How To Hold Your Guitar

There's a right way of holding your guitar! Make sure you start off on the right foot.

View the full lesson at How To Hold Your Guitar | JustinGuitar

I have started learning from you 3 days now . Iam so exited ! Only problem is iam catching myself leaning all the time to see my hands and as a result my upper back already hurts and that reallly concerd me . Also the back of my thump and wrist feel like they have much tension and hurt when iam shaping A chord . Can i use the trick that you mentioned on another video where you said , Dont look at the fretboard , just feel it and try to be aware of it . Or is to soon to try that ? Plz i need your advise so badly !!!

Manos, I think it is important to make sure you put your fingers in the correct place initially, you don’t want to build muscle memory based on errors. It is a good idea to learn to use your ears to hear the mistakes and can then rely less on looking but this will take time.

Initially you could try tilting the guitar a little off vertical to make it easier to see. But not too much and know that this is not how you want to hold the guitar in the long run. So the sooner you can adopt the recommended posture the better.

You could try playing in front of a mirror. Might take a while to get used to it but it would allow you to check your finger positions without the bending.

You also need to be observant of your body and relax your muscles if you catch yourself using excessive pressure to fret notes. You can experiment to find the minimum pressure needed.

You also say you have started three days ago, so perhaps you are over-doing the duration of practice. It is better to practice for only 5 minutes at a time frequently and slowly build up the muscle strength, than spending longer and feeling sore.

I wish you well with you learning!


DavidP i cant thank you enough !
Thanks for your time advise :blush:.
I will definitely try the mirror one and also take frequent breaks . Iam positive that your advise is going to give results :+1:.
Thanks again and take care.
Cheers , Manos98

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I think of learning guitar a little like starting any exercise program. You do need to start slowly, take breaks, attend to posture and mechanics, stretch and be patient.

There are several things that can be uncomfortable or even painful at the beginning, as you sort this out and adapt.

Finger callouses are one of them. I don’t think there is a way to develop them without going through some pain.

Other aspects like posture, wrist and thumb muscles, may hurt for a bit and tell you to take breaks or move more slowly or change something up to avoid it.

Be wise about it. If it hurts too much stop, think and ask. Your success will hinge a bit on being able to put up with some normal discomfort while identifying when something is a problem and correcting it.

We will do our best to help!


Thanks Jamolay :hugs:.
I will do my best ! Good to have you all people around giving your wisdom and advice to newcomers !
Stay safe :wave:

It’s important to hold your guitar as Justin instructed to strum the guitar more consistently as well.

In many courses, they said to put the palm of the hand on the bridge while playing melodies. How do you keep the guitar balanced in that case? I personnaly have a big issue with that…

Had the same problem. You need a solid back support, find something that supports your back even when you are looking at the fretboard. It is fine to look at it as long as it helps, I know a person who plays for over 30 years and keeps looking at the fretboard. Don’t stress yourself about if but fix yourself comfortable sit, put some cushions, have something to support your back against.

On the recordings you can see people playing sitting on a simple chairs or benches. I don’t know if this is how they practiced so far but I would probably die with broken back if I had practiced like this for thousands of hours :wink: .

I have taken some lessons in the past and found that holding a guitar in the classical position worked best for me. I’m older and I found this position relieved some stress on my right (strumming) arm and shoulder and in general the guitar felt more “stable” for me with the body resting on my left leg like this. I don’t think this was mentioned as an option. Any comments on the pros / cons of holding the guitar this way? These lessons are great refreshers for me!

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Hello @dalponteea and welcome to the Community.

If it works and is comfortable for you then go for it.
Everybody’s body and posture and way of sitting is individual.
Just beware that foot tapping with your left foot, if your guitar is resting on your left leg, may cause issues.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

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Good tips, what I was missing was the differnence in holding an electric and acoustic guitar. Electrics can be quite slippery especially. Does the belly cut and forearm cut help for a better posture or do they make it harder (more slippery)?

I would have also liked to hear also some thoughts about playing standing. When to do, when not to do, differences / similarities to hold the guitar seated vs standing…

Neck dive, when standing, is also something which I’d be curious about (how much dependent on the guitar, how much on the way you hold the guitar or use the strap and so on :slight_smile: )

Is it normal/good posture to have the head end of the guitar a bit further forward from the vertical plane of the torso than the body of the guitar. It feels more natural than having the whole guitar perfectly along the same plane. I hope i could make my question understood.
For clarification : I’m not talking about having the guitar rotated upwards for seeing the strings.

Hello @Anshul78 and welcome to the Community.

Yes, having the head of the guitar slightly forward is fine. It can free up some important space for your elbow and arm to move in so that your fretting wrist, hand and fingers are able to find the best and most comfortable working position. Also, angling the neck slightly upwards is useful in this regard too.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Moderator, Guide & Approved Teacher


I had been playing for a while and thought that I didn’t need to read the intro topics until I had trouble with holding the Taylor GS mini that I had bought to play at the beach, outdoors, etc. It is more of a parlor size or maybe 3/4 size guitar and I had trouble getting the neck to stay supported. Justin’s tip about not wearing long sleeve shirts while playing helped me hold on to the guitar. Also my standard acoustic and electric guitar had shoulder straps and I was using the shoulder strap while seated which probably encourages bad habits.

I always play with a strap seated. I find it stabilizes the guitar, and I can focus on my fretting and strumming.

Don’t think it’s a bad habit at all, and would encourage anyone who is struggling to hold the guitar to try it and see if it helps.

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Thanks. I’m on the fence regarding strap or no strap. I’ll probably try with no strap some since I’ve had recent issues with soreness on the right side of my neck and shoulder when wearing the strap too much. I may just need to adjust the length of the strap for seating.

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Justin covers holding the guitar again in Module 3, so this seems to be an important topic to look at again from time to time, especially when you get a new guitar.

Yes, if you think the strap is causing pain, you should certainly look into alternatives. I find I periodically adjust the length of mine, as I get more experienced.

My experience is that pain is usually caused by too much muscle tension or pressure when playing. Head and neck pain might be because you are habitually tilting your head to one side, or forward or back to look at your hands.

If ditching the strap doesn’t help, playing in front of a mirror or in front of an observant friend might be worth investigating.

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Thanks. I might check on my posture and consider using a lower chair that raises my knee up slightly.