Strumming Hand position

I realize that this is an open question and varies from user to user…but here goes anyway.

I have two electric guitars that I made. One is standard dimensions in length and body style (for an LP/Epiphone) and a second newer one has a body style that is about 2 inches shorter in length (more like a “MusicMan” style body. Both have same length neck.

On my LP style, my strumming hand is pretty much centered between my neck and bridge pickups…pretty comfortable.

On my Musicman my strumming hand is higher up closer to the neck pickup and neck/body connection.

Having played longer (I’m a learner like most of us) on the LP style, the shorter body on the new guitar feels odd. I look at YouTube teachers and no one really addresses this, so it must not matter, at least from a tone perspective…whatever works for you :wink:

So…any thoughts from you buncha experts. What works for you? I know I can go back to the LP guitar, but am trying to get used to both.


Maybe some photos would help. There are plenty of valid ways to play, but it would be unusual to strum an electric over the neck. Usually you’d be playing closer to the bridge.

Does it vary when playing sitting or standing as well?

Hi Jkahn,

Good point. 2 pics attached. One of me and typical playing position, one close up. I have tried to switch to a “classical” stance, guitar on left left, but is way to wonky. Trying to keep right strumming

arm, wrist, etc in comfortable angle. I have yet to strap it on and play standing…maybe that will help.

Body and neck are standard spec soit’s not like a junior guitar???

Thx, John

Hi John,

I notice that the inside of your elbow is where my forearm would be. We all need to locate our individual position, so you get to figure that out. :slight_smile:

Try placing your picking hand in position so the heel of your hand is on the bridge, not quite muting strings, but maybe dulling the ring-out a little. Keep your fretting hand on the neck about fret 5. Now try to locate the comfortable position on your lap by rotating the guitar and your arms/shoulders so it feels like you can comfortably maintain hands on these parts of the guitar. For these pictures, it looks like you will mostly rotate the guitar around toward your fretting hand and the body more centered on your lap.

I have guitars with different bridge positions relative to the cutaway for the leg. I do find that I need to hold each a little differently and initially have my hand in the wrong place after I have become used to another. Just work with getting the position right with your hands in this fairly neutral location. Posture is really important, keeping back and shoulders from being out of place will be important to reduce long-term stress on those areas.

I notice that I do keep my picking shoulder somewhat tight to hold my elbow back and keep my hand in position. If I relax, I’ll naturally slide into a position much like yours.

It may also help to see where the guitar fits with the strap, and either trying to replicate that sitting, or use the strap sitting. I have not become friends with my strap yet, but I can feel benefits from using it. In my case, when standing, the guitar body is a little lower than it would be while on my lap, and this reduces the picking hand shoulder tension, but adds some tension across the top to support the guitar.

Pretty guitar by the way. I really like wood tone finishes over paint.

Good tips Michael…thx.

Like you…I think I got used to my other guitar which set my right hand more toward the bridge, plus that was also dictated by where the body contour for my leg was cut. I did test that cut position when making both guitars, but you never know until you sit down to play.

So I just put a strap on (as in picture) and it does move my hand back to the middle between pickups…felt kidda weird but I’ll give it a try. Guitar top is eucalyptus (sapele at the corner horn) and back is sapele with roasted maple neck. Sure is easier building the guitar than learning to play it !!
thx, john

hands are in good neutral positions and shoulders don’t look in tension. If that feels good, give it a go and be mindful of muscle tightness starting. If you get that, try to adjust it out without causing another place to tighten.

1 Like

I’m going to start by saying I’m a beginner so take what I say with a pinch of salt, but my thinking is that once your hand moves a distance away from the bridge then any subtle palm muting goes out the window because you’ll just kill the notes stone dead. It seems quite a limiting way to play (but maybe I’m wrong)

that was my thinking as well. it is why I consider the heel of the palm on the bridge to be a reasonable “neutral” position to get this problem worked out. I scoot onto and off the strings a little depending on what I am doing.

1 Like

Only a beginner too, so another big pinch of salt needed, but as I understand it you can move your strumming hand closer and further away from the bridge to adjust the amount of treble and bass, adding another dynamic to your playing (towards the bridge is more trebley). So the appropriate place would depend on the tone you’re after.

All good tips regarding muting and strum hand position. Looked at a few YouTubers (Justin first) and as we all seem to agree…it is subjective and whatever is most comfortable to you/

thx …john