Visual Reference: Basic Posture and Sitting Position

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This is a visual reference guide for my students of classical guitar. This particular set is focused on basic posture and sitting positions for classical guitar. Just remember that this is a reference for guitar and not necessarily how you will sit. Everyone’s body is different so you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you. However, as a basic reference these photos should guide you in the right direction. Sofia is one of my students. She posed but also helped with the photography and concepts. - Bradford

More free lessons: Lesson Archive for Classical Guitar
Books by Bradford: Visit the Sheet Music Page

Sofia – Sitting Position with Guitar Support

The photos below show my student Sofia using correct posture for classical guitar while using an ergonomic guitar support. Tips are located below, between the photos.

Basic Guitar Position Ergoplay

Tips for sitting and posture with a guitar support:

  • Sit up straight
  • Sit on the front edge of the chair
  • Both feet are solidly on the ground
  • Align your center of gravity by keeping your head, neck, and body along the Y axis
  • Relax and then align your shoulders along the X axis
  • The head of the guitar should be at the height of your head (approximately)
  • The guitar/guitar neck sits at a 45 degree angle (approximately)
  • Guitar contacts the body on both legs, the right forearm (below the elbow), and both hands

Basic Guitar Posture x-y

Sofia – Sitting Position with Footstool

Basic Guitar Posture With Footstool

Tips for sitting and posture with a footstool:

There is not really any different advice for the footstool, just experiment with the height until you find something that is comfortable and fits the reference photos.

  • Sit up straight
  • Sit on the forward edge of the chair
  • The left foot is raised with the footstool
  • Experiment with the height of the footstool so the head of the guitar is at eye level
  • Align your center of gravity by keeping your head, neck, and body along the Y axis
  • Relax and then align your shoulders along the X axis
  • The head of the guitar should be at the height of your head (approximately)
  • The guitar/guitar neck sits at a 45 degree angle (approximately)
  • Guitar contacts the body on both legs, the right forearm (below the elbow), and both hands

Basic Guitar Posture Footstool x-y

Bradford – Sitting Position with Footstool

I’ve also included photos of myself so you can see more than one person posing with the guitar. It’s all the same tips as above except with my body type, gender, and preferences.

Brad Basic Sitting Position for Classical Guitar

Brad Basic Sitting Guitar x-y

More stuff to complement this lesson:

Books by Bradford:

20 Favorite Exercises PDF (24 pages, notation, TAB, fingerings, tips): $9.95
A Method for Students & Teachers Volume I • Beginner (PDF, 88 pages, FREE)
A Method for Students & Teachers Volume II • Intermediate (PDF, 109 pages, $ 14.99)

More free lessons: Lesson Archive for Classical Guitar
Photo Source: Bradford’s Flickr

Happy Practicing. Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this or have advice to share. 

5 Comments

  1. Bradford,
    Thanks for posting this. Excellent work.
    I would add that when using a footstool, ensure that the footstool is positioned far enough outside of the hip that the leg falls inward toward the center of gravity. This relieves the inner thigh, and brain, of the extra work of holding the leg in place.
    Strictly my observation, but I find it works quite well and very naturally.

    • Good point Rick! Experimentation is key to the process. One must understand why and what we do with our bodies and then know the reason for doing one thing or another.

  2. What are your thoughts on using the right thigh? It’s more comfortable for some people. Are there any particular reasons/arguments in favour of using the left thigh? For many years I used a footstool and put my guitar on my left. After about 20 years I changed to my right, and use a support. It suits me and I find quite a few students, given the choice, tend to prefer the right. Flamenco players are an interesting example of alternative, but clearly very effective ways of holding the guitar. Paco de Lucia uses his right thigh and crosses the leg as well. It certainly works for him.

    • Howard, it’s really not a question of which leg or how you position the guitar. I think the really important aspect is how healthy and ergonomic one’s position is. When I think of teaching students I’m mainly looking into their future to see if tension or even injury could result. Therefore, as in the case with good flamenco players, where exactly the guitar is located seems less important to looking closely at the body.

      That said, I often find that students twist their spine when the guitar is located on the right. That is not always true, as you stated. Therefore, I recommend that a very vertical guitar angle be used to incorporate the left leg. Overall I simple have more success this way. I’m also going after a specific style right. I use certain players as models for students. The players I use may not be the same as others use.

      One other possible problem is that the modern guitar evolved from much smaller instruments. When we increased the size of the instrument I don’t think it kept it’s ergonomic principles. We increased the size but kept the same general shape therefore making it uncomfortable for some people. In particular I find that the right arm has to extend outward. Also, with modern instruments some women find that the guitar is too close to their chest which is in part due to the modern size of the instrument. I think ergonomic supports are a reaction to this, as are the increased used of smaller scale instruments.

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