Why Classical Guitarists Hold Their Guitars Differently


You may have wondered, “Why do classical guitarists hold their guitars differently?”

Classical guitars are held differently in order to encourage good posture and assist the player. A musicians’ quick fingers may reach all of the frets on a classical guitar at a 45-degree angle because such instruments have broad necks that allow them to naturally access every fret without being held straight down from horizontal, as opposed to other types of guitars.

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at classical guitars, including the history of their design, and how they are held.


Why is the classical guitar’s position important?

The ideal classical guitar position encourages free and unrestricted movement.

As a result of this, we are able to concentrate on creating music rather than struggling with our style.

It also means that if we play in the right position we can play for lengthy periods of time without pain in the back, shoulders, or wrists.

The great majority of guitarists have a natural tendency to play with their guitars held in front of them, or even behind their heads (see guitar showmanship).

This is the case whether they are solo guitarists, or accompanying singers and other musicians.

However, there are some very good reasons for holding a classical guitar in its normal position on the right-hand side of your body rather than facing you as it would if you were playing an electric rock guitar.

As well as being more aesthetically pleasing, this allows you to take full advantage of the classical guitar’s tonal qualities.

Of course, there are many exceptions and variations to these general rules, but they still give a good foundation from which we can explore further possibilities in our playing style.

As with everything else when it comes to learning how to play the classical guitar, there are no hard and fast rules.

The most important thing is to find a way of holding the guitar that enables you to enjoy playing, while still encouraging healthy technique.

The importance of posture and hand position

Proper posture and bad habits do not usually result in injuries right away.

To play the guitar effectively and properly, it is critical to master good hand placement.

Many of us have probably used hand-strengthening exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

It was once thought that it could be prevented by simply exercising the muscles in your hands and wrists, but new research has revealed this is not the case.

An article on WebMD discusses how people who are at risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are those who sit in front of a computer for long periods, with their wrists bent at an angle.

This is because supporting your hand or wrist can cause fatigue and result in numbness that prevents you from feeling pain until the damage has already been done.

While playing guitar may not be exactly like using a keyboard all day, the two activities do have some commonalities that mean you should be aware of how your hands and wrists are positioned while playing.

In order to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it is important to keep a straight wrist when holding the guitar, resulting in a slight backward curve at the base of the hand where the palm meets fingers.

This will allow you to support the weight of a guitar without straining your wrist.

This position is not comfortable at first, but with practice, it can be mastered.

As well as learning proper hand placement and posture for playing classical guitar, there are also some common mistakes that people make when holding their guitars that affect how they play.

One mistake is not using a footstool, which prevents you from playing with proper posture.

It may also cause strain in your neck and shoulders when looking up at the fretboard for long periods of time.

Why is the classical guitar played upright?

As mentioned previously, to better play the guitar, a classical guitar is held differently, encouraging correct body posture that aids in faster, more natural fretting.

A classical guitar’s broad neck makes it easier for guitarists to reach every fret quickly and naturally since it is held at a 45-degree angle from horizontal.

This also makes it easier to play chords and use all six strings.

We can see why playing the guitar in this position has advantages over other ways of holding the instrument, but what about those who hold their guitars facing them?

The electric guitar was originally designed as an amplified version of the classical model: steel-stringed with flat-wound strings.

As it was intended to be played with amplification, the instrument’s neck is narrower than that of a classical guitar so you can reach each string easier without accidentally touching others as well.

However, because of this design feature, there are some difficulties playing chords on an electric due to its narrow neck and lack of proper support when sitting.

The electric guitar is a very personal instrument in the sense that it has evolved from an acoustic, classical design and adapted for modern use in genres such as rock ‘n’ roll.

While playing with your back to others might have been common when playing acoustically without amplification at home or smaller venues, it makes less of a practical choice when playing in larger venues where the audience is further away.

This way of holding an instrument can lead to problems for guitarists because it prevents them from using their shoulders and back muscles correctly, which may cause tension or even injury if done incorrectly over a long period of time.

While there are those who argue that either method could be suitable for playing the guitar, it is up to each individual player to decide what position feels most comfortable.

As long as you hold your guitar with a straight wrist and do not bend or curve your back when sitting down, then whichever way of holding your instrument you choose should help make playing easier and more enjoyable.

What are the 4 points of contact in the classical position?

Place all four fingers (thumb, index, middle, and ring) on the same string (the third, for example), lining them up in a row if you want to work on the traditional right-hand technique.

If you are left-handed, reverse this.

You should not be using the other fingers to play these notes; they will only confuse your hand and make it harder for you to learn.

Place all four fingers (thumb, index, middle, and ring) on different strings than above (the first string instead of the third).

When you want to play a chord, use your thumb and the fingers of the same hand together.

Doing this correctly makes it easier for you to place each finger on its respective fret or string with ease.

Hold only one note at a time using just one finger from either hand (thumb or index).

If you are using your right hand, place it on the third-string using your index finger.

If you are using your left hand, use only one finger instead of all four to play a note or chord since some chords require more than just three fingers and can be difficult for beginners to do properly.

Placing each fretting finger down at an angle is very important.

It is best to place them perpendicularly on the fretboard and not at an angle, which can cause problems with your technique later on down the line.

Can you hold the classical guitar like an acoustic?

Yes, you can.

You can hold the guitar however you feel most comfortable.

It is up to your body type and how well it adapts to each position; there are no hard-and-fast rules that work for everyone, so experiment with different positions until you find which one makes playing easier on your own body.


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