Learning guitar can definitely seem overwhelming - especially in the beginning. This basic guitar lesson helps you get it right the first time with some important tips. Tips such as how to hold and position your guitar properly so you can stay relaxed and at ease while playing. It also covers how to hold your guitar pick.
The positioning of your guitar and your posture are the foundation of learning guitar. If you're not relaxed and comfortable, it's going to get in the way of your enjoyment. In some cases it can even lead to chronic injuries - but that would take a ton of playing ;-)
OK. It's important to be comfortable and relaxed. But is that it? Can you skip ahead to another "more interesting" lesson now? Sure. But I wouldn't recommend that just yet. Even if you think you already know how to hold a guitar, you just might find out a couple of very helpful tips. And those tips just might be things that help you to improve your guitar playing.First things first...this basic guitar lesson is similar to if you were at your very first golf or tennis lesson. You'd first learn how to "grip" the golf club or tennis racquet and get into a proper "stance" or posture. Same goes for guitar - ( btw, if you don't know golf or tennis, it doesn't matter ;-)
Let's get started! As always, you can scroll to the video to help you understand even more. Just make sure you do your best to read through these basic guitar lesson instructions once before watching the video. They will really help you put it all together.
Important note: I'm assuming that your guitar is either a standard acoustic guitar with 6 steel strings or an electric guitar. If it's a Spanish Guitar with nylon strings, it's covered briefly in the video.
Basic Guitar Lesson Instructions
How To Hold A Guitar Pick
The hand you use to hold the pick is the hand you play guitar with. For example, I'm left-handed because that's the hand I use to hold my pick.
It's generally best to learn with a pick in the beginning - but it's not absolutely necessary. Just ask yourself if you truly want to learn "fingerpicking"? Or are you just being lazy about learning with a pick?
Whichever hand you decide to use, make sure that the heaviest string is closest to the sky when you sit to play. If it's not, see lefty for more information about how to play a guitar left-handed.
OK. You're right-handed. Sit on a sturdy chair or stool. Best if it doesn't have arm rests. You don't want anything too soft to sit in either. No bean bag chairs ;-)
If possible, you want your thighs to be as parallel to the floor as possible. In other words, you don't want to sit too high or too low. Just right.
Place the body of the guitar on top of your right thigh. Have it angled slightly so that you can see the dots on the fingerboard.
Don't slouch! And have your left arm extend away from your body so that if you grip the neck of the guitar, your wrist is fairly straight.
Your right arm rests on the guitar body. If the guitar is digging into your arm, it may mean it's too big for you.
That's pretty much it. The rest is in the video. You may need to experiment with chairs and adjusting angles a bit. Pay attention to your body as you play. Try not to hunch your shoulders - occasionally take a relaxed deep breath - that should position them properly.
Also important is your left hand wrist. For the most part, it should be straight. Again, the video describes this. If you have any pain in your wrist, stop! Get someone who is a pro to check out your "guitar posture" - and/or check with your doctor. Don't worry! This is rare. It usually takes lots and lots and lots of practice to have any pain ;-)
I hope you enjoyed this basic guitar lesson. If you are still having difficulty and are unsure about things, e-mail me. Perhaps include a photo that shows how you are holding your guitar. Also, is there anything about this website that you think could be better? I'd love to hear about it so I can "fix" it :-)
Best in guitar and Life,