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Why Playing Posture Matters for Flatpicking

playing posture for flatpicking

Before getting too far into the myriad techniques and challenges of flatpicking, it is essential to first establish a relaxed and stable posture.

Sitting upright on a chair or stool, take a few deep breaths into your lower abdomen, allowing your core to relax. Allow this relaxation to permeate outward, letting go of any tension in your arms, neck, and face - before you to pick up the guitar. This way you'll be able to create a flow of music with a relaxed core.

Give Yourself Enough Space

With the guitar resting on the right thigh, you’ll want to move the neck and body of the guitar far enough away from your body that you can place your left hand over the frets without any tension in the wrist, forearm, or shoulder.

If you feel like there is still a ‘kink’ in your wrist, or too much tension anywhere between your neck and your left hand, try angling the neck slightly towards the ceiling.

playing posture for flatpicking

Quick Tip: You can also experiment with leg placement using stools, footstools, and even resting the guitar on your left leg to find the most relaxed position for you.

Ideally, the body of the guitar should be angled outwards to the right, while the legs and headstock of the guitar are angled slightly up and to the left, creating an ‘X’, viewed from above.

Remember, don’t expend energy holding the guitar in place, but rather find the position that will allow it to rest and balance naturally on your body.

How Body Contact Affects Resonation

When we hug the guitar, keeping it tight against the abdomen, our body absorbs a large percentage of the vibration, thereby diminishing its natural resonance. For example, the same thing happens when you strike a bell or bowl with a spoon and then place a hand on it. The vibration is deadened and the sound is muffled.

playing posture for flatpicking

Therefore, we want to find the position that is right for our own body type that will allow the guitar to rest comfortably between the contact points of the thigh, the diaphragm and the right hand forearm, allowing both free motion of the hands and full resonance of the guitar.

Using these suggestions, experiment with different positions until you find the one that is right for you. Good luck, and happy flatpicking!

guitar lessons with bryan sutton

If you play flatpick guitar, be sure to check out Bryan Sutton's lessons here at ArtistWorks. Click here for free samples! 

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