Basic Playing Position

Holding the guitar properly is essential to good guitar technique. In one method the body of the guitar is held over the right leg. The right arm comes over the side of the instrument and forms a clamp with the leg so that the guitar is braced firmly and does not move when the left hand is taken away (see left illustration, below)

Some guitarists including myself prefer what has come to be thought of as the “Classical” position. This involves 4 steps:

  1. Elevate the left foot about 6 inches, by resting it on a footrest (or for now, a thick book),
  2. Place the guitar between the legs with the neck angled up slightly (see right photo illustration)
  3. Clamp the guitar slightly by moving your right leg into the guitar body, and lastly
  4. Move the bottom of the guitar out away from you, maybe 4 inches or so by sliding it out along your left thigh. This is the genius of the classical position.
Holding the guitar two different ways

It is this last step which opens up the fingerboard to a much more visual reference. The sight picture this provides is excellent. When I perform concerts, this is the position I choose. It is very natural one, and I can see what is going on at the fingerboard allowing me to feel more “connected” to the instrument.

Coming up in this Fundamentals section: