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Classical Guitar Lessons: Holding The Guitar

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In this lesson we're gonna talk about
holding the guitar.
And, and getting comfortable with the
instrument in a way so
that you can practice for extended periods
of time without muscles and
joints and such getting tired or fatigued.
Basically I, I try to really sit in a
that I can sit in for, for a very long
I mean an hour even as much as an hour.
And, I try to make the guitar come to me,
if that makes any sense.
I don't want any, my joints or muscles or
limbs craning or straining or stretching
in order to reach any part of the guitar.
And, and just because it makes you tired,
a lot, much quicker and as, course as you
get older and you've been playing for
awhile it can even lead to to injury and,
and, and some other, other problems.
So right from the get go we want to get
really comfortable with the instrument.
The classical guitar does not have a
strap, as you may have noticed.
And s,o in order for the left hand to more
easily reach the different positions on
the neck
there needs to be some kinda support to
lift either the guitar or the leg.
The most common support is the footstool
And I, I use the footstool.
It's probably the most traditional means
of supporting the guitar in order to raise
the neck up to this generally 45 degree
angle from the floor.
There are alternatives to the footstool
which are very good and
allow your feet, both of your feet, right
foot and left, to be flat on the floor.
Which can alleviate back tension and, and,
other sorts of ailments that some students
report can be caused by a foot stool.
I'd say roughly half of my students use
foot stools and
the other half use some kind of guitar
Either a Dynarette cushion, or a Gitano,
or, or an A-Frame,
or, or one of these many supports that are
out there on the market.
When sitting with the guitar, your back
should be straight, and relaxed.
And when I say straight, I don't mean like
This is not straight,
this kind of military kind of posture,
that's actually arching your back.
So try to, what you can do is you can just
check your back by taking
the back of your left hand and running it
along the lower part of your back.
And you can actually feel if that part is
then generally your back can be straight.
You could also use a mirror to check it as
And we have all these cameras that are
capturing my
posture at different angles so that you
can see what I'm actually doing here.
Now right now I'm, I'm sort of
demonstrating a,
a traditional way of sitting, with my back
not touching the back of the chair.
I, normally use a guitar chair.
Something called the Original Guitar Chair
which has a very low back with
a padded cushion on it.
And, the design of this chair allows me to
sit all the way back
in the seat, and simply lean back and
prop, my back is supported by this
lower by this low, padded back of the
So whenever I'm in a, sort of a regular
chair like this with a, with,
with a back on it, I like to actually kind
of sit back in it.
That's just me.
It's just some sort of a personal thing
that I like to do.
I don't like to have, be holding my back
up the whole time while I'm playing.
But it is the, generally regarded as the
traditional way to play,
sitting at the edge of your chair and and
sitting with the guitar that way.
Another thing I recommend, and
this is very popular with with classical
guitarists nowadays, it's,
it's kind of a funny thing, but it really
helps to secure the guitar to your leg and
keep it from sliding around on, your on
your pants, and it's this shelf liner.
This is a, a product that is sold in
Target and
Lowes and stores like that, and Bed Bath
and Beyond, and
comes in different colors and it's usually
used to line shelves.
And, you know, people put their glasses in
their cupboards and, or it's underneath
like, place mats at the dinner table, to
keep the place mats from sliding around.
Well, you can buy this stuff in rolls, and
you can even find it in black, which is
really great for performing, because I
like to wear black pants on stage.
And you you can, it rolls out and you can
cut it in strips.
And it's made of this kind of rubber
composite or something,
I don't know exactly what it's made of,
but it feels a little bit rubbery.
And I put this on the inside of my right
leg, and I even have, I even have a piece
for my left leg too, although it's not
really that necessary to have one for
your left leg, it's really the right leg,
inside of the right leg that's important.
And this way, I can, the guitar stays in
the position that I want it to be in, and,
I don't have to hold it, I, it, it won't
slide off of my,
off of my pants, and I don't need to hold
it with my right arm.
So actually it was, students, from just my
traveling around the country and
giving master classes, it was students
that actually showed me this.
It's become really, really popular
I mean most students have some kind of
thing like this that they are using.
But, if I take away those things,
you can see that the guitar will not stay
on my jeans.
And when I, when I really noticed how well
how effective these were is when I was at
a party and I was playing guitar,
someone else's guitar, I didn't have, of
course, my, my shelf liner,
and I could feel these muscles in, in my
pectoral muscle and
some arm muscles, had to hold the guitar
to keep it from sliding off of my leg.
And it produced, a, a re, a, a pretty
noticeable amount of tension in,
all through my right arm.
And, it sorta dawned on me that I had been
playing guitar like that for
years until these, shelf liners were
brought to my attention.
So I highly recommend those too.
[COUGH] and, as far as I, you know, the
orientation of the instrument,
ideally it's, you know, it should be, the,
the face of the guitar and
everything should be parallel to, to your
chest level.
S, I like to actually have a little bit of
a, of a tilt upward like this,
something that kind of creates a triangle
on your left side.
If you kinda lean over to your left side
you'll, you should see this triangle
that's formed between your, your your
trunk being one side of the triangle,
the back of the guitar being another side
of the triangle, and
your top of your leg being kind of like
the shortest side of that triangle.
So there should be that, that sort of
space in there.
And so I like to have mine sort of lean
back a little bit.
And but, but some players you'll see they
have the guitar like this,
where they, they, they don't even really
see the fret board.
I like to see the fret board.
I've always liked looking at my left hand,
so, I, I tilt it back a little bit.
It also kinda, it also helps my right hand
a little bit.
I also do a slight rotation this way
toward my right hand,
favoring my right hand, gives my right
hand a little bit more room.
I feel like the left hand's a bit freer
has more access to more space and more
area so,
whereas the right hand has to most of the
time by comparison be in one place and
be pretty efficient, so I like to help out
my right hand a little
bit by just a very mild rotation of the
guitar, this way.
So you can experiment with that.
It all depends, this is something that all
really depends on your, you,
your body shape, basically, how tall you
I, my foot stool is, at, at the moment
because of this chair, is,
is not too high, but I like to have a low
chair when I sit because my torso is
very long and my legs, even though I'm a
tall guy, I'm almost 6'4",
my legs aren't really all that long in
comparison to my torso.
So, when I sit in a normal, size chair,
have the, the footstool on the second or
th, or third rung, the guitar is like down
here on me.
It just feels very, very low, so, I like
to have it a little bit higher.
So when you see me in concerts and this
sort of thing,
you can see on YouTube, sometimes the
footstool's, you know,
cranked up all the way to the highest
setting, and because I like a lower chair.
Everybody does, you know, again according
to their body type and sh, and, and
shape, the relationship between the length
of your torso and
the length of your legs I maintain is a,
is a big factor there.
And so you have to experiment with it a
little bit to get it
to where it feels quite right.
But what you don't want, is you don't, you
know, want things like,
the neck being down here because then that
compromises your left hand.
I don't recommend you, you, the, the neck
being straight up in the air,
there, although there are some players
that play this way with a very high angle
with the neck.
While this definitely favors your left
hand, it doesn't really
allow your right hand to produce, to cut
the string at an angle,
which, which gives you a much warmer sound
And because of that string angle, the
natural attack angle for
the right hand fingers, sort of,
they end up more generally striking the
strings at a,
a 90 degree angle, perpendicular to the
string, which is,
results in a quite thin sound by
So, by having the, the guitar more, the
neck at more of like a 45 degree angle,
it sets the right-hand position at more of
a natural position to slice the strings at
a 45 degree angle.
And when we cover producing sound and
alternation and just your initial
right-hand strokes, you'll see in those
lessons, in those videos that
I'm basically cutting the string at a 45
degree angle for my free strokes.
And I recommend that you do the same.
So there you have it, that's Holding The