Holding the Guitar

Learn how to hold your guitar properly and avoid developing bad and hard-to-break habits down the line.

View the full lesson at Holding the Guitar | JustinGuitar

Hey guys i need some advice again :sweat_smile:.
Iam on day 16 module 2 actually having great progress ! Firgers stopped hurting by the way :wink:. Sooooo my problem is about my stumming hand . I still havent found best position iam most comfortable with the guitar . My strumming hand hurts at the inside of the elbow , the muscle :muscle: is pressed on the guitar and it hurts , so i cant feel the arm relaxed at all . Sorry about my bad english .
So any suggestions …? :thinking:

Hi @Manos98,

When playing watch your posture. Sit up as straight as possible. And use a seat which sits high enough to get this straight up position.

What kind of guitar are you using? I switched mine from Dreadnought to OM version because it just didnt fit me well. My upperbody is not that big as well as my arms. An OM was a big relief for me.

BR Milifax

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Hey milifax !
I have a cortAD810 acoustic guitar .
What is OP ? :sweat_smile:
I will try a another chair as well as my posture .

An OM is an Orchestra Model. It has deeper curves and the body is smaller and thinner compared to a dreadnought like the cortAD810. Of course the sound is different beacuse of this as well.

Not saying you should replace your guitar, just to let you know there are options in guitar sizes.

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Are you able to post a picture from front and if possible above?
I struggle, and to lesser extent still struggle with position, but what I wonder is if you are holding the guitar too flat across your body.

Maybe if you angle it a little more so the headstock is closer to being above your knee, you would be able to tuck the body a little better under your arm and make sure you can get your arm so it isn’t resting on the edge/corner of the guitar.

I hope that makes sense and helps.


Are you holding your strumming arm really tight against the guitar? Maybe feels like the guitar is slipping or moving around? If that’s the case then I would suggest looking at how you are sitting. Make sure your thighs are not in a position where your knees are lower than your waist - maybe a footrest or a different chair.

It could also be caused by too much tension in that arm. It definitely needs to be relaxed.

A picture might help. For that matter, take a picture or play in front of a mirror and you might be able to spot the issue yourself.

I am struggling with holding the guitar properly while strumming. I have dreadnought acoustic guitar. It is neck heavy. When its in my lap and if I let go off my elbow which is holding the body it leans toward neck. When I strum in patterns with the right hand movement the guitar move too a little at neck side making it hard to get chords correctly as the neck moved.

Any help?

Welcome to the Community, Rohit.

Are you using a strap? If not that may help to keep the guitar in a stable position.

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Thanks. No I am not using a strap. I have a dreadnought acoustic guitar and I practice while sitting. Will the strap help if the guitar is in my lap?

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I have a drednought too, first used a strap but didn’t feel very comfortable with it. Didn’t stabilise the position as I wanted, because I got a confined feeling.
What helped me a little, was to use a high-adjustable footrest to get some more hold from below from my tigh. For me this positioning between axilla and tigh is more stable, if I use the footrest, so the neck of the guitar won’t have too much scope to move.

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Yep, just chiming in to advocate a footrest. I’m quite tall and sitting comfortably puts the guitar a bit low to be properly held in place by my arm, unless I hunch. Problem solved with a rest. Alternatively, I can play in my para combat boots, which have a very thick sole and bring the guitar to exactly the right height. :wink:

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Generally, I feel that straps are suitable for keeping the guitar from dropping when played standing. I have straps only on my electric guitars, and when I play them seated, I rely on my picking arm and my thigh + the cutaway in the guitar’s body to maintain a comfortable position.

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It may, just have to get the length right. I recall Justin suggesting you should setup with a strap so that the guitar is in a similar position sitting and standing.

The suggestion to use a footrest is also a good one to explore.

I always play with a strap sitting. I’ve owned four guitars over the years, and none of them felt comfortable to play sitting without a strap (maybe I have some weird body geometry? :slight_smile: )

Footstool is a good suggestion as well. You can experiment with a stack of books to see if it’s for you…as long as they are stable and don’t slip around too much.

Less common, but I think you can also get some kind of rest that sits on your thigh to raise the body of the guitar - I think a couple of the members here use them.

He does and it makes sense, but it just doesn’t work for me. For whatever reason I find both acoustic and electric guitars incredibly uncomfortable when standing up, if they’re adjusted to roughly where they are when sitting down. I need them lower when standing, which then makes the strap useless when sitting. We’re all different shapes and sizes I suppose.

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To all finding holding the guitar a challenge…try elevating your foot as many have suggested. Reducing the angle of your thigh to your torso from 90 degrees will keep the guitar closer to you. It doesn’t have to be a foot stand. Try a book, a yoga block, a brick, anything to elevate your foot and reduce that angle. Good luck.

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Something I’ve always been curious. Should the guitar be parallel to your body or is it okay if there is a 30 degree angle between you and the body. In this scenario the neck is slightly away from you clockwise. I’m right-handed and uses a strat.

The guitar natural sits at this angle on my thigh. It also helps me see the fingerboard better.

It’s important to be relaxed when playing guitar. Trying to keep it parallel to your body would be pretty uncomfortable, putting the fretting elbow well behind your body and the strumming shoulder/arm pushed forward. Impossible to play relaxed, especially when standing as the guitar hangs rather than having a leg to rest it on.

So yep, an angle is perfectly fine and the way we all do it. It probably varies from player to player based on their own dimensions, so don’t get too hung up if you find a guide telling you the angle must be a specific number. Comfort and ease of playing are what matters, not the angle itself.


Thanks @Goffik. That answers my question.

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