitar falls off it’s strap.

It’s embarassing, un-professional and can damage your favourite axe. Do the right thing and get some strap locks 🙂

We recommend Schaller Strap Locks, you can find them here: Schaller Security Strap Locks

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

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