Do you ever wonder how to play the guitar like David Bowie, The Beatles or even Elvis Presley? They’re not only blessed with their good voice and charm, but also their ability to play the guitar so precisely. Plus they have that signature guitar move that makes the fans go gaga.
If you’re starting your guitar learning at this point, it’s important you know how to hold it the right way. Here are tips on how to hold a guitar right:
Holding the Guitar Right
Whether you are left-handed or right-handed, the examples below will surely work for both. We will be presenting examples on the perspective of a right-hander. For left-handers, just follow along and do it on the opposite side instead.
- First, maintain short fingernails
The most important thing for being a guitarist is to have shorter fingernails. Make sure you’ve cut your long ones before proceeding to the next step. Longer nails will give you a hard time fretting and strumming onto the strings. It’ll make you feel more uncomfortable holding the guitar and enjoy the music you’re playing.
- Positioning the strumming hand right
Whether you’re in a sitting or standing position, you need to have the upper part of your right arm to rest on the top of the guitar’s body. Your right hand should feel comfortable flowing down on top of the sound’s hole, ready to strum. Feel relaxed as you sway your hand, arm and wrist. Your right hand will serve as your strumming hand.
- Know how to strum with your fingers
- Keep your your index finger and thumb connected to each other. Imagine doing an “OK” hand signal but the index finger and thumb palm should be sticking together. You need to bend the rest of the fingers while strumming the strings. Avoid those fingers from hitting the strings so the sound wouldn’t change.
- Use the index finger’s nail to strum the strings downwards and the thumb’s nail for strumming upwards. Practice this back and forth until it feels natural for you to do so. It can get weird to get used to at first, but with practice, you’ll get better in time.
- For finer notes or sounds, you can opt to use either your index finger or thumb. There are specific notes where you need to pick only a few strings and don’t need to use two fingers.
- Practice proper posture.
Did you know that guitarists can have injuries, too? Yes, if not practicing the right posture when holding the guitar. Guitars can get heavy and sometimes artists tend to curl down while playing which is a big NO.
- When holding the guitar, check your posture at the back if it’s straight. Maintain proper alignment of your back especially the spine.
- When playing gets you overwhelmed with the music, try not to tense your neck and shoulders. Make sure it’s all relaxed while you’re playing so you won’t get too sore afterwards.
- Relax your hands especially the fingers and wrists. Long periods of practice and gigs can put a strain to both of your hands. Maintain a relaxed pace while playing and just enjoy holding the guitar.
Important Tips for Beginners:
- Remember to not put all the weight of your strumming arm to the guitar while practicing or playing. This will make your arms tenser and sore afterwards.
- Don’t let the back of the guitar lean too much on you. At times, beginners won’t notice doing this but it’s not good for the posture over time. It can cause bad tension to your hands.
- If your fingers have any injuries from strumming, try using a pick instead and take a break.
David Nilsen is the former editor of Fourth & Sycamore. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can find more of his writing on his website at davidnilsenwriter.com and follow him on Twitter as @NilsenDavid.