Tips to Maintain Proper Guitar Posture and Avoid Common Mistakes

proper guitar posture

We all have seen our favorite guitarists doing impossible things (read, crazy) on stage.

Be it Angus Young, from AC/DC with his iconic tap dance moves, or Jimi Hendrix with his guitar licks, secretly, we all wanted to do something cool on the stage.

Believe it or not, I actually started taking guitar lessons after watching a YouTube video of Jimmy Page playing ‘Heartbreaker’ holding the guitar over his head.

Come on, the playing position is itself electrifying, but little did I know that it’s not the correct guitar posture for me (at least at the beginning).

If you are playing with the wrong guitar posture, you may have already found yourself crippling with back pain (blame your posture). Also, it might not let you explore the guitar with your full potential.

Well, don’t fret (pun intended) and think again!

Why is Striking the Proper Guitar Posture Important?   

Before answering the question, let’s imagine a scenario where you have become an excellent guitar player but can’t even play for 5 minutes straight due to back pain and sore hands.

Now, would you like it? Of course, no.

This is why maintaining the correct guitar posture is so important.

Good guitar posture not only enhances your efficiency and lets you explore the guitar fully, but it also ensures good health.

As a guitarist, learning the proper guitar posture is as important as improving your skills.

Believe me; if you maintain a proper guitar posture, it will help you in the long run. Otherwise, you will soon start feeling pain in your lower back, tension in your fingers, and fatigue on the strumming hand.

Now, the ball’s in your court, and you have to decide what you want, an iconic style, or to improve your guitar skills!

Trust me; once you grasp your guitar the way Kirk Hammet or John Petrucci does, I won’t bore you with long talks about your guitar posture.

Once you are a pro, even if you decide to play the guitar while running a marathon, I won’t bother you, promise!

Guitar Posture While Sitting  

Guitar Posture While sitting

Even before playing your first chord, you should learn how to correct your sitting posture when holding a guitar. If you don’t work on your guitar posture, it will cause unnecessary tension in your hand and lower back.

Also, the wrong posture will restrict you from utilizing your full potential. According to professional guitarists, if your posture isn’t right, you cannot play guitar pieces with a high tempo and frequent hand movements.

Correct Sitting Position  

  • Even if you are seated, use a guitar strap. It will make your hands free (especially forearm), and it will keep your guitar properly placed while playing.

  • If you are strumming with your right hand, place the guitar body on your left leg. It will allow you to move your hands over the strings smoothly.

  • Sit straight. You will hurt your lower back and shoulders if you play for a long time while bending your back. Beware of overstretching your back, and don’t put pressure on your shoulders.

  • If possible, keep a footstool handy and rest the leg that’s carrying the guitar slightly above the other leg. It will relax your feet.

  • Keep your guitar slightly upward-bent on the neck side. It will help your fretting hand (left hand) move smoothly on the fretboard.

Classical Guitar Posture  

classical guitar posture

You have to be extra careful while playing classical guitar, as it is hard to maintain a good posture while playing big-sized guitars.

If you have ever seen Sharon Isbin or Julian Bream playing guitar, you may have noticed that the posture for classical guitars is slightly different from flamenco guitars.

Correct Sitting Position  

  • If you are playing with your right hand, place the bottom curve of your guitar on your inner thigh.

  • The guitar should be slightly angled towards the right at about 45°

  • If you feel a strain on your left leg, keep a low-height stool under your left leg. It will ease up the tension on your leg and also keep the guitar balanced.

  • Even if you are playing in a sitting position, you should use a guitar strap to keep your hands free from holding the guitar all the time.

Guitar Posture While Standing  

Guitar posture while standing

Now comes the secret dream of every beginner or amateur guitarist. Everybody dreams of playing the guitar on stage standing. So, how do you correct your guitar posture while standing?

First of all, invest in a good quality guitar strap that supports the guitar and also doesn’t strain your shoulders.

Correct Standing Posture  

  • You should adjust the guitar and hang it quite high. It will keep your hand flexible to play as many octaves as you want.

  • Stand straight and don’t lean forward. It will be fine for a short time, but if you are playing the guitar while standing for a long time, it will cause you back pain.

  • In case you are comfortable holding the guitar lower, use a stool or low platform to support your feet and bend the the guitar at a 30° angle on the fret side.

  • Do not hold the guitar near your hips. 

Come join EnthuZiastic guitar classes to learn more about guitar postures and improve your skills.


A Few Tips to Maintain Proper Guitar Posture  

I know it would be tough in the beginning to work on your guitar posture consciously and also take care of the music you are playing. But, it will get better after some time, I promise you.

You don’t have to practice the correct guitar posture anymore after you get adjusted to it. Believe me; once you get it right, you can see the benefits of it.

Here are a few tips for maintaining proper guitar posture.

1. Choose the Right Strap  

Be it a classical/flamenco/electric guitar; your guitar weighs at least a few pounds. So, hanging it from your shoulder for hours or practice or concert might not be a good idea for your physical health.

I can even cause you spondylitis or lower back pain.

So, be careful while choosing the strap for your guitar. The ideal guitar strap should hold up the weight of your instrument without causing too much pressure on your shoulders.

  • Choose a guitar strap that’s durable and also comes with soft padding on the shoulder area.

  • The width of your guitar strap should be between 5-8 cm. It will distribute the pressure evenly on your shoulder and keep your posture correct.

2. Buy a Comfortable Chair  

I know everybody loves to play their guitar while standing. But, what about the hours you will spend practicing?

As you are going to sit for a significant amount of time everyday, it is wise to invest in a comfortable chair.

Do not go for stylized wooden bar stools or any cushion; instead, buy an ergonomic chair that keeps your posture intact.

Playing the guitar while standing wreaks havoc on a guitarist’s body. It can cause joint pains, sore muscles, occasional cramps, and even arthritis.

Do not buy an office chair or an upright chair. I would suggest you go for a paddle stool with a backrest.

The best thing is that you can also support your leg while playing the guitar, standing for a longer period of time.

3. Take a Break  

Every other influencer on the internet will tell you not to sit or take a rest when you are determined to do something. But, it is bad advice for a guitarist.

No matter how engrossed you are in your music, take breaks from time to time. Playing the guitar for longer periods of time is a terrible idea.

Take a few breaks between sessions, hydrate, take some rest and re-energize yourself to play even better.


How can I improve my posture when playing guitar?

Improving your guitar posture is a continuous process. If you want to improve your posture while playing guitar, firstly, you need to sit straight. Otherwise, in the long run, you will suffer from lower back pain. Whether you play sitting or standing, always use a comfortable padded strap so that you don’t have to hold the guitar with your hand.

What is the best way to play guitar?

Get accustomed to your guitar. This is the first thing you need to do before even learning the theories. Once you do that, start by learning notes, chords, and scales. I would suggest you start playing sitting in your initial days. Work on your posture and practice as much as you can.

How do I know if my posture is correct when I am playing the guitar?

If you are playing the guitar for a longer time and you don’t face any problem playing, then your posture is right. If you are a beginner, follow your guitar teacher’s instructions and practice consciously. Try to sit straight but don’t over-arch. Keep your strumming hand locked and practice it in front of a mirror.

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To Wrap It Up

As a guitarist, your responsibility not only relies on the skills you acquire but also on making your guitar posture flawless. The right posture will not only keep you away from physical discomforts but will also offer you a wide range of musical freedom.

I would suggest you sit in front of a mirror and then practice. It will allow you to monitor your guitar posture, and you can easily rectify the mistakes.

Guitar teachers at EnthuZiastic guitar classes not only give guitar lessons but also teach the essentials of correct posture. If you want, check out the EnthuZiastic online guitar class and learn from the comfort of your home.

Be patient and keep faith in yourself, and you might emerge as the next Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton. Cheers to your musical journey ahead!

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