Just a quick thought that I had today. I have been having a hard time with feeling like both of my hands and arms are not in quite the correct positioning, especially on my big acoustic, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. I’d reposition the guitar over my thigh, further to my right in order to make my wrist more comfortable. Firstly, the guitar would work its way back to the front of me (which is annoying), or secondly, it would try to rotate downward over the outside of my thigh so that I had to put pressure in my right elbow to keep it from doing that, and it resulted in just enough tension to make my right arm tire after about 30 mins. Also, the raised headstock, though it is so often recommended for wrist straightening, makes my fretting arm get tired from being held up and I’m trying to hang my hand with my thumb which I know is wrong, and small hands and short fingers means that the thumb way up on top of the neck means less reach and control in the fingers disappears. I tried adding a strap cinched up really short, and it made the problem worse!
OK so long story short- I realized this may be a male vs female thing. Because my natural sitting position is to keep my knees together in front of me, the resulting position of my right thigh is not working for the guitar. If I sit more like my male counterparts, with the knees (or at least one knee) further out to the sides of my body, then voila! I think that puts the guitar in a better position for both arms and the fretting wrist too, it may mean the headstock doesn’t need to tilt upward, and may be more stable than it is with my knee in front of me.
Any ladies struggling with this, have you tried getting that right knee outward to position the guitar better for your hands? I’m going to practice this way for awhile but I’m not used to the male sitting position! I’d be really interested to see if this is just me, or something other women have found as a solution.
Have you tried playing standing up? Adjust your guitar strap to a comfortable position for standing up to play. Then sit down with strap at the same adjustment. The strap will then take a bit of the weight and your leg position might not matter so much.
Edit. Hadn’t really ever thought about where my knees were or the male/female sitting position. This is a Birds Eye view of my knees. I use a strap when sitting and my knees are fairly close together.
The video shows a classical guitar position, which is what I ended up with as well. Partly because I am trying to learn classical guitar, but also because I really struggled with other positions. My left shoulder is really the problem, so I also moved to a short scale 12 fret 00 size guitar (similar to my classical guitar, actually). This really reduces the abduction and lift of the arm.
There are some disadvantages. There is no free lunch. Reaching over the top with the left thumb is much harder (especially as even my steel string has a 46mm nut). I also find strumming a little more difficult, due to the angle of the strings to the right hand.
When I started playing I held the guitar more upright in the classical position. Then when I tried to play standing up, it ended up being a totally different position. So I adjusted my sitting down position to match as closely as possibly my standing up position. When I do play standing up it’s a lot easier to adjust, still takes a little bit of getting used to.
Yes, I’m still struggling to find the “best” sitting position. I’ve only been playing about a year, so I don’t have advice to offer - just sympathy! Now that you mention it, I notice I definitely don’t keep my knees together while playing. I wonder if body size and type impacts what works for each person?
My biggest struggle has been finding a sitting surface that’s the right height for my short legs that I can place close enough to a desk or table that’s an appropriate height for my computer! I’m not recording myself yet, but I can see this getting complicated.
I found it really hard to find, and really important to have, a chair that is short enough such that my short legs sit flat feet on the floor and hips and knees at 90 degrees. Most guitar chairs and drum thrones don’t get below 19-21”. I needed 17-17.5” and for me, with a classical posture, that mattered a lot. I eventually got a collapsible piano bench style seat and drilled an extra hole to lower it enough . It is fine and meets the WAF needs, but I sure wish it had more padding.
Ooh, I hear you there, I’m a tiny little thing at just 5’ 4 and even piano stools can feel high I have to lift my heel.I use a gaming chair right now and its aweful so, As for the padding, try getting a piece of thick memory foam from amazon, dont get a piece thats thin, works nicely for the base of a spine.
When seated I find the classical position to be the most natural/comfortable, with the least amount of tension.
So my previous post got deleted for reasons unknown. Shouldn’t we get a notification of deleted posts mods?
Perhaps this video of Gabriella Quevedo is more relevant to Stacy’s situation, as Gabriella seems to play with her knees together in most of her videos. Hopefully this provides some food for thought. If not, at least enjoy this fantastic rendition of a Pink Floyd song.
I did that for a while Rachael and found it uncomfortable. I placed a stack of books under my right foot and it was a big help. Experiment with different thicknesses of books to get extactly the height that works for you.
Hmm, in your image your position looks rather neutral, doesn’t it. I have tried playing standing up and I think I need to wait a bit longer on that. There was some difficulty with chords, being that they ended up being a bit of a different orientation when standing vs sitting.
I’m sure body size and type makes a difference. I also have a hard time with seat height. And I don’t know quite where I like my knee to be height-wise in relation to my waist. I mean, I know what is proper. But initially, I liked my knee to be higher than what is proper, but then brought it down a little bit closer to proper, and so yeah that is an experimental situation with the seat height and knee height.
I actually do have a piano bench that is adjustable. Maybe I should try that. But that would be a lot of moving it back and forth between the piano (in the main room) and the guitar space (in the bedroom). Something to think about though.
Yes, I am 5’ 4 as well. The petite struggle is real!
Now she makes it all look so easy. I would love to have her exact positioning and play as well as she does. She certainly does have closed knees. And a good straight wrist too. Hmmm, interesting.
It’s well worth investing in a decent chair Stacy. In that video of Gabriella Quevedo she’s sitting on a soft sofa. I’d bet money that’s only to look good in the video. Sitting like that for any length of time will result in a sore back and long term back issues. I bought a new chair a few months ago and I love it. It’s got adjustable height and backrest etc.
My new chair arrived today
I quite like sitting on my sofa playing too. In fact, the most comfy wrist position I’ve found is when I’m leaning way back in my sofa spot, and have the guitar resting on me. That way I can see my fingers without craning over from an upright seated position. But alas, the sofa is nowhere near good for posture. I have the Fender Studio Seat, which I love the looks of. To be honest, the cushion is hard as a rock. The height isn’t right for me but my husband made me an adjustable footstool to use for leg height. The chair does make me sit upright but I still have to crane quite a bit at this stage. Working on that bad habit slowly but surely.
ETA: I do like the look of your chair. It looks comfortable and has the right design.
Hey Stacy, I never thought about the positioning of my knees…till I played for my family at christmas…wearing a dress (normally I wear trousers). I don’t keep my knees together while playing. I’m sitting on a stool, which provides an angle of 90° between my torso and my legs and I use an adjustable footrest, that lifts my right leg, so that the angle gets smaller and I have more control over the guitar. Not a very ladylike position, but helpful. I’m quite tall with my 180 cm, think it’s 5"9.
I use a strap on my electric, that works fine, but I can’t get any comfortable postion with a strap on my acoustic, which is a bulky dreadnought. It’s more than a year that I’m playing, but still fumbling around with a comfortable positioning.
Since we are sharing chairs…
This cost $20 on sale (from $40). I drilled an extra hole so I could lower it to the hight I want. With the minimal padding compressed I think it it about 16.5” high which works for my short legs (inseam 26”-27”, but no one makes pants like that for adult men…).
It does encourage a straight posture which works well for my classical style of holding the guitar. I have a sageworks lift and use it on both my classical nylon and steel string.
For my electric, I have this lift so I can play in a similar position. Stupid expensive and I hardly play electric anymore…
I have one of these in the basement. Too high, serviceable with the foot rest, but to footrest is too close to be comfortable for long and makes the back twist, pelvis not level on the seat.
Sorry to overshare!
I watched that video (terrific performance of a great song), and thought to myself "geez, I wish my guitar sat so nicely on my right leg!
So I tried casual position without a strap - as I have so many times before without success.
But some thing was different this time. My guitar never felt solid in my lap before - always wanting to slide off my leg. But this time it felt secure.
I realized the weight of my right arm was being transmitted diagonally to my thigh - holding the guitar securely in place. (See arrow in photo below)
I must have tried this position dozens of times over the years, with multiple guitars, and never found the sweet spot. But now it seems obvious.
baffled shrug emojii