One of the first things you need to learn when you begin playing is how to hold a guitar properly. It might seem obvious how you hold it, unless you take your lead from Jimi Hendrix, in which case you might be forgiven for holding the guitar behind your head and plucking it with your teeth!
I suggest you follow a more conventional approach in your playing style, initially at least. There’s always the option to revisit your personal style at a later date once you’ve got the basics down pat.
The first decision you need to make is whether to sit like a classical musician with the guitar resting on your left leg, or whether you should go for the less formal method of placing it on your right leg.
The correct way to hold a guitar, according to the classical approach, generally gives easier access to the frets for the left hand and does actually help encourage proper technique.
Holing the guitar on your right leg is a more relaxed position and many people report that they find it easier to strum the guitar in this position.
It’s up to you which way you decide to go. I’d recommend that you experiment and then go with whatever seems to suit you better. Heck, you might find that you mix and match according to the musical genre or specific song that you’re playing.
There are a few things that you need to bear in mind when playing the guitar in order to ensure your technique is spot on. Good technique will help you avoid discomfort or injury while playing and will also give you the best chance of playing fluently and, if the need arises, quickly.
Ensure you press the string down immediately behind the fret and as close to the fret itself as possible. This minimises the force that you need to apply to hold the string in place without buzzing.
Ensure your thumb is always positioned at the centre of the back of the guitar neck. This allows your fingers to arch around and contact the strings at a more or less perpendicular angle.
When strumming, holding a guitar pick in your right hand, make sure you keep your right hand relaxed. And keep most of the movement in the wrist.
If you allow your wrist to lock, the movement has to come from your arm, which will make it more difficult to produce a consistent, tight rhythm. Sounds like a nit-picking point but you’d be surprised at how much difference it makes.
So there’s my few thoughts on how best to hold a guitar. If you follow those tips, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in the quality of your playing.