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Home Entertainment Watch Your Again: Practicing Healthy Approaches to Guitar Posture

Watch Your Again: Practicing Healthy Approaches to Guitar Posture

From the July/August 2020 difficulty of Acoustic Guitar | By Michael Chapdelaine

THE PROBLEM: You’re not sure as to how to maintain the guitar in a manner that’s ergonomically environment friendly, offers most mechanical benefit, is snug, and received’t trigger harm. 

THE SOLUTION: Research the mechanics of each conventional and non-traditional approaches to posture, so that you could discover the sitting place that can permit you to play the guitar with out wrecking your again. 

Nylon- and steel-string guitarists show nice selection in posture, nevertheless it comes down to a typical objective: to maximize one’s leverage over the instrument, whereas placing the least pressure attainable on the physique. Happily the times of “simply do it like Segovia” are gone within the pedagogical world—as are the plagues of again and neck deterioration and neuromuscular illness amongst classical guitarists. Listed below are some steps to assist maintain you healthily seated together with your guitar. 

Begin with the Backbone

Consider the confluence of physique and guitar as a easy platform that can permit the left-hand fingers to squeeze the strings into the frets with ease and effectivity, as the correct hand assaults the strings with consolation and accuracy. Your fretting hand requires an overwhelmingly higher quantity of energy than your choosing hand, an imbalance that may end up in an unhealthy posture when you don’t work on it. 

Our pure inclination is to twist the backbone towards the guitar’s neck and bend ahead. Whereas that place may give mechanical benefit and visible consciousness of the guitar’s fingerboard, it could trigger everlasting spinal injury. So, follow in entrance of a mirror, at all times ensuring that your backbone seems elongated and impartial, by no means twisted. 

Decide Your Structure

Your fretting hand wants to apply adequate tensile strain to the fretboard’s complete size, on a classical guitar, usually round 13 inches between the nut and 12th fret. The distinction within the geometry of the hand varies up and down the neck, so reference the midpoints of the neck (string 4, fret 6) and your fretting hand (second finger) to assist decide your structure. Use the intersection of these two factors to place the guitar such that minimal pressure is placed on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Then, modify your sitting and posture accordingly.

Together with your wrist and shoulder relaxed, your proper elbow will flex to deliver the hand close to the strings; straightening the wrist brings your fingers to the strings. The arm crosses the rim of the guitar between mid-forearm and elbow, relying in your physique dimensions and the tactic used to assist the guitar. Put the complete weight of your arm on the guitar. 


Strive Completely different Helps

Utilizing a footstool creates probably the most interesting posture for guitar method—with each legs, the correct arm, and the chest supporting the instrument—however probably the most poisonous place for well being. The issue is that the footstool requires that you just sit with one foot increased than the opposite, and when you spend numerous time on this place, your musculature and spinal discs can change into compromised. 

That mentioned, a footstool will help you get a really feel for correctly holding the guitar in one of many extra supreme positions beneath. Put the guitar’s waist in your raised left thigh and the heel in your proximal proper thigh. Sit straight up, as if a thread is pulling the middle of your head in the direction of the heavens. Alter the peak of the footstool such that, together with your left elbow flexed and wrist straight, your second fingertip intersects string Four at fret 6, perpendicular to the airplane of the fingerboard. Now deliver your proper arm throughout the rim of the guitar and chill out all the pieces, from head to toe. 

I consider {that a} assist such because the ErgoPlay is the very best factor to occur to the classical-guitar neighborhood since nylon strings. One of these resolution permits the guitar to be held within the conventional classical place with out harming the backbone, as each toes are flat on the ground. Connect the assist to your guitar and use a chair whose peak bends your knees at 90 levels. Sitting up completely straight, regulate the peak of the assist in the identical manner you’d a footstool; as soon as once more, place your proper forearm over the guitar and chill out. 

My most well-liked various, like what many flamenco guitarists do, is to set the guitar on my proper thigh, simply ahead of the decrease bout, with the instrument’s again pressed in opposition to my front-right torso. (Within the video above, you’ll be able to see me utilizing this place whereas performing “Chapdelaine,” an incredible new piece devoted to me by the composer Dennis Hayes.) The guitar is off-axis from the airplane of the chair’s again by about 30–45 levels, the instrument’s neck raised at a slight angle on the headstock aspect. Place your proper biceps on the decrease bout and chill out the burden of that arm, with the elbow proper on the rim and the complete forearm over the soundboard.


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Notice that on this place, the guitar is much less safe, as it’s supported by simply three factors: the correct leg, the burden of the correct arm, and the chest. Somewhat than utilizing my muscle tissue to maintain the guitar in place, I take advantage of an anti-slip product known as a Sticky Pad, wetting it for everlasting adherence to the intersecting factors of the physique and guitar. Admittedly, I’m way more involved about my physique than my guitar’s end. 

I’d suggest experimenting with these completely different approaches to discover the place that works greatest for you. Bear in mind, Segovia may need been fortunate in that he used a footstool over the course of many a long time and had the nice fortune of escaping with out harm. However get the sitting-position factor proper—don’t guess your backbone on luck.

Michael Chapdelaine is the one guitarist to have ever received first prize in each prestigious classical (GFA Worldwide Classical Guitar Competitors) and fingerstyle (Nationwide Fingerstyle Championship) competitions. He was a professor of music on the College of New Mexico for 33 years and performs and teaches internationally. michaelchapdelaine.com


This text initially appeared within the July/August 2020 difficulty of Acoustic Guitar journal.

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