How To Hold A Guitar

Guitars are fun musical instruments.  We are sure that at one point in your life, you have simulated holding an imaginary guitar and strumming its strings furiously. You know that moment you are listening to Queen’s We Will Rock You or Kansas’ Carry on My Wayward Son, and the guitar riffs come on. There is absolutely no way you won’t find yourself wrapping your hands around an imaginary guitar and strumming the chords while bopping your head to march the tempo, we know we have.

How To Hold A Guitar

It is important to take proper guitar holding posture seriously. Not only does it make your playing easier and comfortable, but it also helps to reduce injuries and fatigue that might result from doing it wrongly. We will highlight key points that will teach you how to hold your guitar properly, especially as a beginner. And if you are not a beginner, this applies to you also. Who knows, you may learn something new.

How To Hold Your Guitar While Sitting

Just like learning how to walk before you can run, learning how to hold your guitar properly is an important aspect of playing the guitar. And being in a seated position while holding the guitar is the go-to position for most guitar players, especially for beginners. 

The reason for this is a no brainer. The sitting position reduces the risk of having backaches or tendinitis in the wrists. It also allows the fluidity, freedom of your fretting hand and enables you to play longer before fatigue sets in.  So, how do you go about doing this? 

There are two types of sitting positions to use while holding the guitar. The classical and standard sitting position.

  • Classical Sitting Position: To hold your guitar while in a classical sitting position, you have to make sure the guitar is resting on your left thigh. This way, the back of the guitar’s body rests against the abdominal part of your body and your right leg secures and stabilizes the guitar. In this position, the neck of the guitar isn’t angled away from the body too much. This helps you to maintain an upright position while playing. A lot of guitarists prefer this position while holding the guitar because it makes it easier to transition into a standing position and allows you to do wide stretches easily.
  • Standard Sitting Position: This is the most common way adopted by most electric guitarists. To hold the guitar in this position, the first thing to do is to sit in a good chair. Possibly a hard-backed chair without an armrest. The base of your guitar should be placed on your right thigh (if you use your right hand) with the back of the guitar body resting against your torso. Then proceed to secure the guitar body with your elbow. Use the thumb and the forefinger of your fretting hand to balance the neck. Lastly, remember to keep your back as straight as possible to prevent a bad posture. Avoid slouching. 

How To Hold The Guitar While Standing

Most people learn to play the guitar while sitting, so they might find it difficult to hold and play guitar while standing. This is because your body has been programmed into seeing the sitting position as the default mode for playing the guitar. Also, the mechanics involved with the sitting position is slightly different from the standing position. 

While standing, you have to change the angle to which your wrist is turned and extend your strumming and stretching your right hand further. These factors might make the transition harder but there are several ways to remedy this. It requires consistent practice, of course. 

The first thing to do if you want to be able to hold the guitar while standing is to invest in a strap. Yes, you have to splurge a little in buying good quality and a durable strap. It is worth it in the end. The strap helps to secure the guitar while standing. Also, ensure that your guitar is outfitted with strap pegs before buying a guitar strap. If your guitar isn’t, you can easily install them at a guitar shop near you.

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Next is to ensure that you master whatever songs, chords or pieces you want to play while holding the guitar in a seated position. This will make it easier to play them while standing. Also, it is best if you switch to the classical sitting position that was described above. 

This is because this position is quite similar to the standing position, hence, making the transition easier. Adjust your guitar strap while sitting before standing. To do this, note how the guitar is positioned in relation to your body while seated, then adjust the strap high enough to correspond with your sitting position. 

This way, you will have easy access to the guitar while standing. Also, the reason for strapping your guitar high while trying to transition into the standing position is to avoid having to struggle to use your strumming hand.

This step should be followed by you actually standing to play. Keep practicing until you become comfortable. Once you start adjusting to holding and playing in this position, you can start lowering your guitar strap. Lastly, if your guitar needs to be plugged in, it is advisable to insert your guitar cable between the base peg and the guitar strap. This method helps to keep the cable from being strewn around.

Thumb Position

Apart from how they place their hands on guitars, most aspiring guitarists place their thumb wrongly on the guitar neck. This does not only cause thumb soreness, but it can cause what is called De Quervain’s Syndrome, also known as Gamer’s Thumb. 

At this point, the soreness not only affects the thumb but causes radiating pain in the tendons in the hand, wrist, and arm connected to the thumb in question. To avoid causing tension in your thumb, make sure you position your fretting hand in a way that allows freedom of movement for all your fingers. To do this, avoid tucking your fretting arm into your torso, resting it in your lap and try not to restrict the movement of your wrist.

So how do you place your thumb on your guitar? There is no fixed answer to this as your thumb placement depends largely on your body type, your preferences and the shape of your guitar’s neck. The ideal way is to rest the thumb of your fretting hand is behind the neck of your guitar, automatically placing it between your first two fingers. 

However, if you want to adopt the ways of classical guitarists, place the thumb closer to the middle of the neck.  This thumb position is the best choice for scale fingering patterns and when playing barre chords because it allows your finger to stretch and move freely. 

If you want to go the route of electric guitarists, you only have to extend the thumb past the centerline of the back of the neck. This can even be used to hold notes. No matter which thumb placement you go for, always make sure you bend all your knuckles and that the thumb of your fretting hand is not parallel to the neck of the guitar.

Finger Placement

The way your fingers are positioned is also another thing to consider when holding the guitar. The first thing to do is to make sure you keep your fingernails short to prevent them from touching the fretboard. If you are a female guitarist, you have to denounce fixing acrylic nails completely. 

When holding your guitar, press down the guitar strings using the tips of your fingers and ensure that they are kept close to the frets. 

Also, you have to pay attention to how to curve your fingers when holding a guitar. To play fret chords, your fingers have to be curved as this prevents your finger from touching other strings. To strum while holding a guitar, ensure that your thumb and index finger are placed against each other. Then proceed to curve or bend your middle finger, ring finger and your pinky towards your palm slightly. This gives you a good grip for strumming.


Doing what you love is generally regarded as the way to achieve happiness and as much this is true, there is a saying that goes thus “what is worth doing is worth doing well”. This applies to playing the guitar, as well. If you want to enjoy playing the guitar, you have to handle that beautiful instrument properly. Think of it like a newborn baby every time you pick up that guitar.

Holding your guitar the appropriate way goes a long way in improving how you play. It can even help you play for longer because of the relaxed state your hand would be in if done right, of course. Your posture might seem unimportant but it matters, this cannot be overemphasized. With that being said, go into the world and rock on. Cheerio!