Sitting position, slight difference that makes a difference?

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. :laughing: 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.

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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.

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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


My sitting position keeps evolving…

#1 Classical position with strap

After a fair bit of experimentation, this was what I settled on for most of my early playing.

Mainly because I had always struggled with my fretting hand, and there was noticeably less tension playing this way.

  • In the side view, you can see my wrist is very straight when fretting an F barre chord.
  • I also find it much easier to look at my fretting hand.
  • the guitar does not move around - at all. I can concentrate on my fretting and picking without also having to stabilize the guitar
  • it’s easy to play with good back posture- torso straight with lumbar curve

It compromised my strumming hand a bit, but it was the definitely the right trade off for my early playing. I still return to it if learning a new chord that puts any tension in my fretting hand, or when I want a better view of my fretting hand.

However, when I started thumb muting, my old enemy - fretting hand tension - re -appeared…


Tom, very interesting. In your first photo, did you find that the orientation on the right thigh placed the headstock a ways out in front of you, and did you find that better or worse for wrist and/or fretting?

ETA- I personally just don’t like the classical position for myself at this point in my journey. It is ok for fretting but yeah the strumming position is then difficult and doesn’t feel right. Perhaps later on something with that position will click for me.

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#2 - casual position with strap

Recently, this is how I’ve been playing.

  • less fretting hand tension when thumb muting
  • good compromise between fretting and strumming hands
  • good posture

Barre chords are little more difficult, but seem manageable (though, TBH, the songs I’m learning at the moment don’t have many of these).

It’s also harder to see what both hands are doing, but this is forcing me to feel what they are doing instead of seeing them. Starting to pay big dividends - I’m noticing a lot of tension and other sensations that I was previously not aware of. I think this new kinaesthetic awareness is going to really help my playing in the long run!


This position or the photo prior to your image of #1 classical position is what I am referring my question to about the headstock going out in front of you. It becomes clear in the second photo of #2 casual position that, yes it does go a ways out in front of you. Yes I agree with your statement that it forces you to feel more than see, and that can’t be a bad thing, but it is not as easy as seeing, that’s for sure! If professional guitarists are filmed using this way of having the guitar a little bit over to the side like that, it is hard to pick up on in pictures or film, but at the same time, it doesn’t look unusual at all, it looks quite natural.

#3 - casual position, no strap

As mentioned above, had a bit of a breakthrough with this today, noticing that weight of right arm transmitted to thigh really stabilizes the guitar.

Still exploring, but doubt I will be switching to this.

  • noticeably more fretting hand tension. Not sure why, wrist angle doesn’t seem much worse in photos
  • noticed that I have to slump my posture to solidly stabilize the guitar against my leg (I see a lot of slumping in some of the AVOYP videos)

But these could just be unfamiliarity with the new sensations - will try to keep an open mind going forward.


Final thought for now (this was originally a quote about engineering, but I can’t find the source)

“The adroit management of trade offs is the essence of guitar playing”

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Guess I’m not quite done pontificating after all… :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

There are 3 angles that determine how a guitar is positioned. What should we call them? Are there any terms in common use? Lack of common terms make it hard to discuss.

#1 - I think this is what most people mean by “neck angle” - the angle of the neck relative to the floor

#2 - the angle of the guitar body from vertical. Better term, anyone?

#3 - the angle of the guitar neck relative to the player’s torso. Again, what do we call this?

Varying these angles have different trade offs for different body shapes, types of guitar, and styles of music. I think it’s important to be able to discuss them with more precision than is common in the community.

In aviation we have pitch, roll, and yaw…what are the guitar equivalents?

This is a callout to all you engineering and semantics nerds! (I’m allowed to use that word…'cause I are one :wink: )


I agree with the trade offs idea.

The more traditional classical position (which I use) is really not great for the thumb muting and even worse for playing the 6th string with the thumb.

Since I am playing a nut that is either 52mm or 46mm (1 13/16”), thumb plying and muting will be pretty limited anyway.

In the classic over the right leg position the head of the guitar should be almost over the left knee. So pretty far in front is how the ergonomics work.

Looking at @Tbushell and his seating position, what I see is that his thighs are not parallel to the floor. That is partly why the guitar slides and is less stable in any position without using a strap. The strap resolves this, but I have enough neck problems that straps and I are a no-go, so having my seat low enough to actually have my thighs not slant at all, parallel to the floor was an epiphany.

Many classical players use a foot stool to lift the left leg. But this destabilizes the pelvis and causes the spine to curve and rotate increasing stress on the back (and the buttocks). Much better is to have both feet flat on the floor, knees and hips at 90 degrees, good slouchless (?) back posture and then find where you need the guitar and what you need to hold it there. I chose the Sageworks lift, but there are a bunch of ways to accomplish this depending on where you want the guitar to sit for you.

My issue also was my short legs. Hard to find a chair low enough, but I didn’t want to put a block of wood down for my feet.

Hi Andrea,

Your comment about wearing a dress brought up a memory of an Ana Vidovic video. She is wearing a long dress, and uses a classical position for the guitar. I remembered the way the dress draped over her knees for some reason. I have a foot rest that is similar and like it . At the end of the video, we see she was seated on an adjustable bench.

For Stacy, maybe studying the position here is useful. I wonder about her head being over the guitar so much as a long-term neck issue. I have trouble with that, but I had a neck injury in my teens that still bothers me today.

One other thing, I started to play more fingerstyle and noticed that I hold more tension in my picking hand arm while doing so. It is causing some stress to the muscle holding my forearm up. Have you started to play something different, or more technical? Maybe you need to add that to your investigation of what changed.


Just to be clear, I certainly don’t advocate this for everyone.

You’ve tried it. It doesn’t seem to work for you and that’s great. Trust your instincts and keep experimenting.

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Hmmmm…not sure this is correct - might be a trick of the camera angle.

The guitar slips off to the side, not the front - unless I pin it as described up thread.

But now you’ve got me wondering. Guess I need to lower my tripod to level with my thighs and take some more pictures (maybe I’ll wear better pants this time) :wink:

Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been mistaken about things like this - poor kinaesthetic awareness is definitely a thing.

It does move the headstock out towards the knee (I.e. increases the angle between the guitar neck and the player’s torso - see my pictures above)

There’s some slight increase in difficulty fretting, but that’s offset by the increased ease of thumb muting.

What I did notice - with #3 position, casual w/o strap - was that I had to lower the neck angle more parallel with the floor to properly “pin” the guitar to my right leg, and that made fretting feel significantly harder.

I do get a sore neck some times when playing with the strap, but - in my case, at least - I’m pretty sure it’s because i’m hanging my head out over the guitar to look at my picking hand.

Or, when playing classical w. Strap, turning my head to look at my fretting hand.

Hence my increasing interest in playing by feel instead of sight. Been getting a lot of benefit from the single string targeted picking exercise I posted in Stacy’s thread on picking accuracy…will update that soon.

I have to reluctantly consider myself in this category. :slight_smile:

I love your pictures, they make the angles really clear. If we think of the guitar as a vehicle that moves along the long axis, then we can just use roll, pitch and yaw, like you would for a plane or boat or whatever. So, your first picture would show the yaw, the second would be roll and the third pitch.

Now, I will trying using them: I have always held the guitar with a pitch angle that I always thought was bigger than normal, rather like you in the 3rd photo. I generally have enough roll so I can see the fretboard, although I don’t always look at it. As for my yaw, it’s basically just a few degrees, i.e. just a bit angled up relative to the angle of the floor.

It occurs to me that non-nerds might not take to yaw, roll and pitch, so here are my alternatives: vertical neck angle, soundboard angle, horizontal neck angle.

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