Holding a guitar can feel pretty unnatural at first. It kind of feels like going in for an awkward hug but you’re not sure where to put your arms. You might be fidgeting around a lot in your chair, or standing up with a strap trying to reach the frets.

The way you hold the guitar in part depends on the type of guitar you’re playing and the style. But more importantly, it’s about the techniques you learn and how comfortable you feel.

Don’t worry, over time this will feel as easy as putting on your shoes or riding a bike. It just takes some practice and getting used to.

Let’s go through this step-by-step.

Sit Comfortably

For a beginner, it’s a good idea to get used to playing your guitar while sitting down. This will make you feel more relaxed while your fingers are fumbling around trying to form chords and strum.

Find a comfortable place to sit where your thighs are more or less parallel to the ground for the guitar to rest on. Make sure both feet are on the floor. Scooting the end of your chair might make you feel a bit more comfortable so you can lean forward on your planted feet while playing.

Take care not to slouch too much or lean back. Having good posture will help you play longer without feeling tired, and establish good guitar playing habits from the get-go.

You could also use a footstool to prop up the leg the guitar is resting on, but this isn’t necessary.

Resting The Guitar

It’s best to rest your guitar on your right leg. Almost every guitar has a smooth curved body that will usually lay over your leg comfortably.

Let’s assume you’re right-handed (or left-handed learning right-handed methods); your right strumming arm will rest on top of the guitar and hold it in place. If you’re playing an electric guitar, your forearm will rest more on the front top part of the guitar.

Meanwhile, your left hand (the fretting hand) shouldn’t be holding any actual weight. This arm is specifically for moving around on the fretboard playing strings and you shouldn’t hold up the guitar.

You can let the guitar press up gently against your stomach while you’re playing. But as we mentioned, this should feel comfortable and not forced. No need for a bear-hug squeeze.

Since you’re already sitting, you really don’t need a strap. If for some reason you feel it will help to keep the guitar from slipping, by all means. Just remeber to have the strap loose enough so the guitar is actually resting on your leg and the weight is there.

Strumming and Playing

Fretting Hand:

You might find that while you’re playing chords, your fingers cramp up or are hurting. This is normal because you are still building the tiny little muscles in your fingers and developing calluses on the tips of your fingers.

The thumb of your fretting hand should rest behind the neck of the guitar while the rest of your fingers wrap around the front of the neck. With bent knuckles, your left hand will slide up and down the fretboard as your play different chords or practice the various scales.

Strumming Hand:

This arm should rest comfortably on the guitar as we mentioned above, holding it in place. It shouldn’t feel stiff as strumming requires some very loose, relaxed movements in the forearm and wrist.

It’ll take some practice before strumming will feel natural. You might feel like you’re doing the robot dance at first, but don’t fret–you’ll be playing those blues ballads and shredding in no time!

Posture:

Keep in mind that relaxing your shoulders and letting your wrist feel loose are both very important. Often, when you’re learning something new that requires coordination, your body tenses up. Try to be mindful of your posture and how your arms, wrists, and back feel while you’re practicing.

As we discussed before, it doesn’t take much to develop bad habits but it takes a lot of work to un-do them.

It’s Playtime

Now that you know how to hold your guitar, it’s time to play! You’re ready to get to learning all your favorite covers and practicing those chords and scales.

The main thing to remember is that everyone develops their own techniques over time, but until you find your particular playing style, these beginner tips are super helpful to get started.

Soon, you’ll be picking up a guitar and strumming away without thinking twice. See? Holding a guitar is not complicated! Now, be sure to know how to strum a guitar properly. Playing the guitar has never been this easy!