Guitar sitting position and technique

Correct sitting position is the foundation of guitar technique and should not be overlooked. Not paying attention to or not teaching the student how to sit properly with their instrument can have severe consequences. How to sit properly with the guitar is the first thing students should learn in lessons. These habits should be taught and reminded continuously in lesson.

Sitting position will have a direct effect on the students’ overall technique. If this is not taught well and enforced the student hands and back will bend causing issues and bad habits as the student tries to advance. The following are examples of poor sitting positions and what can happen if not corrected,

  1. Guitar on right leg– Unfortunately this way of sitting is possibly the most common way for most layman who do not have classical training. Although once a student has progressed to advanced stages this is usually not a problem, for beginning students it is detrimental to their progress. Sitting this way twist the upper body slightly to the right causing discomfort and possibly injury over time. The neck of the guitar sits too low causing the left wrist to bend and the thumb to rest on top of the neck. This causes the student to have less control over the fingers and impedes dexterity. Sitting in this manner puts pressure on the right arm’s ulnar nerve leading to tingling and numbness in the right-hand finger tips.
  2. Sitting hunched over– Not only is this poor for posture, it also looks terrible in performance. Students need to sit up straight so the right hand can rest over the strings and left hand thumb does not rest on top of the neck. Students who consistently sit this way often have a poor right hand technique as it causes them to keep the wrist flat and hand over the guitar body and not the strings. This will also cause the left-hand thumb to hook the neck causing left hand issues.
  3. Legs hobbling/Fidgeting– This is a problem which mostly effects younger students. Young student will have trouble holding still or keeping their left leg balanced on the fool stool. With this students, will develop an inconsistent technique that is difficult to work with because the guitar is always changing position. Students will also tip over the foot stool causing distractions in group classes and performances.

A good sitting position is the foundation of the technique that a student will use for the rest of their playing life. The correct classical sitting position is a time proven way of learning and progressing on the guitar in any style.

Classical Sitting Position,

  1. With a comfortable stool or chair (height depends on student) place the foot stool just inside the left leg of the chair. The footstool should be set at approximately 7-8 inches (height of footstool depends on height of chair and student height)
  2. Student must sit forward in the chair with left foot on foot stool and right foot flat on the floor slightly behind the left.
  3. The guitar will rest on the left leg with the lower bout resting on the right inner thigh and the back rim of the guitar resting against the chest; giving three points of contact left leg, right leg, and chest.
  4. The right forearm should rest on the rim of the lower bout with hand resting over the strings. Make sure that the right and left shoulders are level. The guitar headstock should be level with the students’ head.

With this sitting position the students’ technique will develop steadily without being impeded by not sitting properly. It is important to note that every student is unique and you can see slight variations in sitting style and technique. It is vital to pay attention to the students’ wrists, back, neck and shoulders so they are not bending or straining unnaturally. Also, ask about any physical limitations or issues a student may have so that you can adjust to them as soon as possible and not cause any undue stress or harm.

Catoctin School of Music
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