Now that you’re ready to play the guitar, it’s important to learn how to hold
it in a comfortable way. As you might expect, the different styles of playing have
slightly different rules when it comes to handling the instrument.
A comfortable playing position is important to provide access to all parts of
the guitar without strain. Classical players place the guitar on the left leg raised
by a footstool so that the upper part of the leg will support the guitar without
it slipping down. The sketch of Andrés Segovia shows the position favored by most
professional players. Some performers have both feet flat on the floor and use a
special type of cushion to raise and support the guitar, but this is less common.
The classical position
Most non-classical players support the guitar on the right leg. Traditionally
flamenco players position the guitar at its widest point on the right leg. Most
other styles use an informal position resting the guitar on the right leg. Some
players use a cross-legged position, but there are physical disadvantages to this,
notably the concomitant decrease in blood circulation.
Playing in a standing position, as in stage performance, requires a strap for
support. The strap is attached at the bottom of the guitar’s body to a pin and commonly
attached at the top by a string tied around the bottom of the headstock, above the
nut. Pins can be added to a guitar for this purpose, but this should be done by
a professional repair technician.
This sketch of Ramón Montoya, considered the greatest flamenco player of his
day, illustrates the traditional flamenco position.