So, I’m a beginner who’s been playing about 5 months, currently working through Justin’s course. Up to now I’ve been learning on an electric guitar.
I just got an acoustic guitar (was going to wait until I had learned a bit more before buying it but couldn’t wait in the end). With the body being a lot deeper than the electric, it naturally tends to sit up vertical when i rest it on my leg, so when i look down I’m looking at the top of the guitar, not the fretboard. I realised I’ve been leaning my electric guitar towards me all the time, so I can see what I’m doing when learning.
Is there anything inherently wrong with a slight angle towards you (like 20 degrees), or is it ultimately limiting or a bad habit? I can play some stuff without looking, but not when learning new stuff.
I have thought too much about these ergonomic guitar issues.
I think it really depends on how you hold the guitar in general.
In classical positions, the neck is up at near 45 degrees and close to your body (not out over the left knee). This allows a small tilt back less than 20 degrees likely. The top of the upper bout against the chest and the bottom of the lower bout out near mid thigh on the right.
In more standard (I call cowboy) steel string guitar position, the waist is on the right thigh, the neck only angled a little up from parallel to the floor and most importantly, the head (of the guitar) is almost over the left knee. In this type of position you will probably find that any tilt of the guitar as you mention would have a pretty big impact on both hands, especially the fretting hand. It will push you into a poor left wrist position, possibly also causing body twist and left shoulder strain.
There are a lot of in betweens available and everyone is different. Search for the position that works for you, but I would try not to tilt it much.
To add to this, if you are singing, you definitely do not want to bend your neck so if you plan to sing later on, you’d want to get used to playing with the guitar upright not to regret later on (ask me how I know).
I wouldn’t say having a bit of an angle on the electric when playing is an issue, although it might make playing stood up a little bit more time to get used to when you get to that. The bigger thing is posture whilst sat, regardless of what angle your guitar is at.
That sums it up well. Tilting to look at the fret board is essential when first learning, but it holds you back as you progress. Performing on stage with a mic means you can’t be singing and looking at your fret board the same way. The vocal mics are directional so when you look at your fret board your voice will fade in the mic.
Thanks for the replies. I’ll try and keep it more upright but won’t get religious about it. Whenever I watch an old black and white video of an old bluesman they angle it but i realise I am not Skip James so it’s different. I do wonder why they did it though - it’s hardly because they don’t know their way around the fretboard!
If you follow a lot of really great players on Youtube you will see that plenty of them tilt the guitar a bit to see the fretboard a little better. It’s fine. Are we racking up style points or playing guitar? Play the instrument in a way that suits you so that you keep playing. The odds are against us (statistically) that we will even keep playing long term.
Here’s a twist on this…after playing for a couple of years, I realized I’d always practiced sitting down. When I tried to play standing up, it was a very different experience. Scales I could do well sitting suddenly became difficult again. It was an eye opener to say the least. It’s the same issue you point out, I was used to looking at my fretboard when I was sitting.
I’ve taken to doing warmups with scales standing, or walking around my practice area. It’s definitely made a difference.
I use a tabletop mirror to keep an eye on my left hand. Nothing huge, about the size of an 8x10 picture fame.
I also frequently see it suggested that at some point it’s advantageous to practice with your eyes closed.