Fretting arm elbow position

I have searched both the community and the JG site for pointers on where my left elbow should optimally be (right handed player) to no avail so I thought I would just ask here.
What is the optimal position for the elbow of the fretting arm? Tucked in? Splayed out?
I tend to tuck my elbow in and my jam buddy suggests I hold it further out from my body. For me that position takes some doing. Before I practice with the elbow further away from my body, I thought I would ask this august group for advice. It will take some time to get comfortable with the elbow away from my body but if that helps my fretting, I am willing to attempt changing my posture.

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And I would say watch more videos, it’s a lot “tucked” in( close to the body) and sometimes dynamic…
Hope this helps…

As Roger says, it varies.

I suspect you are compensating for some other awkwardness with your wrist/fingers/sitting position by tucking your elbow, and your jam buddy has picked up on this.

A picture of your playing position from the front would be very helpful.

Lacking further info, I’d suggest raising the headstock so your elbow comes away from your ribs. But this may destabilize your sitting position if you are sitting casual without a strap.

In guitar, everything is inter-related.

Robert, my 2cs worth would be that there is no hard and fast rule. Bering right-handed I infer this is your fretting hand’s arm. As such I think what is important is the angle of the hand and wrist. Provided that is healthy and comfortable then where your elbow is doesn’t matter.

You may want to experiment with the angle of the neck and body in conjuction with your elbow position.

And if you have clean chords, smooth changes, feel relaxed without tension then all is good.

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Hi Robert.
My suggestion would be to hold your guitar in a comfortable position. Then hook your left thumb over the neck of your guitar at the first fret. Relax that whole arm and let it hang naturally. I’d say that wherever your elbow is is the natural position for it as that position involves no tension on that arm. Most of the chords you play should be played with your elbow in that position.
There will of course be certain other chords with more difficult fingering that will require your elbow to move to a more stressed position. But for the most part you want no or minimum stress and tension on your fretting arm.

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Absolutely, does it really matter as long as you can get those chords…


Awesome video but dishartens me a little knowing just how much I have to learn. :frowning:

This is one of those questions that has so many variables that a hard answer is impossible.
It depends on so many things including
Your arm length
Finger length
Guitar Body Style
Scale Length
Nut width

  • and it is going to vary depending whether you are sitting or standing, what you are sitting on, and, most importantly, what is comfortable.
    I have relatively long arms and fingers, so my position is completely different to my wife’s who has shorter arms and little fingers - so much so that she is now learning on a short-scale strat witha 41mm nut.

After all that waffling, just see what is most comfortable for the style you are playing at any given time. Watch Justin, watch any guitarist you choose on Youtube and you will see umpteen choices.

@roger_holland, @DavidP, @sairfingers, @Libitina, @Tbushell, @AndyTake2
Thank-you all for taking the time to reply.
I play almost entirely standing up with a strap. Standing just seems more comfortable for me. I also cycle through my guitars on a daily basis (four electric and two acoustic), which may add to confusion.
Gordon, your advice on finding a stress-free neutral position is exactly what I was looking for. I will do that with each guitar before I start in on my finger exercises.
Sometimes the obvious escapes me…

Did you find this lesson?

IME, nothing about guitar playing is obvious…especially if you are trying to learn online.

Glad we were able to help.

Hey, Lieven! Yes, I did find that lesson. Unfortunately, Justin never says anything about positioning the fretting arm in the lesson.