Sure, you look cool playing the guitar behind your head but know there are several other ways to hold the guitar. Besides, “Blowing in the Wind” sounds stupid played behind your head.
The easiest way is to sit down. You don’t need a strap although some like to use one. Place the curve of the guitar on your right thigh. The neck should be approximately parallel to the floor. Your right arm should feel relaxed draped around the guitar with your right hand over the sound hole, like this
You can cross your legs like she’s doing – it’ll bring the guitar up a little – or put your feet flat on the ground like this:
Beginners always want to tilt the guitar so they can see the fretboard and while you may need to do that initially, you want to get out of that habit because forces you to bend your wrists more. It also puts your neck in an awkward position:
You could also use the same position that a classical player uses, with the neck angled up (no longer parallel with the floor) and your left foot on a stool:
Everything is reversed, of course, for a left handed player:
BTW, if you’ve never played the guitar before, I strongly recommend learning to play “right handed” even if you’re left handed, in spite of wonderful players like Hendrix and Elizabeth Cotten. The reason? You’re demanding a lot of both hands – it’s not like writing, where you’re only using one hand. Down the line, you’ll find it easier to find instruments and instruction materials. (And no, you cannot simply restring a guitar. Most aren’t designed for that – the bracing isn’t sufficient and the pick guard will be on the wrong side. Electric players will find that the knobs are in the way.) All righty, enough of my lecture and back to regularly scheduled programming.
You can also play standing up. You’ll need a strap. Adjust it so the guitar hangs just below chest level.
Don’t play like some country singers – my apologies to Buck Owens – and wrap your arm around the end, like this:
Maybe he just had extra long arms, I dunno.
And I know you rockers like to look hip with your guitar hanging below your waist, but guitars, like pants, are not meant to ride below your, um, private parts. I know, I know, everyone does it but unless you have knuckles that scrape on the ground, it forces you to severely bend your wrists:
Besides, not all rockers play that way. Here’s one of my favorite guitar players, Bonnie Raitt. She holds the guitar low but not down around her knees:
Here’s one of my classes showing the various ways one should not hold a guitar. I had just finished showing them my play-behind-the-head trick. Not a Good Idea for a room full of ten year olds:
This cat is holding the guitar wrong but when you’re lacking opposable thumbs, it can be excused.
Did you find this post helpful? Please consider keeping me in coffee and my cats in kibble. And it’s only $2.
If you’re not a cat and want guitar lessons via Skype, contact me. I have a home studio in Ottawa, Ontario, too. I also teach mandolin, ukulele and songwriting.