Correct posture for guitarists

This article will deal with posturing your body correctly to play in the classical style. These are standard tips intended for beginners especially. Depending on your body, or your playing style, not all of these tips may apply to you.

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Chair
Find a sturdy flat chair. The height of the chair you sit on will have a big effect on how you may posture yourself. If you find a chair you feel very comfortable playing on, then try to use that chair exclusively when you are playing. Never play on a couch or other “soft” forms of seats; never play on chairs with armrests; never rest your back on the backrests of chairs.

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Feet/legs
Your feet should be making a slight “V” formation. They should not be totally straight forward. Both feet should be fairly apart, at least matching your shoulders. The butt end of the guitar will go in between your legs in a 45 degree angle, or a little more/less depending on your body. It should not, however, be totally horizontal on your lap. Your left leg may need to be elevated higher so that the guitar can tilt in a 45 degree angle more easily. You can use a footstool to rest your left foot on and raise up that leg. The height of the chair will affect how high you will need to raise your leg up. You may not need to raise your leg at all sometimes or just need to “tip-toe” your left foot a bit to achieve the result you want. Experiment to see what suits you best. (If you are playing a lefty guitar, then your right foot would need to be elevated.)

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Body
I hope your parents taught you not to slouch! Your back should be straight, but not necessarily in a 90 degree angle. You may want to tilt down a bit to a 80 degree angle or more/less depending on your body and comfort. Sit towards the edge of the seat, don’t rest your back all the way in the seat. Your body should be in a natural position to your feet. By this I mean you should not be leaning towards the left or right. I find that beginners tend to lean their bodies towards the neck of the guitar to be able to reach the notes easier. This is a natural thing that happens as we begin to “feel out” the guitar and see what works and what doesn’t work. However, don’t make this into a habit. You need to “outgrow” this crutch fairly quickly.

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Arms
Your arms should be loose and your shoulders relaxed. If you are right-handed, your right hand should be in an “L” shape. The right forearm should be resting on the butt end of the guitar, keeping it from slipping off your lap. Depending on your body type, you may go up to your right bicep to do this as well. Your left arm should be in a “V” shape. You can poke out your left elbow a bit to make it easier to reach notes, but don’t overdo it. Your left arm should not be needed at all to hold up the guitar. If you see you are using your left hand/arm to keep the guitar from slipping off, then you need to re-read this article and improve your posture. Your left thumb should be behind the neck of the guitar, towards the middle. It usually should not be visible to your audience.

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Guitar
The butt end of the guitar fits in between your legs, tilting to around a 45 degree angle. The body of the guitar should “tilt” towards your body a bit usually, around your chest area. The neck of the guitar should be somewhat close to your face. If it’s not, then you probably have the guitar too horizontally on your lap and need to tilt it up more.

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