- Max Kuehn
Are you interested in learning how to hold a classical guitar? This guide will teach you how to do it correctly. Properly holding your classical guitar can help you play more easily and precisely. It can also help you avoid problems such as pain in your wrists or arms. Read on to get started!
What Is The Position Of The Classical Guitar?
The classical guitar is played with the neck inclined at an angle more than 45 degrees from the horizontal. It can be accomplished by placing it on the left leg rather than the right. On the other hand, other varieties of guitars hold the instrument in a nearly horizontal position.
Many people may find it uncomfortable to hold it in this posture, mainly first. Classical guitarists also utilize footstools to support their left leg up for a more balanced natural seating posture.
The Classical Guitar Position’s Purpose
Makes it easier to play the guitar
Classical musicians frequently position their left-hand thumb behind the neck when holding it because classical guitars have wider necks and fretboards. The classical guitar stance allows guitarists to reach all frets on the fretboard quickly and naturally, from the first to the 12th or 19th frets.
This holds for right-hand positions as well. When plucking the strings, almost every good classical guitar instruction instructs you to place your right-hand thumb in front of the other fingers. This prevents the thumb from interfering with the guitar’s playing and hitting other fingers.
Your right hand will naturally be positioned in this recommended position when playing classical guitar. In the horizontal neck holding posture, on the other hand, you’ll observe that your right-hand thumb is usually placed directly on top of the other fingers.
To accomplish the suggested finger placements, you will have to slightly strain your wrist and risk damaging your wrist (more on this in the next section).
Reduces the risk of injury
Classical guitars, as previously stated, have broad necks that require players to stretch their fingers longer to reach a particular note. Your wrist will flex owing to the stretch if your left-hand thumb is placed behind the fretboard (which is generally the case).
Furthermore, holding the guitar in a horizontal neck posture causes the left wrist to bend.
An inappropriate guitar holding position will also affect the right hand. When holding the guitar horizontally, classical guitarists who pluck the strings with their right-hand thumb in front of the other fingers will need to bend their right wrist slightly to attain this position.
The classical guitar holding posture reduces wrist bending in both the left and right hands, lowering the chance of injury.
The classical guitar position promotes proper back posture as well. When playing this instrument, many guitarists, like myself, rarely consider having a straight back.
When playing the guitar, many musicians in the horizontal posture hunch their backs, especially because they must gaze down at the frets and finger placements. Because the instrument is held above a 45-degree inclination in the classical guitar position, you are more likely to have a straight back.
Helps to Promote Consistency
One of the reasons the classical guitar stance is advantageous is that you must ensure that you have it. When you’re playing guitar and ignore your body position, you’ll shift from one posture to the next without realizing it.
As you practice with a constantly changing position, this behavior can impede your guitar playing feel. You may find it easier to play the guitar on certain days and difficult on others without realizing it due to differences in posture.
Classical Vs Acoustic Guitar: Which Is Better For You 2023?
How To Hold A Classical Guitar Properly
Playing the classical guitar will seem peaceful and effortless if you sit in a suitable classical guitar sitting position.
Step 1: Take a good seat
First, take a seat in a chair without your instrument. The chair shouldn’t be too high or too low; it should be just right for your knees to make a 90-degree angle.
Then, with both feet flat on the ground, space them about hips-width apart.
Straighten your spine, neck, and head to ensure that your upper body is neutral.
Step 2: Set the Guitar Up
Place it in the proper playing position with whichever classical guitar stand you choose once appropriately seated. The idea is to position the guitar so that both hands can reach the strings easily.
When Using a Foot Stool:
If you’re using a footstool, place it underneath your left foot and elevate it three to four notches. Place the guitar on your left thigh with the body’s center on your left thigh and the lower bout (lower half of the body) on your right thigh. Move your right foot slightly outside to generate extra room for the body.
With a Support Attached:
If you’re using attachable support, place it on the left leg and attach it to the guitar’s side (each support should come with instructions). Your right leg should support the lower bout.
Using a Strap
If you’re using a strap, tie the left side of the strap to the head and the right side to the peg. Then, with your right arm and head slipping under the strap, cross your back and over your left shoulder. The lower bout should support your right thigh. Make sure the instrument isn’t too loose by adjusting the strap.
General Guidelines for Guitar Positioning
The guitar neck should be positioned to the left. In addition, the guitar neck should not be at a 45-degree angle. Check this by making sure the guitar’s head is not higher than your eye level.
The guitar should be centered across your body, regardless of which support you use. When you gaze down at the guitar, your nose should be between the 12th fret and the soundhole.
This instrument should be centered in your body, not too high or low. The guitar’s top should be at or near chest level. The chest level should be 3 to 4 buttons down from the top when wearing a button-down shirt.
The instrument should also be able to stay still without your arms or hands touching it. Consider purchasing rubber grippers on your thighs if it isn’t keeping in place.
Step 3: Place Your Arms on the Guitar
The guitar’s edge should be touched by your lower arm (the section around your elbow). You shouldn’t have to consciously hold your arm in place because it should feel appropriately balanced. Your hand should be hanging over the sound hole’s bottom.
Take your left arm and wrap it over your neck in the middle. Your elbow should hang naturally below your hand, relaxed. Your thumb should lay softly behind your neck, and your fingers should rest lightly on the fretboard.
Both arms should reach the same distance away from your torso. For example, you shouldn’t feel obligated to extend your left arm far when your right arm is close to your torso.
Both wrists should be relaxed and nearly straight. The right hand, on the other hand, can reach the strings by arching slightly.
Make sure your shoulders are relaxed as well.
If you’re having trouble getting your arms comfortable on the guitar, go back to step 2 and adjust the guitar.
Checklist for Classical Guitar Posture
Check these items to ensure you completed Steps 1 through 3 correctly.
- Straighten your back.
- Knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground
- Relaxed shoulders
- Guitar in the middle of the body (your nose is over the 12th fret)
- Guitar in the center of the torso (upper bout touches your chest)
- The neck of the guitar is 45 degrees or less (head is below eye level)
- The guitar remains in this position without being touched by the arms.
- On the bottom bout, the right arm is balanced.
- Both arms were evenly stretched from the body.
- Both wrists are relaxed and generally straight.
Why Don’t Non-Classical Guitarists Hold Their Guitars In The Same Way As Classical Guitarists Do?
Holding it at this 45-degree angle has no established rule. Although it is highly recommended and taught in most good classical guitar instruction, it is not necessary. Other guitar players, such as those who play acoustic guitars, rarely adjust to this stance and remain in the standard horizontal position.
One of the most common reasons is simple ignorance. Unlike classical guitars, most people who learn acoustic guitars do not have to take formal classes or exams. Because adolescents generally learn to strum by themselves or via videos on the internet, they often do what the norms do: hold the guitar horizontally.
Another reason most guitarists do not hold their guitars at a 45-degree angle is because the benefits are less noticeable if they are not playing classical instruments.
Acoustic and electric guitars differ from classical guitars in their aspects. A narrower neck, distinct play styles, and the ability to use guitar straps are among them. Let’s take a closer look at these features:
The necks of acoustic and electric guitars are usually narrower than those of classical guitars. When playing the guitar, the size of the neck has a considerable impact on the position of your left-hand thumb.
Classical guitarists must place their left-hand thumb beneath the fretboard to play chords, as previously explained. In this scenario, a strong posture is critical to avoiding wrist bending. The player’s left thumb is commonly placed on the top of the neck on narrow neck guitars.
The illustration above serves as an example. Some people even use their thumbs to hold the two low bottom notes when playing chords. When the thumb is placed behind the fretboard to accommodate the wider neck, you must bend your wrist to accommodate it.
Various Playing Styles (Strumming Vs. Fingerpicking)
As you may know, classical guitarists are recognized for their fingerstyle or fingerpicking techniques. Although some acoustic guitarists use fingerstyle or fingerpicking techniques on their instruments, this is not the norm. Strumming is the primary playstyle of most acoustic and electric guitarists.
Fingerpicking, particularly on classical guitars, demands exact finger placements. One example is ensuring that the right-hand thumb is always ahead of the other fingers when plucking the strings, so they don’t collide.
The players will find it easier to accomplish this finger placement if they hold the guitar in the classical guitar position. If you’re strumming, though, this position is irrelevant. You can strum the guitar correctly whether you hold it at a 45-degree angle or horizontally.
Straps for guitars
Finally, non-classical guitars such as acoustic and electric guitars can be equipped with a guitar strap. This function is not built-in to classical guitars, and you will need to do some specific work to your guitar to install these straps.
Why is it essential to be able to use guitar straps?
Do you notice an acoustic or electric guitar player’s guitar position if they’re using guitar straps? Yes, it appears to be comparable to the classical guitar settings that favor a 45-degree angle from the horizontal. In other words, whether they recognize it or not, different sorts of guitars adapt this classical guitar position for more natural guitar playing.
You are now aware of the classical guitar position and why it is essential to play guitars correctly. Because classical guitars have a wider neck and different finger placements, the significance of this fact becomes even more apparent when applied to classical players.